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UN Watch letter

Special Rapporteur accused of ‘gross violations of UN rules’ on Australia trip

Pro-Palestinian groups’ sponsorship of Francesca Albanese’s trip constitutes a 'blatantly prohibited form of favour, gift or remuneration' under UN rules, watchdog says

UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese (centre) addresses the UN, October 2022. Photo: Screenshot/YouTube
UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese (centre) addresses the UN, October 2022. Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

UPDATED: Palestinian solidarity groups in Australia have denied funding United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Rights Francesca Albanese’s recent trip after a UN watchdog NGO claimed she breached UN rules by having her trip to Australia sponsored by pro-Palestinian lobby groups.

Albanese was in Australia last week, during which she addressed the National Press Club, delivered the Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Adelaide and made several media appearances. The staunch Israel critic has in the past posted on social media about the “Jewish lobby”, endorsed comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany and justified terrorism against Israeli civilians.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer accused Albanese of “gross violations of UN rules and basic professional ethics”.

“Her recent trip to Australia as Special Rapporteur was sponsored by known Palestinian lobby groups in that country: The Australian Friends of Palestine Association [AFOPA] and Australia Palestine Advocacy Network [APAN], as well as the Free Palestine Melbourne and Palestinian Christians in Australia,” Neuer wrote, adding that Albanese “repeatedly echoed the Hamas narrative, claiming Israel’s right to self-defence was ‘non-existent’.”

Neuer noted that Article 3 of the Code of Conduct for UN Human Rights Council Special Procedures requires that representatives not “‘seek nor accept instructions’ from any ‘non-governmental organisation or pressure group whatsoever,’ or accept any ‘favour, gift or remuneration’ from any ‘non-governmental source for activities carried out in pursuit of his/her mandate.’”

“The lobbyists’ sponsorship of Ms. Albanese’s trip constitutes a blatantly prohibited form of favour, gift or remuneration under Article 3,” Neuer continued.

“The financial favour further subjects Albanese to prohibited direct or indirect influence. Indeed, these groups have urged her to sue an organisation [the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council] that called out­­­ her pro-Hamas remarks. All of this is on top of Ms. Albanese’s disgraceful antisemitism and support for terrorism.”

He concluded, “In light of the above gross violations of UN rules and basic ethics, we urge you to take action to remove Ms. Albanese immediately from her position as Special Rapporteur.”

Zionist Federation of Australia director of public affairs Bren Carlill said, “The appointment of Francesca Albanese breached the UN’s code of conduct, since she held loudly articulated views showing that she was not impartial when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

“Whilst being in her role, she has breached the special rapporteur code of conduct repeatedly, in particular those articles that refer to ‘fundamental obligations of truthfulness’ and the ‘highest standards of … integrity’, as well as its calls for impartiality, honesty and good faith,” he said.

“This being the case, it does not surprise us at all to learn that she breached the same code of conduct by coming to Australia on a paid trip. If Ms Albanese’s multiple ethical lapses haven’t swayed the UN Secretary-General, hopefully her financial impropriety will.”

Screenshot: Pearls and Irritations

 

Neuer’s assertions were based on an article posted on the website Pearls and Irritations, which stated, “AFOPA sponsored Ms Albanese’s visit to Australia to deliver the 2023 Edward Said Lecture in Adelaide. APAN, Free Palestine Melbourne and Palestinian Christians in Australia supported her visit to Victoria, ACT and NSW.”

But in a letter to The AJN on Sunday, AFOPA said the organisations had not financially supported Albanese’s trip. “The UN funded Ms Albanese’s trip costs. No Palestinian Solidarity group paid for this trip,” the letter from AFOPA chairperson Christa Christaki stated.

“AFOPA organised the logistics of Ms Albanese’s visit, assisted by APAN, Free Palestine Melbourne, and Palestinian Christians in Australia. To be clear – none of these organisations funded Ms Albanese’s trip.”

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