United Nations Watch is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter.
United Nations Watch was established in 1993 by legendary civil rights activist Morris B. Abram, the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
United Nations 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.
United Nations 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.
United Nations 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.
United Nations 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. United Nations 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.
United Nations 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, reported by major media around the world.
United Nations Watch is a leader at the UN in the struggle against antisemitism, and campaigns at world bodies against all forms of racism and discrimination.
United Nations Watch is chaired by Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, former U.S. Ambassador to Romania and Special Presidential Emissary for the Cyprus Conflict.
From 1993 to 2000, United Nations Watch was affiliated with the World Jewish Congress, and then in 2001 with the American Jewish Committee. As of 2013, United Nations Watch was no longer affiliated with any organization, and is fully independent.
International Advisory Board
Ambassador Diego Arria
Venezuelan opposition leader, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations and President of the Security Council
Swiss author, journalist, former Le Monde correspondent at the UN Human Rights Commission
Professor Irwin Cotler
Canadian MP, international law professor, human rights advocate and former Justice Minister
Baroness Ruth Deech
Member of British House of Lords, academic, lawyer, bioethicist, former Principal of St Anne’s College at Oxford University and chair of Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority from 1994 to 2002
Senator Linda Frum
Member of the Canadian Senate from 2009 to 2021, journalist, best-selling author, former contributing editor to Maclean’s, columnist with the National Post and Gemini-Award winning documentarian
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
Katrina Lantos Swett
President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, former Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Professor Gert Weisskirchen
Former German MP, professor of higher education, and Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Dr. Einat Wilf
Author, intellectual, former Member of the Israeli Parliament and Goldman Visiting Professor at Georgetown University
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
“I deeply appreciate the valuable work performed by UN Watch. I believe that informed and independent evaluation of the United Nations’ activities will prove a vital source as we seek to adapt the Organization to the needs of a changing world. I can promise you that I will pay close attention to your observations and views in the years ahead.”
—Letter to Ambassador Morris B. Abram, Chairman of United Nations Watch, Jan. 30, 1997.
“Today, Morris’s many contributions over the years are known to us all. He has become a forceful advocate of freedom, tolerance and civil rights. He has served no fewer than five United States Presidents. And he has embraced, as one of his main causes, the fate of Jews around the world and their hopes of living fruitful lives, free from discrimination and fear. He has, in short, proved himself a global citizen of the first rank. I say this even as head of an organization which has been on the receiving end of some sharp criticism from UN Watch, Morris’s current passion. Don’t get me wrong. We don’t agree with everything Morris says, but we can take it.
— UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Tribute to United Nations Watch Founder Morris B. Abram
(UN Press Release SG/SM/7260, 15 December 1999)
United Nations Office at Geneva Director-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze:
“Allow me to pay tribute to the valuable work of UN Watch in support of the just application of values and principles of the United Nations Charter and support for human rights for all.”
—Statement Delivered at Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, March 16, 2006.