Business Day (South Africa)
By Hopewell Radebe
THE Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma not to support Switzerland’s nomination for the position of adviser to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council.
DA foreign affairs spokesman Tony Leon said Swiss candidate Jean Ziegler had a tainted human rights record, which should automatically disqualify him from occupying any prominent role in the promotion of human rights.
Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesman for Dlamini-Zuma, said the minister had noted Leon’s objection and would respond through the procedures for questions in the National Assembly.
Leon said the nomination should be strongly opposed as Ziegler had, in his role as UN special rapporteur, supported dictators such as Saddam Hussein, Col Mengistu of Ethiopia and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
Leon noted Ziegler’s “openly embracing Hezbollah as a ‘national resistance movement’, and his association with holocaust denialist Roger Garaudy and his anti-Semitic viewpoints”.
“The official criteria for the position Ziegler has been nominated for are expertise in human rights, high moral standing, independence and impartiality — areas for which Jean Ziegler has displayed great disregard,” Leon said.
Diplomats said yesterday that Leon’s concerns had been raised by international human rights groups, who were lobbying other countries and the European Union to reject Ziegler’s nomination.
Former Swedish deputy prime minister Per Ahlmark and 20 international nongovernmental organisations have urged the Swiss government to withdraw the nomination of Ziegler, arguing that his “record raises serious questions as to his satisfaction of these requirements”.
Leon said SA’s voting record at the UN had damaged the country’s human rights reputation.
SA had opposed resolutions expressing concern over human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Belarus and Burma.
“By voting against Ziegler’s nomination, SA will help to mitigate its damaged reputation” and protect the credibility of the world’s leading intergovernmental human rights body, Leon said.