Apparently, when it comes to elections to plum United Nations positions – such as rapporteur of a decolonization committee – representing a country that murders its own people in the tens of thousands does not disqualify you.
Last week the permanent representative of the Syrian government, Bashar Jaafari, was unanimously re-elected as rapporteur of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization.
Jaafari will serve as a special rapporteur to oppose the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples.
Meanwhile, the UN itself has accused the Syrian regime of killing 70,000 of its own people in a bloody civil war that has raged for more than two years. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has accused Syria of victimizing women by using rape as a weapon of war.
Recently, Vuk Jeremic, president of the General Assembly, joined Navi Pillay, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, in criticizing the lack of an international response to Syrian violence.
UN Watch, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as U.S. and European diplomats, to condemn the “revolting and absurd” re-election of Jaafari.
“The UN is helping the Assad regime portray itself as a UN human rights arbiter. That’s indefensible and an insult to Syria’s victims,” said Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch.
“It’s contradictory and it makes no sense,” Neuer told The CJN.
While senior UN officials speak out against Syrian atrocities, “the system of elections is entrenched. It’s immoral and amoral,” he said.
Neuer attributed Jaafari’s re-election to purely political considerations – backroom horse-trading on an international level. Positions in UN bodies are apportioned on a regional basis, and regional groups vote for colleagues in exchange for support later. The result is that some of the worst human rights offenders seek and attain prestigious posts on human rights bodies.
“The sad reality is that in the UN system, mass murderers get elected to high posts,” Neuer said.
In addition to Jaafari’s re-appointment, Syrian representatives were elected in November 2011 – while the massacres were ongoing – to two UNESCO human rights committees. As well, Sudan was named to a senior position on ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council), while Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Venezuela, all human rights violators, were named to the UN’s Human Rights Council.
Countries that are human rights violators seek these sorts of appointments to deflect attention from their own human rights records, and the Syrian news agency SANA is already trumpeting Jaafari’s appointment, Neuer said.
Late last week, a UN venue was again the scene for an anti-Israel diatribe.
Speaking at the Vienna forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN body for west-Islam dialogue and tolerance, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called Zionism a “crime against humanity” and compared it to antisemitism, fascism and Islamophobia.
Ban sat silently through Erdogan’s statements, which UN Watch characterized as the misuse of a global forum “to incite hatred” and “Ahmadinejad-style pronouncements,” a reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated anti-Israel and antisemitic statements.