Friday, April 29, 2005

More on the UN and human rights

You have to hand it to the United Nations – it is consistent. There is now official confirmation that one of the 15 countries chosen by the UN’s Economic and Social Council to serve on the UN Commission on Human Rights is Zimbabwe.

That’s Zimbabwe, led by President Mugabe (whose ban on entering the EU was waived again for Pope John Paul II’s funeral). As Roger Bate points out on the American Enterprise Institute website:

“For the UN to have voted Zimbabwe onto the UN Commission for Human Rights it had to ignore the following:

the 20,000 members of the opposition that Mugabe ordered killed in the 1980s

the destruction of half of the economy in the past five years to maintain power; the regular physical abuse encountered by any opposition to his regime (and that includes just saying nasty things about the leader)

the lack of free media

food allocation used as a political weapon

helping wage a war in the Congo so that Mugabe and his cronies make millions from conflict diamonds

the neglect of the entire health system so that life expectancy has dropped from 55 to 33 years in the past decade.

I could go on, but you get the point.”

We do, indeed, get his point and would like to add further a couple of details. One is the existence of one Henry Dowa, one of the worst torturers in Zimbabwe, who was seconded to the UN police force in Kosovo in 2001.

When his behaviour there became particularly bad, he was sent back, to continue his grisly work in Harare. The UN acknowledged the truth of all the allegations about his behaviour in Kosovo but, alas, it, apparently, has no resources to pursue criminal cases against torturers that carry on their trade wearing its blue berets.

(What happened to all those international lawyers who are always jumping up and down, demanding that Bush or Blair or whoever should be indicted?)

Then there is the interesting position of SecGen Kofi Annan and his son Kojo, of oil-for-food fame. According to Roger Bate’s account, Kojo was a contractor for the construction of Harare’s bright new International Airport. Rumour has it, he made a mint. Rumour, further cannot help speculating what other links there are between the Annan and the Mugabe families.

To think that there are people around who solemnly tell us that we should look up to the UN as the fountain of international law and morality.

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