Hillel Neuer
International human rights lawyer, writer & activist

Paris attacks: UN official blames US, West & Israel; “They came to us because we went to them”

“They came to us because we went to them”

Press Conference by Mr. Alfred de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.
Mr. Alfred de Zayas, the UNHRC’s Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the UN ambassadors of the U.S., UK, France, and Germany, must condemn a UN Human Rights Council official for his offensive and morally perverse essay blaming last month’s Paris attacks on the U.S., Western colonialism, capitalism, and “Israeli settlers” — and implicitly justifying them as “a response to grave injustices and ongoing abuses perpetrated by the dominant, primarily developed countries, against populations of less developed countries.”

Leading figures at the United Nations need to condemn the remarks. Indeed, the UN chief had done so in a virtually-identical case in 2013, when in a blog post former UN expert Richard Falk similarly blamed the Boston Marathon terror attacks on “American global domination” and “Tel Aviv.”

The UN Secretary-General must publicly reject Mr. De Zayas’ highly offensive comments, and clarify that no grievance, real or imagined, could ever justify the horrific terrorist attacks that killed 130 innocent people in Paris, wounding hundreds more. To grant even the slightest exoneration to the Islamic State and its criminal perpetrators is to insult the memory of the victims.

The UN Secretary-General must remind all special rapporteurs of the need to understand that while they have independent status, their public comments — when the so-called attempt to “understand” terrorism crosses the line into moral exoneration — can undermine the work and credibility of the United Nations.

Sadly, with the Human Rights Council’s democratic credentials about to sink to the lowest level ever — only 38% of the incoming 2016 membership will be free democracies — we fear more appointments of UN rights experts who will serve as apologists for dictators and terrorism, adding to existing figures like De Zayas, Jean Ziegler and Idriss Jazairy.

De Zayas Blames West For Paris Attacks, Justifies “Tactics of the Underdog”

In a a 1500-word essay written in response to the Paris attacks, Alfredo de Zayas, the UNHRC’s “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” — an anti-Western mandate which he acknowledges was initiated by Cuba — purports to examine “the root causes of terrorism,” laying most of the blame on what he portrays as Western “abuses of the powerful.” Terrorism becomes merely the “tactics of the underdog.”

De Zayas’ argues that “terrorism, albeit neither justified nor justifiable, is partly

Beyond his litany of alleged abuses by Western, former colonialist powers, De Zayas points the finger at “old religious tensions and conflicts” between “Israeli settlers and Palestinian populations,” and twice invokes “Gaza” as well as “occupation.”

Blaming France for Own Misfortune

Apparently blaming former colonial power France for its own misfortune, De Zayas repeatedly indicts “colonialism” in Africa and Asia as well as “the humiliation of whole populations,” saying that “the victims and the survivors” of historic violence “have neither forgotten nor forgiven.”

In a thinly-veiled reference to America, De Zayas says victims are “living in the ruins, in the midst of the destruction wrought by ‘smart weapons,’ often fabricated in one of the so called P5 States and perpetuated by unilateral or multilateral sanctions.” (The U.S. is one of the “Permanent 5” member of the UN Security Council; De Zayas was chosen for his post by Cuba, which sponsors UN mechanisms that condemn all sanctions as human rights abuses.)

While insisting that “nothing will ever justify the killing of innocent people,” this is qualified by De Zayas. “Alas,” he writes, the “point of desperation was reached.”

“The undemocratic and inequitable world order prevailing today,” which is the official subject of De Zayas’ anti-Western UN mandate, “has caused gravest injustice to many peoples worldwide.”

De Zayas lists “idolatries we have invented,” and these include “expansion of markets.” “laissez faire,” “free trade,” and “competition.”

Among the root causes of terrorism, writes De Zayas, “we must acknowledge the accumulation of hatred… because of very real abuses from various origins affecting millions of human beings.”

“They came to us because we went to them,” says the UN expert.

About the Author
Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva, Switzerland. An international lawyer, Neuer has been described by the Tribune de Genève as a human rights activist who is “feared and dreaded” by the world’s dictatorships. Israel's Ma’ariv newspaper ranked Neuer as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.” Hillel Neuer is a renowned speaker who has published widely, testified before the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, and appeared on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. On September 14, 2016, the City of Chicago adopted a resolution declaring “Hillel Neuer Day” in recognition of his work as “one of the world’s foremost human rights advocates.” In June 2018, McGill University awarded Neuer with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, citing his work as “an innovator” in “creating global platforms for courageous dissidents and champions of human rights from around the world,” and for being “a passionate advocate for human rights, fighting tirelessly against discrimination, torture, and injustice."