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Topic: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law (Read 48955 times)
The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law
January 13, 2009, 08:27:43 AM »
Imagine a global entity that facilitates terrorism and gives aid and comfort to tyrants while attempting to undercut human freedom, all while engaging in graft and corruption. Sound like a Bond villain's group, hidden in an underground bunker? No, it's the "United Nations".
Last Edit: July 12, 2011, 04:14:08 AM by Crafty_Dog
The United Nations
Reply #1 on:
January 13, 2009, 08:28:32 AM »
The UN Bailout of Hamas
By Joseph Klein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The United Nations has been working especially hard in recent days to bail out the Hamas terrorists from the prospect of a devastating defeat at the hands of Israel.
Hamas caused the present conflict by its unprovoked firing of hundreds of rockets deeper into Israel, targeting Israeli civilians for death and terrorizing its women and children. Hamas, not Israel, unilaterally decided against extending the six month ceasefire that had expired in mid-December 2008, which Hamas had been violating anyway. After clear warnings to stop the rocket fire which went unheeded by Hamas, Israel responded with military force in self-defense pursuant to Section 51 of the UN Charter.
Nevertheless, under pressure from the Arab bloc, the UN Security Council adopted a contemptible resolution on January 8, 2009, which calls for an “immediate” ceasefire, “leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”. Hamas’s provocation for the Israeli military action is not mentioned even once. There is not a word stating that the rocket attacks on the Israeli civilian population must stop completely as a condition for such withdrawal of Israeli forces. Indeed, the resolution places no onus on Hamas at all for the present situation, much less imposing any obligations on the mini-terrorist state it is running in Gaza. Although Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and would never have tolerated a Hamas-led government if it had stayed instead, the UN resolution is based on the premise that Israel still effectively controls Gaza and thus is fully responsible for the welfare of the Palestinian civilian population living under Hamas rule. This is truly a heads-Hamas-wins, tails-Israel-loses setup.
Shamefully, the United States decided to abstain, rather than use its veto power to block this one-sided, anti-Israel Security Council resolution.
The resolution emphasizes “the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings.” While calling on member states to “intensify efforts” to prevent “illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition”, nothing is said about destroying the remaining tunnels built by Hamas or removing the rocket parts and other arms from the terrorists’ hands that have already been smuggled into Gaza. There is no provision for an effective international monitoring force to stop any further smuggling.
The resolution “condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism”. Since Israel is singled out elsewhere in the resolution for its military presence in Gaza and the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are not mentioned at all, the spin artists accusing Israel of ‘crimes against humanity’ will have a field day. They will interpret the resolution as condemning only Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians and equating Israel’s acts of self-defense with ‘state terrorism’. No accountability for using Palestinian women and children as human shields – a deliberate tactic of Islamic terrorists – is laid at Hamas’s doorstep. Since Hamas is not mentioned even once in the resolution, the Islamic propagandists will surely argue that neither Hamas’s assaults on Israeli civilians, or Hamas’s deliberate use of civilians as human shields, were intended to be included within the definition of acts of terrorism. This fits into the Islamic fictional narrative that Hamas militants and other Islamic terrorists are not really terrorists at all – they are legitimate resistance fighters.
The resolution recognizes “the vital role played by UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] in providing humanitarian and economic assistance within Gaza.” It actually asks for additional contributions to UNRWA.
UNRWA runs the Palestinian refugee camps and UN schools in Gaza. Two schools reportedly came under fire during the present conflict by Israeli forces in response to mortar shells being fired from the schools’ vicinity by Hamas militants whom Palestinian residents were said to have observed in the area. Nevertheless, Israel has received all of the blame for the ensuing civilian casualties caused by Hamas’s deliberate use of Palestinian women and children as human shields.
UNRWA itself is not an innocent bystander. In the past UNRWA has allowed the Palestinian refugee camps that it was administering to be used as bases for small-arms factories, explosives laboratories, and arms caches. It has also allowed UN vehicles to be used to transport arms, explosives, and terrorists to their target locations. Terrorist organizations have been found to actively use UNRWA offices and schools to conduct their terrorist activities.
Indeed, in November 2007, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke out against a rocket attack aimed at Israel that was launched from a school in the Gaza Strip run by the United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees. According to a UN News Centre report at the time, “Palestinian militants entered the school while it was empty and then fired rockets from the compound.”
History is repeating itself. Hamas has followed its customary modus operandi during this conflict, using UN schools as safe houses from which to launch some of its attacks, while UNRWA officials tacitly approved or looked the other way. The UN has responded in a Pavlovian fashion to Israel’s military retaliation, ignoring its own findings from a little over a year ago concerning the militants’ use of a UN school as a place from which to fire rockets. Instead, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay and other UN officials have rushed in to blame Israel for the civilian casualties at the UN schools and everywhere else in Gaza, allowing Hamas to reap a propaganda windfall from the images of dead and wounded Palestinian civilians whom it had put in harm’s way in the first place.
To be fair, Pillay did say in her statement to the ninth special session of the Human Rights Council (another in a string of Human Rights Council sessions devoted exclusively to condemning Israel) that harm to civilians caused by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel is “unacceptable”. She also said that “action on the part of Israel’s opponents that may deliberately put civilians at risk in the Gaza Strip is prohibited under international law” (emphasis added).
Although her use of the term “opponents” rather than something like “mortal enemies sworn to Israel’s destruction” sounds more like she is refereeing at a tennis match, Pillay is at least showing some signs of recognizing the reality that Israel has been facing. She is in a distinct minority at the UN in even being willing to go that far. Other UN officials, such as Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967, are so blinded by their hatred of Israel that they have used the blood libel of comparing the Jewish state to the Nazis and to apartheid South Africa.
However, Pillay is wrong in claiming that “while indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful, Israel’s responsibility to fulfill its international obligations is completely independent from the compliance of Hamas with its own obligations under international law”.
To the contrary, they are causally linked. Israel is acting in self-defense against Hamas’s relentless attacks on defenseless Israeli civilians. Moreover, Hamas – not Israel – has violated the Geneva Convention and the basic laws of war by deliberately targeting innocent civilians, impersonating civilians or police, hiding among the civilian population, and using mosques and schools as terrorist sanctuaries.
In short, Hamas alone bears responsibility for its civilian population as the governing authority in Gaza. Hamas is the aggressor against Israeli civilians and is using its rule of Gaza to treat its own civilians as human shields. Israel, on the other hand, has bent over backwards to minimize civilian casualties.
Israel has repeatedly sought genuine peace, but not at the expense of the safety of its own citizens. To Hamas, truces are just stalling tactics to use as lulls during which the terrorists build up their military capability. When asked if he could envision a 50-year hudna (cease-fire) with Israel, Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan (who was finally killed in a recent Israeli bombing attack) responded, "The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don't need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel. Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God."
Sadly, but not surprisingly, the United Nations has become an enabler of Hamas’s campaign of deceit and of its crimes against humanity. The UN has turned into an instrument for legitimizing the enemies of peace and freedom.
Joseph A. Klein is the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom.
Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 09:01:12 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: The ongoing criminal enterprise known as the UN
Reply #2 on:
January 13, 2009, 08:43:20 AM »
UN forces – just a bunch of thugs?
By Mark Steyn
Last Updated: 11:48PM GMT 14 Feb 2005
It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog faeces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the UN. If you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. Thus the Oil-for-Fraud scandal: in the end, Saddam Hussein had a much shrewder understanding of the way the UN works than Bush and Blair did.
And, of course, corrupt organisations rarely stop at just one kind. If you don't want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food programme, don't worry, whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits - in West Africa, it's Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it's drug dealing; in Kenya, it's the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves.
But you get the general picture: on a UN peace mission, everyone gets his piece. Didier Bourguet, a UN staffer in Congo and the Central African Republic, enjoyed the pleasures of 12-year-old girls, and as a result is now on trial in France. His lawyer has said he was part of a UN paedophile network that transcends national boundaries.
Now how about this? The Third Infantry Division are raping nine-year olds in Ramadi. Ready, set, go! That thundering sound outside your window isn't the new IKEA sale, but the great herd of BBC/CNN/Independent/Guardian/New York Times/Le Monde/Sydney Morning Herald/Irish Times/Cork Examiner reporters stampeding to the Sunni Triangle. Whoa, hold up, lads, it's only hypothetical.
But think about it: the merest glimpse of a freaky West Virginia tramp leading an Abu Ghraib inmate around with girlie knickers on his head was enough to prompt calls for Rumsfeld's resignation, and for Ted Kennedy to charge that Saddam's torture chambers were now open "under new management", and for Robert Fisk to be driven into the kind of orgasmic frenzy unseen since his column on how much he enjoyed being beaten up by an Afghan mob: "Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi," wrote Fisk. "No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash."
Who's straining at the leash here? Down, boy. But, if Lynndie's smashed to pieces our entire morality with just one tug, Bush's Zionist neocons getting it on with Congolese kindergarteners would have the Independent calling for US expulsion from the UN - no, wait, from Planet Earth: slice it off from Maine to Hawaii and use one of those new Euro-Airbuses to drag it out round the back of Uranus.
But systemic UN child sex in at least 50 per cent of their missions? The transnational morality set can barely stifle their yawns. If you're going to rape prepubescent girls, make sure you're wearing a blue helmet.
And at least the Pentagon put a stop to Abu Ghraib. As a UN official in Congo told the Telegraph yesterday: "The crux of the problem is that if the UN gets bolshie with these governments then they stop providing the UN with troops and staff."
And the problem with that is?
In Congo, the UN has now forbidden all contact between its forces and the natives. The rest of the world should be so lucky.
I take it from his use of "bolshie" that the quoted UN wallah is British. If so, that's the system in a nutshell: when a British bigwig is with British forces, he'll enforce British standards; when a British official is holed up with an impeccably "multilateral" force of Uruguayans, Tunisians, etc, he's more circumspect. When in Rome, do as the Visigoths do.
The child sex racket is only the most extreme example of what's wrong with the UN approach to the world. Developed peoples value resilience: when disaster strikes, you bounce back. A hurricane flattens Florida, you patch things up and reopen. As the New Colonial Class, the UN doesn't look at it like that: when disaster strikes, it just proves you and your countrymen are children who need to be taken under the transnational wing.
The folks that have been under the UN wing the longest - indeed, the only ones with their own permanent UN agency and semi-centenarian "refugee camps" - are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth: the Palestinians. UN territories like Kosovo are the global equivalent of inner-city council estates with the blue helmets as local enforcers for the absentee slum landlord. By contrast, a couple of years after imperialist warmonger Bush showed up, Afghanistan and Iraq have elections, presidents and prime ministers.
When the tsunami hit, hundreds of thousands of people died within minutes. The Australians and Americans arrived within hours. The UN was unable to get to Banda Aceh within weeks.
