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Friday, April 24, 2009

What we should learn from Durban II

Claudia Rosett has a great column in Forbes about what she terms the Durban II debacle (Hat Tip: Instapundit). The whole thing is worth reading, but I'd like to highlight the part where she explains what's wrong with the United Nations:
So, after all the controversy and drama, what was the Durban Review Conference really about?

The debacle this week was, above all, a natural product of the U.N. system. The real basis for fighting racism is neatly summed up in five words from the U.S. Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal." But in the U.N. calculus, it is not the equality of individual men or women that matters most. Instead, the U.N. tends to exalt the "equality" of sovereign states--as if there were no difference, say, between North and South Korea; Iran and the U.S.

That's why the president of terrorist-sponsoring, nuclear weapons-proliferating, U.N.-sanctioned Iran can jet into a U.N. conference on racism and be handed a turn at the podium. Beyond that, in the manner of central planners of the past century, the U.N. tends to seek equality not of basic rights, but of results. This entails not a defense of individual freedom, but a vast and elaborate lattice of machinery for social engineering, wealth transfers, government training programs and other projects in which politicians and bureaucrats decide who needs what.

In such a system, geared to defend first and foremost the interests not of individual human beings, but of governments, it's no surprise that some of the world's worst tyrannies end up hijacking such worthy causes as combating racism. And they've been at it for awhile: This week's train wreck of Durban II was a long time in the making. It was styled as a re-hash of the U.N.'s 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa. That jamboree was supposed to focus on racism, but instead turned into such a frenzy of Israel-bashing and U.S.-trashing that the U.S. delegation walked out.

The U.N. preparatory committee for this week's conference on "Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" was chaired by Iran's fellow tyranny, Libya, and included among its liveliest members Russia, Cuba and Pakistan (speaking on behalf of the 57-member, despot-dominated Organization of the Islamic Conference), as well as Iran itself. Ahmadinejad's appearance on the U.N. stage this week--complete with his predictable tirade there--should have come as no surprise.

The U.N. currently hosts Iran on the governing boards of some of its lead agencies and has welcomed Ahmadinejad repeatedly to the U.N. General Assembly stage in New York. Not least, in one of the main hallways of the U.N.'s Geneva complex, near the Durban II assembly chamber, hangs a big silk maroon-tinted carpet of intricate design. It is framed in gold, and below it appears the inscription: "Presented by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the Occasion of its 30th Anniversary." It is dated just two months ago: "February 2009." With the U.N.'s warm relations with the Islamic Republic so showcased, Ahmadinejad had reason to expect a red carpet rolled out for him in Geneva.
Claudia seems to think that what's wrong with the UN system is the fact that it's one country, one vote, and that countries who are anti-democratic, like Iran and North Korea, for example, are not penalized for their anti-democratic natures. But there's more to it than that. The problem with the United Nations is that there are no barriers to entry that require compliance with basic standards of human rights and decency. There is, for example, no requirement that United Nations members be democratic and allow their populations to vote for elected officials. There is no requirement that United Nations members allow their populations to speak their minds freely, maintain their religious beliefs or have a free press. There is no requirement that United Nations members grant their populations equal basic rights (as Rosett so eloquently put it above).

There is a far better chance of those things changing by disbanding the United Nations altogether, and forming a League of Democracies, which was suggested by John McCain during the Presidential campaign last fall. Such a league would consist of "countries that "share our values, our principles, our philosophy and our appreciation of the challenge that Iran poses to stability in the Middle East." Of course, there is the risk that the Europeans would shun such a body in favor of continuing their membership in the United Nations, but given the increasing influence of intolerant Islam in Europe, I have to wonder how much longer the Europeans will continue to meet the entry requirements for such a league anyway.

Read the whole thing.


At 12:24 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The UN really represents the equality of governments not of individuals and implicit in that assumption is that all values are equal. Therefore the UN cannot creditably defend human rights and freedoms. Since for some governments represented in it deny the existence of individual rights. That is why Durban II concluded in the manner it did. Will that lesson be learned? Far from it.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Ashan said...

It is quite telling that the logo for the Durban II Pro-Racism circus is a modernistic swastika.


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