New ECLJ Report Exposes Radical Pro-Abortion UN Experts "Bought" and Paid For by Radical Leftist George Soros


Grégor Puppinck

September 24, 2021

8 min read

Pro Life



Many “U.N. experts” want to impose abortion worldwide. They pretend falsely that the rights to life and privacy, proclaimed within international Human Rights treaties, would compel member States around the world to legalize abortion. Some of them even assert the absurd notion that conscientious objection to abortion would be a kind of torture even though freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right.

Those experts, though unknown to the general public, have a very eminent function and a great deal of influence. Officially designated as “Special Procedures” and “Special rapporteurs,” they are appointed by the member States of the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) (based in Geneva) to defend and promote human rights worldwide. Each U.N. expert is “the” U.N. expert on a specific subject matter, such as the right to life, education, food, health, etc. They receive complaints alleging violations of human rights, conduct “country visits” to assess the local human rights situation, advise governments, etc.

The global “abortion battle” has taken center stage at the U.N.. The European affiliate office of the ACLJ, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), has been dedicated to defending life globally at the U.N. for years. Unfortunately, legal arguments are not always sufficient, as not everyone always respects the law and some even twist it. Therefore, we decided to look more closely at who these experts are, where they come from, and how they function. What we discovered is stunning: a network of activists with dark money and conflicts of interest.

We’ve published those findings in a report entitled The Financing of UN Experts.

This report is based on the analysis of financial disclosures published annually between 2015 and 2019 and interviews with U.N. experts. Some of them broke the silence on how the system works, some even acknowledging “corruption.” Our report exposes some of the main members of the pro-abortion Network within U.N. experts and their financial opacity.

A Pro-Abortion Network Within U.N. Experts

A significant number of U.N. experts are actively working in tandem to create an international obligation to legalize abortion. And their various declarations, reports, and recommendations have enough authority to eventually convince national legislators and jurisdictions, despite there being no right to abortion in the treaties. Here are some of the most active experts, among others:

Melissa Upreti is one of the most active and radical pro-abortion militants worldwide. She previously worked for the Center for Reproductive Rights, the world's leading pro-abortion legal lobbying body, where she led strategic litigation to legalize abortion in Asia. She is also active in the radical group OpenDemocracy in the fight against conservative pro-life movements. In 2017, Upreti was appointed to the U.N. Working Group on Ending Discrimination against Women and is now the Chair of that body.

That same year, Upreti was recruited by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) a radical feminist center actively engaged in promoting feminist causes at the United Nations, a code name for promoting abortion. As Senior Director of the CWGL, in charge of Programs and Global Advocacy, Upreti’s position is intended to influence her colleagues at the U.N., and she’s proven very effective in this regard. The CWGL became a “hub” of pro-abortion lobbying and influence within the U.N. Her CWGL profile even touts that she was the co-petitioner in a major case “which recognized access to abortion as a constitutionally protected right” in Nepal.

In 2019, the U.N. Working Group on Ending Discrimination against Women, chaired by Upreti, was invited by the CWGL premise to hold a “consultation” (i.e., a substantive discussion) as part of the drafting of the Working Group’s thematic report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2020. Shortly thereafter, Dubravka Šimonovic, the pro-abortion Special Rapporteur on violence against women came to the CWGL to present and discuss her report. Similarly, Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, a member of the Working Group on Ending Discrimination against Women, came to the CWGL in 2021, to discuss abortion in Honduras.

Unsurprisingly, the latest official report of the U.N. Working Group on Ending Discrimination against Women, presented to the Human Rights Council in July 2021 is steeped in radical activism. The report denounces “Patriarchal oppression, pervasive gender stereotypes, stigma and taboos”, equates “unplanned pregnancies” with actual violence against women, and recommends that states and “non-state actors, such as armed groups,” ensure that women actually “exercise” their “sexual and reproductive rights,” referring chiefly to abortion.

The U.N. report goes as far as to equate doctors’ conscientious objection to abortion with an act of “torture” inflicted on women, stating that “the refusal or postponement of an abortion” constitutes a “form of gender-based violence that can be equated with torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” From the report, motherhood does not even seem to be an option for women, whose “sexual and reproductive health” would appear to consist only of access to contraception and abortion. Previous reports are of the same ilk.