Instead, the humanitarian fat cats were back in New York and Geneva holding press conferences warning about post-tsunami health consequences - dysentery, cholera, BSE from water-logged cattle, etc - that, they assured us, would kill as many people as the original disaster. But it never happened, any more than did their predictions of disaster for Iraq ("The head of the World Food Programme has warned that Iraq could spiral into a massive humanitarian disaster") or Afghanistan ("The UN Children's Fund has estimated that as many as 100,000 Afghan children could die of cold, disease and hunger").
It's one thing to invent humanitarian disasters to disparage Bush's unilateralist warmongering, but a month ago the UN was reduced to inventing a humanitarian disaster in order to distract attention from the existing humanitarian disaster it wasn't doing anything about.
All this derives from a UN culture in which the free nations have met the thug states so much more than half way that they now largely share the dictators' view of their peoples - as either helpless children who need every decision made for them, or a bunch of dupes whose national wealth you can reroute to your Swiss bank account, or a never-ending source of fresh meat. Those British officials trying to rationalise Oil-for-Fraud or child sex rings give the game away: it's not just the underage Congolese girls who get corrupted by contact with the UN.
Re: The ongoing criminal enterprise known as the UN
Reply #3 on:
January 13, 2009, 08:51:30 AM »
From the WSJ Opinion Archives
THE REAL WORLD
Business as Usual
Corruption and conflicts of interest at the U.N. by CLAUDIA ROSETT
Thursday, October 27, 2005 12:01 A.M. EDT
Few outside U.N. circles have heard of IHC Services, a private company that for years was one of hundreds of firms selling goods and services to the U.N. As a rule, the U.N. keeps secret most details of these deals. But scandals involving IHC have begun lifting the lid on how the U.N. handles taxpayers' money.
The IHC story suggests that the U.N.'s failures of governance are not confined to such special projects as the Oil for Food program. If anything, Oil for Food looks more and more like a large outcropping of U.N. business as usual. And as with Oil for Food, which ran from December 1996 until the fall of Saddam in 2003, the timeline of IHC business with the U.N. starts in December 1996. That was the month before Kofi Annan took over as secretary-general, and it is on his watch that the IHC-U.N. tale has unfolded.
Headquartered on the sixth floor of a modest midtown Manhattan high-rise, with additional offices in Milan, IHC was, until this June, one of many companies approved by the U.N. as a registered vendor to its procurement division--which handles U.N. contracting for everything from office supplies to rations for peacekeeping troops. IHC signed some deals directly with the U.N., and on others served as a go-between for third-party contractors--despite the U.N.'s officially stated preference for avoiding middlemen.
Since the U.N. handles its contracts with secrecy, the full extent of IHC's involvement in U.N. business is hard to know. But from documents seen by this writer, the amounts around 1999 involved millions of dollars; a few years later they involved scores of millions; and in the past year or two--counting IHC business partnerships--the totals reached hundreds of millions.
IHC's CEO Ezio Testa, has denied any wrong-doing. But IHC's history includes hiring the son of a U.N. official who later (and unrelated to the hiring) pled guilty to corruption in federal court. In addition, a star U.N. diplomat served as chairman of the IHC board of directors while also holding a post as personal representative of the U.N. secretary-general. On top of that, IHC appears to have had access to valuable inside information on U.N. contract bids, which in at least one documented case it shared with a company involved in the bid.
Last year, information was bubbling around in unofficial quarters that something was amiss in the U.N. procurement department. Together with Fox News executive editor George Russell, I began looking into it. A name that came to our attention was Alexander Yakovlev, a Russian staffer in the procurement department. Imagine our surprise when Mr. Yakovlev was depicted in a Feb. 3 interim report from Paul Volcker's Oil for Food probe as a defender of integrity in the U.N. procurement department, where he'd handled Oil for Food inspection contracts.
Mr. Russell and I continued our reporting, and in early May--about the time the U.N. now says its own investigation into Oil for Food began--we contacted the U.N. procurement department with questions. On June 20, our story ran on Fox News, alleging that Mr. Yakovlev, while handling at least one IHC contract, had obtained a job with IHC for his son Dmitry, and providing details of a secret offshore company and bank account set up by Mr. Yakovlev and his wife. Two days later, Alexander Yakovlev had resigned, and the U.N. had suspended IHC from its vendor list. On Aug. 8, Mr. Volcker released a report that, as a sidenote to his Oil for Food investigation, alleged that Mr. Yakovlev had taken $950,000 in bribes on $79 million worth of U.N. contracts. Mr. Yakovlev was arrested, and in a Manhattan federal court pled guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and money-laundering in relation to his U.N. procurement activities. That federal investigation has since gone on to indict the head of the U.N. budget oversight committee, Vladimir Kuznetsov, on allegations of money-laundering.
That was far from the end of the IHC trail. Last month, we obtained IHC corporate documents showing that one of the U.N.'s most prominent personalities, Giandomenico Picco--currently a special adviser to Mr. Annan--had served as a director of IHC in 1997 and then as chairman of the IHC board from 1998 until at least February 2000. Mr. Picco's initial career with the U.N. had spanned from 1973 to 1992, and at the time he joined IHC he was in private business, running a consulting firm, GDP Associates, in New York. But during his tenure as IHC chairman, he accepted an appointment from Kofi Annan in August 1999, to serve as a U.N. under-secretary and personal representative of the secretary-general for a globetrotting project called the Dialogue of Civilizations.
During the interval in which Mr. Picco was both an official U.N. representative for Mr. Annan and chairman of the IHC board--i.e., from August 1999 to February 2000--IHC signed one multimillion dollar deal to sell portable generators to the U.N. and brokered another to supply a hostel ship for peacekeeping troops in East Timor. Mr. Picco has said he resigned as IHC chairman before that, but IHC board minutes show him as chairing the company's annual meeting on Feb. 17, 2000.
It then came to light that IHC's CEO, Ezio Testa, had sent an email providing an inside tip on confidential U.N. bidding information to a corporate officer at another company, Cyprus-based Eurest Support Services (ESS). ESS was then bidding on the aforementioned contract--which it won--to supply $62 million worth of rations to U.N. peacekeepers. Altogether, ESS, which in 2004 announced a formal partnership with IHC, has in recent years won U.N. contracts that, with add-ons and options, total $351 million. ESS has now been suspended by the U.N., which is investigating the matter.
There's more. Corporate documents show that in June, just before the first wave of this scandal went public, IHC was quietly sold--in a move that raises questions about who really owned it. The buyer was a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, whose sole representative was listed in sale documents as Peter Harris--apparently an officer with ESS's parent company, the U.K.-based Compass Group, one of the world's largest catering companies. (Compass has announced it is suspending Mr. Harris and is investigating the matter.)
IHC's seller was even more intriguing. The sole shareholder was a Luxembourg-based company, Torno S.A.H. One of the two major shareholders in Torno, who voted by proxy in a Milan meeting on June 3 to approve the sale, was a Liechtenstein-based businessman, Engelbert Schreiber, Jr. A provider of financial and legal services, he, as recently as 2000, had professional dealings with Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, a naturalized Italian citizen and former honorary consul of Kuwait in Milan who in 2002 was listed on the U.N.'s roster of "individuals and entities belonging to or associated" with Al Qaeda.
What next might turn up in the IHC saga depends on a number of investigations. But in an era when many authorities are worried about the transit of millions across borders and the enforcement of good governance, it appears the U.N. has been serving as a bazaar in which corruption, conflicts of interest and shadowy financial networks have found ways to set up shop. Behind the maze, who was the real owner of IHC during its nine years of doing big business with the U.N.? The U.N. won't say, and quite possibly does not even know. Its policy, in fact, was not even to ask.
Ms. Rosett is a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Her column appears here and in The Wall Street Journal Europe on alternate Wednesdays.
Re: The United Nations
Reply #4 on:
January 13, 2009, 09:03:09 AM »
Please forgive me, but I have taken the liberty of renaming the thread. Of course I have no problem with the point you are making, but my intuitive sense is that the conversation here will be better this way.
Re: The United Nations
Reply #5 on:
January 14, 2009, 02:53:50 PM »
UNICEF Partners With Islamic Charity Linked to Terror Groups
Thursday , June 19, 2008
By Joseph Abrams
An Islamic charity with ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban is now collaborating with an unlikely new partner: UNICEF, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund.
UNICEF has signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a Saudi charity of massive scope that keeps branches in more than 20 countries and has over 100 offices worldwide.
According to UNICEF, it will be teaming with the charity’s domestic Saudi branch to “promote children’s rights, health, equality and education,” in the oil-rich kingdom — but the organization has been doing more than just charity work.
The U.S. Treasury Department has designated the IIRO’s branches in the Philippines and Indonesia as terrorist entities for funding and supporting terrorist groups that have killed hundreds in East Asia. The Philippine branch was founded by Usama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Muhammad Jamal Khalifah, and has long had ties to Al Qaeda.
The U.N. itself says that both the Indonesian and Philippine branches of IIRO are tied to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and has singled them out for an asset freeze, arms embargo and travel ban on members of the groups.
But that hasn’t stopped the U.N. from recognizing the Saudi office as a legitimate relief group, nor has it stopped UNICEF — or other U.N. agencies — from working with it in the past.
According to Chris de Bono, UNICEF’s chief of media, “UNICEF does not and will not engage with” the two East Asian branches. Its new partnership is with the main Saudi branch only, and UNICEF will coordinate relief primarily for children living within Saudi Arabia, de Bono said.
The U.S. government also noted the distinction between the head office and the international branches.
“We are monitoring the situation closely, but we also understand the difference between the IIRO main headquarters and its branches,” Carolyn Vadino, deputy spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., wrote in an e-mail to FOX News.
“It is the two branches in question that are designated and have ties to terrorists and at this time we have been assured that they are separate entities,” Vadino wrote.
But some critics are not convinced the distinction is so clear.
“We have to look a lot harder at whether or not an organization that’s headquartered in one country is really disconnected from operations which bear the same name in other countries and are referred to as branches,” said Anne Bayefsky, senior editor of Eye on the U.N., a watchdog group.
According to the Treasury Department, the head of the IIRO’s Eastern Province branch has been directly funding the two terror-tied branches — straight from his office in Saudi Arabia.
Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil, who runs the Eastern Province branch, has been called the “million dollar man” for his support of Islamic militant groups, and the Treasury Department says he has provided donor funds directly to Al Qaeda.
According to UNICEF, there isn’t yet a financial relationship with the IIRO, but joint programs launched in the future could change that. That has some critics worried about a potential for money to make its way into the wrong hands.
“The risks involved in funding terror are sufficiently great that UNICEF officials and other U.N. officials who accredit this organization are called upon to assure themselves that there are no ties,” said Bayefsky.
