UN rights council criticized for featuring allegedly corrupt official on today’s Nelson Mandela Day panel

Australian WIPO chief Francis Gurry is accused of vote-buying,
embargoed tech transfers to Iran and North Korea, and obstructing U.S. congressional inquiry

GENEVA, Sept. 21 – The participation of the UN’s top intellectual property official on today’s Human Rights Council panel for Nelson Mandela International Day is being criticized by UN Watch in light of revelations that his agency shipped embargoed technology to North Korea and Iran, and accusations of misconduct including vote-buying, as reported by Reuters.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental watchdog organization, called on the U.S., the EU and UN rights chief Navi Pillay to explain why Francis Gurry, the Australian head of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is speaking this afternoon on a panel dedicated to human rights and Nelson Mandela’s values.

Panelists are to provide examples of “how the promotion and protection of human rights has been advanced by the values of reconciliation, peace, freedom and racial equality in their societies or personal experiences.”

Yet Neuer said the credibility of the council — which annually passes resolutions condemning abuses by Iran and North Korea — is now harmed by inviting the WIPO chief.

bipartisan letter from the U.S. Congress, signed by House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ranking Member Howard Berman, accuses Gurry of obstructing potentially damning testimony by WIPO staffers regarding the agency’s quiet transfer of U.N.-embargoed technology to North Korea and Iran, which could advance those regimes’ nuclear and missile programs.

Gurry is accused of breaching his pledge to cooperate with a Congressional inquiry into whether the agency’s actions had violated U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

Moreover, as reported by Reuters, Gurry is also accused of pledging the equipment to the two sanctioned countries in exchange for their votes, according to a U.N. lawsuit filed by a former WIPO manager.

The suit also alleges Gurry earmarked posts for member states who backed him in his 2008 election and those whose votes he is trying to secure as part of his 2014 re-election bid.

Two investigators who conducted an internal WIPO inquiry into the shipments said: “We simply cannot fathom how WIPO could have convinced itself that most Member States would support the delivery of equipment to countries whose behavior was so egregious it forced the international community to impose embargoes, and where the deliveries, if initiated by the recipient countries, would violate a Member State’s national Laws.”

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