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Posted on on May 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


UN Access Craved by HRW, Amnesty Get Job, Who Watches the UN?


By Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press at the UN (ICP and FUNCA).


UNITED NATIONS, April 30 — Who watchdogs the UN on human rights, on issues from bringing cholera to Haiti to working with rapists in the Congo, and with child soldier recruiters in Mali?


  When Inner City Press asked Human Rights Watch to disclose what issues its Ken Roth was raising to UN Security General Ban Ki-moon, HRW’s UN lobbyist Philippe Bolopion declined, saying that HRW wants to maintain access: “To preserve our ability to have frank discussions with UN officials and advance our advocacy goals, we don’t typically communicate on the content of discussions we have with them.”


  Amnesty International with its wider membership has generally been more active. But a question is raised this week by the UN hiring as a spokesperson for its Department of Political Affairs the head of Amnesty’s UN advocacy office Jose Luis Diaz (whose work, for example on Sri Lanka, we have in full disclosure praised in the past).


  Under the same “anti revolving door” provision that prohibit bank regulators from going directly to work for bank, some might wonder about a person going from a job which presumably includes watchdogging the UN’s own performance directly to working for the UN.


 With all due respect the same questions arise: how long was the job being applied for? Was there any recusal?


  For the human rights “community,” if there is one, these may be uncomfortable questions. A UN job may be viewed as better paying, or as offering a better opportunity to impact rather than just complain about issues.


  But are there safeguards, when already the UN is hardly held to account?



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