On Point: United Nation's Credibility: Torn, Ripped, and Shredded

by Austin Bay
January 15, 2003

Once again the United Nation's credibility is torn, ripped, andshredded.

Libya -- and hence the thug regime of Col. Muhammar Gadafi -- isset to chair the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

A yawn and a shrug followed by a so what is an understandableresponse. After all, the UN is the organization where Upper East Sidediplomats sip champagne and nip French cheese, while deploring massstarvation in sub-Saharan Africa. Besides, Libya will hold the chair foronly a year.

But this is no time for the blase acceptance of a sociopathwhose murderous escapades and grandiose schemes have savaged fragile nationsthroughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Libya's links to torture and terror are proven. The Gadafiregime's domestic opponents are either dead or live in exile under constantthreat of assassination. Libya's secret police and system of "revolutionarycommittees" throttle the populace. Libya has no independent human rightsgroups, and the Libyan government controls the press completely andabsolutely.

The 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland,(which killed 270 people) came at Gadafi's order. It was no mistake; it wasno misunderstanding. Pan AM 103 was calculated, callous murder, and it took14 years of politics and police work to wrench a "confession" andcompensation from the Libyan junta.

This "confession" was supposed to signal a change in Gadafi, thebirth of a "new and improved" political dude.

The "human rights" track record of the "old" Gadafi includes aborder war with Tunisia, attempts to undermine Egypt and assassinateEgyptian officials, the attempted "annexation" of northern Chad, a proxy warin Chad and murderous intrigue in the West African nation of Burkina Faso.He also hobnobbed with Uganda's vicious Idi Amin, sending Amin troops andweapons even as Amin's dictatorship disintegrated.

The "new" Gadafi looks a lot like the old beast. He now palswith Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, amid allegations over deals inminerals extracted (i.e., looted) from the Democratic Republic of Congo.Following a series of coups, Gadafi is muscling into the Central AfricanRepublic (CAR) by providing "security assistance." This activity has aninteresting dimension, since the CAR and its neighbor, Chad, have beenfighting a low-grade border war. Remember, Chad's neighbor to the north isGadafi's Libya.

Why elect a terrorist to police human rights violations?Gadafi's been practicing another form of African finagling. Allegedly,Gadafi has bankrolled the newly formed African Union (AU), thus buying votesfrom the autocrats and elites. The UNHRC job is part of his payoff.

The UNHRC is already a damaged institution. Recall in May 2001,the United States was voted off the UNHRC, to the delight of the planet'sCastros, bin Ladens and Milosevics. Quite a coup, huh, kicking the UnitedStates, the world's greatest force for real human rights, off the board infavor of such stellar, committed human rights activists like Sudan, Cuba,Congo, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

The sham is sickening, a destructive acid that underminesgenuine efforts to promote and protect human rights. That's the shame of it.

Appeals to reason directed toward the UN diplomatic clique gounheard. Face it, too many UN bureaucrats are the elites of autocraticnations. At the UN, they wear the outer garments of democracy (heck, theGeneral Assembly holds votes), but back home autocratic oppression andcorruption are their people's daily grind. The human rights to life, libertyand the pursuit of happiness are threats to the autocrats.

But what the hey -- if this handing Gadafi the gavel underminesUN field organizations that are often the only institutions in Earth's hardcorners that serve as the first international political road block againstbrutal anarchy and genocide?

For the UNHRC elites, it's Libya's turn to sit and spoutplatitudes. Don't rock the boat. Don't risk the New York and Geneva expenseaccounts -- that's the credibility that really counts, the diplomaticexpense accounts. Yes, human rights. The Gadafi-led UNHRC will surely issuea searing manifesto, right after the next round of champagne and thebite-sized brick of gooey cheese.

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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