The United Nations Development Program has found itself in the midst of an unpleasant scandal. Azerbaijani journalists found out that a high-ranking UNDP official, Armen Grigoryan, currently Resident Representative of the program in Northern Macedonia, regularly posts on social media materials that, let’s say, reflect the Armenian point of view: there you have the “war between Azerbaijan and Artsakh”, here is his trip to the then occupied Karabakh, etc. There are also quite a lot of reposts, including from Nikol Pashinyan’s account, about the new flights of the Armenian air force and other “military achievements”.
This is not the only incident of this sort. Narine Sahakyan, the UNDP Resident Representative in Turkmenistan, was similarly active on social media, sharing the post of former Armenian Ombudsman Armen Tonoyan proclaiming “The unity of Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora! Thank you, France!”
Obviously, one’s social media account is a kind of “personal space” where it is perfectly appropriate to share one’s feelings about a match of one’s favorite soccer team, post pictures like “here is me on the beach” or “look at me grilling meat”. And it is only too natural to expect that on a personal level Armen Grigoryan, Narine Sahakyan, etc., can—and, let’s be realistic, will—support Armenia.
But these people are UN officials. Moreover, they represent the UN, or, more precisely, the UNDP, in Macedonia and Turkmenistan, they have official status and even diplomatic immunity. And here is where the same rule applies to both public statements and personal social media accounts: a diplomat has no right to personal opinions, sympathies or antipathies. They must express the official position of the country or international organization they represent.
How then are we to understand the “activity with an Armenian accent” the aforementioned individuals with last names ending in “yan” launched on social media, including the official accounts of their missions?
The current scandal may not be on the same scale as the story around the UN’s Oil-for-Food program that allowed Saddam’s Iraq, while under sanctions, to sell a limited amount of oil and use the money to buy food, medicine, etc., under UN control. The head of the program, Benon Sevan, an ethnic Armenian from Greek Cyprus, turned this program into a corruption feeder, from which the Saddam regime, UN officials and Armenian lobbyists in France, who advocated the prompt removal of sanctions against Iraq, profited handsomely.
Still, once again, we are talking about one of the fundamental principles of diplomacy. You either follow ethical standards and rules or you don’t.
It is possible, of course, that the aforementioned individuals feel so confident because Deputy Director of Strategic People Management at the UNDP headquarters is one Naira Grigoryan. But Ms. Grigoryan is not UN Secretary General António Guterres or UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. Which means that whatever questions we have should be addressed not to those individuals personally, but to the UN leadership.
Translated from Minval.az