GENEVA – In a show of support for the Geneva-based UN Watch group, the White House stated it was “deeply disappointed” that United Nations rules for credentialing non-governmental organizations to yesterday’s world racism summit were used “to silence voices critical of the Durban process.”
“We are very grateful to President Obama’s Administration for speaking out against this dangerous attempt to chill free speech in the UN debate on human rights,” said UN Watch director Hillel Neuer, who was in New York to organize a summit of prominent exiles and dissidents that met this week in parallel with the General Assembly. (www.ngosummit.org)
‘At the same time, we’re surprised and, frankly, disappointed that UN rights chief Navi Pillay, the leading UN figure in the Durban process, has declined to speak out against this injustice, which stains the reputation of her anti-racism office.”
Also speaking out for UN Watch was U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She said the Durban conference “benefitted extremists” in “welcoming the participation of a Qaddafi-funded front group” while “banning the UN Watch group.”
UN Watch was barred from participating today in yesterday’s summit of world leaders to commemorate the 2001 Durban racism conference, but admitted the group North South 21, which gives out the Moammar al-Gaddafi Human Rights Prize. Details here. See UN Watch letter below.
The Geneva-based UN Watch, an accredited non-governmental observer with the world body, urged UN rights chief Navi Pillay, who oversees the UN’s anti-racism campaign, to condemn UN Watch’s unprecedented exclusion from a UN meeting — for which it was given no reasons, notice, or opportunity to object.
In a letter to UN Watch (click here), the office of High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay pledged to pass on UN Watch’s appeal to the General Assembly, but has so far refused to speak out against the discriminatory decision.
UN Watch and 20 human rights NGOs are today organizing a major parallel summit of dissidents next to the UN, featuring famous victims of the regimes that promote the Durban meeting.
The UN may have admitted the Qaddafi Prize group thanks to its close ties to Jean Ziegler, a long-time official of the UN Human Rights Council, said UN Watch.
According to a recent Swiss TV report, Ziegler played a significant role in North-South 21, the Geneva group created by the Libyan regime to manage the Qaddafi Prize and spread propaganda for the Qaddafi regime. Most recently, Ziegler helped edit a 2010 book that effusively praised Col. Qaddafi by comparing him to the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The publication was distributed by North South 21 at the Council in November while the human rights record of Libya was being examined, and effusively praised by most countries.
Ms. Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10
September 15, 2011
Dear Madam High Commissioner,
We write to strongly protest the UN’s unprecedented decision to exclude UN Watch, an ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organization, from next Thursday’s high-level meeting to commemorate the Durban Declaration. The rejection of our application was carried out without any notice or semblance of due process, and is an act of discrimination. We appeal to you, as the leading figure of the UN’s anti-racism effort, to speak out against this deplorable decision and to demand that it be immediately reversed.
As you know, on July 7th your office wrote to UN Watch and invited us to apply to participate at the Durban commemoration, saying that non-governmental organizations are essential in combating racism. We immediately applied, providing detailed documentation on our extensive activities, at the UN and elsewhere, to combat racism and discrimination. We attended the first two Durban conferences in 2001 and 2009.
Suddenly, from a posting on a UN website—only one week prior to the event—we now learn that UN Watch is one of four groups to be rejected from next week’s meeting. We were given no notice, no reasons, and no chance to contest the decision. This flouts the basic principles—which you have so articulately advocated on the world stage—of accountability, transparency, and due process. As the only watchdog group mandated to monitor the UN according to the principles of its charter, our voice is essential. We urge you to speak out against this injustice, which undermines the UN’s credibility in combating discrimination.
Hillel C. Neuer