UN Watch Asks Right's Chief:"Why Were You Silent on Qaddafi's Crimes?"

March 4, 2011
Around the globe, the Qaddafis were kings. No longer. The head of the London School of Economics has just resigned over his ties to the Qaddafi regime. Rock stars Beyonce, Nelly Furtado and Mariah Carey are expressing remorse for paid peformances at Qaddafi family parties. Former Egyptian minister of culture Gaber Asfour renounced his 2010 “Qaddafi International Award for Literature.”

Yet at the U.N., no one is willing to take the slightest responsibility for the world body's tight embrace of the Qaddafi regime. In the plenary of the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer urged U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay to begin the soul-searching. She refused to respond. Click here for video. The text follows below.


UN Watch Statement
Interactive Dialogue with UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights Navi Pillay
UN Human Rights Council Plenary
Delivered by Executive Director Hillel Neuer, March 3, 2011

Madame High Commissioner,

We thank you for your report, and applaud its emphasis on the core principle of accountability. We commend your recent leadership on human rights in Libya. As you stated, “the people of Libya had long been victims of the serious excesses of the Libyan leadership.”

In this regard, given that accountability begins at home, we wish to ask whether your office has begun to reflect upon how, in recent years, the United Nations and its human rights system could have shown greater solidarity with Libya’s victims. We offer five specific questions:

1. Given that your responsibility is to mainstream human rights throughout the U.N. system, we ask: When the Qaddafi regime was chosen to serve on the Security Council for 2008 and 2009; when its representative was chosen as President of the General Assembly in 2009; when Col. Qaddafi’s daughter Ayesha was designated in 2009 a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador — why did you not speak out?

2. According to a study of all your published statements from September 2008 through June 2010, you never once mentioned human rights in Libya. Why?

3. Your report refers to your office’s strong support for the Durban process, for which you served as Secretary-General of its 2009 World Conference on Racism. When a representative of the Libyan regime was chosen to chair that conference’s two-year planning committee, and to chair the main committee, why did you not speak out?

4. When the Qaddafi regime was elected as a member of this council last year, why did you not speak out?

5. Your report refers to the council’s Advisory Committee. In 2008, ignoring the appeal of UN Watch and 25 human rights groups, the council elected Jean Ziegler, the co-founder of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize—a propaganda tool for the regime—to this body. Last year he was made the committee’s vice-president. Why did you not speak out?

And will you now call on the recipients of this prize—former Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1998, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2004, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in 2009, and Turkish PM Erdogan in 2010—to renounce this prize, and to apologize to all the human rights victims—past and present—of Col. Muammar Qaddafi?

Thank you, Madame High Commissioner.


In her subsequent response to the plenary, High Commissioner Pillay addressed other groups' questions, but not those above. For more on UN Watch's action for human rights in Libya, click here.

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