In recent years the Canadian lawyer who heads UN Watch has expanded the audience of the Geneva-based NGO and consolidated its reputation
23 June 2014
Tribune de Genève
By Alain Jourdan
At the head of UN Watch for the past 10 years, the Canadian Hillel Neuer is a human rights activist who inspires fear and dread. His non-governmental organization excels in the art of applying pressure where it hurts the most. When realpolitik causes governments not to dwell on human rights violations in China, for example, UN Watch goes on the offensive.
Hillel Neuer could have continued his brilliant career as an attorney, which he began in New York at a large firm, to make a name for himself and a fortune. Yet even then, he chose instead to defend the widow and the orphan, working pro bono for the most unfortunate. And he even managed to embarrass the chief medical officer of the New York state prison system, who had placed a prisoner in solitary confinement under false medical pretenses.
Wall Street Journal Live interviews UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer on the U.N. cultural agency’s decision to postpone an exhibit on the history of Jews in Israel
After UNESCO invoked Arab opposition and cancelled last week’s scheduled launch of an exhibit on the Jewish people’s 3,500-year relationship with Israel, the agency came under heavy criticism from the U.S. and Canada, many NGOs, and hundreds of emails sent to director-general Irina Bokova by UN Watch followers. Now she promises to open it in June. Can UNESCO be trusted? Click above to watch UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer interviewed on Wall Street Journal Live.
A U.N. human rights official in Gaza slammed the Palestinian authority and the UN Human Rights Council for their delaying of a vote on the Goldstone report, saying the Abbas government “wasted a valuable opportunity,” reports the Palestine Information Center.
Saul Takahashi, an official of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), lamented the Council’s delay, saying it “would impose new facts on the ground through exercising political pressures to undermine the [Goldstone] report,” which he called “the strongest executive report in UN history.”
Hillel Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch, a human rights NGO in Geneva, Switzerland. He has taught international human rights at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and published essays and op-eds on law, human rights and international affairs for the International Herald Tribune, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Commentary magazine, The New Republic Online, South Africa’s Sunday Times, and other publications.He appears regularly before the UN Human Rights Council, intervening for the victims of Darfur, the rights of women, political prisoners in Zimbabwe and Cuba, and the cause of Middle East peace. Neuer is regularly quoted by major media organizations including the New York Times, Die Welt, Le Figaro and Reuters. He has debated UN and human rights issues on CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and Fox News. In 2008, Neuer was elected vice-president of the Geneva Special NGO Committee on Human Rights.
Prior to joining UN Watch, Neuer practiced commercial and civil rights litigation at the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Active as a human rights defender, Neuer was cited by the Federal Court of New York for the high quality of his pro bono advocacy on a precedent-setting First Amendment case for prisoners’ rights and freedom of religion, as reported in AIDS Litigation Digest and the New York Law Journal. Originally from Montreal, Neuer served as a law clerk for Justice Itzhak Zamir at the Supreme Court of Israel. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Western Society and Culture from Concordia University, a B.C.L. and LL.B. from the McGill University Faculty of Law, and a LL.M. in comparative constitutional law from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Neuer is a member of the New York Bar and the author of several legal publications.