Several non-governmental organizations of Azerbaijan have appealed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in connection with the bigotry, discrimination, and hate speech of Armenian employees of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP):
“For dozens of millions of people around the world, the United Nations is a beacon of peace and development. It continues to strive for the well-being of mankind. Thousands and thousands of UN staff members are working daily in the name of peace and human rights, promoting gender equality and better education, contributing to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Many of them work under the most exacting circumstances often risking their lives to support those who need their assistance,” reads the letter.
“Many Azerbaijanis still remember the important role the United Nations has played in our country in the early years of independence. Azerbaijan was facing multiple challenges at the beginning of 90-s including military aggression by neighboring Armenia which resulted in more than 20% of our territory being occupied by the Armenian armed forces. 1 million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs. Timely assistance from many UN agencies is always gratefully remembered by our people because a friend in need is a friend indeed. The UN flag flying over the UN Office at the heart of Baku was and remains the symbol of selfless dedicated service and professionalism,” the NGOs wrote.
“Civil society organizations have a long and fruitful record of partnership with the UN in Azerbaijan. In fact, one of the agencies – UNDP – has played important role in introducing some of the NGO principles and mechanisms. Many years passed since, but our partnership continues. Various UN units are working closely with a wide range of partners including on SDGs and many other important developments and humanitarian issues. However, much to our regret, this message is not about partnership and success.
“It is with a heavy heart that we write to you drawing your attention to something we believe has no place in the UN. We feel obliged to report bigotry, hate speech, discrimination, and degrading treatment which are always unacceptable. However, it is nothing less than an outrage to see them spearheaded by UN staff members. It is shell shocking to see their superiors not only failing to stop this spree of hatred but eventually rewarding the perpetrators,” reads the letter.
“We refer to a group of Armenian staff members of the United Nations Development Programme – Armen Grigoryan, Narine Sahakyan, Mary Tavoukjian, and Stepan Margaryan who turned their social pages into a hatred platform slandering, insulting, and abusing not just Azerbaijan, but all the Turkic nations and openly promoting separatism. These are people who abused the UN flag and the status of UN employees to attack Turks and Azerbaijanis, our country, and our President. These are people who decided they can ignore all the core principles and ethical norms of international civil servants. Their behavior is an embarrassment to the United Nations’ principles and ideals.
“We also find it difficult to understand why UNDP was unable to take action stopping this outrageous behavior despite multiple red flags and appeals. Moreover, some of those staff members got promoted and are currently “serving peace and development”. We wonder what kind of representation can they offer given their history of undermining the very values they are obliged to promote.
“One of the important elements of working for the UN is accountability. People must be held responsible for their actions. We are asking you to save the reputation of the United Nations in Azerbaijan, and not in Azerbaijan only by showing that the UN respects its own principles and is willing to take action against those who do not,” the authors wrote.