A Swiss parliamentary committee on Tuesday voted "no confidence" in the country’s nomination of a long-time dictator supporter to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), according to Swiss media reports.
The nomination of sociologist Jean Ziegler, who has a history of cozying up to dictators and reportedly helped organize the Muammar Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, was deemed "inappropriate" by a narrow majority of a Swiss parliamentary committee, according to reports.
Human rights advocates cheered the parliament’s decision, but noted that ultimately the decision to proceed with Ziegler’s nomination will be up to the Swiss Foreign Minister.
"The declaration of the Swiss parliament is a victory for the reputation of Switzerland, for common sense, and for opponents of dictatorship worldwide," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, the Geneva-based human rights group that has exposed Ziegler’s support for Qaddafi, Fidel Castro, Robert Mugabe, and Hezbollah.
"While Ziegler shamelessly denies his role in creating, managing and winning the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize, a 2011 report by Swiss TV proved that he is lying."
Ziegler has denied his involvement with the Muammar Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights. Since its creation in 1989, the prize has been awarded to prominent human rights abusers and anti-Semites, including Fidel Castro, Louis Farrakhan and Mahathir Mohamad.
"The Qaddafi Prize? How could I have created it? It’s absurd," Ziegler told a Swiss newspaper in 2006.
However, numerous media reports from the late 1980s cite Ziegler as a spokesperson and early organizer of the prize, including UPI, Time magazine and the Independent.
"The prize is conceived as an anti-Nobel Peace Prize award for the Third World," Ziegler said in 1989, according to UPI. He also told the publication that the prize foundation had raised $10 million in capital.
Photos of Ziegler meeting with Qaddafi have also emerged, and he is listed as an official in the organization that distributed the prize, according to research compiled by UN Watch.
The sociologist was nominated for the Qaddafi prize in 2002, along with the late author Roger Garaudy, who penned the 1996 Holocaust-denying manifesto The Founding Myths of Modern Israel.
Ziegler maintains that he did not accept the award, although this was contradicted by Swiss media reports at the time that were unearthed by UN Watch.
His denials about his involvement with the late Libyan dictator were also contradicted by a Swiss TV investigation in 2011.
Ziegler did not respond to request for comment.
Last Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power publicly denounced Ziegler as "unfit" for the UNHRC in a comment to UN Watch on Twitter.
Published under: Middle East