The CWGL is funded by pro-abortion organizations such as the Ford Foundation,the Open Society Institute Women’s program, and the Fund for a Just Society, just to name a few. For example, in 2017, the Open Society Foundations paid $100,000 to the CWGL with the explicit purpose of “influencing the U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences.” The goal was to get the Special Rapporteur to recognize domestic work as a form of slavery. That goal was achieved the following year when the Special rapporteur dedicated its official report to this issue, including several quotes from the CWGL, and promoted it with the CWGL.

The Chair of the Board of the Open Society Foundations Women Program, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, gave around $7 million a year between 2011 and 2018 to radical pro-abortion groups, such as the Center for reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin also became a U.N. Special Rapporteur in 2017.

Another example of a radical pro-abortion U.N. expert is Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right to health since 2020. As a medical doctor, Ms. Mofokeng has herself performed abortions for years, which she presents as “a radical act of self-love.” Mofokeng sits on the board of at least eight organizations promoting abortion in Africa, has been funded by the Open Society, has been awarded by the Gates Foundation, and has been congratulated by the IPPF.

After her election, she said she wanted to fight against “legal and political restrictions” on abortion, saying they undermine the right to health, human dignity, and are “discriminatory” in that they “disproportionately affect the persons who can become pregnant.”

Tlaleng Mofokeng, along with Melissa Upreti, Dorothy Estrada Tanck, and three other members of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women just issued an official U.N. statement to “denounce further attacks against right to safe abortion [in Texas] and Supreme Court complicity”. They “urge the [US] Government to prevent retrogression in access to abortion in the United States and instead enact positive measures to ensure access to safe and legal abortion".

A third example of pro-abortion U.N. expert is Juan Méndez (U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture from 2010 to 2016). In 2015, the Ford Foundation gave him $90,000 through his Anti-Torture Initiative, for the writing of an official U.N. Report on “gender and torture.” The official report, entitled Gender Perspectives on the Prohibition of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment was presented by the rapporteur to the Human Rights Council in January 2016 under the U.N. stamp. It presents abortion as a “treatment” against pregnancy, and pretends that the prohibition of abortion, as well as the “judgmental attitudes”, is a kind of “torture and ill-treatment.” Once published under the aegis of the U.N., this report was widely promoted with the Ford Foundation and was then referenced in judgments of the European and the Inter-American courts of human rights and in the views adopted by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women regarding a communication.

One last example of pro-abortion U.N. expert is Dr. Pūras, Special Rapporteur on Health in 2015. He was recruited, upon his election by the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex. This Centre declares having a “tradition of supporting and hosting U.N. Special Rapporteurs” and to “influence and set human rights agendas.” This centre received, inter alia, $100,000 in 2017 and $380,028 in 2018 from the Open Society to finance the activities of the U.N. mandate of Dr. Pūras.

In that year, however, the Rapporteur only reported to the U.N. receiving $5,000 from the Open Society. In his reports, Dr. Pūras regularly calls for the decriminalization of abortion; challenges the criminalization of various other practices including drug use, “sexual and reproductive health services” and denounces “‘traditional family values,’ and other forms of discrimination” as “eroding social cohesion.”

These examples of militant U.N. experts gives a glance on the pro-abortion lobby within the UN. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, as the U.N. has been actively promoting abortion and population control since its foundation.

Among the 222 Special Procedures mandate holders since 2010, at least 52 of them have exercised (or still exercise) some responsibility within the Open Society Foundations, or an NGO supported by the Open Society or Ford Foundations, such as the Center for Reproductive Rights or the International Center for Transitional Justice. 41 of these experts even sit on the boards of directors of NGOs or hold positions of responsibility in these organizations during their term of office, likely to create conflicts of interest.

The omnipresence of these NGOs and foundations has reached such a degree that some mandate holders continue, once elected, to behave like NGO activists, promoting personal political ideas, thus exceeding the terms of their mandates, in violation of the Code of Conduct. This activist mentality, this “NGOization” of mandates contributes, according to several experts interviewed, to the weakening of the authority and effectiveness of the Special Procedures system.

The issue of the financial opacity of some U.N. experts

The direct funding of the U.N. experts by private foundations – i.e. outside of the U.N. system – is serious issue, as it endangers their independence.

In its report, the ECLJ shows that between 2015 and 2019, 37 of the 121 U.N. experts reported having received 134 direct financial payments, amounting to almost $11 million; the main contributors for such direct payments are the Ford and the Open Society foundations. In comparison,the official regular budget provided by the U.N. to the U.N. experts amounts to nearly $68 million during the same period.

