"Launch independent enquiry into how this consultant serving a political agenda was appointed in the first place."
Paris, 27 February 2013
In a letter to UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed grave concern at a UNWatch blog on "Nicola Perugini–a researcher in the Palestinian Territories for UNESCO –who on 22 February, reported in Al Jazeera on a meeting that never took place."
Samuels noted that, apparently, "Mr. Perugini, therein, claimed to have attended 'at the end of January, the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) focused on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Arab territories.'
This session actually began the day before yesterday, i.e. 25 February, and not 'at the end of January'. Perugini’s fictional account reported that:
- 'the session welcomed a report produced by an international fact-finding mission on the implications of the Israeli settlements.'
- 'the session was a new chapter in the protracted chain of condemnations issued by international bodies against Israel’s violations of human rights and international law...'
- 'Israel preemptively isolated itself by boycotting this UNHRC session...'
- '[T]he session was not good publicity for Israel…'
- '[T]he fact that Israel boycotted this 22nd session should not surprise us. Tactics are also a weapon of the state, not merely a weapon of the weak.'"
The letter stressed that "Perugini is billed 'as the expert consultant and researcher in the Palestinian Territories for the UNESCO-funded Decolonizing Architecture project.'”
Samuels argued that, "his 22 January - imagination as fact - report of a meeting scheduled for more than one month later, casts aspersions on his work in general, as serving a clear political agenda to delegitimize a UN sovereign member-state".
The letter added that, "as an NGO at the UN and an Associate Partner in relations with UNESCO, our Centre is obliged to ensure that the international community’s tax-payer funding of UN agencies is disbursed judiciously."
The Centre urged UNESCO "to immediately fire Nicola Perugini from his UNESCO responsibilities, and launch an independent enquiry into how he was appointed to those positions in the first place."