Secretary-General Annan Urged to Investigate Jean Ziegler’s Ties to Libyan Regime

Geneva, June 21, 2006 – A UN human rights official up for both new and renewed appointments next week denied and failed to disclose his significant ties to a Libyan-funded organization that awards the “Moammar Khaddafi Human Rights Prize,” according to a report released today by UN Watch. (See full report here, “Switzerland’s Nominee to the UN Human Rights Council and The Moammar Khaddafi Human Rights Prize.”) The Geneva-based non-governmental organization called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to investigate possible ethical infractions and other wrongdoing.

Jean Ziegler—whose 6-year term as UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food is set to be extended next week by the world body’s new Human Rights Council—aided Colonel Khaddafi in depositing $10 million into a Geneva bank in 1989 to create the “Moammar Khaddafi Human Rights Prize,” says the report.  Since that time, a group of interconnected organizations, co-founded and co-managed by Mr. Ziegler, has awarded the Prize and its accompanying funding to accused and convicted racists such as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammed and French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy. The Prize has also been used to reward anti-Western figures like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, and to fund NGOs who lobbied at the UN against the international sanctions on Libya, put in place after its agents bombed Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.

Records attached to the report from the Canton of Geneva, UN documents and international news sources indicate that, despite recent denials by Mr. Ziegler, he played a leading role in founding the Khaddafi Prize, has continued to maintain an ongoing relationship with the Prize organization in Geneva, and that he himself won—but did not disclose his connections to—the Khaddafi Prize in 2002.

An international coalition of 20 human rights groups including victims of the Libyan regime (see list under footnote 1 of the report), have signed an appeal opposing the Human Rights Council’s planned appointment of Mr. Ziegler.

UN Watch called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and the UN Ethics Office to examine the documents in the report and investigate whether Mr. Ziegler’s conduct violated UN ethics rules.  If Switzerland refuses to rescind Mr. Ziegler’s nomination to the Human Rights Council, UN Watch urged the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and other democracies to vote in opposition.

The human rights record of Colonel Khaddafi’s regime is rated by Freedom House as one of the “Worst of the Worst.”  Libya’s recent renunciation of weapons of mass destruction has won it international favor. But Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, said that “Khaddafi continues to rule by fiat, denying freedom of the press, freedom of religion,  freedom of assembly, and other basic civil rights and liberties.”

Mr. Ziegler’s position as the Human Rights Council’s hunger expert was to expire under a 1999 UN rule that limits expert terms to six years.  However, the former Swiss politician is expected to benefit from an omnibus one-year renewal of all mandates to be adopted unanimously by the new body.

Separately, Mr. Ziegler’s native Switzerland also nominated him for an additional post at the Human Rights Council, as an expert on its advisory Sub-Commission.  Mr. Ziegler was nominated under one of the three vacant seats allotted to the Western European and Others Group, which in addition to European Union countries includes the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Because there are only three nominees, if elections of the Sub-Commission experts are held next week—as proposed by the African group, though opposed by others—Mr. Ziegler’s election to the second post is equally assured.

Widespread outrage over the election in 2003 of Libya as chair of the old Human Rights Commission is considered to have helped bring about the demise of that body.  “It would be tragic if one of the Human Rights Council’s first actions will be the appointment of a man with substantial and unethical ties to the regime of Colonel Khaddafi,” said Neuer.  “The harm to the Council’s credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness might be irreparable.”

UN Watch

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