The UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has designated former Swiss parliamentarian Jean Ziegler, the internationally respected human rights advocate and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, to head up the Council’s special commission to investigate the activities of vulture funds. The resolution introduced at the UNHRC by Argentina and passed on Sept. 26, condemning vulture funds’ activities as a violation of human rights and the right to development, established the investigative commission, made up of 18 international experts.
The 80-year-old Ziegler has for many years investigated banking criminality, particularly of Swiss banks, and as the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, denounced the use of food in biofuels production as “a crime against humanity,” as food riots were exploding in several nations in 2008.
Discussing his new position in an interview with Argentina’s Pagina 12, published Sunday, Ziegler denounced vultures’ activity as a threat to those nations’ development, and the human rights of their citizens, imposing enormous costs on especially poor countries, which are forced to divert funds for social welfare programs, to pay for the cost of litigation.
Make no mistake, he said, these are “financial groups that represent the highest, most quintessential point of banking criminality. They are not investment funds… they are unregistered, outside of international, multilateral, and binational legality and, in many cases, outside of national legality. All of this, of course, must be proven, and I intend to do so.” It will be a fight, he warned, because big “pressures” will be exerted by the U.S., the UK, and their allies who opposed the Argentine resolution.
The key question, he added, is “who is behind [the vultures]?” He pointed to such big banks as Goldman Sachs and Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) as worthy of investigation, underscoring that the vultures do “the dirty work” for the financial oligarchy by, for example, “combating the Argentine State in U.S. courts. I’m convinced they’re not just isolated speculators, but rather…are an important part of world financial capitalism,” and “take on the specific job of combating sovereign states in the restructuring of debt,” allowing banks to continue with their “normal” activities.
One of Ziegler’s books is We Let Them Die. Originally published in French as Destruction massive: Geopolitique de la faim (2011), it appeared in German as Wir Lassen Sie Verhungern (2012).