A corrupt system which allows the UN chief to continue a second term is likely to keep Antonio Guterres’ seat warm. The only good news is it will boost the number of women candidates in 2027
There is no corruption like political corruption. And no champion of failed states like the UN itself to prove it. Antonio Guterres, a former PM of Portugal mired in a slew of corruption scandals and cover-ups, is almost certain to win a second term as UN Secretary General.
Backed by most of the big guns of the UN Security Council – and most importantly China – Guterres is sitting comfortably to continue a second term in an election process which stinks of foul play and ‘jobs for the boys’. Civil society, the one institution which could have played a role in electing a UN chief who could actually clean up the internal graft of the organisation, was not allowed, in effect, to field candidates, leaving member states alone to put forward theirs alone.
While this is bad news for conflict around the world in Africa or in Middle East hotspots like Syria and Yemen – where the United Nations under the helm of Guterres has proved to be spectacularly ineffective – it’s also rough trade for human rights itself, a farce given that the UN’s principles are built on their very sanctity.
And you don’t even need to look farther than the institution itself to see how women are still the victims of sexploitation on a scale never seen before – both on the frontlines of gruesome rape and assault by Blue Helmets but also within the corridors of the UN itself.
It’s getting almost impossible for any objective reporting on Guterres or his administration in recent years as the UN chief had the only journalist who was prepared to investigation graft physically thrown out of the building and his access revoked, which should tell you all you need to know about the UN boss. But within the UN itself, there has been a flurry of activity orchestrated by Guterres himself to make it appear that he is in fact making headway with nailing rape and sexploitation carried out by management usually against junior members of female staff.
“Last safe haven for abusers”
But the reality is that sexual assault, bulling and harassment on women who fall foul of the system is on the increase as Guterres has done absolutely nothing to reform the UN’s internal system which is rotten to the core and in nearly all cases protects the (male) perpetrators. A recent investigation carried out by the author himself found that a UK parliamentary report called the aid sector in general as the “last safe haven for abusers” and was quite clear when dedicating an entire chapter to the UN that abuse was rife. The UK report called for a completely new set of rules which would protect both assault victims and whistle-blowers, for the UN itself to outsource any investigations of sexual abuse and more poignantly for the UN rules themselves which block prosecutions being carried out by victims as perpetrators are protected by diplomatic immunity.
My own investigation though found that such a call from the UK is just hot air and almost certainly likely to backfire on both member states like the UK the UN itself – as a failure to actually act, rather than just churn impressive statements – is a gilt-edged guarantee that abusers will do what they have been doing even more than before.
The investigation examines the claims of a Georgian UN official who claims she was raped by her boss while working for the infamous WIPO organisation in Geneva – a UN body so rotten to the core with internal corruption that it was investigated by a U.S. Congress committee who called it the “UAFA” of the UN.
Yet her accusations of bullying, character defamation and blatant harassment subsequent to her rape ordeal are even more chilling.
Draconian treatment by senior officials within the UN towards rape victims or even whistleblowers is not being tackled at all by Guterres who, curiously, while UNHCR boss for a decade, shocked many by actually firing an investigator who lifted the lid on a sex abuse scandal there.
The UK report is not meant to do anything except make the MPs who wrote it feel better with themselves for actually doing nothing about such rape cases – two investigated by my own report. It is governments like the UK who give Guterres the nod and the wink to keep on doing what he’s doing which signals to us all just how rotten the UN is and just how far corruption can take it and its boss.
The UN under Guterres is literally sinking in its own effluent of graft although curiously the Biden administration has not formally and publicly endorsed Guterres – but hinted that the U.S. needs the UN, although can’t say why or what for.
In remarks to a Security Council debate on multilateralism, in early May Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of a renewed American commitment to the UN Charter and international cooperation after the tumultuous Trump years.
“Nationalism is resurgent, repression is rising. Rivalries among countries are deepening — and attacks against the rules-based order are intensifying,” he said to his fellow Council members and the public. “Now, some question whether multilateral cooperation is still possible.”
“Multilateralism is still our best tool for tackling big global challenges, like the one that’s forcing us to gather on a screen today rather than around a table,” Blinken added, describing the Council’s virtually staged session because of the pandemic.
What other hands-down argument do you need? Nailed it.