The IIRO's Indonesia branch was discovered by FOX News to still be operating despite being on the U.N.’s own terror list. Questions to the Indonesian mission to the U.N. have gone unanswered.
And while UNICEF’s Gulf-area office vetted the Saudi charity’s domestic office in June, it would not confirm whether it had investigated the Eastern Province branch or its sources of financing.
Bayefsky told FOXNews.com that even such vetting might not be enough.
“One has to remind oneself over and over again that the United Nations has no definition of terrorism,” she said. “It’s very hard to investigate and object to links to terrorist groups when you don’t know what [terrorism] is."
Re: The United Nations
Reply #6 on:
January 14, 2009, 03:06:31 PM »
UN-acceptable censorship: The United Nations tries to outlaw criticism of Islam
By Floyd Abrams
Wednesday, January 14th 2009, 4:00 AM
Almost 500 years ago, on the wall of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, characterizing as "madness" the notion that papal pardons could absolve individuals for their sins. As viewed from Rome, Luther had maligned, even defamed, the church. Luther was eventually excommunicated. His conduct ultimately led to the creation of a Protestant Church in Germany and a Reformation throughout Europe.
It is difficult to believe that in the 21st century anyone would seriously propose that conduct such as Luther's should be deemed illegal. But a few weeks ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations took a giant step in that direction. It adopted - for the fourth straight year - a resolution prepared by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference calling upon all UN nations to adopt legislation banning the "defamation" of religion. Spurred by the Danish cartoons of 2005, some of which portrayed the Prophet Muhammed in a manner deemed offensive by the OIC, the resolution was opposed by the United States, most European nations, Japan, India and a number of other nations.
Nonetheless, it has now been adopted.
From an American perspective, the resolution so plainly violates the First Amendment that it is not a close question. Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses," which offended many Muslims, is protected here. So are movies such as Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," which offended many Jews, and "The Last Temptation of Christ," which offended many Christians. In 1940, in a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court observed that "in the realm of religious faith," despite "the probability of excesses and abuses," the liberty to speak out freely must be rigorously protected.
While relevant, the American experience is hardly the most relevant one. Far more telling is the distressing experience of nations that supported the OIC resolution. There was the student in one Islamic nation who was sentenced to death in January 2008 for distributing supposedly blasphemous material regarding the role of women in Islamic society. There was the teacher in another Islamic nation who was sentenced to jail for "insulting religion" after naming a class teddy bear "Mohammad" at the request of a 7-year-old with the same name. And there was the tragic case of the 22-year-old Hindu who, as reported by the European Centre for Law and Justice, was beaten to death by three of his fellow workers at a factory for allegedly committing blasphemy (a crime punishable by death); the workers were arrested and charged not with murder but with failing to inform the police that blasphemy was underway.
From the very first OIC resolution to the current one there has never been any ambiguity about its purpose: to intimidate those who might criticize Islam. As phrased in the original OIC resolution introduced by Pakistan in 1999, Islam was "frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism." But it is a fact that however one may debate about whether "Islam" bears any responsibility for acts of terrorism ranging from the murderous 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington to the more recent massacre in Mumbai, terrible acts of violence have been committed in the name of Islam. It is also the case that repeated human rights violations, including female genital mutilation, also have occurred in the name of Islam.
It is one thing to urge that all Muslims should not be criticized because of these acts. But the notion that it may or should be made a crime even to "associate" Islam with crimes too often committed in its name is inconsistent with any notion that both freedom of speech and religion should be protected. What cannot be even negotiable is the freedom, the unfettered freedom, to publish challenging books, movies and - yes - the Danish cartoons.
Abrams is a partner in the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP and the honorary chair of the Coalition to Defend Free Speech, an organization that opposes limitations on "religious defamation."
UN schools hire Hamas in Gaza
Reply #7 on:
January 14, 2009, 07:33:31 PM »
U.N. Agency That Runs School Hit in Gaza Employed Hamas and Islamic Jihad Members
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
By Joel Mowbray
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The United Nations agency that administers a school in Gaza where dozens of civilians were killed by Israeli mortar fire last week has admitted to employing terrorists to work at its Palestinian schools in the past, has no system in place to keep members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad off its payroll, and provides textbooks to children that contain hate speech and other incendiary information.
A growing chorus of critics has taken aim at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in recent years, although momentum on Capitol Hill has been slow. But last week's incident, which Israel maintains was prompted by Hamas operatives firing mortars at Israelis from a location near the school, has prompted some lawmakers to scrutinize the U.N. agency.
Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., introduced a resolution in the fall calling for greater transparency and accountability at UNRWA. The bill called on the agency to make its textbooks available on the Internet for public inspection and to implement "terrorist name recognition software and other screening procedures that would help to ensure that UNRWA staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries are neither terrorists themselves, nor affiliated with known terrorist organizations."
Rothman said he plans to re-introduce his UNRWA resolution in the coming weeks because, "as timely as this bill was before, it is even more timely now. It is urgent that Congress can be assured that U.S. taxpayer money is not being spent to support Hamas and its murderous activities."
A spokesman for UNRWA adamantly said that the agency is now free of terrorist connections. "We're composed of social workers and teachers," the official explained. "We take every step possible to have only civilians inside UNRWA facilities."
But the U.N. Personal History form for UNRWA employees does not ask whether someone is a member of, or affiliated with, a terrorist organization such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. And there is no formal screening to ensure that employees are not affiliated with terrorist entities.
Asked about this, the UNRWA spokesman replied, "Palestinian staff sign an undertaking confirming that they have no political affiliations whatsoever, and have not and will not participate in any activities that would violate the neutrality of the U.N."
There is no formal enforcement, however, to monitor possible terrorist activities by employees after they sign the pledge at the time of hiring.
UNRWA official Chris Guinness told the Jerusalem Post this week that the agency screens names of new employees against the relatively small U.N. database of Taliban and Al Qaeda figures. Extremist Palestinians, however, are far more likely to belong to organizations, such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, that are not on that watch list.
In 2004, former UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen told the Canadian Broadcasting Company, "I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don't see that as a crime." He added, "We do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another."
There have been several high-profile examples of terrorists being employed by UNRWA. Former top Islamic Jihad rocket maker Awad Al-Qiq, who was killed in an Israeli air strike last May, was the headmaster and science instructor at an UNRWA school in Rafah, Gaza. Said Siyam, Hamas' interior minister and head of the Executive Force, was a teacher for over two decades in UNRWA schools.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill say they are also concerned that terrorist propaganda is being taught in UNRWA schools. A notebook captured by Israeli officials at the UNRWA school in the Kalandia refugee camp several years ago glorified homicide bombers and other terrorists. Called "The Star Team," it profiled so-called "martyrs," Palestinians who had died either in homicide bombings or during armed struggle with Israel. On the book's back cover was printed the UNRWA emblem, as well as a photo of a masked gunman taking aim while on one knee.
There is evidence that students educated in UNRWA schools are much more likely to become homicide bombers, said Jonathan Halevi, a former Israeli Defense Forces intelligence officer who specializes in Palestinian terrorist organizations. Halevi has spent several years building an extensive database for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs of terrorist attacks by Hamas and other Islamic extremist groups.
Though he cautioned that estimates are tricky because the identity of an attacker is not always made public, Halevi estimated that over 60 percent of homicide bombers were educated in UNRWA schools. By comparison, roughly 25-30 percent of Palestinian students in the West Bank, the origin of almost all homicide bombers since the start of the intifada in 2000, attend UNRWA schools, according to the agency's figures.
A UNRWA spokesman strongly disputed any connection between the agency's schools and a greater likelihood of terrorist activity later in life. As proof, he pointed to UNRWA's "special efforts in our schools to teach tolerance, human rights and peaceful conflict resolution."
UNRWA sent an eight-page brochure to FOXNews.com that speaks about the group's tolerance, human rights and peaceful conflict resolution curriculum. But it makes no mention of tolerance toward Jews or Christians or of peaceful coexistence with Israel. Rather, it is geared toward student interaction, the rights students should expect in society, and learning to express emotions through acting, painting, and storytelling.
Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 08:59:03 PM by Crafty_Dog
United Nations: Don'
Reply #8 on:
January 16, 2009, 08:16:20 AM »
GENEVA: Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion — a response largely to the furor last year over caricatures published in a Danish newspaper of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
The statement proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference addressed what it called a "campaign" against Muslim minorities and the Islamic religion around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
The resolution, which was opposed by European and a number of other non-Muslim countries, "expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations."
It makes no mention of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism or any other religion besides Islam, but urges countries "to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence."
Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," belongs to the 57-member Islamic conference.
The resolution was adopted by a 24-14 vote with nine abstentions. Canada, Japan and South Korea joined European countries in opposition, primarily citing its excessive focus on Islam and incompatibility with fundamental rights such as the freedoms of speech and thought.
"The problem of religious intolerance is worldwide and not limited to certain religions," said Brigitta Maria Siefker-Eberle of Germany," speaking on behalf of the 27-nation European Union. Ghana, India, Nigeria, Zambia and some of the council's Latin American countries abstained.
There are 17 Muslim countries in the 47-nation human rights council. Their alliance with China, Cuba, Russia and most of the African members means they can almost always achieve a majority.
Human Rights Watch said the resolution could endanger the basic rights of individuals. The document "focuses on protection of religions themselves, particularly Islam, rather than the rights of individuals, including members of religious minorities," the New York-based rights group said in a statement. The resolution says freedom of expression "may ... be subject to limitations as provided by law and necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others ... or morals and respect for religions and beliefs."
The council, which last year replaced the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission, has no power beyond drawing international attention to rights issues and scrutiny of abuses in certain countries.
The move at the council was initiated last year after protests across the Islamic world drew attention to caricatures of Muhammad first printed in Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005. One of the drawings showed Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban. Islamic law is often interpreted to forbid any depiction of the prophet for fear it could lead to idolatry.
Durban II, Again UNsuccessful, I
Reply #9 on:
June 10, 2009, 12:28:41 PM »
The UN is occasionally cited around here as an authority regarding this topic or that. In view of it's systematic failure across broad categories, including the latest human rights conference examined in this piece, I'm astounded some still accept the UN as a credible source.
June 10, 2009
Durban II: Lessons for U.S. Engagement with the U.N. on Human Rights
by Brett D. Schaefer and Steven Groves
The 2009 Durban Review Conference (commonly referred to as Durban II) was the follow-up to the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa. The 2001 conference was hijacked by nations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that used it as a platform to criticize Israel and the United States. After trying unsuccessfully to counter those efforts, the U.S. delegation walked out of the 2001 conference.
Durban II was eerily similar to the 2001 conference on a number of levels. As in 2001, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), composed of 57 countries hostile to Israel and generally unobservant of their own citizens' fundamental civil and political rights, sought to twist the conference to serve their agenda. Specifically, they sought to include in the Durban II outcome document discriminatory references to Israel and statements supporting efforts to constrain freedom of speech and expression to prevent the "defamation of religions."
