Bankrupt rights group GNRD and the European parliament

BEFORE (above) and AFTER (below)

For several years GNRD, the now-bankrupt human rights organisation, boasted that the European Parliament was one of its international "collaborators" and proudly displayed the parliament's logo on its website. The effect of this was to give the UAE-funded organisation an aura of credibility that it didn't deserve.

The basis for claiming the European Parliament as a "collaborator" was that GNRD (the Global Network for Rights and Development) had registered itself with the EU in Brussels as a lobbying organisation

However, this infringed the EU's rules for registered lobbying organisations which clearly state that they must ...

... not claim any formal relationship with the European Union or any of its institutions in their dealings with third parties, or misrepresent the effect of registration in such a way as to mislead third parties or officials or other staff of the European Union, or use the logos of EU institutions without express authorisation

In June, officials of the EU Transparency Register contacted GNRD about its use of the parliament's logo. According to the officials, GNRD admitted to "having inadvertently used the European Parliament’s logo without the intention of suggesting a formal link with the European Parliament."

GNRD removed the logo from the "Our collaborators" page on its website, though it was left untouched on another page headed "Support us".

For background on the GNRD scandal
see al-bab's compilation of blog posts

Last year GNRD won official recognition from the United Nations when ECOSOC (the UN Economic and Social Council) voted to grant it special consultative status. GNRD was supported in this move by such notable human rights torch-bearers as Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, Azerbaijan, Mauritania and Sudan. Consultative status gave it access to the UN headquarters in Geneva and allowed it to book rooms for meetings at the Palais des Nations.

GNRD – based in Norway – continued using these UN facilities even after its offices had been raided by Norwegian police on suspicion of money-laundering. In June last year it used a session of the UN Human Right Council as a platform to denounce the Norwegian action as an abuse of its rights. It denies the money-laundering charges and claims they were instigated by the government of Qatar. 

It might be assumed that GNRD's bankruptcy would mean automatic loss of its UN consultative status. But so far, that hasn't happened. It is still listed in ECOSOC's register.

On July 4, GNRD was declared bankrupt by a Norwegian court for non-payment of employees' wages. While it's possible that branches in other countries – the UAE, Belgium, Jordan and Spain – still hold some funds, there has been no sign of recent activity from any of them.