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Report Summary March 20, 2012
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Assessing the United Nations
Is it worth the money?
By Tom Price

As the government of Bashar Assad slaughters thousands of civilian protesters in Syria, the United Nations stands impotent — blocked from intervening by Russian and Chinese vetoes in the U.N. Security. . . .

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The Issues
  • Is the U.N. worth the money the world spends on it?
  • Do undemocratic countries wield too much power in the United Nations?
  • Should democracies leave the U.N. Human Rights Council?


Pro/Con
Should all UN payments be voluntary?

Pro Pro
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.
Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee. Written for CQ Global Researcher, March 2012
Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif.
Ranking Democrat, House Foreign Affairs Committee. Written for CQ Global Researcher, March 2012


Spotlight
Some top jobs go to anti-female, anti-Semitic governments and individuals.

The next time a liberal asks why conservatives don't respect the United Nations, National Review advised its conservative readers last year, “you could tell them this: North Korea is chairing the Conference on Disarmament. If that's not good enough, you could add this: Iran is a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. That should answer their question.”Footnote 1

The U.N. certainly provides plenty of fodder for its critics to condemn or ridicule.

As Australia's nationwide newspaper, The Australian, asked in a headline: “Is the UN Stark Raving Mad?” The paper condemned North Korea's chairmanship of the disarmament conference as “a case of lunatics taking over the asylum. The wacky regime that constantly violates the U.N.'s nuclear controls, is the target of U.N. sanctions, and is the leading proliferator of nuclear technology to Iran and Syria is now putatively in charge of the organization responsible for negotiating multilateral arms control agreements.”Footnote 2

Under the headline “The depraved United Nations,” Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Leibler complained of Iran's election as a General Assembly vice president and charged that the U.N. had been captured by “dictatorships and tyrannies” and “transformed into a platform for promoting genocide.”Footnote 3

Human rights activists also expressed disbelief in 2010, when Iran was elected to the 45-member U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and Saudi Arabia to another agency — U.N. Women — charged with promoting women's rights. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian woman who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigns for women's rights, said it was “a joke” for countries that oppress women to be placed on such panels. Iranian laws discriminate against women in divorce cases and require testimony from two women to equal testimony of one man in court, she said, and the women's rights situation in Saudi Arabia “is even worse.”Footnote 4

Iranian human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi (AFP/Getty Images/John Thys)
Iranian human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigns for women's rights, said it was “a joke” for countries that oppress women to be placed on key U.N. human rights panels. (AFP/Getty Images/John Thys)

Saudi Arabia forbids women to drive, restricts their use of public facilities when men are present and requires them to get permission from male relatives to participate in many activities. The monarchy recently announced that women would be allowed to vote in 2015. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran restricts what women can study in college and requires a male guardian's permission to marry.Footnote 5

Equally jaw-dropping: Syria was appointed to two human-rights-related committees of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) even as the Syrian government was killing protesters in its own country. Astonishingly, UNESCO's Arab members selected Syria for the posts in November, shortly before the country was suspended from the Arab League because of its violent attacks on demonstrators. Other countries quickly launched a campaign to expel Syria from the panels.Footnote 6

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chair of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Syria's appointments a “stunning display” of “irresponsible and dangerous behavior” and “an affront to those suffering at the hand of tyrants all around the world.”Footnote 7

Possibly the greatest outrage and ridicule have been generated by the activities of Princeton Law Professor Richard Falk, the U.N.'s special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories. Falk is accused of anti-Semitism and has suggested that the Bush administration may have been complicit in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He wrote the foreword to The New Pearl Harbor, by David Ray Griffin, a retired American professor of the philosophy of religion and theology who suggests that the World Trade Center towers were destroyed by “controlled demolition” rather than by hijacked airplanes.Footnote 8 Falk himself has written about a “large and growing grassroots constituency” that believes the truth about 9/11 “is not yet known, or … is known but being actively suppressed.”Footnote 9

And last year Falk caused controversy when he posted a cartoon on his blog depicting a dog — wearing a sweater labeled “USA” and a yarmulke with a Star of David — chewing a bloody skeleton and urinating on Lady Justice.Footnote 10

While acknowledging that many of these appointments are outrageous, U.N. supporters downplay their significance. Some positions rotate, so North Korea — for instance — simply got its turn to chair the disarmament conference for a brief time. Iran and Saudi Arabia can be outvoted on the women's panels, supporters note, and other U.N. bodies are more important.