The Obama Administration determined that these and other passages in the draft outcome document were too objectionable to justify America's participation in Durban II and announced that the U.S. would boycott the conference. Last-minute changes failed to resolve U.S. objections fully, and the Obama Administration walked away from the conference as the Bush Administration did in 2001.
In the end, Durban II did very little to advance efforts to combat racism. It echoed the first conference by providing a platform for repugnant statements that ran counter to its very purpose. Both conferences saw abhorrent presentations, by Yasir Arafat in 2001 and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, attacking Israel as a racist, cruel regime guilty of committing atrocities against the Palestinians. While NGOs were largely restrained in their actions in 2009, they were complicit in the anti-Israel efforts in 2001, stating in their conference declaration that Israel is an "Apartheid regime" engaged in "institutionalized racism."
Aside from unjustly singling out Israel and providing a global platform for racist comments by representatives of Iran and other countries, the 2009 Durban Review Conference outcome document actually endorses constraints on fundamental rights to freedom of opinion, expression, and assembly to prevent "defamation of religion." While the Durban II outcome document is nonbinding, it will be referenced repeatedly in future U.N. documents, and various human rights treaty bodies will cite it as a definitive interpretation of the will of the international community. Regrettably, it sets the stage for a retreat from, rather than an advancement of, human rights.
The Durban II conference is a testament to a fundamental problem of U.N. conferences and other U.N. efforts to advance human rights. The U.N.'s universal membership allows the countries that are most opposed to advancing human rights to blunt and undermine the agendas of U.N. conferences and councils. This results in an institutional adherence to moral equivalence, which elevates and empowers the world's worst human-rights abusers by treating them as morally equivalent to countries that truly observe and value human rights. At best, the outcome is disappointing, and it is more likely harmful to the advancement of human rights around the world.
The experience of Durban II should lead the Obama Administration to revaluate its default position of supporting and participating in U.N. conferences and bodies, such as the U.N. Human Rights Council. The U.S. presence lends undeserved legitimacy to their often destructive efforts by allowing them to claim that their efforts reflect the will of the international community.
The Path to Durban II: Ample Warning Signs
The 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa, became a platform for nations and NGOs to criticize Israel and the United States. After trying unsuccessfully to counter those efforts, the U.S. delegation walked out of the conference at the direction of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell.
To the disappointment of many, Durban II followed in the footsteps of the 2001 conference. The U.N. Human Rights Council was appointed the Preparatory Committee for Durban II--a puzzling decision considering the council's decidedly biased record against Israel and the role that anti-Israel sentiment played in undermining the 2001 conference.
The council elected Libya as chair of the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee, which sets the agenda and objectives for the Review Conference, and elected Iran as one of the 19 vice-chairs. Both countries are members and strong supporters of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, which has historically been hostile to Israel. Libya is also a member of the League of Arab States, which has called for the elimination of "Zionism" in its Arab Charter on Human Rights. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has infamously stated that Israel "must be wiped off the map" and that "Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan."
Unsurprisingly, the early drafts of the outcome document for Durban II singled out Israel through a number of biased references to Israel's alleged mistreatment of Palestinians. For example, an early draft text:
Expresse[d] deep concern at the plight of Palestinian refugees and other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories as well as displaced persons who were forced to leave their homes because of war and racial policies of the occupying power and who are prevented from returning to their homes and properties because of a racially-based law of return.
In addition to the biased focus on Israel, the early drafts contained numerous troubling statements supporting efforts to constrain freedom of speech and expression to prevent "defamation of religions." For example, the draft text claimed:
[A] most disturbing phenomenon is the intellectual and ideological validation of Islamophobia.... [W]hen it is expressed in the form of defamation of religions, it takes cover behind the freedom of expression.... [A]ssociation of terrorism and violence with Islam or any other religion, including through publication of offensive caricatures and making of hate documentaries, would purposely complicate our common endeavours to address several contemporary issues, including the fight against terrorism and the occupation of foreign territories and peoples.
The proponents of defamation-of-religions laws desire to restrict such speech in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Yet in the United States, controversial cartoons and films, however repugnant to adherents of a particular religion, are protected speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Faced with the question of whether or not to continue the Bush Administration's policy of boycotting Durban II, the Obama Administration sent a delegation to the February 2009 preparatory meetings on the draft outcome document. It announced that, pending progress on addressing problems with the text, the U.S. would consider attending Durban II in April 2009. However, after participating in the February meetings, the Obama Administration concluded:
[T]he document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable. As a result, the United States will not engage in further negotiations on this text, nor will we participate in a conference based on this text. A conference based on this text would be a missed opportunity to speak clearly about the persistent problem of racism.
The Administration said it would participate in the April 2009 Durban II conference only if the outcome document was "shortened and [did] not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action" (DDPA); did not "single out any one country or conflict, nor embrace the troubling concept of 'defamation of religion'"; and did "not go further than the DDPA on the issue of reparations for slavery."
Shortly after the U.S. announcement, Italy similarly decided not to attend and other European counties were rumored to be considering skipping the conference. (Canada and Israel had already announced their boycott months earlier.) To avoid a broader boycott by Western countries, the OIC and other countries pressing for the more objectionable parts of the declaration relented and agreed to remove overt references to "defamation of religions," Israel, and reparations. However, they did not remove the unqualified endorsement of the 2001 Durban Declaration, which contains provisions with which the U.S. strongly disagrees, including negative references to Israel.
With its conditions not fully met, the U.S. announced on the eve of the conference its final decision that it would not attend Durban II, noting that the draft outcome document "still contains language that reaffirms in toto the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action...which the United States has long said it is unable to support [and] singles out one particular conflict and prejudges key issues that can only be resolved in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians." The U.S. also stated that it "has serious concerns with relatively new additions to the text regarding 'incitement,' that run counter to the U.S. commitment to unfettered free speech."
The Durban II Debacle
The conference proceedings on April 20-24 confirmed the wisdom of the U.S. decision to boycott. The first country representative to speak on racism was Iranian President Ahmadinejad, the world's most prominent Holocaust denier and anti-Semite. Seemingly unfazed by two young men wearing rainbow-striped clown wigs who rushed the podium, Ahmadinejad unleashed attacks on Europe and the U.S. for slavery and oppression and for using the U.N. Security Council as a means for imposing racism and "discrimination, injustice, violation of human rights and belittling the majority of nations and countries."
Ahmadinejad questioned the Holocaust overtly in his prepared remarks and implicitly in his speech by referring to the "pretext of Jewish suffering." He accused the U.S. and Europe of establishing a "most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine" and of continuing to support Israel while it commits "atrocities," "brutality," and even "genocide" against the Palestinians. He called on the international community to combat Zionism, calling it "a kind of racism which has tarnished the image of humanity at the beginning of the third millennium. World Zionism personifies a racism that falsely resorts to religion, and abuses religious sentiment, to hide its hatred and ugly face."
All European delegates present walked out in the middle of the speech when Ahmadinejad made his anti-Semitic remarks. The Czech Republic announced that it would not return to the conference because of the comments. Immediately following the speech, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre declared that Iran was making itself the "the odd man out." U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay similarly criticized the speech:
I utterly deplore the speech of the President of Iran delivered this afternoon at the Durban Review Conference against racism.... Much of his speech was clearly beyond the scope of the Conference. It also clearly went against the long-standing U.N. position adopted by the General Assembly with respect to equating Zionism with racism.
Ahmadinejad was not the only outrageous speaker at Durban II. While not as bombastic as Ahmadinejad and eschewing the term "Zionist," other delegates echoed his sentiments at the podium:
The Palestinian representative attacked Israel as a racist state that violates international humanitarian law and human rights law, calling its occupation of Palestinian territories the "worst violation of human rights and the ugliest face of racism and discrimination."
Syria included "foreign occupation" (an oblique accusatory reference to Israel) among the primary reasons for holding the Durban II conference, ranking it above racism, xenophobia, and intolerance. The Syrian representative recited a litany of alleged crimes perpetrated by Israel, including the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and throwing them "into the sea."
Cubalaunched an attack on Western countries for the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism and demanded that Western countries provide reparation and compensation for those acts. Cuba went on to state that racism and racial discrimination "has a greater impact and impunity in the countries from the rich and industrialized North." After the obligatory attack on Israel as an "occupying power that does not recognize the limits of justice, moral
, or the international law," the Cuban delegate reached back to the 1970s for a solution to racism and inequality, calling for a "new international economic order...based on equality, solidarity, and social justice."
Sudan--the regime that has committed massive human rights atrocities in Darfur that rise to the level of genocide in some people's judgment-- implausibly claimed that Sudan opposes all forms of racism and discrimination, rejected accusations of continued slavery in Sudan, and accused Israel of conducting a racist military campaign in Gaza.
During the week, Durban II provided a forum for such human rights luminaries as Belarus, China, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe to profess their "dedication" and "commitment" to fundamental human rights and to combating racism while congratulating each other on their "contributions" to the Durban II process.
To stanch the embarrassing news coverage following Ahmadinejad's speech and to preclude additional boycotts, the attending countries agreed, in an unusual move, to adopt the outcome document on the second day of the five-day conference. Thus, the Durban II conference achieved its primary purpose--agreement on the text of an outcome document--on Tuesday. Speeches by governments, U.N. human rights experts, NGOs, and other groups continued for three more days to no real purpose, giving their input for a document that had already been signed.
Durban II, Again UNsuccessful, II
Reply #10 on:
June 10, 2009, 12:29:10 PM »
Unworthy of U.S. Support
In their speeches during the conference, U.N. officials, country delegates, and human rights groups repeatedly chastised the 10 countries that chose to boycott Durban II. The final Durban II outcome document was hailed by its supporters as a triumph of compromise that, unlike earlier drafts, did not disparage Israel or undermine fundamental human rights. Boycotting nations were accused of being stubborn in failing to recognize the significance of the diplomatic achievement of the outcome document.
While the final document was relatively better than earlier drafts, it was improved only because the U.S. and other countries announced their intention to boycott unless the document was fundamentally changed. However, even the improved document does not merit U.S. support because it makes significant references--overt and implicit--that run counter to U.S. policy regarding Israel and the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and assembly.
On the matter of Israel, the first paragraph of the Durban II outcome document reaffirms without reservation the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action. Under a section titled "Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," the DDPA states: "We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation." The DDPA's direct implication that Palestinians were victims of Israeli racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, or related intolerance was a key reason that the Obama Administration included support for that document in toto as one of the redlines that, if crossed, would lead it to boycott Durban II.
While specific references to combating "defamation of religions," which would have serious implications for freedom of speech and expression, were removed from the Durban II outcome document, at least six paragraphs in the final outcome document call for constraints on the freedoms of speech and assembly:
Paragraph 13 states that "all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts shall be declared an offence punishable by law."
