Craig Murray: Assange, Truth & UN Shenanigans

At the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s periodic review of the U.K., the author raised the U.S. war crimes exposed by WikiLeaks and British violations of the publisher’s political and civil rights.

Craig Murray, left, raising the U.K.’s legal handling of the Assange extradition case at the periodic review of U.K. human rights at the U.N. Human Rights Committee in Geneva last week. (Craig Murray)

By Craig Murray

I spent the last week at the U.N. in Geneva, trying to ram home some truths about the Julian Assange’s legal case as input to the U.N.’s periodic review (every seven years) of the U.K.’s human rights record in terms of its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

I had a very short opportunity to address the U.N. Committee on Human Rights, which is a body of elected experts.

In such a short time frame you have to go with just a couple of points. I am open to criticism of my selection, but I maintain that this was much plainer speaking than is generally heard. The reasons for this are interesting.


There are fora like this where registered NGOs can make their point. Human rights is quite an industry in Geneva, where literally hundreds of NGO reps live and roam the U.N. buildings. The favoured NGOs are those with ECOSOC registration status. The delegates of UNESCO status NGOs have blue passes and extremely free access throughout, at any time.

UNESCO status is granted by a committee of member states and is difficult to get. It is therefore unsurprising that a high proportion of NGOs are not real NGOs at all. They are astroturf; fake NGOs paid to whitewash the record of their governments. 

I did not understand this until I attended (as a dry run for the U.K.) the meetings of the Human Rights Committee for the Egyptian periodic review. Several Egyptian NGOs, one after the other, told us what a great respect for human rights the Egyptian dictatorship has. (It has, incidentally, just sentenced another group of opposition figures to death, after murdering Egypt’s only ever freely elected president.)

Even well-known Western NGOs tend to pull their punches at the U.N. because, bluntly, almost all of them receive large amounts of funding from Western governments. 

Palais des Nations, the seat of the U.N. in Geneva. (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

While theoretically this is funding to attack the human rights record of the Western governments’ designated enemies, it is a concomitant that the NGOs are reluctant seriously to bite the hand that feeds them.

Consider these facts: firstly, no important whistleblower has ever subsequently found employment with an established NGO. A great many have tried.

Secondly, had I not been there, nobody would have mentioned Julian Assange in the periodic review of the U.K.’s human rights record.

Money talks in the U.N. itself too. The U.S. and Western powers contribute a very high proportion of the U.N. budget. There is a reason why, at a commemoration ceremony in Geneva for U.N. staff killed in Gaza that I attended, none of the senior U.N. staff dared to mention who killed them.

Also of course the NATO powers and allies are disproportionately represented in key staff positions.

The U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, an Austrian, has been disgustingly pusillanimous on Gaza and has done nothing on Assange. I spoke with a member of his staff who regurgitated to me a number of detailed U.S. prosecution talking points on Assange which are simply factually incorrect. They have been thoroughly briefed.

Turk in 2018. (Bulgarian Presidency, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

Staff are visibly afraid to take on the U.K./U.S. interest. I met a number of U.N. staff who were happy to chat away until I brought up Assange; then they quite literally physically recoiled, in some cases took an actual step back, and always discovered they had pressing business elsewhere.

After the Human Rights Committee meeting with NGOs, the committee then met with the U.K. government representatives to discuss their concerns. 

One member of the committee, Rodrigo Carazo of Costa Rica, decided he would raise the case of Julian Assange, based on the briefing which we had supplied. A full elected member of the committee, Carazo is also the former Costa Rican ambassador to the United Nations.

 Carazo at U.N. Security Council in 2018. (U.N. Photo)

Carazo was put on the speakers’ list and he informed the committee what he was going to raise. Come the meeting with the U.K. delegation, Carazo was astonished when the chair simply skipped over him in the speaking list and did not call him. He caught the chair’s eye several times as the meeting progressed but still was not called, then it wound up and the chair went to the U.K. delegation to respond to the bland and generic points which had been raised.

At one point Carazo rose from his seat to remonstrate with her and they had a pretty pointed exchange. 

