If an uncle who died thirty years ago suddenly came back to life and showed up unannounced for Christmas, it would be surprising if no one asked him any questions before serving him turkey. But that is essentially what happened at the UN in 2005. That year, an organisation, the Commission to Study the Organisation of Peace (CSOP), was literally resurrected in the UN records. Along with a dozen other NGOs it was part of a huge disinformation network serving the interests of New Delhi, reveals a EU DisinfoLab report published by Les Jours.
This miraculous reappearance should have set off alarm bells at the UN, because the CSOP is not an organisation like any other. It was created during the Second World War to ensure the transition from the League of Nations to the United Nations (UN). It was present in 1946 at the signing of the San Francisco Charter, which created the UN. A CSOP founding member, Louis Sohn, is today considered by Harvard University as one of the "founding fathers of international humanitarian law and environmental law". With the UN’s creation the CSOP lost its main goal, and it ceased all activity in the 1970s.
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The history of the CSOP might have ended there, but the Srivastava network – the Indian holding company behind the vast lobbying operation revealed in this series – resurrected it in the 2000s. The rebirth was not merely administrative: the CSOP would make several appearances at the UN Human Rights Council as early as 2006, the year of its creation. In that year the NGO was even officially represented by the man who would later become a vice-president of the European Parliament, the Pole Ryszard Czarnecki (he was already an MEP for PiS, a conservative and eurosceptic party). He did not respond to our requests for an interview. Even more outlandish was the fact that in 2007, still at the Human Rights Council, the CSOP was represented by a certain "Louis Shon". Was it a typo? The real Louis Sohn died a year earlier.
In 2012 Srivastava's creation got its own website at Csopus.com. It was registered by the same "Louis Shon" and his wandering "h", with the email address "firstname.lastname@example.org". EU DisinfoLab found that this address was used to register other websites, also linked to the Indian operation, and the site’s IP address was shared with other sites linked to Srivastava. Since then, the CSOP has frequently spoken up in Geneva – mainly to criticise Pakistan – and nobody at the HRC seems concerned.
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The CSOP is not the only organisation linked to Srivastava to speak at the Council's triennial sessions. A total of ten or so NGOs have been formally identified as part of the Indian disinformation network. All of them defend the interests of New Delhi at the UN while concealing their true allegiance. This sometimes gives rise to absurd situations. Like when the Canners’ International Permanent Committee used its intervention to talk about Pakistan and in particular the "oppressed minorities" of the Balochistan region.