Paragraph 39 "
rges States parties to the [International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)] to withdraw reservations contrary to the object and purpose of the Convention and to consider withdrawing other reservations." This provision is unacceptable because U.S. reservations to ICERD relate to protecting the free speech rights of Americans, which would have been abridged if the treaty had been ratified without reservation.
Paragraph 60 "
rges States to punish violent, racist and xenophobic activities by groups that are based on neo-Nazi, neo-Fascist and other violent national ideologies."
Paragraph 68 "[e]xpresses its concern over the rise in recent years of acts of incitement to hatred, which have targeted and severely affected racial and religious communities and persons belonging to racial and religious minorities, whether involving the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means, and emanating from a variety of sources."
Paragraph 69 "[r]esolves to, as stipulated in art. 20 of the ICCPR [International Convention on Civil and Political Rights], fully and effectively prohibit any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and implement it through all necessary legislative, policy and judicial measures." This is a serious matter because Article 20 instructs parties to constrain freedom of opinion and expression to prohibit "[a]ny propaganda for war" and "[a]ny advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence." When it ratified the ICCPR, the U.S. made a specific reservation limiting Article 20 based on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of speech and expression.
Paragraph 99 "[c]alls upon States...to declare illegal and to prohibit all organizations based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote national, racial and religious hatred and discrimination in any form."
No reasonable person wishes to be in the position of defending ignorant, intolerant, or racist speech or any individuals endorsing such sentiments. Yet freedom of speech and assembly mean very little unless they apply equally to everyone, even hate groups that are political or social pariahs. Noncontroversial ideas or organizations do not need to fear constraints on the rights to freedom of speech and assembly. A society's true adherence to these rights is measured by the extent to which highly objectionable ideas and organizations are afforded protection.
For this reason, America's Founding Fathers included such protections in the Bill of Rights. The U.S. worked hard to ensure that they remained protected and affirmed in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the U.S. has insisted on expressing reservations in any treaty that would infringe these rights.
In the closing moments of Durban II, Pillay expressed her hope that the nations boycotting Durban II would eventually endorse the outcome document. The U.S. should ignore this request. While the Durban II outcome document is nonbinding, it will be referenced repeatedly in future U.N. documents, and various U.N. treaty bodies will cite it as a definitive interpretation of the will and consensus of the international community. Regrettably, it sets the stage for a retreat on human rights rather than for advancing those standards. Endorsing the outcome document would serve neither U.S. interests nor international efforts to advance fundamental human rights and combat racism.
A Triumph of Disengagement
There is ample blame to go around for the embarrassment that was Durban II. Following the 2001 racism conference, the late Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA) observed:
To many of us present at the events at Durban, it is clear that much of the responsibility for the debacle rests on the shoulders of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who, in her role as secretary-general of the conference, failed to provide the leadership needed to keep the conference on track. It must be added that the Bush administration also shares some responsibility for the meltdown. Six months of unilateralist foreign policies had created such a climate of hostility and mistrust toward the United States that marshaling support among our allies to prevent the conference from being taken over and abused became an almost impossible mission. The majority of blame for the failure of Durban, however, must be laid at the feet of several members of [the] Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). These regimes, some U.S. allies, proved unwilling to yield in their campaign to scuttle the noble agenda of the conference and to turn it into a forum to shun, isolate and de-legitimize Israel, America's key democratic ally in the Middle East.
Lantos concluded that the debacle occurred because the U.S. was not sufficiently engaged in the process. This is a common refrain and was often heard at Durban II. For instance, while High Commissioner Pillay criticized Ahmadinejad's racist speech, she simultaneously criticized the boycotting states for abandoning the conference to him and his allies: "The best riposte for this type of event is to reply and correct, not to withdraw and boycott the Conference." Other country representatives continually voiced similar entreaties for boycotting countries to return to the conference.
But to what purpose? The writing was on the wall well before Ahmadinejad's speech at the opening of the conference. The Durban II draft outcome document contained provisions that denigrated Israel and were hostile to the freedoms of speech, expression, and assembly. Attempts to remove objectionable provisions in the final days before the conference failed, and it is highly unlikely that they would have been fixed even if the U.S. and other countries had attended. The best outcome the U.S. and other states could have hoped for was to prevent further deterioration of the outcome document. Since the draft was unworthy of endorsement, the situation amply justified abandoning the conference. The Obama Administration rightly concluded that the process was beyond redemption.
The time to fix the Durban II outcome document was in the early stages. Critics of the Bush Administration's decision to skip the early negotiations over Durban II argue that stronger U.S. participation could have salvaged the conference. This is unlikely. The Obama Administration, bolstered by a vastly higher level of goodwill among other delegates than the Bush Administration enjoyed, was unable to salvage the document during the negotiations in February 2009. Similarly, repeated efforts by many other Western countries to amend the document to address their concerns were rebuffed by OIC members and other nations with highly questionable human rights records. If High Commissioner Pillay had been more forceful in trying to excise these problematic passages from the draft document in the preparatory meetings instead of publicly defending the flawed process and lashing out at those who criticized Durban II, she might have helped to secure the changes that would have led the boycotting countries to change their minds.
Ironically, only the U.S. decision to announce its likely boycott of the conference succeeded in changing the draft outcome document in a positive way-- albeit not as much as the U.S. wished. This might be called a triumph of disengagement. If the U.S. and other countries had not decided to boycott unless specific redlines were met, the draft outcome document almost certainly would not have been changed.
Indeed, even agreeing to participate in the conference after the draft document was changed would have been counterproductive because it would have legitimized a flawed process and signaled that the U.S. will settle for less than it says it will in future forums. Worse, nothing would have prevented the OIC and others from amending the document during the conference to reinsert the objectionable provisions. Once locked into the conference, the European countries would likely not have rejected the outcome document even if the objectionable provisions were included. This conclusion is bolstered by the experience of the 2001 conference, from which only the U.S. and Israel walked out, and by continued European participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council despite its biased mistreatment of Israel and willful refusal to confront dire human rights problems around the world.
In the end, the fear that more countries might walk out forced U.N. officials and the nations in charge of the conference proceedings--specifically, Pillay and the countries serving on the Main Committee--to adopt the outcome document prematurely. Indeed, as conference president Amos Wako of Kenya hailed the final outcome document as a triumph of engagement, he refused to recognize Libya's boisterous effort to be recognized and, purportedly, express its desire that the outcome document include more condemnatory language on Israel.
What the U.S. Should Do
The Durban II experience should serve as a valuable lesson that criticism of the Bush Administration's alleged lack of commitment to multilateral negotiations was often off-target. Multilateralism is only a means to an end, and participation in multilateral negotiations is no guarantee of beneficent outcomes. On the contrary, sometimes U.S. participation only lends credibility to a process that deserves none.
This lesson applies both to Durban II and to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which oversaw the Durban II debacle. Consequently, the U.S. should:
Refuse to endorse the Durban II outcome document. In the closing moments of Durban II, High Commissioner Pillay expressed her hope that the nations boycotting the conference would eventually endorse the outcome document. Germany has already done so. The document is unworthy of support, and the U.S. should not lend the outcome document the legitimacy that a U.S. endorsement would convey. While the Durban II outcome document is nonbinding, it will be referenced in future U.N. documents, and various U.N. treaty bodies will cite it as a definitive interpretation of the will and consensus of the international community. Endorsing the outcome document would serve neither U.S. interests nor international efforts to advance fundamental human rights.
Reevaluate America's default position of supporting and participating in U.N. conferences and bodies. The U.S. presence lends undeserved legitimacy to the often destructive efforts of U.N. conferences such as Durban I and Durban II and human rights bodies such as the Human Rights Council by allowing them to claim that they reflect the will of the international community. The Obama Administration should heed the lessons of Durban II and participate in a U.N. conference only if the outcome is likely to support U.S. interests and America's commitment to basic civil and political rights and fundamental freedoms. If a conference appears to undermine those principles, the Administration and Congress should work together to oppose funding for such conferences through the U.N. regular budget as the Bush Administration attempted with Durban II. Similarly, Congress should withhold the U.S. portion of the cost of such conferences from its appropriation for the U.N. regular budget.
Press for serious reform of the Human Rights Council in the 2011 review. Although the U.S. won a seat on the council and will soon participate fully in its deliberations, the U.S. presence is unlikely to improve the effectiveness of the council significantly. In the upcoming review of the council, which must occur before April 2011, the Obama Administration should press for adoption of serious membership criteria and other reforms. To spur reforms, Congress should withhold the equivalent of the U.S. share of the council's budget from its appropriation for the U.N. regular budget until the General Assembly adopts and implements more stringent membership criteria.
The Durban II failure is a testament to the fundamental problem of permitting the United Nations to take the lead on human rights issues. The U.N.'s universal membership and institutional adherence to moral equivalence lead to a situation in which the "inmates run the asylum." It elevates and empowers the world's worst human rights abusers by treating them the same as it treats countries that actually promote and protect basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. It gives them a global stage to voice their lies and hypocrisies as they mock the process and debase the debate.
Durban II, Again UNsuccessful, III
Reply #11 on:
June 10, 2009, 12:29:30 PM »
The lessons of the past 60 years amply demonstrate the limitations of working through the U.N. to advance human rights. In the end, perhaps the best the U.S. can hope for in these venues is to maintain the disappointing status quo, confirming already existing standards and human rights principles. Far more likely, regrettably, is an outcome that actually retreats from existing principles and harms the advancement of human rights around the world.
If the Human Rights Council proves immune to serious reform, the U.S. should work with countries that are genuinely interested in advancing fundamental human rights to establish an alternative human rights forum independent of the U.N. and the institutional constraints that impede its efforts in advancing this noble cause.
Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs and Steven Groves is Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.
"NGO Forum Declaration," World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, September 3, 2001, para. 420, at
(June 3, 2009).
Colin L. Powell, "World Conference Against Racism," U.S. Department of State, September 3, 2001, at
former/powell/remarks/2001/4789.htm (March 4, 2009).
See Brett D. Schaefer, "The U.S. Is Right to Shun the U.N. Human Rights Council," Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 1910, May 2, 2008, at
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "The World Without Zionism," speech to the Islamic Student Associations conference, Tehran, Iran, October 26, 2005, at
(March 4, 2009), and "Ahmadinejad in Sudan: 'Zionists Are the True Manifestation of Satan,'" Haaretz (Tel Aviv), March 1, 2007, at
.com/hasen/spages/832229.html (March 4, 2009).
Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Intersessional Open-Ended Working Group, "Revised Version of the Technically Reviewed Text," A/CONF.211/PC/WG.2/CRP.2, Preparatory Committee for Durban II, January 23, 2009, p. 9, at
/documents/7376_Durban_doc_1-28-09.pdf (March 4, 2009). This document reflects the status of negotiations in the working group as of January 23, 2009.
