A public letter of protest on the UN Watch website, jointly addressed to Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter and Swiss President Ueli Maurer (all who share UN Watch's concern are urged to click on the link on the website to send the letter themselves) outlines why:
'.... I deeply regret that your country, which sees itself as a supporter of UN principles and human rights, is promoting a backer of oppressive dictators who only brings the United Nations into disrepute.
If elected, Mr. Ziegler—who has written books advocating “reasonable hatred of the West”—would absurdly occupy one of only three seats allotted to Western countries.
The official criteria for the position are expertise in human rights, high moral standing, independence and impartiality. An analysis of Mr. Ziegler’s record raises serious questions as to his satisfaction of these requirements.
• Mr. Ziegler’s abuse of his former UN Mandate: When he served as UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Mr. Ziegler ignored many of the world’s most starving populations, instead focusing attention on his personal political agenda. As documented in the UN Watch report “Blind to Burundi,” during 2000 to 2004, Mr. Ziegler systematically failed to speak out for numerous food emergencies, in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone and elsewhere.
• Mr. Zieger’s support for serial violators of human rights: In 1986, Mr. Ziegler served as advisor to Ethiopian dictator Colonel Mengistu on a constitution instituting one-party rule. In 2002 he praised the Zimbabwean dictator, saying, “Mugabe has history and morality with him.” According to Le Monde, he paid visits to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Kim Il-Sung in North Korea. Mr. Ziegler is also a long-time supporter of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, whose regime Mr. Ziegler hailed during an official visit in October, while he refused to meet Cuban dissidents. Also this year, during an interview in Lebanon, Mr. Ziegler said, “I refuse to describe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It is a national resistance movement. I can understand Hezbollah when they kidnap soldiers…”
• Mr. Ziegler’s involvement with Libyan propaganda: In 1989, shortly after Libyan agents blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Mr. Ziegler went to Libya to co-found the “Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize,” and served as its Geneva spokesman. The prize has since been awarded to anti-Western dictators such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. It has also been awarded to notorious racists and anti-Semites such as Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Muhammad. Bizarrely, although he once boasted of it, Mr. Ziegler now denies any involvement with the prize. Ziegler’s cover-up was exposed by your own country’s media, including Swiss TV, the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, and Le Matin.
• Ziegler’s support for convicted Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy: In 1996, Mr. Ziegler publicly defended Roger Garaudy, the French Stalinist whose book, “The Founding Myths of Modern Israel,” denies the Holocaust. “All your work as a writer and philosopher,” Mr. Ziegler wrote on April 1, 1996, “attests to the rigor of your analysis and the unwavering honesty of your intentions. It makes you one of the leading thinkers of our time.” In 2002, Mr. Garaudy was awarded the Qaddafi Prize—the same year that Mr. Ziegler received it as well.Many have expressed strong objection to Mr. Ziegler’s actions:
• In 2005, both UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and High Commissioner Louise Arbour publicly denounced Mr. Ziegler for having compared Israeli soldiers to concentration camp guards. He was the first UN expert in history to have been so reprimanded.
• Seventy U.S. congressmen wrote to the UN, citing Mr. Ziegler for anti-Semitism. The Canadian government filed an official protest.
• Senior lawmakers from the European, Norwegian, and Canadian parliaments protested Ziegler in 2008.
• An international coalition of 15 non-governmental organizations, including victims of Cuban and Libyan abuses, protested Mr. Ziegler’s nomination as a UN expert in 2006, citing his disturbing record.
• Scholars question Mr. Ziegler’s academic credentials. When he was made professor at the University of Geneva, eminent historian Herbert Luthy returned his honorary doctorate in protest.
• In 2011, 45 NGOs demanded that Switzerland apologize and investigate its role in promoting Ziegler to UN positions.
• The Salzburg Festival disinvited Ziegler in 2011 on account of his Qaddafi ties.We note that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez nominated Mr. Ziegler for the same post in 2004, but that he failed to win election.
In order to protect the credibility of the world’s highest intergovernmental human rights body we urge you to withdraw this nomination. '
Hat tip: reader Rita