Former French Foreign Minister and three Nordic institutes to review UNRWA

Secretary-General António Guterres (right) meets with Catherine Colonna,
Secretary-General António Guterres (right) meets with Catherine Colonna, then Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France. UN Photo Evan Schneider

The UN Secretary-General has appointed an independent Review Group to assess whether UNRWA is doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made.

According to a statement by his Spokesperson the review will be led by Catherine Colonna, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, who will work with three research organizations: the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The Review Group will begin its work on 14 February 2024 and is expected to submit an interim report to the Secretary-General late March 2024, with a final report expected to be completed by late April 2024. The final report will be made public.

This review is in response to a request made by UNRWA Commissioner-General Lazzarini earlier this year.

A child in Gaza

Parallel with an internal investigation

The Secretary-General notes that these accusations come at a time when UNRWA, the largest UN organization in the region, is working under extremely challenging conditions to deliver life-saving assistance to the 2 million people in the Gaza Strip who depend on it for their survival amidst one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world.

This independent external review will take place in parallel with an investigation currently underway by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) into allegations of the involvement of 12 UNRWA personnel in the 7 October attacks. The cooperation of the Israeli authorities, who made these allegations, will be critical to the success of the investigation.