Hillel C. Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a human rights NGO in Geneva, Switzerland.
Originally from Montreal, Neuer has written on law, politics and international affairs for publications such as the International Herald Tribune, Juriste International, Commentary, The New Republic Online and the Christian Science Monitor. He appears regularly before the UN Human Rights Council, intervening for a range of causes including the rape victims of Darfur, political prisoners in Cuba, and Middle East peace. He testified as an expert witness before hearings of the U.S. Congress on UN reform in 2007 and 2011, and is regularly quoted by major media organizations including the New York Times, Al Jazeera , Die Welt, Le Figaro, Reuters, Al Ahram. Neuer has debated UN human rights issues on CNN, Fox News, and the BBC.
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. Neuer served as a law clerk to the Supreme Court of Israel and a Graduate Fellow at the Shalem Center think tank. He holds a BA in intellectual history and political science from Concordia University, a BCL and LLB from the McGill University Faculty of Law, and an LLM in comparative constitutional law from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Neuer is a member of the New York bar and co-author of the Annotated Copyright Act of Canada and Directors and Officers—A Canadian Legal Manual.
Neuer holds four degrees. He graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Arts in intellectual history and political science. He also has a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Bachelor of Laws from the McGill University Faculty of Law, as well as a Master of Laws in comparative constitutional law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Neuer is among the leading advocates at the United Nations for human rights victims in Darfur. Neuer chaired the NGO Activist Summit For Darfur in 2007. He challenged Sudan in 2007 for its rejection of human rights experts in Darfur. He demanded justice for child victims in Darfur in 2005.
In August 2007, Neuer was the keynote speaker at the Save Darfur Canada rally in Montreal. Neuer spoke together with Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, former commander of UN peacekeepers in the Balkans; Prof. Payam Akhavan, international law professor at McGill, and former senior advisor to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Simon Deng, a black Christian from the south of Sudan who was sold into slavery in the Muslim north; Miss World Canada Nazanin Afshin-Jam; and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel.
Neuer has represented human rights victims in regular testimony before the UN Human Rights Council. His outspoken advocacy for student Jenya Taranenko preceded her release from a Russian prison. Neuer debated Zimbabwe's UN ambassador on CNN over the Mugabe regime's dismal human rights record. In 2007 he spoke out for the Arab, Kurdish, and Baha'i victims of violations in Iran. In 2004 he intervened on behalf of victims of torture and censorship in Cote d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Nepal, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Neuer also spoke out for the Lebanese victims of Syrian political assassinations.
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 quality of his pro bono advocacy on a precedent-setting First Amendment case for prisoners’ rights and freedom of religion. As an associate in the case of Reynolds v. Goord (United States District Court, Southern District of New York), Neuer helped defend the rights of a prisoner and contributed to the successful challenge of the coercive New York State prison tuberculosis control program. Neuer also worked on a major action for thousands of African-American members of the U.S. Air Force who claimed a pattern and practice of discrimination on the basis of race.
Neuer was an associate in the Paul, Weiss legal team that successfully represented Raytheon Company in various claims against Hughes Electronics Corporation surrounding Raytheon's acquisition of Hughes’ defense business in 1997. Under terms of a 2001 settlement agreement, Hughes Electronics reimbursed Raytheon $635.5 million of its $9.5 billion purchase price.
Neuer's legal work as an associate also contributed to achieving victory for the California Public Utilities Commission in its efforts to uphold the validity of its settlement of various regulatory disputes with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) arising from that company's bankruptcy. On December 22, 2003, Judge Montali of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California entered an order confirming a plan of reorganization for PG&E that was based on PG&E's settlement with the Commission. The Commission had approved the underlying settlement agreement with PG&E by a vote of three Commissioners in favor and two Commissioners opposed. The two dissenting Commissioners then purported to appeal to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California from the confirmation order entered by the bankruptcy court. The dissenting Commissioners argued, among other things, that the confirmation order unlawfully restricted the future exercise of their duties as Commissioners and infringed their rights under the First Amendment to oppose the settlement. On July 15, 2004, Judge Walker of the United States District Court heard oral argument on motions by the Commission and PG&E to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the dissenting Commissioners lacked appellate standing. Later that same day, Judge Walker issued a 23-page opinion granting the motions. Neuer was credited for his work on the Paul, Weiss legal team that achieved the victory.
On November 1, 2007, Neuer presented a report on the United Nations and antisemitism at the invitation of Yale University. The day after giving his presentation, Neuer visited a local restaurant in Needham, Massachusetts, where an employee called the police and falsely reported that Neuer was carrying a gun, leading the police to take him into custody. On the next business day, the Norfolk County court fully cleared Neuer and ruled that the police had acted without probable cause. Initial media reports of a "stand-off" were found to be false and police confirmed that Neuer himself had called 911 twice seeking to exit from the police action that he believed was in pursuit of criminals near the restaurant. "Mr. Neuer was an innocent victim who went to a restaurant in Needham and was traumatized and almost killed," said Neuer's attorney David G. Eisenstadt. "There was no justification to charge Mr. Neuer with anything." On March 31, 2008, the Town of Needham, on behalf of the police, sent Mr. Neuer a full apology, saying he was "an innocent victim caught up in the events of that day."
In 2009 Hillel Neuer became involved in the controversy over the involvement of the Brand Israel campaign in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. In particular Hillel was angered at the involvement of activist Naomi Klein in the protest. Hillel wrote: "Supporters of liberal democratic values may have a hard time understanding why anti-globalization activist Naomi Klein has recruited Jane Fonda and other stars to boycott the Toronto International Film Festival for the crime of showing films from Tel Aviv." Subsequently, UN Watch, the organization which Hillel heads, published a report on its website entitled "Naomi Klein Exposed: The Unauthorized Biography".
Hillel's article on Naomi Klein resulted in the National Post publishing a response from Judy Rebick. Rebick wrote: "Naomi Klein didn't start the protest, but she used her contacts and her celebrity to make it more effective. The focus is on her because she is today one of the most prominent Jewish intellectuals in the world, and she is starting to be vocal in her criticism of Israeli human rights violations. She is risking a lot to speak out so passionately on this subject."
In 2009 Neuer criticized prominent anti-globalization activist and author Naomi Klein for allegedly distorting her biography regarding a 1990 article she wrote entitled "Victim to Victimizer." He posted her article on the internet under the title "Naomi Klein Exposed: The Unauthorized Biography". This online publication of her original 1990 article and the challenge to her official biography angered Klein, who lashed out at Neuer's article, calling it "a wacky stalker article."
This followed an article by Naomi Klein in the September 2009 issue of Harper’s Magazine where she was critical of UN Watch and of Neuer. In the article, among other things, she wrote “Hillel Neuer of UN Watch would not even provide his organization’s annual budget, or a full list of its board members, or a detailed list of funders. When contacted by a fact-checker, he said he refused ‘to aid or abet Naomi Klein’s apologetics for the fascist, misogynist, and genocidal regimes that organized Durban II in order to hide their crimes, scapegoat Western democracies, and demonize Jews.’”