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Posted on on May 20th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

Did the UN Reach a New Low – or it has Permanent Structural Defects.

The Wall Street Editorial, this week-end says the UN is a strange place and points out to what it calls “signature bodies” – the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Disarmament Commission. Strangely to us it forgot the Human Rights Council.

The CSD for an obvious reason: Zimbabwe, that used to be known as the breadbasket of Africa, but experiences now shortages of food and an inflation rate of 2,200% – just call it a failed state.
While Africa overall experienced in 2006 a growth rate of +5%, Zimbabwe contracted at -5%. Part of the blame should be put on Mugabe’s protector, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. But, whatever,
Zimbabwe of today does not deserve to be Chair of the CSD, and its UN Ambassador complaining that his detractors point at human rights problems in Zimbabwe as a reason for their rejection of
Zimbabwe, and this is not the business of the CSD, is plainly laughable. Zimbabwe should not be considered an exemplary leader in Africa, for both reasons – its economy and its lack of respect for
human rights and human dignity. Just to remind the Ambassador – he did not fail only the economic development leg of the CSD tripod, but also the social development leg – that is were good
governance and democracy, and human rights reside. For South Africa to back Mugabe’s miserable show is simply a disservice to all of Africa. The New York Times editorial of May 17, 2007, says that if Mr. Mbeki is not ready to pull out the rug from under Mr. Mugabe for the sake of Zimbabwe, he better reconsider this for the sake of his own South Africa. “Investors might be turned off by the whole region if they continue to see the misery and upheaval just over the border.”

South Africa also backed its other neighbor – Angola – for the Human Rights Council. Angola and Egypt were on the UN Human Rights Watch list of states that do not deserve a seat at the Council.
Angola got 172 votes, Egypt got 168 votes out of the possible 192 – but then the Africans did not provide alternate choices.
Where there was an alternate choice, in the splintered Eastern European States Group – Belarus (78) lost to Bosnia Hezegovina (95) – confirmed by a second round that gave Belarus (72) to B-H (112).
In Asia, no choice, Qatar got 170 votes and joined Saudi Arabia as world judges on human rights and the oil business. Qatar being home after a quite successful show of run-into-the-ground of the CSD.

What that proves, is that when there is enough democratic breath left in the UN body – there is a possibility that only one third of the UN is rotten – but when the leadership of a group is out to do mischief – on their own volition, or on behalf of others – be those Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Cuba, or sometimes someone else, then the number of rogues, or governments with ulterior motives, can easily reach 172 out of 192, leaving the number of principled governments to about 10% of the UN body. In this context, let us also remark that the Wall Street Journal, that normally likes to quote the UN Human Rights Watch on human rights issues, did not do so this time because of the Qatari business. You see, Qatar, though it is not an oil exporter, it is an enormous natural gas exporter and its treasures are guarded by the US, so they can speak for their brothers of OAPEC and be protected by the US and the Wall Street Journal at the same time.

The Wall Street Journal, has a field day with the Disarmament Commission. There Iran was elected to be a Vice-Chair and Syria became the Raporteur, this to watch over and report on nuclear proliferation and on smuggling of guns to those that fight the infidel. That was nice material for the East River based stage of the Theatre of the Absurd.

The Wall Street Journal editorial ends by by saying: These episodes don’t reach the level of the multi-billion-dollar oil-for-Food corruption at high level UN, or the tens of millions of dollars that seemingly were handed by UNDP to the North Koreans. Nevertheless, the WSJ would have liked to see the US walk out from the CSD and the UNDC – not a very ingenious idea – this because you cannot pick which UN bodies you attend and which you leave to the dogs. Just remember what happened to the Soviets when they walked out from the Security Council and woke up with the war in Korea. Does this leave us with UN bodies that are just talk shows? Is that what the UN was meant to be? We understand that this might be right for the General Assembly, but bodies like the CSD, DC, and the HRC, were meant to achieve results – if they falter – then what?

AHA! Here we reach the main point of this article, this after we spent days at the Meeting of the Mayors of the 40 largest World Cities, let the UN talk about it – but then get people like Bill Clinton, George Soros, Bernard Kouchner … to show the way how to deal us out of a corner the UN is incapable by itself to do the job. The structural problems with the UN are there, but we do not have to discard the baby with the dirty waters.


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