GENEVA, July 20, 2004 – United Nations Watch has submitted evidence to the UN Commission on Human Rights showing that Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, has repeatedly abused his mandate by unfairly singling out Israel for condemnation on matters not concerning food, and has requested he be replaced.
In UN Watch’s July 14th filing to the Commission Chairman, (Link has expired) made public today, the Geneva-based NGO urged the UN to consider that Ziegler’s wrongdoing “undermines the credibility of the institution of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and of the two bodies under which it operates, the Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.”
The UN Watch brief documents a series of actions by Ziegler that evince a pattern of selective treatment of Israel, the only state singled out by the Special Rapporteur for condemnation as a Nazi-like state that commits “state terror” and “war crimes.” By contrast, Ziegler’s recent press release on the ethnic cleansing in Sudan (July 9th) scrupulously omitted any outright condemnation of the Khartoum government for its complicity in the mass displacements, rapes and killings that have affected over one million black Africans in the Darfur region.
Ziegler’s May 28th demand to Caterpillar (Link has expired) that it boycott the Jewish state, sent on official UN stationery, is only the most recent of many incidents where Ziegler has misused the authority of his UN mandate to promote a personal political agenda, asserted UN Watch’s petition to the world’s top human rights body. Earlier in the year Ziegler dispatched a separate letter to the European Union demanding it break its trade agreement with Israel.
A Swiss university teacher and leader in the Socialist International, Ziegler is controversial for his radical opposition to capitalism, the United States and the West. Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks against the U.S., Ziegler announced his political opposition to any potential U.S. military response against the Taliban regime, saying it would have “apocalyptic” consequences and cause “the end for the Afghan nation.” Within weeks, according to the UN Watch brief, “Mr. Ziegler’s political opposition to the war metamorphosed into a ‘food’ objection, with his claim that food drops by the Allies were prohibited. All along, the Special Rapporteur was transparently acting out of his political opposition to the war itself – a matter entirely outside his competence.”
Out of more than 190 countries, the only place in the world to which Ziegler dedicated a special mission in 2003 was the West Bank and Gaza, whose food situation he described as a “catastrophe.” The UN Watch brief acknowledges the humanitarian difficulties faced by Palestinians, yet shows that the food situation in the territories has never placed anywhere on the UN’s Food Emergency list. “According to the Special Rapporteur’s own website, he has never produced a single country mission report on any of the 35 countries currently listed as food emergencies. “It is tragic,” says UN Watch Executive Director Hillel C. Neuer, “that the Special Rapporteur on food is diverting his resources and the world’s attention from our planet’s genuine food emergencies – such as Burundi, Liberia, or Sierra Leone – to pursue his own narrow political agenda.”
Mr. Ziegler’s actions violate the principles of impartiality, non-selectivity and objectivity that govern the work of Special Rapporteurs, claims the petition, and also constitute a breach of the equality principles of the UN Charter.
UN Watch was founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its own Charter. During the last session of the Commission on Human Rights, UN Watch figured as a leading voice for political rights in Zimbabwe, religious rights in China and women’s rights in Iran. The watchdog group filed its petition concerning Ziegler in its capacity as an accredited NGO in special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, the body that oversees the Commission on Human Rights.