Those direct fundings are not subjected to any control of the U.N. administration. They are not reflected in the financial reports of the OHCHR. Possibly, they are only declared by their beneficiaries on a voluntary basis and subsequently published in the annexes of the Special Procedures’ annual report, documents which we noted lack rigor. As a result, some experts omit to declare their direct funding or declare it in an inconsistent manner.

Between 2015 and 2019, eight direct donations were declared as “anonymous.” The amount of eighteen donations was not specified. Sometimes the indication was imprecise, and 143 donations did not have any declared purpose. In addition, several donations, declared by the foundations on their websites, were not declared at all by experts or not properly declared.

There is also an issue of opacity with donors. Funding from foundations is generally subject to a written agreement between the donor and the recipient. Such grant agreement can be very precise, particularly when formed with a foundation. However, they are not given, nor notified to the OHCHR.

The ECLJ report also shows that the system relies on a large number of “in-kind donations” from private actors often consisting in the provision of staff and office spaces: 36 of the 121 experts report having received 125 “in-kind donations” between 2015 and 2019. These in-kind donations are not assessed but can be substantial. Extrabudgetary funding – especially direct funding – can affect the independence of the expert as it can, most notably, influence their agenda and create a dependency.

Most of the experts interviewed by the ECLJ for the report recognized that direct payments can influence the experts’ political agenda. For example, Vernor Muñoz, former Special Rapporteur (2004-2010) stated that:

This is the most difficult implication of having resources from external sources, that they just require you to follow certain agendas or certain interests . . . meaning that some donors want to push mandate holders to follow their own interests and their own agenda[s].”

Another expert, Gabor Rona, explained that individual States’ financial contributions to individual mandates “are valuable and necessary to the health of the Special Procedures system, but they create the appearance, if not the fact, of undue influence.” Two experts even used the term “corruption.”

As a consequence, there is an urgent need to reform the system, in order to end illegitimate financial and ideological influences. In this end, the ECLJ report makes recommendations calling the Human Rights Council, inter alia, to prohibit explicitly any funding going directly to mandate-holders, and for a greater transparency.

First reactions to the ECLJ Report

The ECLJ's report was a bombshell in this small, hushed environment. As expected, experts concerned by these practices – stung – were quick to attack, in a vicious manner, not the content of the report, but the ECLJ. This was the case in particular of Special Rapporteurs Philip Alston and Martin Scheinin, who published ad hominem articles.  Interestingly enough, Open Society gave $600,000 to Mr. Alston, as Special Rapporteur,  between 2018 and 2019, but he had only declared $5,000 of it to the U.N.

But on September 3rd, the attacks on the report culminated, during the annual meeting of the Human Rights Council's Special Procedures at U.N. headquarters in Geneva. NGOs were allowed to intervene in this meeting, enabling Gregor Puppinck, Director of the ECLJ, to briefly present the report. What followed was a lively debate led by Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, who immediately denounced the report as a "furious attack" on human rights and "the integrity of the Special Procedures". She was supported and relayed by Special Rapporteur on freedom of association and assembly Clément Voulé, and by some NGOs, including the Center for Reproductive Rights. All of which are funded by radical Left billionaire George Soros' Open Society.

On the other hand, several NGOs – not funded by Soros – intervened during the debate to support the report, questioning the motives behind this attack on the ECLJ when the report set out objective, verifiable facts and called for greater financial transparency. This was particularly the case for the Institute for NGO research (a pro-Israeli NGO also known as NGO Monitor), the Centre for health science and law, and a Christian NGO.

One of the most persuasive NGO defenders was interrupted by the newly elected chair of the experts, Special Rapporteur Victor Madrigal-Borloz. The latter tried to answer the report by asserting that the experts are "self-regulating". Such self-regulation is supposed to be done through the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures. However, among its five other members are Tlaleng Mofokeng and Melissa Upreti, succeeding in 2021 to Clément Voulé and Dr Puras, which does not bode well for transparency.

On September 15th, the ECLJ had the opportunity to present the Report to the Human Rights Council. Our report will likely be the subject of discussions during this session of the Human Rights Council, as several States, fed up with the ideological activism of a few experts, want to put some order into the system. Several ambassadors have called for greater financial support, transparency, and independence for these so-called experts.

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