Bullet holes in the window of a restaurant targeted in Paris attack
Bullet holes in the window of a restaurant targeted in Paris attackReuters

The UN Watch watchdog group on Wednesday called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the UN ambassadors of the United States, Britain, France, and Germany, to condemn a UN Human Rights Council official for claiming that last month’s Paris attacks were caused by the United States, Western colonialism, capitalism, and “Israeli settlers”.

The allegations by Alfred de Zayas, the UNHRC’s Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, were made in an essay last month which UN Watch described as “offensive and morally perverse”.

In the essay, UN Watch said in a statement, de Zayas implicitly justified the Paris attacks as “a response to grave injustices and ongoing abuses perpetrated by the dominant, primarily developed countries, against populations of less developed countries.”

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer said leading figures at the United Nations need to condemn the remarks, noting that 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.”

“We urge the UN Secretary-General to publicly reject Mr. De Zayas’ highly offensive comments, and to 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,” Neuer said on Wednesday.

“We request the UN Secretary-General to 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,” he added.

“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,” said Neuer.

In the 1500-word essay written in response to the Paris attacks, de Zayas purported 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.”

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”, according to excerpts quoted by UN Watch.