Ibid., pp. 13-14.
Steven Groves, "Why the U.S. Should Oppose 'Defamation of Religions' Resolutions at the United Nations," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2206, November 10, 2008, at
Press release, "U.S. Posture Toward the Durban Review Conference and Participation in the UN Human Rights Council," U.S. Department of State, February 27, 2009, at
119892.htm (June 1, 2009).
Press release, "Durban Review Conference," U.S. Department of State, April 18, 2009, at
(June 1, 2009).
The prepared remarks differed slightly from the delivered remarks. For a transcript of President Ahmadinejad's remarks as delivered, see Jeremy R. Hammond, "Full Text of President Ahmadinejad's Remarks at U.N. Conference on Racism," Foreign Policy Journal, April 21, 2009, at
-ahmadinejads-remarks-at-un-conference-on-racism (June 1, 2009). For a news story on the changes between the delivered and prepared texts, see Bradley S. Klapper and Alexander G. Higgins, "Ahmadinejad Dropped Holocaust Denial from Speech: UN Says Iranian President Dropped Holocaust Denial Reference from UN Speech," ABC News, April 21, 2009, at
(June 1, 2009).
Frank Jordans, "Iran Leader Sparks Walkout at UN over Israel: Iran's President Slams Israel, Sparks Western Walkout, Clown Protest at UN Conference," ABC News, April 20, 2009, at
International/wireStory?id=7376946 (June 1, 2009).
Jonas Gahr Støre, "Norwegian Statement," Durban Review Conference, April 20, 2009, at
+Review+Conference.htm (June 1, 2009).
Navanethem Pillay, statement on speech by President of Iran at Durban Review Conference, April 20, 2009, at
2009/stmt20-04-09_iran_pillay.shtml (June 1, 2009).
Riyad Al-Maliki, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Statement by Representative of Palestinian Authority, April 21, 2009, Webcast, at
/2009/durban090421am-eng.rm?start=00:40:20&end=00:55:35 (June 1, 2009).
Faysal Mekdad, statement by Syrian Arab Republic, Durban Review Conference, April 21, 2009, Webcast, at
am-eng.rm?start=01:47:59&end=01:59:23 (June 1, 2009).
Rafael Bernal Alemany, statement by Cuba, Durban Review Conference, April 21, 2009, Webcast, at
?start=01:43:49&end=01:54:14 (June 1, 2009).
Abdel Daiem Zumrawi, statement by Sudan, Durban Review Conference, April 21, 2009, webcast, at
-eng.rm?start=02:21:43&end=02:34:39 (June 1, 2009).
For respective statements of these countries, see Durban Review Conference, archived Webcasts, April 20-24, 2009, at
webcast/durbanreview/archive.asp (June 1, 2009).
Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, and the United States.
Durban Review Conference, "Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference," April 20-24, 2009, at
2009/pdf/Durban_Review_outcome_document_En.pdf (June 1, 2009).
World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, "Declaration," 2001, pp. 9 and 13, at
(June 1, 2009).
Durban Review Conference, "Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference" (emphasis omitted).
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, December 16, 1966, Art. 20, at
(June 2, 2009).
During her closing press conference for Durban II, Pillay stated that "some countries decided to boycott it, although a few days earlier, they had actually agreed on what is now the final text. I consider this bizarre. You agree [to] the text on Friday evening, and walk out on Sunday. I think, it was unfortunate that a few states disengaged from the process. Although almost all of them had agreed [to] this text, they are not part of the consensus that adopted it. I do hope they will come back into the process now. They can still add their names to the list of 182 states that have adopted the outcome document." Navi Pillay, opening remarks at closing press conference, Durban Review Conference, April 24, 2009, at
(June 1, 2009).
Tom Lantos, "The Durban Debacle: An Insider's View of the UN World Conference Against Racism," The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Winter/Spring 2002), p. 32, at
/pdfs/26-1pdfs/Lantos9.pdf (June 1, 2009).
Pillay, statement on speech by President of Iran at Durban Review Conference.
See Anne Bayefsky, "German Double Cross on Durban II," EYE on the UN Alert: Durban Watch, May 14, 2009, at
.asp?p=829 (June 1, 2009).
Mark Wallace, "Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Mark Wallace, United States Ambassador for Management Reform, on Agenda Item 128: Questions Relating to the Proposed Program Budget for the Biennium 2008-2009, in the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly," U.S. Mission to the United Nations, December 22, 2007, at
.usmission.gov/press_releases/20071222_387.html (June 1, 2009).
Brett D. Schaefer , "The Obama Administration Will Not Make the U.N. Human Rights Council Effective," Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 2432, May 11, 2009, at
For detailed recommendations, see Brett D. Schaefer, "U.N. Human Rights Council Whitewash Argues Against U.S. Participation," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2255, April 2, 2009, at
Kim R. Holmes, Liberty's Best Hope: American Leadership for the 21st Century (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 2008), p. 122.
Reply #12 on:
June 13, 2009, 12:03:43 PM »
Cognitive dissonance's acme displayed:
This Is Not from The Onion, but the UN
Posted by Juan Carlos Hidalgo
“Cuba recognized in the UN Human Rights Council”
The HRC’s press release states that:
Cuba had withstood many tests, and continued to uphold the principles of objectivity, impartiality and independence in pursuance of the realisation of human rights. Cuba was and remained a good example of the respect for human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. The Universal Periodic Review of Cuba clearly reflected the progress made by Cuba and the Cuban people in the protection and promotion of human rights, and showed the constructive and responsive answer of Cuba to the situation of human rights. Cuba was the victim of an unjust embargo, but despite this obstacle, it was very active in the field of human rights.
Juan Carlos Hidalgo • June 11, 2009 @ 3:32 pm
Re: The United Nations
Reply #13 on:
September 09, 2009, 05:27:15 PM »
I can't find any information on "Chairs" of the UN security council though Presidents of the security council are picked each month from the existing members (temporary and permanent) in English alphabetical order.
Yet I can't find anything on "chair".
What is the rest of the story here?
One has to ask why he is so enthralled with the UN and why so many from there love him.
It can't be good for the US. To me this guy is absolutely resolute in making us a third rate nation.
There should be no countries. Just one government of mankind with Obama as head of the world.
Megalomania to me. I don't know. This guy is nuts to me. I feel sorry for future generations of America.
***Obama First US President to Chair UN Security Council Obama First US President to Chair UN Security Council
September 9, 2009
(ChattahBox)—President Barack Obama will make history later this month when he takes the head seat at the table of the United Nations 15-member Security Council. Amazingly, President Obama will become the first United States president to chair the important international council, which deals with issues of global security, including nuclear disarmament.
President Obama’s direct involvement with the important work of the United Nations marks a distinctly different approach from former President Bush, whose unilateral foreign policy and bullying of its world partners frequently led to the isolation of the United States from the rest of the global community.
The Bush administration’s disdain for the UN came to the forefront during its rush to make the case of the existence of WMD’s in Iraq. “If we need to act, we will act. And we really don’t need United Nations approval to do so,” Bush said in 2003 before invading Iraq.
President Obama plans to join other heads of state in New York later this month for the 64th session of the UN General Assembly when the nuclear summit will be held.
Many vital issues will arise during the UN session, including a climate change debate that will set the stage for the upcoming global climate talks in Copenhagen at the end of the year. There are also the concerns with Iran’s nuclear program, which will be on the agenda during the Security Council meeting.
President Obama issued a September deadline to Iran reply to a negotiation offer, but Iran’s president recently announced that the subject of its nuclear programs would not be part of any discussions.
On the Middle East front, President Obama may host a meeting between Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas to set perimeters for a possible future peace deal between the warring nations.
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi is also attending and speaking during the UN session, where he is expected to receive a cool reception in light of the recent public outrage over the hero’s welcome given to released Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.***
BO backs limits on Free Speech
Reply #14 on:
October 06, 2009, 10:42:17 AM »
You Can't Say That
At the UN, the Obama administration backs limits on free speech.
by Anne Bayefsky
10/05/2009 12:00:00 AM
The Obama administration has marked its first foray into the UN human rights establishment by backing calls for limits on freedom of expression. The newly-minted American policy was rolled out at the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council, which ended in Geneva on Friday. American diplomats were there for the first time as full Council members and intent on making friends.
President Obama chose to join the Council despite the fact that the Organization of the Islamic Conference holds the balance of power and human rights abusers are among its lead actors, including China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Islamic states quickly interpreted the president's penchant for "engagement" as meaning fundamental rights were now up for grabs. Few would have predicted, however, that the shift would begin with America's most treasured freedom.
For more than a decade, a UN resolution on the freedom of expression was shepherded through the Council, and the now defunct Commission on Human Rights which it replaced, by Canada. Over the years, Canada tried mightily to garner consensus on certain minimum standards, but the "reformed" Council changed the distribution of seats on the UN's lead human rights body. In 2008, against the backdrop of the publication of images of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, Cuba and various Islamic countries destroyed the consensus and rammed through an amendment which introduced a limit on any speech they claimed was an "abuse . . [that] constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination."
The Obama administration decided that a revamped freedom of expression resolution, extracted from Canadian hands, would be an ideal emblem for its new engagement policy. So it cosponsored a resolution on the subject with none other than Egypt--a country characterized by an absence of freedom of expression. Privately, other Western governments were taken aback and watched the weeks of negotiations with dismay as it became clear that American negotiators wanted consensus at all costs. In introducing the resolution on Thursday, October 1--adopted by consensus the following day--the ranking U.S. diplomat, Chargé d'Affaires Douglas Griffiths, crowed:
"The United States is very pleased to present this joint project with Egypt. This initiative is a manifestation of the Obama administration's commitment to multilateral engagement throughout the United Nations and of our genuine desire to seek and build cooperation based upon mutual interest and mutual respect in pursuit of our shared common principles of tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."
His Egyptian counterpart, Ambassador Hisham Badr, was equally pleased--for all the wrong reasons. He praised the development by telling the Council that "freedom of expression . . . has been sometimes misused," insisting on limits consistent with the "true nature of this right" and demanding that the "the media must . . . conduct . . . itself in a professional and ethical manner."
The new resolution, championed by the Obama administration, has a number of disturbing elements. It emphasizes that "the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . ." which include taking action against anything meeting the description of "negative racial and religious stereotyping." It also purports to "recognize . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media" and supports "the media's elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct" in relation to "combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."
