”Is there still hope for the ‘morally corrupt’ UN?” – Holland’s Telegraaf quotes UN Watch

UN Watch was quoted on the front page of the Telegraaf, the largest Dutch daily morning newspaper. See translation below.


Front page of Telegraaf, November 4, 2023:

‘United Nations not credible’

AMSTERDAM The fact that Iran’s regime, of all people, was made chairman of a UN human rights forum in Geneva this week proves how unbelievable the United Nations has become.

Critics of the organization, founded after WWII out of idealism for a better world, also refer to the impasse in tackling Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. Director Hillel Neuer of the independent watchdog UN Watch puts it this way: “Ambassadors prefer to avoid confrontations so that they can get into their Mercedes and enjoy a quiet weekend in comfort. The UN is morally corrupt.”


From Telegraaf, November 4, 2023, p. 6:

Is there still hope for the ‘morally corrupt’ UN?

World organization displays its own lack of credibility

Ruthless regimes that can present themselves as champions of human rights and dictators for whom the red carpet goes out. The United Nations, founded after the Second World War out of idealism for a better world, seems to have become a caricature of itself. Is the world organization on its last legs?

A hooker convention. This is how the New York Post characterized the influx of expensive escorts during the last UN summit in the American metropolis last September. The arrival of the global meeting circus to the UN headquarters on the East River had attracted prostitutes from Las Vegas to Europe. They could do good business, the newspaper knew. Dignitaries would readily fork out thousands of dollars to be pampered in their hotel room after an exhausting day of meetings.

It was not the only side issue that attracted attention in September. There were whispers among diplomats about wishes from heads of state, government leaders and other hot travelers who had brought their other half. Many first lady and prime ministerial partners did not miss the opportunity of a visit to the Big Apple. It meant even more work with separate programs, as long as there was no shopping. “Some UN employees feel more like hostesses than diplomats,” sighed a Western representative in those days.

Meanwhile, the UN summit itself was a flop. Leaders of four of the five permanent Security Council members, China, Russia, France and Great Britain, did not show up at all. Russian aggression in Ukraine led to words of admonition, but no condemnation or action. And the ‘sustainability agenda’ announced with much fanfare was hopelessly behind schedule.

“The UN lacks credibility and effectiveness,” Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar summarized the mood. President Zelensky of Ukraine had already noted this earlier. The impasse over tackling Russia elicited a clear message from him: take action, or abolish the UN.


The organization proved this week how unbelievable the UN has become by making Iran chairman of a human rights forum in Geneva. How can a regime that systematically tortures and kills people, where women are not guaranteed their lives if they do not want to wear the mandatory headscarf, where gays are hanged and political opponents are executed, hold such a position? “It’s as if the fox has to guard the chicken coop,” fulminated an American newspaper.

At least as bad was the turmoil of UN officials, who hid behind rules and made mention of the usual rotation. “It is the path of least resistance to keep good relations,” says director Hillel Neuer of the independent watchdog UN Watch. “Ambassadors prefer to avoid confrontations so that they can get into their Mercedes and enjoy a quiet can go into the weekend. The UN is morally corrupt.”

In recent decades, the UN has had varying degrees of success with peace missions, interventions and the condemnation of aggression in Korea and Kuwait. More often than not, the world organization turned out to be powerless and paralyzed by the right of veto in the Security Council, for example in Arab-Israeli conflicts. After the Second World War, the organization was built on Western interests and ideals. But with the arrival of new UN members after periods of decolonization and the Cold War, with very different views and goals, this gradually turned into a monstrosity.


Iran’s disgrace is therefore not an isolated incident. For example, the strictly Islamic Saudi Arabia received enough votes to join the UN Commission on Women’s Rights earlier this year. “A pyromaniac has been made a fire chief,” UN Watch sneered at the time. Libya was also crowned a human rights champion under Muammar Gaddafi, a notorious sponsor of terror. In 2003, the regime was given the gavel of the UN Human Rights Commission. ‘Rotating presidency’ was also the argument used here. According to critics, oil dollars were the real reason.

The late President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was perhaps the worst. The dictator, who helped destroy his country, including its healthcare system, was allowed to call himself a goodwill ambassador of the UN health branch, the WHO, in 2017. “The only person whose health 93-year-old Mugabe has taken good care of is himself,” an angry US UN ambassador tweeted, referring to the billionaire’s many trips to private European clinics. After a storm of criticism, the honorary position was withdrawn.

And then there are the scandals: the corruption, the abuse, the mismanagement and the UN rapporteurs who were repeatedly controversial. Such as the American who accused the Dutch police of torture practices in 2022.

Is there still hope? Opinions are divided. Some experts point out the importance of a platform for international dialogue, or insist on the need for reforms (read: a shift in power from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere). Others see the powerlessness in conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East as the final bankruptcy of the UN. “Worse than useless,” one Fox News commentator called the organization.

Waste of time

Neuer: “The UN will not disappear. But countries must speak out and fight for universal values.” He calls the call for reforms a waste of time. “In the end, it only comes down to one thing: collective will.”

UN Watch