A Swiss activist who reportedly helped found the Muammar Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights has been nominated by Switzerland to the United Nations Human Rights Council, drawing criticism from a prominent U.N. watchdog group.
Jean Ziegler was reportedly an early organizer of the Qaddafi human rights prize, which was created in 1989 and awarded to notable human rights abusers and racists, including Fidel Castro, Louis Farrakhan, and Mahathir Mohammad.
Ziegler was personally nominated for the prize in 2002, along with Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy. Ziegler declined to accept, citing his position at the time as an adviser to the U.N.
U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog group, blasted Ziegler’s nomination to the UNHRC and called on U.N. ambassadors to oppose it.
"While Muammar Qaddafi was raping women and girls across Libya—as documented by new revelations—Jean Ziegler was busy promoting the Libyan dictator as a hero of human rights," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch. "Why is Switzerland, which claims to respect human rights, now reviving this scoundrel’s moribund U.N. career?"
The U.S. mission to the U.N. did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon inquiry about its position on Ziegler’s nomination.
Ziegler has denied his involvement with the Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights despite news reports from the 1980s that quoted him as a representative, photos of him meeting with the late Libyan dictator, and documents that listed him as vice chairman of the organization that reportedly awarded the prize.
"The Qaddafi Prize? How could I have created it? It's absurd," Ziegler told a Swiss newspaper in 2006.
In 1989, Ziegler was quoted as a spokesperson for the prize committee and identified as a juror for the selection process in publications including the United Press International, Time magazine, and the Independent.
"The prize is conceived as an anti-Nobel Peace Prize award for the Third World," Ziegler told the United Press International in 1989, adding that the prize foundation had $10 million in capital.
The UNHRC nominee was also listed as vice chairman of the Institut Nord-Sud, which has connections to Nord-Sud XXI, the organization identified in Libyan media reports that awarded the prize.
Ziegler reportedly praised Roger Garaudy, a French author whose Holocaust-denying manifesto was published in a 1996 letter.
"All your work as a writer and philosopher," U.N. Watch quotes Ziegler as writing, "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."
The UNHRC nominee has also equated Israel with Nazi Germany, earning him a public rebuke from then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The UNHRC was established in 2006 with the mission of promoting and defending human rights around the world. The body has largely focused on criticizing Israeli policy. Its members include Pakistan, Cote d’Ivoire, and Venezuela.
Syria, China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia have announced bids for the council’s Nov. 12 elections.
Published under: United Nations