Editorial of The New York Sun | October 20, 2011
In the wake of the death of Colonel Gadhafi, the United Nations is being asked to apologize for “legitimizing” the Libyan tyrant with key posts. United Nations Watch, a particularly vigilant observer of the world body, is calling on the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and the U.N. human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, to acknowledge that the U.N. “was wrong to support Gadhafi by granting him key posts on its most influential bodies.” Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations Watch, says that the U.N. “should also apologize for choosing Gadafi's regime to head the planning of its 2009 world conference on racism, and for designating Colonel Gaddafi’s daughter Ayesha a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador.”
It would be hard to make such stuff up. But it gets even worse. It turns out that a member of the advisory committee to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, a one-time Swiss parliamentarian named Jean Ziegler, is, according to U.N. Watch, a co-founder of something called the “Gadhafi Human Rights Prize.” The 45 NGOs are calling for Mr. Ziegler to be fired from his advisory post at the U.N. Mr. Neuer called the Gadhafi prize “propaganda tool for the regime.”
The prize, which Wikipedia reports as running as high as $250,000, has been given out by a Swiss-based foundation; Wikipedia’s list of its winners includes, among others, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Louis Farrakhan, “the children of Palestine,” and, last year, the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan. The 45 NGOs who want Mr. Ziegler out of his U.N. advisory role are from a broad range of countries and people embarrassed by the United Nations willingness to bring Gadhafi into its human rights work.
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It’s anyone’s guess whether the United Nations will accede to the request of the NGOs for an apology. But the world body’s record in respect of Gadhafi will stand for many years as one, if only one, reminder of where the United Nations has stood during the long struggle for human rights in the Middle East. And of why it is so important for the United States Congress to brush aside Secretary of State Clinton’s objections and pass United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act. The measure is being advanced by the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. It has cleared her committee. If passed it would give the Congress a stronger hand in denying funding for the absurd programs of a United Nations without shame.
* According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Mr. Ziegler once served as a chauffeur in Geneva for the South American communist Ernesto “Che” Guevara.