The plot thickens. I found this on e-watchman. After going through thousands of threads on JWD I have never seen this before.
The Watchtower and the United Nations: Strange Bedfellows
It is true: Politics does make strange bedfellows. And religion and politics makes even stranger bedfellows. Nowhere is that more evident than in the unlikely political partnership between the professedly “politically neutral” Watchtower and the purported “disgusting thing”—the United Nations. It is so incredible, even when informed of the matter many of Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to believe that the Watchtower could ever have made such a compromising alliance. But it did. Here are the facts of the distasteful affair.
"A Mission to Africa"
Jehovah’s Witnesses should not be naïve to the fact that the Watchtower Society gained some political stature with the United Nations by registering as an NGO. Ostensibly, their rationale for doing so was in order to muster support in behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses facing difficult situations in various countries throughout the world. Evidently partnering with the United Nations has not gone unrewarded, which is betrayed in small ways by the organization itself, such as the following brief report in the July 22nd, 2001, Awake:
“One newspaper in Congo (Kinshasa) praised the humanitarian work of Jehovah's Witnesses as "practical rather than formal." Officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have likewise expressed their support. One UNHCR official in the Democratic Republic of Congo was so pleased with the orderliness of the relief efforts carried out by the Witnesses that she put her vehicle at the disposal of the volunteers.”
To what extent has the Watchtower received help directly from the United Nations? It is hard to say. However, it turns out that it was much more than the use of a vehicle on one occasion. In trying to get to the bottom of the Watchtower’s dealings with the UN, this researcher has discovered that the Society has spawned nearly a dozen subsidiary NGOs in various European nations. For instance, prior to the Watchtower gaining associate NGO status in 1992, in 1990 an NGO called Aidafrique was set up in France. What was its intended purpose? The Zambia Daily Mail of June 17th, 1999, under the heading: “French NGO officials jet in to help Congo DR refugees,” reported the following:
“TWO officials from the Aid Afrique are expected in the country today to provide additional humanitarian support to thousands refugees who have fled trouble-torn Congo DR. Aid Afrique chairman Mr. Claude Hamel and Mr. Louis De Wit from France and Belgium respectively are expected to hold talks with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ministry of Health and other humanitarian organisations to see what assistance could be given to refugees. A statement to the Mail yesterday said the two officials would be in the country for a week-long visit during which they would be assisted by two Aid Afrique local representatives, Mr. Edward Finch and Mr. Estime Mbayo.
"Over US$30,000 is expected to be spent in providing blankets, clothes, food, household utensils, farming tools and implements as well as medicines to the refugees from Congo," read the statement. The relief supplies are being provided by congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Belgium, France and Switzerland. Aid Afrique is a European-based international humanitarian organisation founded in France in 1990 with the objective of bringing relief to critical areas of Africa.
Through the UNHCR efforts in Tanzania, the organisation last year distributed over 20 tonnes of food and medicine to refugees in the Kigoma region. In 1997, Aid Afrique spent US$820,000 in humanitarian aid to the former Zaire.”
The Zambian news reveals that it was only through their cooperation with UNHCR that the Aidafrique NGO was able to accomplish its humanitarian objectives. But if such cooperative ventures with various agencies of the United Nations are openly reported on by the secular media in Africa, why isn’t the Watchtower more forthright in informing Jehovah’s Witnesses about their accomplishments as a result of their partnership with the UNHCR? If the Watchtower’s relationship with the United Nations is such an honorable arrangement, why not publicize it—as they have so many other UN-sponsored programs? Most likely the reason subsidiary NGOs like Aidafrique were set up in the first place was in order to keep the more familiar Watchtower brand name in the background and off the front page.
Interestingly, a few years ago Jehovah’s Witnesses in France independently published a brochure entitled “A Mission to Africa.” In it they explained in detail the activities of the Aidafrique NGO. On pages 9-10 the revealing comment was made:
“Our activity was often hindered by difficulties particular to the region. Distances are vast and lines of communication almost nonexistent. The best form of travel, if not the only one, is the airplane. Often we used the H.C.R.'s (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) planes. Administrative formalities also held us up”
Certainly no one is questioning the motives of Jehovah’s Witnesses in seeking to render lifesaving emergency aid to our suffering brothers in Africa. It was the right and Christian thing to do. But the question is: at what price? Is it worth cutting a deal with the Devil to save a soul? Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi didn’t think so. They were not even willing to buy a 25-cent political ID card; even though their not doing so unleashed a horrific pogrom against them.
The frequent use of UN aircraft is a very expensive perk and no doubt the Watchtower saw that there were benefits to be had in becoming an associate NGO and setting up auxiliary NGOs, like Aidafrique, in order to work more closely with the United Nations. At the very least it is evident that the Watchtower’s relationship with the UN is more complicated than the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has thus far been willing to admit. Indeed, the Watchtower is much more politically involved than Jehovah’s Witnesses are aware.
In October, 2000, the branch overseer of the Watchtower Society in Portugal was interviewed by the Portuguese newspaper, Publico. While denying that any compromise had taken place, in a moment of unguarded candor Brother Candeias inadvertently admitted that the reason the Watchtower cultivated relations with the UN was a matter of political expediency in providing humanitarian help for Jehovah’s Witnesses. He is quoted as saying: “Without the support of the UN it would not be possible to distribute humanitarian help.”
