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UN Watch accuses special rapporteur of running international anti-Israel network, taking payments

Francesca Albanese has a history of anti-Israel and antisemitic statements predating her UN appointment

Francesca Albanese, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, attends a side event during the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 26, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

The NGO watchdog group, UN Watch, released two reports in the first half of June, accusing UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese of “running a global influence network of more than 100 individuals and NGOs to target Israel.” 

The special rapporteur is supposed to be an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate human rights conditions and is expected to demonstrate impartiality. 

Candidates for the position are explicitly asked if there is “any reason, currently or in the past, that could call into question the candidate’s moral authority and credibility" or if "the candidate hold any views or opinions that could prejudice the manner in which the candidate discharges the mandate.” 

Albanese has a long history of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel statements, including antisemitic comments, predating her appointment to the position. 

UN Watch founder Hillel Neuer began a petition calling for Albanese's removal from her position due to her antisemitic bias.

On June 3, UN Watch released a report, based on a letter sent to UN Sec.-Gen. António Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, alleging Albanese accepted honorariums and payments from pro-Palestine activists and advocacy groups, in violation of the position's Code of Conduct. 

While the role of special rapporteur is a volunteer position, technically independent of the United Nations, expenses for any travel related to investigative duties are to be paid for from a designated UN budget. The person holding the office is forbidden from accepting “any governmental or non-governmental source” of payment for “activities carried out in pursuit of his/her mandate.” 

On Tuesday, UN Watch released another report, accusing Albanese of “running a global influence network of more than 100 individuals and NGOs to target Israel by orchestrating lawfare campaigns, whitewashing Hamas terrorism, and cynically manipulating governments into funding UNRWA.” 

According to the report, members of the network were encouraged to use “overtly racist messaging” to convince “officials from right-wing, anti-immigration governments” that “failure to fund UNRWA (despite its terror ties) would mean ‘millions of Palestinians are forced to flee the Middle East.’” 

UN Watch also revealed that members of this global lobbying network in support of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) and against Israel were also part of a group that “helped run the Independent Review of UNRWA,” in a clear conflict of interest. 

UN Watch noted that, alongside Albanese, who is listed as a co-founder of the network, Lex Takkenberg, the other alleged leader of the network, bragged on 𝕏 about being "among the first to contribute to the discussion on genocide after 7th of October.” 

In their report, UN Watch documented that most members of the network have a history of bias against Israel, and many have past or current associations with UNRWA. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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