Watchdog Group Accuses U.N. Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur of Taking Payments from Activist Groups

U.N. envoy Francesca Albanese speaks at a U.N. Human Rights Council press conference, July 2023. Source: U.N. Human Rights Council/YouTube.

On Thursday, the watchdog group U.N. Watch accused the Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese, of  “gross violations of U.N. rules and professional ethics.”

Albanese is in charge of investigating “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law”

According to the legal complaint filed to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türkwith, Albanese allegedly accepted honorariums and payments from activist and advocacy groups in violation of the U.N. code of conduct.

The role of special rapporteur is a volunteer position technically independent of the United Nations. Expenses are to be paid for out of a designated budget and acceptance of payments, including those for travel and honorariums, from “any governmental or non-governmental source” for “activities carried out in pursuit” of the special rapporteur’s mandate is strictly prohibited.

Albanese also has a history of antisemitic, anti-Israel comments.

She has claimed that Israel has no right of self-defense after the Hamas terrorists on October 7.

She claims “self-defense” has a “narrow meaning under Article 51 of the U.S. charter” and that it does not give the Jewish state the right to defend itself against Hamas terrorists who invaded their land and slaughtered 1,400 civilians, kidnapped others, including babies, and used rape as a tool of war.

A report at the Washington Free Beacon explains Albanese believes the definition requires the threat to come from “another state,” and since she claims Hamas comes from an “occupied territory,” Israel’s defense of its own citizens is a crime.

She also denied that the terrorist group’s hatred of Jews was behind the attack.

The U.N. Watch complaint alleges that Albanese violated the UN code of conduct by illegally requesting payments for work done in her official capacity and argues that she circumvented the prohibition on accepting remuneration by directing honorariums to be paid to her research assistant.

Correspondence cited by UN Watch in the complaint shows Albanese’s assistant, Sara Troian, requesting payment for a lecture on Albanese’s behalf.

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, said, “Francesca Albanese’s unethical financial practices are a gross violation of UN rules. The United Nations should take immediate action to investigate these allegations and hold her accountable.”

The complaint also includes communications from one of Albanese’s volunteer assistants requesting that an offered honorarium be directed to an unnamed research institute that supports the work of Albanese’s office.

Further, the complaint alleges that a Palestinian lobby group sponsored Albanese’s November 2023 trip to Australia, with a cost in excess of $20,000. Travel for special rapporteurs, according to U.N. Watch, is supposed to be paid for by the United Nations. Accepting sponsorship from lobby groups is prohibited.

Jewish News Syndicate reports:

The U.N. Watch complaint demands an investigation into the alleged violations, including responses and documentation from the United Nations regarding the sources of funding for Albanese’s travel as part of her mandate and a copy of any notes detailing any meetings Albanese and her office had during the visit to Australia and New Zealand.

The complaint notes that the trip does not appear in mandated U.N. disclosure forms, indicating that the United Nations did not pay for the travel costs.

“The disgraceful support for terrorism and promotion of antisemitism” by Albanese “casts a shadow upon the reputation of the United Nations as whole,” the complaint states. “This is now compounded by serious financial improprieties.”

The NGO urged the United Nations to “demonstrate its commitment to openness and transparency by responding forthwith to our requests concerning the grave matters outlined above.”

You can read the full complaint below.

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