Pakistan's Ambassador Zamir Akram, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, made it clear that they understand the resolution and its protection against religious stereotyping as allowing free speech to be trumped by anything that defames or negatively stereotypes religion. The idea of protecting the human rights "of religions" instead of individuals is a favorite of those countries that do not protect free speech and which use religion--as defined by government--to curtail it. Even the normally feeble European Union tried to salvage the American capitulation by expressing the hope that the resolution might be read a different way. Speaking on behalf of the EU following the resolution's adoption, French Ambassador Jean-Baptiste Mattéi declared that "human rights law does not, and should not, protect religions or belief systems, hence the language on stereotyping only applies to stereotyping of individuals . . . and not of ideologies, religions or abstract values. The EU rejects the concept of defamation of religions." The EU also distanced itself from the American compromise on the media, declaring that "the notion of a moral and social responsibility of the media" goes "well beyond" existing international law and "the EU cannot subscribe to this concept in such general terms."
In 1992 when the United States ratified the main international law treaty which addresses freedom of expression, the government carefully attached reservations to ensure that the treaty could not "restrict the right of free speech and association protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States."
The Obama administration's debut at the Human Rights Council laid bare its very different priorities. Threatening freedom of expression is a price for engagement with the Islamic world that it is evidently prepared to pay.
Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a professor at Touro College, and the editor of EYEontheUN.org.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #15 on:
October 06, 2009, 10:52:15 AM »
Shoulder to shoulder to shoulder, pictured as they stood up to Iran, Sarkozy with the youthful glibness and dead-man-walking Gordon Brown... missing were Putin and Hu. We are not part of a united nations whether keep holding meetings and photo-ops, passing resolutions or not.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #16 on:
October 06, 2009, 12:47:41 PM »
"The Obama administration has marked its first foray into the UN human rights establishment by backing calls for limits on freedom of expression. "
Unless of course it is HIS Speech. We didn't elect a President of the United States. We have elected a megalomaniac.
I guess George Will was not persauded merely by HIS presence at his house for dinner what seems like many moons ago:
***An Olympic Ego Trip
By George Will
| In the Niagara of words spoken and written about the Obamas' trip to Copenhagen, too few have been devoted to the words they spoke there. Their separate speeches to the International Olympic Committee were so dreadful, and in such a characteristic way, that they might be symptomatic of something that has serious implications for American governance.
Both Obamas gave heartfelt speeches about . . . themselves. Although the working of the committee's mind is murky, it could reasonably have rejected Chicago's bid for the 2016 Games on aesthetic grounds — unless narcissism has suddenly become an Olympic sport.
In the 41 sentences of her remarks, Michelle Obama used some form of the personal pronouns "I" or "me" 44 times. Her husband was, comparatively, a shrinking violet, using those pronouns only 26 times in 48 sentences. Still, 70 times in 89 sentences conveyed the message that somehow their fascinating selves were what made, or should have made, Chicago's case compelling.
In 2008, Obama carried the three congressional districts that contain Northern California's Silicon Valley with 73.1, 69.6 and 68.4 percent of the vote. Surely the Valley could continue its service to him by designing software for his speechwriters' computers that would delete those personal pronouns, replacing them with the word "sauerkraut" to underscore the antic nature of their excessive appearances.
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And — this will be trickier — the software should delete the most egregious cliches sprinkled around by the tin-eared employees in the White House speechwriting shop. The president told the Olympic committee that: "At this defining moment," a moment "when the fate of each nation is inextricably linked to the fate of all nations" in "this ever-shrinking world," he aspires to "forge new partnerships with the nations and the peoples of the world."
Good grief. The memory of man runneth not to a moment that escaped being declared "defining" — declared such by someone seeking to inflate himself by inflating it. Also, enough already with the "shrinking" world, which has been so described at least since Magellan set sail, and probably before that. And by the way, the "fate" of — to pick a nation at random — Chile is not really in any meaningful sense "inextricably linked" to that of, say, Chad.
But meaningful sense is often absent from the gaseous rhetoric that makes it past White House editors — are there any? — and onto the president's teleprompter. Consider one recent example:
Nine days before speaking in Copenhagen, the president, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, intoned: "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation." What was the speechwriter thinking when he or she assembled that sentence? The "should" was empty moralizing; the "can" was nonsense redundantly refuted by history. Does our Cicero even glance at his speeches before reading them in public?
Becoming solemn in Copenhagen, Obama said: "No one expects the Games to solve all our collective problems." That's right, no one does. So why say that? Then, shifting into the foggy sentimentalism of standard Olympics blather, he said "peaceful competition between nations represents what's best about our humanity" and "it brings us together" and "it helps us to understand one another."
Actually, sometimes the Olympic Games are a net subtraction from international comity. But Obama quickly returned to speaking about . . . himself:
"Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night, people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of the U.S. presidential election. Their interest wasn't about me as an individual. Rather . . ."
It was gallant of the president to say to the Olympic committee that Michelle is "a pretty big selling point for the city." Gallant, but obviously untrue. And — this is where we pass from the merely silly to the ominous — suppose the president was being not gallant but sincere. Perhaps the premise of the otherwise inexplicable trip to Denmark was that there is no difficulty, foreign or domestic, that cannot be melted by the sunshine of the Obama persona. But in the contest between the world and any president's charm, bet on the world.
Presidents often come to be characterized by particular adjectives: "honest" Abe Lincoln, "Grover the Good" Cleveland, "energetic" Theodore Roosevelt, "idealistic" Woodrow Wilson, "Silent Cal" Coolidge, "confident" FDR, "likable" Ike Eisenhower. Less happily, there were "Tricky Dick" Nixon and "Slick Willie" Clinton. Unhappy will be a president whose defining adjective is "vain."***
BO plans to submit US sovereignty to UN
Reply #17 on:
October 19, 2009, 10:25:16 AM »
BO plans to submit US sovereignty to UN
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #18 on:
October 19, 2009, 10:47:55 AM »
It is a little hard trying to find more details of this treaty. But here is a little more:
New U.N. Climate Treaty Expected to Restrict U.S. While Exempting United Arab Emirates and China
Thursday, May 28, 2009
By Penny Starr, Senior Staff Writer
Delegates attend the opening ceremony at the start of the 25th Global Ministerial Environment Forum at the United Nations Environment Program headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya earlier this year. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)(CNSNews.com) - A new United Nation's global warming treaty is expected to give some of the world's worst polluters--such as the communist People's Republic of China--and some of the world's wealthiest nations--such as the oil-rich United Arab Emirates--a license to continue freely pumping carbon into the atmosphere while restricting the emissions of the United States.
The United States will be joining other countries next month in attending “climate talks” in Bonn, Germany, in preparation for the United Nations' Conference of the Parties 15 (COP15) climate-change summit that will take place in Copenhagen in December.
At the meeting, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will oversee the drafting of an international treaty that will allow some of the world’s wealthiest nations and worst polluters to avoid the legally binding regulations on carbon emissions and greenhouse gases expected in the document.
Countries categorized by the United Nations as Annex 1 Parties, including the United States and much of the industrialized world, are considered developed nations that will not be harmed by controlling carbon emissions. Non-annex I Parties, on the other hand, are countries considered to be “developing” or have “economies in transition.”
These Non-annex 1 countries such as China – which emits the most carbon emissions of any country in the world, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Top 20 Countries for CO2 Emissions--will be able “sign on” to the treaty but will not be legally bound by it. And some of the world’s wealthiest nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are on the Non-annex 1 Parties list.
"It's very political,” Ben Lieberman, senior policy analyst on energy and the environment at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told CNSNews.com. “It has as much to do with what nations are willing to accept than per capita wealth or per capita usage of fossil fuels.”
Lieberman said allowing some countries to sign the treaty gives it clout without requiring those countries to actually cut emissions. He also said without some of the worst polluters being held accountable--like China (No. 1), India, (No. 4), South Korea (No. 9), Mexico (No. 13) and Saudi Arabia (No. 14)--an international treaty will not have an impact.
“In terms of trying to solve the problem of global warming--putting aside the question of how serious a problem it is in the first place--the reality is these fast-developing nations are responsible for emissions growth much faster than the U.S.,” Lieberman said. “For example, China’s emissions are increasing six times faster than those in the U.S.
“If you want to be serious about global warming you have to be serious about doing something with these major emitters, both developed and developing,” Lieberman said.
But at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, as reported by CNSNews.com, Obama administration climate-change czar Todd Stern said the administration is committed to working with the United Nations, reversing the Bush administration’s rejection of the 1992 Kyoto Protocol, which would have restricted “developed” countries’ carbon emissions while allowing “developing countries” to avoid those restrictions.
Stern is the special envoy for climate change appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will represent the U.S. in Bonn in June and at Copenhagen in December.
“Countries are genuinely pleased--indeed relieved--that the United States is back in the game, committed to making rapid progress, and, as I said in Bonn [in March], seized by the urgency of the task at hand,” Stern said in his prepared statement at the hearing.
Stern said the U.S. is “fully engaged” with the UNFCCC, based on principles of global partnerships and “moral responsibilities” and expects to sign a treaty in Copenhagen.
“I believe these principles can guide us toward a pragmatic international climate change agreement that will put the world on the path that the science tells us we must be on,” Stern said.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #19 on:
October 19, 2009, 11:29:17 AM »
Well as Marc Levin points out Obama is a counter revolutionary.
And as I've noted here liberal Jeffrey Sachs who spoke at my nephews commencement basically stated the view that the concept of country is "midevil" (sp?). He also pointed out how Reagan was a destroyer of worlds more or less and Jimmy Earl Carter was correct.
Clearly we have a whole group of radical revolutionaries in the White House.
But 42% of the country seem to be for this. Included apparently are many immigrants who don't come here as much for freedom and ideals but for benefits, handouts, and giveaways.
Independents either still don't get it, don't believe the bama is about this or don't feel this is enough of a priority I guess.
Do 95% of Blacks really believe this radical stuff? I wonder. Just when they are on the cuff of realizing their potential they are supporting a guy who is going to give it all away and change this country forever.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #20 on:
October 21, 2009, 07:15:28 AM »
From the NRA-ILA:
Friday, October 16, 2009
On October 13, the Associated Press reported that the so-called Bi-National Task Force on Rethinking the United States-Mexico Border has produced a report, which, among other things, calls for re-imposition of the federal “assault weapon” ban of 1994-2004, saying it would improve security in both countries.
The “border-rethinking” group has been put together by the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations. The group consists mostly of former U.S. and Mexican officials and journalists, none of them currently elected by the people of the U.S. or Mexico to make policy on these issues.
According to the Pacific Council, the report is being released under the auspices of the Mexican CFR on November 13th and is absolutely unavailable until that time. The Brady Campaign, naturally, has a copy of the report anyway, and quotes its executive summary as saying “The United States should intensify efforts to curtail the smuggling of firearms, ammunition, and bulk cash into Mexico by aggressively investigating gun sellers, regulating gun shows, [and] reinstituting the Clinton-era ban on assault weapons.”
