|GENEVA, Aug. 16 – Newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who became famous as a human rights activist, Harvard professor, and genocide expert, entered her first major controversy last night by declaring her opposition to the election of Switzerland’s nominee for the UN Human Rights Council, a contentious ex-politician also being challenged by Swiss MPs on account of his close ties to Moammar Gaddafi and other dictators.
Jean Ziegler, 79, is opposed by Swiss MPS from three different parties — Christian Lüscher, Walter Muller, Christa Markwalder, Kathy Riklin, and Andreas Aebi, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee — who plan to contest the Foreign Ministry decision at a hearing in Bern next week.
Forty-five human rights activists oppose Ziegler, who as an avowed “Third Worldist” visited with leaders accused of human rights abuses, including Castro, Hugo Chavez, Saddam Hussein and even North Korea’s Kim Il-Sung.
Ziegler was a particularly ardent supporter of Gaddafi. Click here for PDF Report on Ziegler’s Gaddafi ties.
“While Gaddafi was raping countless women and girls across Libya, as confirmed by new revelations, Jean Ziegler was busy promoting the Libyan dictator as a hero of human rights,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “We applaud the principled statement of Ambassador Power and urge the U.S. and other nations in the UN’s Western group to actively fight the incomprehensible Swiss nomination.”
Wikileaks revealed that the head of the UN’s World Food Program in 2002 urged UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to remove Ziegler for his “profoundly immoral” and “inflammatory” politics, which “had a negative impact on the lives of the hungry.”
In 1989, Ziegler returned to Geneva from a Tripoli meeting to announce the creation of the Moammar Gaddafi International Human Rights Prize. He served as vice-president of the Geneva front group that managed the prize, Nord Sud XXI.
At an evening ceremony on September 29, 2002, Ziegler was again in Tripoli where he himself received the Gaddafi Prize, together with convicted French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, following a 4-day conference that discussed “space and time, death and eternity, as well as the style, language and the irony in Moammar Gaddafi’s writings.”
Despite having announced the prize to the world’s media in 1989, Ziegler now denies any ties to it. However, his claims were examined in detail and found to be completely false by Swiss TV and by the Neue Zurcher Zeitung.
Ziegler joined the council in 2000 as its hunger expert, a position created for him by Cuba’s Fidel Castro government in 2000. In 2008, he moved to the council’s advisory committee. In 2012, his application to stay at the UN was rejected.
Now he is trying to return to the advisory committee. The election is slated for September 27.