My conclusion from this is that the U.K. and U.S. are currently very sensitive to international criticism over Assange, and that rather than be discouraged we need to keep pushing. As both the U.S. and U.K. are becoming international pariah states over Gaza, we need to remind the world of their long established crimes.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. His coverage is entirely dependent on reader support. Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

9 comments for “Craig Murray: Assange, Truth & UN Shenanigans

  1. Manny5
    March 20, 2024 at 20:36

    There is an only way to change this state of affairs. It is for the BRICS countries to take over the UN by funding it with more money than the US. That’s the Golden Rule: “Who has the gold, makes the rules”.

  2. Em
    March 20, 2024 at 13:06

    To incontinent reader:
    One does not have to be ‘continent’ to voice one’s opinion!
    But then again, the unnecessary, overly sophisticated use of the word ‘incontinent’, out of context, is open to misinterpretation.
    In other words, reading this comment in a bathroom/toilet, it may be interpreted more formally than as intended by the writer!
    On the other hand, no need to allow ourselves to become restrained.
    If we are unable to see the humor in the absurd hypocrisies in ourselves, in the inhumane tragi-comedy taking place, at this moment in very ‘reel’ time, we are definitely lost!
    Let it all out, in free-flow!
    Isn’t this where Craig Murray on CN are coming from?
    Isn’t it the same place Julian Assange was coming from in speaking truth to power?

  3. Richard Burrill
    March 20, 2024 at 10:57

    Whatever happened to laws. When somebody committed a crime and was found guilty, that someone would be penalized for it. But these days the United states is doing the reverse. That is, Assange exposed the crimes that were committed by U.S. soldiers, etc., which cannot be denied. But the U.S., which was responsible for those crimes, is charging Julian for exposing the crimes. The U.K. better not send him to the U.S.!

  4. forceOfHabit
    March 20, 2024 at 10:54

    Thank you so much for your continued efforts on behalf of Julian Assange. And thank you also for this expose of the appalling hypocrisy of the “NGO”s that presumably claim to be independent, and of the UN itself.

    It gives me even more respect for the courage and integrity of Nils Melzer (UN Special Rapporteur on Torture) and his finding that Assange has been subjected to prolonged psychological torture.

  5. incontinent reader
    March 20, 2024 at 10:33

    Amb. Murray, you have fought hard for Assange, and your article about this last bout reveals the cynical complicity of the UN (sic. the powers behind the UN and its Human Rights Commission) in quashing any Commission criticism let alone sanction of the UK and US for their criminal treatment of Assange. I can only imagine the frustration of Nils Melzer, the former UN rapporteur on torture and cruel and unusual punishment (2016-2022) assigned to Assange’s case.

    I wonder you were able to speak with Melzer in Switzerland before the hearing.

  6. susan
    March 20, 2024 at 07:57

    Thank you again Craig for defending and speaking out for the rights of Julian Assange – a man innocent of all the crimes he has been accused of by the United $tates government and its minions. If Assange is extradited to the U$, he will surely be murdered – there is no doubt in my mind that the U$ prison henchmen will torture and slowly kill Julian in the darkest bowels of their lair…

  7. Donna Bubb
    March 20, 2024 at 01:03

    Thank you Craig Murray for your courage and truthfulness. We will continue the fight to free Julian Assange.

  8. DW Bartoo
    March 20, 2024 at 00:02

    Your selected points, Craig, are most necessary and effective in exposing the cynical hypocrisy of an “empty form” of law which pretends that International Law does not apply, as “National” law does not include the language and, therefore, does not recognize such Law.

    This is exactly one of suggestions that the U$ and U.K. “legal” system are not concerned with actual justice, but rather with protecting the status quo of wealth,
    power, and privilege.

    The denial of actual justice is two-fold.

    Such “national” law presumes itself superior to International Law, and such “law” is practiced, in its embrasure of clearly illegal behaviors, that certain governments dare run roughshod over established rights, which governments have no authority to abrogate. This mindset places those whom such “law” seeks to punish, beyond the realm of facts and reason, into a limbo which solely supports political interests and. effectively, upends rational jurisprudence.

    Assange inhabits the same non-existence, in terms of fundamental legal protection as did those subject to torture and imprisonment at Guantanamo.

    Thank you, Craig Murray for your diligent and courageous efforts and energy in being a true friend to Julian and most genuine example for the rest of us.


  9. Mikael Andersson
    March 19, 2024 at 18:57

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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