UN chief Antonio Guterres was criticized on Thursday by a watchdog group for failing to condemn Syria’s election to a committee charged with working towards decolonization. UN Watch called on US Ambassador Nikki Haley, and European ambassadors to condemn the world body for handing Bashar Assad’s regime what it called “a propaganda victory.”
Syria’s Bashar Ja’afari was elected earlier Thursday to the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization, C24, which is guided by the principle of “respect for self-determination of all peoples”.
“It is incomprehensible for the UN on one day to lament the Syrian regime’s killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of Syrians — to declare the regime guilty of a ‘monstrous campaign of annihilation’ of its own people — and to then hand this gift of false legitimacy to the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch.
”Today’s UN vote only helps the Assad regime portray itself as a UN human rights arbiter. That’s an insult to Syria’s victims,” said Neuer. “Morally, Mr. Guterres should do the right thing and at the very least condemn the decision.”
The UN charter says that the committee’s task is to ensure “just treatment,” of peoples “and their protection against abuses,” and “to further international peace and security,” and “must be based on the general principle of good-neighborliness.”
The Decolonization Committee has been criticized in the past for squandering money on its regional seminars, held alternately in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
When the UN was founded, almost one-third of the world’s population lived in territories that were non-self-governing and dependent on colonial powers. However, today the committee is only responsible for 17 territories, most of which do not want independence.
The territories are: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos, St. Helena, the US Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.