Hobnobbing with Sisi

Anne-Marie Lizin, the disgraced Belgian politician and "High Commissioner" of the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) was in Cairo recently, hobnobbing with President Sisi. She seems to have been so thrilled by her handshake with the Egyptian dictator that she posted a photo of it on her website:

Last March, Lizin was given a suspended jail sentence and banned from public office for five years by a court in Belgium after being convicted of electoral malpractice.

Earlier, Lizin had been a key member of GNRD's observer team for the presidential election in Egypt which legitimised General Sisi's seizure of power. A subsequent report gave the election a clean bill of health: 

"The Egyptian people have experienced a unique process toward democratic transition, and despite the fact that minor errors and inaccuracies occurred, these do not shed a negative light on the overall results of the electoral process". 

The report continued:

"The Joint Mission was honoured to be a part of the 2014 Egyptian Presidential Election and contribute to promoting its transparency, integrity, and success. The Joint Mission expresses its hope that these contributions will support Egypt’s development and a smooth transition to democracy. We wish success to Egypt, being one of the most influential countries in the Middle East, and commend their achievements thus far towards a path to democracy."

Given the enthusiastic tone of that report it's scarcely surprising that GNRD has since become one of only five international organisations chosen by the Egyptian authorities to act as observers for parliamentary elections if/when they are eventually held.

The globetrotting Ms Lizin was also in New York last month, attending a gala dinner on GNRD's behalf. She is pictured here with three of GNRD's guests – the Belgian and Sudanese ambassadors and a representative from the Russian embassy:

report about the gala on GNRD's website carries the misleading headline: "GNRD Sponsors New York Child Protection Gala". The article describes GNRD as a "mission sponsor", adding that the event "was sponsored also by Microsoft and Jeff Koons, the internationally renowned contemporary artist".

In fact it was the other way around: Microsoft and Jeff Koons were the main sponsors by far, and GNRD made a relatively minor contribution by paying $15,000 for a 10-seat table at the dinner. This entitled it to call itself a "Mission Sponsor" (the second-lowest of the five types of sponsorship).

GNRD was founded in 2008 by Loai Deeb, a lawyer of Palestinian origin who previously ran a fake university in Norway. His human rights organisation is also based in Norway but has branches in Austria, Belgium, Jordan, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Zambia, and recently opened an office in Britain. It is also planning to open up in the United States, where it has been advertising for a New York based researcher/representative at $60,000 a year. Applicants should be aware that GNRD is one of the world's oddest development-and-human-rights organisations (background here).
Posted by Brian Whitaker
Thursday, 11 June 2015