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Corruption Inside the UN is More Serious Than You Think

by Lale Şevval Göncüoğlu

February 21, 2022

The United Nations was established after the second world war, aimed a global corporation to stop another disastrous war and work to build a better world. And after 77 years since its founding, I regret telling the readers of this article that the UN has failed to fulfill its mission.

Currently, the corruption inside the UN is not limited to peacekeepers raping girls and women in conflict zones and sexual harassment toward the UN staff. Today, the United Nation’s human rights office is delivering activists’ names to countries, violating international laws, and betraying the global community’s trust.

The First Discovery

In 2012, human rights lawyer Emma Reilly joined the UN without knowing what she would discover. She didn’t know at the time that she would be the person who realized the transmission of activists’ and whistleblowers’ names to China, a country that commits genocide toward Uyghur Muslims. Reilly first learned the delivery of names in 2013 when China delegation requested information about the Uyghurs who applied to the UN human rights council for accreditation. Reilly and her colleagues objected to the request and informed the board. Later on, a meeting was held with Chinese officials, which Reilly also joined. China argued that these people who applied to the UN are ”separatists” and ”terrorists” and the UN is obligated to deliver the names.

Even though Reilly delivered a written objection, the human rights council branch chief decided to hand the names over to China. After the first of giving names, the human rights office also denied Reilly’s further request for an investigation. When the calendars showed 2017, the cases involving Reilly were leaked to the public. Upon this event, the UN made a false press release, though admitting its action. In addition, there are documents confirming that the former High Commissioner Prince Zeid’s sent a memo to the staff defending this policy, along with UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet admitting the policy but address it as something UN is obligated to do.

Hidden Details

It is also important to point out that Reilly brought this case to the ethics committee. However, the judge on her case was removed immediately before publishing his report. Reilly believe that this is not a coincidence since the judge agreed with Reilly on the situation and the necessity of an investigation. Another worth mentioning that Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet are aware of this ongoing policy, and even António Guterres’s admitted to Reilly that the issue ”came to his attention but can’t do anything about it.”

The Main Problem

Last summer, I had the pleasure to talk with Reilly as part of the Uyghur Liberation podcast project. She pointed out one of the main problems of this endless corruption: The incapability of Secretary-General António Guterres to govern the institution. António Guterres approved Reilly’s request for an investigation, but the lower-level officials denied doing so. Guterres’s inability to pursue the officials to follow his order and poorly managing the situation eventually came to a point where ”this ongoing policy came to his attention, but he can’t do anything about it”. We can only wonder what we will see in the following years since he re-elected last year for a second term.

Not Giving Up Until a Full Investigation

Currently, the policy of giving activists’ names to China continues, and there are no investigations. The UN also delayed publishing its report on Uyghur Genocide, as China requested to postpone the report after the Beijing Olympics. One of the concerning things about this situation is that China is possibly not the only country that made this request. And if the UN gives the activists names to nondemocratic countries like China, should we also worry about Russians, Ukrainians, Palestinians, and more who fight injustices and seek international protection? As these questions remained unanswered, now both human rights lawyer and whistleblower Emma Reilly continues to make her voice heard and try to start an investigation in the UN. You can follow Reilly on Twitter and visit her website to see the entire timeline and evidence, which I benefited from for this article.


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