NEW YORK – Looking for a job at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva? You might have to prove you support the Palestinians first, according to watchdog organization UN Watch.
On Tuesday, UN Watch unveiled a written exam question it obtained from the OHCHR that the watchdog group says was administered to job applicants two years ago.
Here is the question, reproduced in full on UN Watch’s blog: “WRITTEN EXERCISE “The Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Adequate Housing, on the Rights to Water and Sanitation and on the Right to Food have been sending allegation letters to Israel raising concerns about the demolition of houses, water tanks and agricultural structures in the West Bank throughout 2011.
NGOs and UN actors are encouraging them to issue a press release on their concerns.
At the same time, the Palestinian request for recognition of statehood is being discussed at the Security Council and General Assembly.
“1. Please choose either exercise 1.a. or exercise 1.b. [maximum 700 words]: 1.a. Please draft a briefing note for the Chief of the Special Procedures Branch, who would like to advise the three mandate holders on the pros and cons of issuing such a press release and its timing.
“OR 1.b. Please draft speaking notes for one of the three mandate holders (your choice) to be used if a journalist wishes to follow up with a telephone interview.
“2. Please draft a concept note (substance, format, possible participants and audience, steps needed, etc) for the organization of a side event on this topic, to be held during the presentation of special procedure reports to the General Assembly, which could be shared with States that may wish to sponsor such an event [maximum 1,500 words].”
UN Watch said in a press statement that the OHCHR had posed this question to applicants seeking an entry-level position.
“Because the exam obviously reflects the real-life working methods of the OHCHR, it also reveals a level of professional complicity in the bias of the UN’s political bodies that was not hitherto documented,” the watchdog group’s executive director, Hillel Neuer, said in the press statement. “This is the office that helped produce the notoriously biased Goldstone Report, and now we know how they hire their staff.”
In response, OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville told UN Watch that it was “quite possible” other countries had been used in other writing tests, but given that in the office’s 20 years, “hundreds of such tests have taken place all across the world for a wide range of jobs,” it was impossible to determine how many times this specific question had been administered.
Colville maintained that the tests “are of no importance per se, but only for what they reveal about a particular candidate’s capabilities.”
The OHCHR did not respond to a request from The Jerusalem Post for comment or for verification of whether this was a former question job applicants had received.
The Israeli mission to the UN in Geneva did not respond to a request for comment, either.
On Tuesday, the OCHCR marked the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which established a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society…shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for [human] rights and freedoms and by progressive measures.”