The Portuguese Branch Overseer was apparently also the correspondent who was assigned to write an article in the August 22nd, 1997, Awake, pertaining to the OSCE. (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) The reason the Portuguese correspondent took up the topic is because the OSCE held an important political summit in Lisbon, Portugal, in December, 1996. Evidently, Brother Candeias personally attended the conference, which is why the article he most likely penned oddly concluded by reporting on the weather conditions of the day of the summit from the standpoint of an observer; along with a hackneyed comment about God’s kingdom. Below is an excerpt:
“A summit meeting of the OSCE was held in Lisbon, Portugal, on December 2-3, 1996. At first, attention was focused on NATO, since several NATO members, including the United States, are in favor of the expansion of NATO to include more nations from Central and Eastern Europe. But rather than support the enlargement of NATO to include former Eastern bloc allies, Russia and some of her former Eastern bloc allies want the OSCE to become the forum for matters of European security…The radiant afternoon sun seemed to create a climate of general optimism at the close of the summit, despite the comments of the press regarding its nebulous results. Whatever success or failure the OSCE may realize, peace lovers everywhere can be assured that true peace and security will soon be realized earth wide under the rule of God’s Kingdom.”
While only superficially reporting on the OSCE powwow in Lisbon, the Awake
magazine did not mention that the summit was attended by numerous NGO representatives. However, the OSCE website carries a detailed record of the proceedings and reveals that some NGOs even participated in the conference. Most likely the Portuguese correspondent was only permitted to attend the high level political conference in the capacity of a representative of a European NGO—in this case the “Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” It is not surprising, then, that the overseer later candidly admitted the political motivation behind the Watchtower’s partnering with the UN, seeing that he had apparently been assigned to personally observe and report on the goings on of a political summit of governmental and non-governmental organizations.
For a fact, the Lisbon OSCE summit has not been the only political conference that Jehovah’s Witnesses have attended. For example, in October 2000, the Balkans Human Rights organization
published a petition to the OSCE that was signed by numerous NGOs. (No doubt many of the same NGOs that attended the Lisbon summit a few years prior) One of which was an NGO called the “Administrative Center for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
.” Just what is the Administrative Center for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia? It is another non-governmental organization set up to represent Jehovah’s Witnesses. Admittedly, it is not an NGO in the same way that the Watchtower was an international NGO associated with the UN/DPI, but it evidently serves a similar purpose. The OSCE petition that the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia signed stated:
“The undersigned NGOs have all valued the Human Dimension meetings, throughout the years and in their various formats, as significant for both governments and NGOs to raise human rights concerns in the participating states. Consequently, they have actively participated in them with reports and interventions, and have been encouraging other NGOs to do likewise.”
The petition verifies that the subsidiary Russian NGO, representing the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses, willingly participated with numerous other NGOs, including the Church of Scientology, in raising “human rights concerns in participating states.” By signing the petition the Administrative Center for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia admits to actively “encouraging other NGOs” to take up the cause of human rights interventions. And, of course, the evidence is overwhelming that the parent organization in Brooklyn used its resources to “raise human rights concerns.”
Among the other NGO signatories of the OSCE petition was the organization, Human Rights Without Frontiers. It is noteworthy that HRWF has had significant dealings with the Watchtower Society over the years; to the extent that the Society’s media website has numerous articles published by HRWF and even has a link to the Humans Rights Without Frontiers website. (www. hrwf.net
Besides gaining greater access to UN officials, no doubt having NGO status enhanced the Watchtower’s political stature and credibility with influential human rights groups like Amnesty International, Oxfam, Human Rights Without Frontiers, World Watch, and others. Admittedly, those organizations have done much to publicize and alleviate the plight of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Amnesty International, for instance, has vigorously campaigned in behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And as an NGO with consultative status at the United Nations, Amnesty has direct access to the UN human rights office—which associate NGOs do not have. Having a friend with political connections like could be a very valuable asset to a persecuted religion like Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But there is more.
There are, in fact, numerous subsidiary NGOs that the Watchtower has set up in order to legally represent Jehovah’s Witnesses in governmental affairs.
In May, 1999, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights held their annual conference in Geneva. Among the many governmental and non-governmental organizations present were three NGOs representing Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were the aforementioned “Association of Jehovah's Witnesses” and “Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia,” as well as a third NGO called the “European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses for the Protection of Religious Freedom.” (The list of NGO attendees is listed on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights website
Other NGOS are: “Consistoire National des Temoins de Jehovah”; “Union of the Jehovah's Witnesses” and “Representation of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Pennsylvania”; which are NGOs functioning in Georgia. (Not USA) And, lastly: “Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, Poland.” The Watchtower’s political activities as an NGO are not confined to Europe either. In 1999, the Australian government held hearings with invited NGO representatives of numerous religions in order to advance cooperation and human rights. The official record lists the Watchtower’s representatives as Donald MacLean—Director of the Australian branch office—and Vincent Toole, legal counsel of the Watchtower Society. The record of the Official Committee Hansard
is available online. "Friendship with the world "