Catherine Perez-Shakdam

UN Women – Calls mount for leadership overhaul amid accusations of political bias

Image created by using AI - CATHERINE PEREZ-SHAKDAM
Image created by using AI - CATHERINE PEREZ-SHAKDAM

In the annals of the United Nations, an institution often mired in criticism for its bloated bureaucracy and ambiguous moral stances, recent revelations regarding UN Women have further tarnished the image of this already beleaguered body. Ostensibly established as a bastion of impartiality and a stalwart champion of gender equality, UN Women now finds itself embroiled in a controversy that strikes at the very heart of its integrity. The malaise afflicting this organization is not the result of the external forces of patriarchy or systemic oppression, often cited as the bane of gender equality. Instead, it’s a more insidious internal decay: a conflict of interest born from a deep-seated partiality and ideological bias, severely compromising its foundational principles.

This conflict of interest within UN Women presents a stark contradiction to its purported mission. Far from being an impartial advocate for women’s rights, the organization has been compromised from within by those who have allowed personal ideologies and biases to dictate their professional conduct.

The central figure of this dishonorable saga is Sarah Douglas, Deputy Chief of Peace and Security at UN Women, whose recent conduct betrays a distressing alignment with political agendas in stark opposition to the UN’s proclaimed neutrality. The evidence, laid out by Geneva-based watchdog UN Watch, is both undeniable and damning. Douglas, comfortably ensconced in her home office, a fortress of her own creation, chose to address the United Nations with a “Palestine” poster and flag prominently displayed – a blatant exhibition of partiality. Moreover, her social media behavior – endorsing over 150 anti-Israel and anti-Zionist tweets since the horrific Hamas attacks on October 7th – represents a glaring neglect of her duty to remain impartial.

Such actions are not mere personal missteps; they represent a breach of the ethos of the United Nations. The UN Charter, a document that ought to guide all those affiliated with the organisation, mandates staff to uphold the highest standards of “efficiency, competence, and integrity.” Douglas’s actions, far from adhering to these principles, are a direct affront. Her political display, an unseemly parade of partisanship, is a renunciation of her professional obligation to maintain both the semblance and substance of impartiality.

This situation warrants not just censure but a vigorous response. It falls upon the partners and stakeholders of UN Women to exercise their influence and demand a comprehensive review of the organisation’s leadership. This is not a matter of settling political scores; it is about protecting the integrity and mission of an organization that claims to stand for the equal rights of all women.

Let us speak plainly: By aligning herself with a political agenda, Douglas has not only jeopardized her own position but also impaired UN Women’s ability to effectively fulfill its mandate. An organization committed to championing gender equality globally cannot do so effectively while its leaders openly exhibit bias and partiality.

The partners of UN Women must act decisively. They must call for and ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted. It is not only the credibility of UN Women at stake but also the very ideals of justice and equality it purports to uphold. To overlook this crisis is to be complicit in the erosion of these values.

In the words of the incomparable George Orwell, “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” The time has come for the partners of UN Women to undertake this revolutionary act, to illuminate the darkness of bias that has crept into its ranks, and to recommit to the principles of impartiality and objectivity. Only then can the organization hope to regain its moral standing and continue its vital work in the struggle for gender equality.

About the Author
Catherine Perez-Shakdam - Director Forward Strategy and Research Fellow at the American Centre for Levant Studies. Catherine is a former Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and consultant for the UNSC on Yemen, as well an expert on Iran, Terror and Islamic radicalisation. A prominent political analyst and commentator, she has spoken at length on the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling on the UK to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Raised in a secular Jewish family in France, Catherine found herself at the very heart of the Islamic world following her marriage to a Muslim from Yemen. Her experience in the Middle East and subsequent work as a political analyst gave her a very particular, if not a rare viewpoint - especially in how one can lose one' sense of identity when confronted with systemic antisemitism. Determined to share her experience and perspective on those issues which unfortunately plague us -- Islamic radicalism, Terror and Antisemitism Catherine also will speak of a world, which often sits out of our reach for a lack of access.
Related Topics
Related Posts