The American NGO Inner City Press has repeatedly reported on the serious irregularities taking place at UNESCO since Frenchwoman Audrey Azoulay came to head the agency, and the same is true of the UN as a whole, where corruption of all kinds has been flourishing under António Guterres.
No actions have been taken to fight the gross violations at UNESCO. Moreover, those involved in corruption are rewarded for their “work” with promotions and new privileged positions, while those opposing this abuse are subjected to constant harassment.
The King humiliated Azoulay
After Inner City Press exposed several high-profile scandals in Azoulay’s administration, the Director-General of UNESCO is definitely in turmoil.
But there is more to come. Second terms are always difficult, and after this exposure, Azoulay is about to learn this the hard way. The biggest blow to her carefully constructed image and reputation came last month during her official visit to Morocco, when King Mohammed VI refused to meet her as per the protocol governing visits of heads of UN agencies. Inner City Press reported on this, but the photo below was only recently made public. Even her own father, the King’s advisor André Azoulay, did nothing to help her. She used to spend her school vacations in the royal palace in Morocco, but she is no longer welcome there. Instead of an audience with the King, Azoulay was allowed to simply curtsy to His Majesty while King Mohammed VI inaugurated the new bus station in Rabat. But even this fact would not be so humiliating for Audrey if the photo capturing her moment of disgrace had not been published.
Take a closer look at this photo. After a search of the UN archives, the ICP journalists came to the conclusion that no other UN agency head had ever adopted such a humiliating posture in front of a head of state or other senior official.
This is not only humiliating for DG Azoulay, it is also extremely disturbing for UNESCO and for the UN as a whole. This is the posture of the lady who claims to be inaccessible to ambassadors and ministers. This is the woman who, since her election in 2017, has been fiercely protecting her image as a haughty and unapproachable DG despite the criticism. Who could take her seriously from now on? Even a slave would do the bowing with some dignity unlike the UNESCO DG.
In addition to her proven bootlicking attitude, Azoulay is also good at having private fun with public money.
Saving Private Azoulay
Inner City Press has made publications before about her decision to go on holiday to Venice and pay for a yacht with funds from her agency’s regular Cultural sector budget.
After an investigation, ICP found out that the German owner of the boat, which had been rented to Azoulay and her family, had been in contact with two people in the UNESCO office in Venice who had naturally been involved in the illegal financial transaction.
One of them is the Director of the office, Brazilian Ana Luiza Thompson-Flores, who gave the necessary authorization to process the boat rental, and the other is Italian Matteo Rosati, who has been under contract with the Venice office for several years now.
After the scandal was revealed by Inner City Press, Thompson-Flores rushed to Geneva in a desperate cover-up operation to “save Private Azoulay”. As for Rosati, he was promised a permanent position for his silence, as he was the one who was involved in the deal directly and negotiated the price.
If UNESCO’s Division of Internal Oversight Services is to have any credibility left, both Thompson-Flores and Matteo Rosati must be thoroughly investigated and questioned. Any findings should be submitted to the members of the UNESCO Executive Board.
Since last week Azoulay’s cabinet has been building a counter-offensive against the accusations brought up in the French press that make Azoulay less than nice, to put it mildly. One of the recent publications of the sort shows once again that Azoulay is not up to the ethical and moral standards required for the job.
During her tenure as Minister of Culture in 2016 and 2017, a weird harassment case was covered directly by Audrey Azoulay and her services. Here are the disgusting details.
Christian N., a senior official in the Ministry of Culture, forced women to urinate in front of him. A hearing for this extraordinary case took place before the administrative court of Paris last Friday. The victims of his perverse inclinations accuse the Ministry of Culture of having protected its agent and of having totally ignored numerous alerts. For almost ten years, Christian N. interviewed women who were applying for a position in his department and used the interviews to photograph them without their knowledge. Moreover, he intoxicated them to watch their involuntary urinations.
He would start by offering them tea or coffee, discreetly adding a diuretic and imposing a walk outside. Under the effect of the drug, the women could no longer restrain themselves and ended up urinating in front of him, while Christian N. pretended to hide them. He would then go back to the Ministry and record everything in an Excel spreadsheet called “Experiments”.
Many victims of his “experiments” asked a question: how could this man have worked at the ministry for so many years without ever being investigated?
Indeed, many elements show that the senior officials of the Ministry of Culture could hardly be unaware of these disgusting incidents. The fact is that the alerts went unheeded. In 2016, Marie, one of the victims, sent a letter to the then Minister of Culture, Audrey Azoulay, to point out the actions of Christian N. Azoulay never responded to the letter and took no action to punish her employee and prevent a scandal.
In lieu of a summary
This is precisely the same attitude that Azoulay has subsequently adopted as her policy as head of UNESCO. She continued to ignore all warnings and evidence of inappropriate and abusive behavior by officials appointed by her. The result is that she has intentionally allowed humiliation, harassment and misconduct to spread throughout the agency, killing staff morale and destroying the agency’s credibility. Why the UN member states let this happen will, sadly, be clarified as usual at the end of Azoulay’s painful second and, it appears, final term.
Hopefully, the exposure of unflattering facts about UNESCO and UN employees in general will have an impact, changing the current state of affairs. But for now, the situation remains the same: senior UNESCO officials abuse their power over their subordinates, resorting to intimidation and harassment.
Translated from Haqqin.az