Video above: Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari was re-elected by acclamation as Rapporteur by the UN special committee, hugged by the new Venezuelan Chair, Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño, and then spoke from the committee dais.
GENEVA, February 25, 2016 — A UN watchdog group is criticizing UN chief Ban Ki-moon for his blessings delivered today before an anachronistic UN committee charged with “decolonizing” the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar — at the same time as the 24-nation entity elected gross human rights abusers Syria and 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 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 just 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—like before—is already being trumpeted by the Assad regime.
The election of Venezuela’s UN ambassador as Chair—Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño—took place this morning in the 2016 opening session of the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization.
Twenty-five human rights groups led by UN Watch just spotlighted gross violations of human rights in Venezuela this week when they awarded the 2016 Geneva Summit Courage Award to two Venezuelan opposition leaders who are political prisoners.
Chile and India Failed to Vote Like Democracies
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. Both democracies sit on the 24-nation committee, to vote against the Assad regime’s candidate.
UN Watch Campaign Warned Ban Ki-moon & Member States
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) February 12, 2016
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) February 23, 2016
UN Agencies Accused of Aiding Assad Regime
The UN election of Syria comes as the New York Times reports that the UN’s World Health Organization hired the wife of a top Syrian official to supposedly assist displaced people, even as she has no qualifications.
Earlier, the UN’s top humanitarian agency, OCHA, was accused by leading expert Dr. Annie Sparrow, in a major essay in Foreign Affairs of “supporting the atrocities of the Syrian government.” The UN is also “whitewashing Assad’s war crimes,” wrote Sparrow.
UN Chief’s Moral Obligation to Speak Out
“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.
“Today’s UN vote only helps the Assad regime portray itself a UN human rights arbiter. That’s an insult to Syria’s victims,” said Neuer. “Morally, Mr. Ban should do the right thing and at the very least condemn the decision.”
Precedent: UNESCO Chief Criticized Syria’s Election in 2013
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 and other rare but important statements demonstrate that UN officials can act as the world’s moral voice when a UN committee makes obscene decisions —electing a regime that commits mass murder—which only cast a shadow on the reputation of the UN as a whole.”
Syria can now trumpet a propaganda victory as it did when a similar miscarriage of justice occurred in 2013:
“The re-election of Dr. Al-Jafari, according to many analysts and observers, is yet another recognition by members of the Committee of the Syrian important and key role.”
Committee 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 anti-Western 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, the Falklands, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos, St. Helena, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.
Corruption & Exotic Travel
The committee 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.