A UN watchdog group criticized Ban Ki-moon for his blessings to the UN committee charged with “decolonizing” among others, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, at the same time as the 24-nation group elected mass murdering Syria and human rights abusing Venezuela to leadership posts.
“I commend the leadership of all those committed to bringing new energy to its work,” said Mr. Ban.
UN Watch instead is now calling on Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, and the EU’s UN ambassadors to condemn the world body’s “absurd and morally obscene” election of Syria and Venezuela to senior posts on a decolonization committee that is charged with upholding fundamental human rights in opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples — a propaganda victory that—if the past is any guide—is certain to be trumpeted by both the Assad and Maduro regimes.
The election of Venezuela’s UN ambassador as Chair—Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño—took place last week in the opening 2016 session of the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization.
Twenty-five human rights groups just spotlighted gross violations of human rights in Venezuela when they awarded the 2016 Geneva Summit Courage Award to two Venezuelan opposition leaders who are political prisoners.
Hillel Neuer, director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, said that President Michele Bachelet of Chile should be “ashamed” that her country joined the consensus vote, as should India, despite repeated appeals by UN Watch. Both democracies sit on the 24-nation committee, to vote against the Assad regime’s candidate.
For several weeks UN Watch warned Ban Ki-moon and others of the expected election of Syria, and urged him to speak out, but to no avail.
“It is incomprehensible for the UN on one day to lament the regime’s killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of Syrians—to declare the regime guilty of “extermination” of its own people—and to then hand this gift of false legitimacy to the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad,” said Neuer.
“The UN vote only helps the Assad regime portray itself a UN human rights arbiter. That’s indefensible, and an insult to Syria’s victims,” said Neuer. “Morally, Mr. Ban should do the right thing and at least condemn the decision.”
Although Ban Ki-moon and his spokespersons often insist that he cannot speak on elections conducted by member states, actions taken by other high UN officials prove otherwise.
For example, when Syria was elected to a UNESCO human rights committee in 2013, Irina Bokova, the head of UNESCO, went on record to say that the election was wrong. Her spokesperson said: “Given the developments in Syria, the director-general does not see how this country can contribute to the work of the committees.”
“This demonstrates that UN officials can act as the world’s moral voice when a UN committee makes obscene decisions —electing a regime committing mass murder—which only cast a shadow on the reputation of the UN as a whole.”
The Decolonization Committee or C24 sessions debate the future of places such as Gibraltar, the Falklands, Bermuda, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. It is mandated to uphold fundamental human rights in opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples.
There are 17 territories still before the committee, and most do not want independence, which is only one of the reasons the committee, dominated by third-world nations, is often criticized as a costly irrelevance.
The 17 territories still listed as colonies by the committee are American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, East Timor, the Falklands, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos, St. Helena, the United States Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.
C24 is notorious for its habit of holding regional seminars in tropical islands—“alternately in the Caribbean and the Pacific”—at considerable expense. Madeleine K. Albright, as U.S. representative at the United Nations in the late 1990s, called these expenditures ‘‘frivolous and unneeded.’‘
At the time, activities of the committee were investigated by the United Nations inspector general, Karl T. Paschke, who concluded that money was being squandered.
UN Watch is urging current U.S. ambassador Samantha Power to follow her predecessor and finally speak out against the travesties of justice worked by this anachronistic and corrupt committee.