More significant, they point out, the United States, U.K. and France hold three of the five permanent seats on the organization's most powerful body — the Security Council — where any one of them can block a Security Council action with a veto.

— Tom Price

[1] “The Week,” National Review, Aug. 15, 2011.

Footnote:
1. “The Week,” National Review, Aug. 15, 2011.

[2] “Is the UN Stark Raving Mad?” The Australian, July 4, 2011, p. 15, www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/is-the-un-stark-raving-mad/story-e6frg71x-1226086716084.

Footnote:
2. “Is the UN Stark Raving Mad?” The Australian, July 4, 2011, p. 15, www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/is-the-un-stark-raving-mad/story-e6frg71x-1226086716084.

[3] Isi Leibler, “Candidly Speaking: The depraved United Nations,” The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 8, 2011, www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=237091.

Footnote:
3. Isi Leibler, “Candidly Speaking: The depraved United Nations,” The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 8, 2011, www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=237091.

[4] Bill Varner, “Iran, Saudi Arabia Seats on UN Women's Board Would Be a ‘Joke,’ Ebadi Says,” Bloomberg, Nov. 9, 2010, www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-09/iran-saudi-arabia-seats-on-un-women-s-board-would-be-a-joke-ebadi-says.html.

Footnote:
4. Bill Varner, “Iran, Saudi Arabia Seats on UN Women's Board Would Be a ‘Joke,’ Ebadi Says,” Bloomberg, Nov. 9, 2010, www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-09/iran-saudi-arabia-seats-on-un-women-s-board-would-be-a-joke-ebadi-says.html.

[5] “World Report 2012: Iran,” Human Rights Watch, www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-iran; Alexia Bedat, “Women's Rights in China, Saudi Arabia and Iran,” Testimony to the UN Human Rights Council, UN Watch, Sept. 15, 2011; Varner, op. cit.

Footnote:
5. “World Report 2012: Iran,” Human Rights Watch, www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-iran; Alexia Bedat, “Women's Rights in China, Saudi Arabia and Iran,” Testimony to the UN Human Rights Council, UN Watch, Sept. 15, 2011; Varner, op. cit.

[6] Kareem Fahim and Steven Erlanger, “Aid official and priest are killed in Syria,” The International Herald Tribune, Jan. 27, 2012, p. 4.

Footnote:
6. Kareem Fahim and Steven Erlanger, “Aid official and priest are killed in Syria,” The International Herald Tribune, Jan. 27, 2012, p. 4.

[7] “Ros-Lehtinen Says Selection of Syria for UNESCO Human Rights Panel Affront to Victims Around the World,” U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Nov. 22, 2011, http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press_display.asp?id=2099.

Footnote:
7. “Ros-Lehtinen Says Selection of Syria for UNESCO Human Rights Panel Affront to Victims Around the World,” U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Nov. 22, 2011, http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press_display.asp?id=2099.

[8] David Ray Griffin, “Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?” www.davidraygriffin.com/articles/was-america-attacked-by-muslims-on-911.

Footnote:
8. David Ray Griffin, “Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?” www.davidraygriffin.com/articles/was-america-attacked-by-muslims-on-911.

[9] Richard A. Falk, “9/11: More than meets the eye,” The Edinburgh (Scotland) Journal, Nov. 9, 2008, www.journal-online.co.uk/article/5056-911-more-than-meets-the-eye.

Footnote:
9. Richard A. Falk, “9/11: More than meets the eye,” The Edinburgh (Scotland) Journal, Nov. 9, 2008, www.journal-online.co.uk/article/5056-911-more-than-meets-the-eye.

[10] Gil Shefler, “US, Jewish groups demand Falk resign over blog entry,” The Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2011, www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=228618.

Footnote:
10. Gil Shefler, “US, Jewish groups demand Falk resign over blog entry,” The Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2011, www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=228618.


Document Citation
Price, T. (2012, March 20). Assessing the United Nations. CQ Global Researcher, 6, 129-152. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/globalresearcher/
Document ID: cqrglobal2012032000
Document URL: http://library.cqpress.com/globalresearcher/cqrglobal2012032000


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