Hillel C. Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch, a human rights NGO in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Neuer appears regularly before the United Nations Human Rights Council, intervening for the victims of Darfur, the rights of women, political prisoners in China, Russia and Zimbabwe and the cause of Middle East peace.
Mr. Neuer has been quoted as an expert on U.N. and human rights issues by the New York Times, Die Welt, Le Figaro and Reuters, and has appeared on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. U.S. Congressman Howard Berman, speaking as Ranking Member in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, described Mr. Neuer as “one of the strongest and most informed critics of the UN Human Rights Council.”
Maariv newspaper recently named Neuer to its list of the Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.
Mr. Neuer taught international human rights at the Geneva School of Diplomacy, and in 2008 was elected Vice-President of the Conference of NGOs’ Special Committee on Human Rights in Geneva, on which he served until 2011. Since 2009, Neuer has represented 25 human rights groups as chair of the annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. In a recent profile, Concordia University Magazine said Neuer is “helping to shape history.” (En Francais)
Prior to joining UN Watch, Neuer practiced commercial and civil rights litigation at the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where he represented Oprah Winfrey and other high profile individuals and corporations. Active as a human rights defender, Neuer challenged the New York State prison system in Reynolds v. Goord, a precedent-setting First Amendment case for prisoners’ rights and freedom of religion, published in the AIDS Litigation Digest. Neuer was cited for the high quality of his pro bono advocacy by the Federal Court of New York, as reported in theNew York Law Journal. In Hines v. Widnall, Neuer took on the U.S. Air Force as an advocate for African-Americans claiming a pattern and practice of racial discrimination in hiring and promotions. As an international lawyer, Neuer helped five Bulgarian nurses win a major case in their torture complaint against Libya, Nenova et al. v. Libya, before the UN Human Rights Committee.
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.
Hillel Neuer’s banned U.N. speech from 2007 became the most viewed and written-about NGO speech in the history of the United Nations. News reports described it as a “stunning rebuke of the U.N. Human Rights Council” and “a diplomatic moment to remember.”
WHAT IS UN WATCH?
UN Watch is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter. UN Watch was established in 1993 by the legendary civil rights activist Morris B. Abram, the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. UN Watch participates actively at the UN as an accredited NGO in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). It reports regularly to both.
UN Watch believes in the United Nations’ mission on behalf of the international community to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and provide for a more just world. We believe that even with its shortcomings, the UN remains an indispensable tool in bringing together diverse nations and cultures. UN Watch is keenly aware that member states often ask the UN to fulfill mandates and tasks that are neither feasible nor within the means provided. While it would be unrealistic to ignore the UN’s weaknesses, we advocate finding ways to build on its strengths and use its limited resources effectively.
UN Watch is foremost concerned with the just application of UN Charter principles. Areas of interest include: UN management reform, the UN and civil society, equality within the UN, and the equal treatment of member states. UN Watch notes that the disproportionate attention and unfair treatment applied by the UN toward Israel over the years offers an object lesson (though not the only one) in how due process, equal treatment, and other fundamental principles of the UN Charter are often ignored or selectively upheld.
UN Watch, together with 20 other international NGOs organizes each year the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Started in 2009, this annual human rights conference brings together well-known human rights defenders, victims, activists and former political prisoners generating headlines in top media around the world.
UN Watch is chaired by Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, former U.S. Ambassador to Romania and Special Presidential Emissary for the Cyprus Conflict.
International Advisory Board
Former Swedish Deputy Prime Minister, author, democracy activist
Swiss author, journalist, former Le Monde correspondent at the UN Human Rights Commission
Katrina Lantos Swett
President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Professor Irwin Cotler
Canadian MP, international law professor, human rights advocate and former Justice Minister
Chinese dissident, former political prisoner, survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre, president of Initiatives for China
Russian dissident and former world chess champion
Ambassador Mark P. Lagon
Georgetown University Chair for International Relations and Security, former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. State Department responsible for United Nations-related human rights and humanitarian issues
Lord David Trimble
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, member of British House of Lords, former First Minister of Northern Ireland
Professor Gert Weisskirchen
Former German MP, professor of higher education, and Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly