U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power blasted Switzerland’s nomination of a former Qaddafi-backer to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Twitter on Friday, calling the nominee "unfit."
Jean Ziegler, who has served in various U.N. roles, was recently nominated to the advisory committee by Switzerland. Ziegler previously helped run the Muammar Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, which has been awarded to notable human rights abusers and anti-Semites, including Fidel Castro, Louis Farrakhan, and Mahathir Mohammad.
"Dr. Ziegler is unfit for continued service at the @UN_HRC," said Power in a Tweet on Friday to U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based human rights watchdog group that has raised alarms about Ziegler’s nomination.
U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer praised Power for being the first world leader to speak out.
"While Qaddafi was raping countless women and girls across Libya, as confirmed by new revelations, Jean Ziegler was busy promoting the Libyan dictator as a hero of human rights," Neuer said in a statement. "We applaud the principled statement of Ambassador Power and urge the U.S. and other nations in the U.N.’s Western group to actively fight the incomprehensible Swiss nomination."
Ziegler has denied his involvement with the Qaddafi prize.
"The Qaddafi prize? How could I have created it? It’s absurd," Ziegler told a Swiss newspaper in 2006.
This statement contradicts multiple news reports from the 1980s that cite him as a representative; photos of him with the now-deceased Libyan leader; and documents that name him as an official in the organization that awarded the prize.
Ziegler was quoted as a spokesperson for the Qaddafi prize in publications in 1989, including UPI, Time magazine, and the Independent.
He told UPI in 1989 that the prize was "conceived as an anti-Nobel Peace Prize award for the Third World."
Ziegler was nominated for the Qaddafi prize in 2002, along with Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy. Ziegler maintains that he did not accept the award, although this was contradicted by news reports in the Swiss and Libyan press, according to U.N. Watch.
Ziegler did not respond to request for comment.