We could tell you about how several Members of the European Parliament’s genuine positions on human rights were abused by Indian Chronicles – the name we gave to the 15-year operation we exposed yesterday. But here, on this Human Rights Day, we will focus exclusively on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Our investigation was able to show that the Srivastava Group – a New Delhi based conglomerate – controls 10 UN-accredited NGOs, most of them “resurrected”, and currently 9 of whom speak regularly before the UNHRC.
One of these NGOs is the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace (CSOP), the first organization resurrected by the Srivastava-backed network. The CSOP was created “during World War II to promote the formation of a United Nations as successor to the failed League of Nations”. Even beyond hijacking the notion of peace, the network resurrected a man considered as the “Grandfather of International Human Rights Law in the US” and former chairman of the CSOP, Professor Louis B. Sohn. Louis Sohn passed away in 2006. After his death, his name is used to register a web domain, and he is listed as participating at a session of the UNHRC in 2007, and as attending an event organized by the Institute of Gilgit-Baltistan Studies in 2011 in Washington DC.
Another NGO we found appropriating the subject of peace and human rights is the International Club for Peace Research (ICPR). This African organisation was resurrected in 2009 and impersonated by Indian Chronicles until 2012. It was used to speak about Pakistan at the UNHRC and to organize events and demonstrations. On its archived website, created by Indian Chronicles, we can see a total hijacking of the notion of peace once again, including a quote by Mother Teresa used to ultimately slam Pakistan. The name of the founder of the real ICPR, who has worked at the United Nations since 2000, was hijacked to register the domain name.
The list continues. Next comes the World Environment and Resources Council (WERC), again an extinguished NGO resurrected by the network. Besides “speaking” at the UNHRC, this organisation’s name is now used in the media to oppose the construction of a dam in Pakistan. Here, the name of the organisation offers the mirage of global support from the environmentalist civil society to the World Sindhi Congress, which – in fact – delivers a speech at the UN.
These NGOs are mostly represented by students at the UNHRC. Luis Lema in Le Temps reveals that these students were paid 200 CHF (186 EUR) in cash to speak at the UNHRC, and that they were given the text they had to read only a few minutes before their interventions. In Les Jours, Nicolas Quenel and Antoine Hasday detail how a proxy recruiter was used to hire these students and pay them with cash. In other words, speaking at the UNHRC was just another student job; we do not think it should be.
It is important to keep in mind that our report is not an investigation into human rights or minority rights, whose voices must be heard. It is also crucial to remember that India is not the only country playing this game. Overall, we were astonished by the amount of fakery interfering in the operations and integrity of the UNHRC.
On this Human Rights Day, we believe that the international community has a responsibility to act, before the UNHRC is – unfortunately and with severe consequences for the authentic human rights agenda – considered to be nothing more than a farce. These words will sound strong for some, but we could not find any better to describe the fact that the Canners Permanent International Committee- an organisation specialised in promoting canned foods which ceased to exist in 2007 – is paying students in cash to criticize Pakistan at the United Nations, in 2020.