Francis Gurry, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) of the UN, stands accused of manipulating WIPO's procurement process to steer a contract to a friend and abusing his authority by directing his security team to steal DNA samples from his staff in order to link them to anonymous letters critical of him. The first offense is indicative of unethical conduct and the second suggests - at best - a psychotic episode.
Anders Kompass, Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), was accused of leaking confidential information when he reported to law enforcement, through proper channels, child sexual abuse at a camp for the displaced in the Central African Republic (CAR). At worst, the allegations against Kompass suggest that he is too effective and ethical to be working for the United Nations.
Clearly, one of these two men should have been suspended pending an investigation. And one of them was: Anders Kompass. Francis Gurry remained (and remains) in his post, consulting with representatives of the WIPO Member States about the distribution of the investigators' report finding him culpable of misconduct.
As for Kompass, in response to his reporting the sexual abuse of children to law enforcement, the High Commissioner, Prince Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein of Jordan, had him suspended nine months after the fact. Zeid explained his decision by saying that he feared Kompass would destroy evidence. After Kompass filed suit with the UN Dispute Tribunal (UNDT) protesting his suspension, the judges ordered that he be reinstated, citing the obvious: if he had wanted to destroy evidence of the alleged crime of reporting crimes to the police, he would already have done it.
In the meantime, Gurry suppressed evidence in plain view of, and in consultation with, the Chair of the WIPO General Assembly (GA). The report recounting his culpability has been withheld from the Member States, while an ambiguous and duplicitous three-page "summary" circulates. The summary, concocted by the WIPO GA Chair, Gabriel Duque, and Gurry, admits that the investigators found misconduct warranting discipline, but trivializes and conceals the details. In consultations, Duque is proposing to Member States that they issue a mild reprimand and move on, without having access to the full report. The great irony is that Gurry fired the President of the WIPO Staff Association, Moncef Kateb, days before Kateb was scheduled to blow the whistle on Gurry (yet again) to the WIPO GA.
The General Assembly did nothing effective in response to any of this. In short, Gurry remains untouchable today, and most distressing, seemingly unaccountable to the Member States charged with the oversight of WIPO. For their part, the WIPO Member States seem content with the 'mushroom' treatment given them: they are kept in the dark and periodically dosed with manure. This, they accept as they entertain statements about 'zero-tolerance' for this and that, and, from time to time, issue their own diplomatic manure about their commitment to transparency and accountability.
Linking both the WIPO debacle and the horrors at OHCHR is whistleblower Miranda Brown. Dr. Brown was an adviser to Gurry and first reported his efforts to identify staff members who criticized him. When he discovered her role, he harassed her until she resigned. Dr. Brown then went from the frying pan to the fire. She took a position at OHCHR, where she reported to Anders Kompass. When she realized that the investigation of child sex abuse had been obstructed and a retaliatory campaign was in the offing against Kompass, she reported the child sex abuse to the US delegation to the UN in Geneva. Then, two days after she appeared as a witness in an internal WIPO investigation of Gurry, which was later shut down by Gurry himself, Zeid informed her that her contract at OHCHR would not be renewed. He later decided to renew her contract but transfer her to Fiji, a move she could not make for documented medical reasons. In December 2014, her OHCHR contract ended and she is currently without a job.
To recap, one UN official reports soldiers for raping and sodomizing children and is suspended pending the conclusion of an investigation. A UN Tribunal must intervene to halt the retaliation. Another official demonstrates for his staff that procurement regulations are merely decorative and orders his subordinates to steal genetic material from staff members he imagines have criticized him anonymously, and nothing happens to him.
The whistleblower, Dr. Brown, is harassed out of her position at WIPO, and her contract is terminated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The United States delegation, which insisted on a policy to protect whistleblowers from retaliation at both the United Nations Secretariat and at WIPO, stands by as Gurry expels the whistleblower and Zeid terminate her.
The Member States of the United Nations common system fund OHCHR and UN peacekeeping, and their nationals finance WIPO through fees for patent applications. Currently, they wring their collective hands helplessly as Kompass is pilloried and Brown's career is wrecked, then diplomatically request that Ambassador Duque provide them with the report establishing Gurry's guilt.
This posture is simply not credible. The Member States of WIPO and the UN Secretariat are effectively the Boards of Directors of the Organizations. They elect the Director General at WIPO and the Secretary General of the UN Secretariat. The Member States are responsible for the integrity and the credibility of the United Nations common system, which they established and fund. When the Director General of a UN Specialized Agency such as WIPO is allegedly corrupt and unstable, and the UN High Commissioner retaliates against a staff member for reporting crimes against children, the Member States are responsible for taking definitive action. They must order Zeid to:
Reinstate Miranda Brown at the OHCHR. Her disclosures should have been protected and would have been if she had been accorded even a modicum of due process. The fact that the retaliation against her emanated from the highest reaches of WIPO and OHCHR does not relieve the Member States from the obligation to protect her.
The Member States must also resolve to:
-Suspend Francis Gurry immediately and remove him from the process of disciplining himself.
-Issue a public apology to Anders Kompass for the public ordeal to which the High Commissioner for Human Rights subjected him.
-Take immediate steps to implement protections for whistleblowers. Currently, the implementation of UN policies is a sham and nothing more.