World News and Trends: Moral guidance from the United Nations?

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Moral guidance from the United Nations?

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Other leading politicians from Germany and France (and even some in the United States) insist that the UN must first validate the legitimacy of any American conflict with Iraq.

Veteran British journalist and war correspondent Ann Leslie minces no words with her frank rejoinder. "How can we take any moral guidance from a body as venal, corrupt and self-serving as the UN?" She points out that the United Nations is a political body composed of countries, "a goodly portion of which are run by murderous dictatorships."

Libya is a case in point. That nation's undemocratic leaders routinely deal with political dissenters by beatings, hangings by the wrists, electric shocks, encounters with raging dogs, threatening and abusing family members of the accused and the like. Moreover in 1999 the UN's own "Special Rapporteur on Torture" issued a damning report on Libya's human rights record.

And yet the UN unashamedly voted to award its presidency of the Human Rights Commission to Libya. Typically, one of Libyan dictator Gadhafi's diplomats responded, "By this appointment the UN has demonstrated to the world that our human rights record is exemplary." Perhaps we shouldn't expect more from a commission that includes in its members such noted serial human-rights abusers as China, Cuba, Sudan and Syria. And, lest we forget, the United States was voted off the commission in 2001, though it was later reinstated.

To add to this absurdity, Iraq was chosen to chair the upcoming UN disarmament conference May 12-June 27. Yes, Iraq—the very nation that has invaded four of its neighbors in recent decades and repeatedly defied various UN resolutions calling on it to destroy its weapons of mass destruction as it agreed to do after its defeat in the 1991 Gulf War. The cochair of the conference? None other than Iran, which is aggressively pursuing its own weapons of mass destruction.

In practice the United Nations views all member states as if they had equal moral standing. Interestingly, Libya was elected to this office by a commission vote of 33-3 with some abstentions. Noted American journalist and columnist Charles Krauthammer observed: "They [the UN] will now welcome a one-party police state—which specializes in abduction, assassination, torture and detention without trial—to the chair of the United Nations" highest body charged with defending human rights."

In summing up the Iraqi situation, he concluded: "The United Nations is on the verge of demonstrating finally and fatally its moral bankruptcy and its strategic irrelevance." Ann Leslie adds: "It [the UN] is not a body from which we should take moral or even, indeed, legal guidance." (Sources: The Daily Mail [London], News and