Congress finished its hearings on the Mexico situation several months ago, and many members of Congress have declared their line-in-the-sand opposition to re-imposition of the ban. So given that Brady Campaign seems to be the only outfit that has a copy of the embargoed report, it’s safe to conclude that the “task force” is trying to keep the public primed for the next attack on the ownership of firearms like the AR-15 and Remington 11-87, and ammunition magazines designed for defensive purposes.
Whatever the opinions of those who sip tea and nibble biscuits while musing about how to restrict the rest of us, re-imposing the ban would have no effect on Mexico’s historic problem of crime and corruption, for at least three reasons.
First, as has been amply demonstrated, the cartels are not limited to semi-automatic AR-15s and AK-47s. They have hand-held and tripod-mounted, belt-fed machine guns; grenade launchers and grenades; and a variety of other high-end firearms, explosives, and special-purpose optics and communication gear acquired from countries other than the United States. Thanks to some Americans’ insatiable appetite for mind-altering drugs, they have enough money to buy the “task force” 10 times over, along with any weapon that can be found among any infantry platoon on Earth, no matter what kind of gun law gets imposed.
Second, most of the firearms seized from the cartels do not come from the United States. The claim that “90 percent” of Mexican "crime guns" originate in the U.S. is false. It does not relate to all firearms the Mexicans have seized from the cartels, but only to guns that the Mexicans have asked the BATFE to trace. As the Government Accountability Office has explained, “In 2008, of the almost 30,000 firearms that the Mexican Attorney General’s office said were seized, only around 7,200, or approximately a quarter, were submitted to [BATFE] for tracing.” The 6,700 guns that BATFE traced to the U.S. accounted for about 90 percent of the 7,200 guns that BATFE traced, but only 22 percent of all firearms seized by the Mexican government
Third, the ban did not stop the production and sale of any guns, it merely put a one-attachment limit on new guns. For example, before the ban, AR-15s had a pistol-type grip, flash suppressor and bayonet mount. The 750,000 AR-15s made during the ban had only the grip. If the “task force” thinks the fate of Mexico hinges on whether a relatively small number of semi-automatic rifles have flash suppressors and bayonet mounts, its members ought to switch to decaffeinated tea and sugar-free cookies during their get-togethers.
Make no mistake, however. Even if the “task force” doesn’t understand the finer details of the old “assault weapon” ban, leading gun ban advocates like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, the Brady Campaign, the Violence Policy Center, the Joyce Foundation, and the Legal Community Against Violence do. If they have their way, they will eventually drag us into a much larger battle over the right to keep and bear semi-automatic shotguns, M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, and Ruger Mini-14s, in addition to the AR-15s, semi-automatic AK-47s, and other commonly owned firearms that were at issue during the 1994-2004 ban.
Reply #21 on:
October 21, 2009, 04:49:23 PM »
U.N. Report Demands Repeal of Counterterrorism Laws to Promote 'Gender Equality'
In case you weren't sure, human gender is "changeable over time and contexts," sex slaves must not be "stigmatized" for their work, and it's important to recognize the role of "transgender and intersex individuals as stakeholders" in counterterrorism policy.
Those are some of the conclusions of a United Nations report on counterterrorism that is intended to promote human rights — but that critics say is designed to redefine gender and hamstring actual counterterror efforts.
Martin Scheinin, a special rapporteur for the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, filed his report in August after six months of studying the "complex relationship between gender equality and countering terrorism."
Scheinin recommends a radical reworking of counterterrorism policies, insisting that the U.N.'s member nations "abandon the 'war paradigm'" and "enshrine the principles of gender-equality and non-discrimination in the design and implementation of all counter-terrorism measures."
Among his proposals:
• "Repeal all counter-terrorism measures" that sanction the ill-treatment of women and children as a way to put pressure on terror suspects within their families.
• Loosen terror financing laws to ensure "safe and effective channels for funding ... of organizations devoted to gender equality"
• "Repeal restrictive immigration controls" that violate human rights by "unduly penalizing transgender persons whose personal appearance and data are subject to change" as their "self-defined gender identity" changes.
Critics say the suggestions are part of an "absolutely insane" agenda at the U.N. that too often seems intent on undermining efforts to blot out terrorism across the globe.
"I would be surprised and disturbed if the U.S. took any of these recommendations seriously," said Steven Groves, a fellow and international law expert at the Heritage Foundation.
"It seems an inescapable conclusion that their desire is to greatly weaken any effective counterterrorism measure that is made by the U.S. or its allies."
The report criticized enhanced security checks "that focus attention on male bombers who may be dressing as females to avoid scrutiny [and] make transgender persons" — who might also be crossdressing — "susceptible to increased harassment and suspicion."
"Once you put them into a form of an overall policy what you do is undermine the nature of counterterrorism," said Herb London, president of the Hudson Institute. "You're trying to thwart the ability of those to counter terrorist activity."
Scheinin is set to present his findings Monday morning to the U.N.'s 3rd Committee, which helps set policy on social and cultural issues and oversees the Human Rights Council for the world body.
The Finnish law professor has been a special rapporteur since 2005. This year he visited Egypt as part of his mandate for the 47-member Council, and criticized countries like Somalia and Pakistan for selling out women's rights to arrange a tenuous peace with Islamic militants.
Legal experts said it was important to consider the effects of security measures on human rights, including the question of gender.
"It does not strike me as ridiculous ... to look at policies through the lens of gender," said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Wittes noted that gender issues — including the Taliban's vicious treatment of women — have made it virtually impossible for Western nations and Pakistan to have normal relations with the Taliban.
"That's not an inconsiderable criticism — it's a valid criticism," he said. But Wittes added that to place "gender rights at the center of (counterterrorism policy) is kind of an absurd proposition" that he said made the report ridiculous.
Schienen did not return requests for comment.
Past reports from the special rapporteur have focused on many issues relating to women — including the challenges faced by pregnant Palestinians trying to cross border checkpoints and the effects of counterterror measures on Chechnyan women.
But U.N. watchers say the new report is a confused amalgamation of important issues like women's rights and tangential ones that have very little real application, including Scheinin's demand that invasions like the U.S.'s "war on terror" in Afghanistan be "actually responsive to the concerns of women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals in local contexts."
London, of the Hudson Institute, said that it was hopeless to look for moral guidance from a body composed of some of the world's most brutal and repressive regimes, including Saudi Arabia and China.
"The Human Rights Council and the nations that are represented on it, they're clearly involved in human rights violations," London told Foxnews.com. "They're going to be the arbiters of human rights?"
The Third Committee will hear reports from a number of its 36 special rapporteurs and pass on some of their recommendations to the General Assembly.
The committee hearings do not provide the force of law for Schienen's proposals, but some critics of the report say it represents a "stealth effort" to change international law and the meaning of gender by fiat.
"There might have been value in a report that addressed how counterterrorism efforts interact with the rights of women," said Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.
"But by burdening this report with these extreme forms of social engineering, it makes the report kind of laughable."
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #22 on:
October 22, 2009, 07:46:16 AM »
U.S. Cedes Control of Internet
Global access to the Internet is poised to become global control of the Internet. With little fanfare, Washington has quietly ceded control over the technology the United States developed and shared with the rest of the world in the first place. According to the UK Guardian, the change came in the form of a contract negotiated between the U.S. Department of Commerce and ICANN, the California-based company that "ultimately controls the development of the internet thanks to its oversight of web addresses such as .com, .net and .org." In essence, the new agreement ended the old one between ICANN and the U.S. government, "opening the door for a virtual United Nations, where many officials gather to discuss potential changes to the internet."
This means that, while the United States previously held some sway over ICANN's actions, decision-making authority will now be expanded internationally, including to countries with histories of censorship and human rights abuse as well as to those with a penchant for global regulation and taxation.
Of course, the EU welcomed the cession, no doubt satisfied that its recent whining over too much American control was rewarded (surprise!) with appeasement from the Obama administration.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #23 on:
October 26, 2009, 10:08:29 AM »
Banks around the world have been battered in the past year, but most have not responded by turning over control of their businesses to their borrowers. Yet this is what creditors at the International Monetary Fund moved closer to doing at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh last month. We understand why fund borrowers want more power, but why would creditor nations, especially Uncle Sam, cede it?
The terms "debtor" and "creditor" may seem foreign to anyone who reads IMF press releases for the first time. The fund prefers the terms "emerging and developing markets" to describe countries that traditionally borrow hard currency, and "advanced countries" to describe those that provide it. But there's no getting around the reality that only a fraction of the IMF's 186 members are long-term creditors.
That became clear earlier this year when the G-20 passed the hat to collect $500 billion for a lending facility known as "new arrangements to borrow." Major emerging countries led by Brazil quickly made clear they would only contribute if the fund issued short-term bonds that could be traded in the secondary market. In other words, no long-term commitments from them.
Creditor countries have always enjoyed more voting power at the fund because without them there would be no reliable pool of money. But several years ago borrower nations, led by members from Asia and Latin America, began clamoring for a greater voice in fund decisions. They argued that since their economies have grown and now represent a larger share of total global GDP, a "democratic" IMF ought to give them a greater share of voting rights.
Creditors might have replied that the fund is not a democracy and that anyone who wants more votes can get them by ponying up more real money. Instead, in 2008 the board approved a 5% shift in voting rights from what it called "over-represented" creditors to "under-represented" countries. Among the biggest beneficiaries of the 2008 change, once it is ratified, will be China, Korea, India, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Singapore and Turkey. The eight biggest losers will be the U.K., France, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Russia, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.
Now the debtors want still more power, and the creditors, led by the U.S. Treasury, are ready to yield. The Pittsburgh G-20 communique states that there will be another "shift in quota share to dynamic emerging market and developing countries of at least five percent from over-represented to under-represented countries." Why "at least?" Because the likes of Brazil and China are lobbying for a 7% shift in votes. Europe, which has the most to lose, opposes this change.
A spokesman for the fund tells us that the March 2008 voting shift increased the vote share held by emerging and developing countries to 42.1%. That means that if the new 7% solution prevails, emerging countries will have close to a majority. So politicians in Beijing and Brasilia would have more sway over how U.S. taxpayer contributions are spent.
Perhaps only Barney Frank has benefitted more from the financial crisis than the IMF has. Searching for revenue and without a mission in 2008, it has tripled its resources since the panic began and is now bidding to police the world's economic policies. Given its record of recommending tax increases and currency devaluation, this is not a road to prosperity.
At least the IMF of yore could be counted on to support Western geopolitical interests. If the IMF is going to turn into something like a bank for the United Nations, with the debtors running the joint, U.S. taxpayers should stop being asked to pay for it.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #24 on:
October 26, 2009, 11:00:45 PM »
Comments to the recent posts in the thread. Regarding the IMF, very clever not using the terms debtor, creditor! Wouldn't want to get a stigma. Just like food stamps re-named 'Snap' for better brand appeal. My understanding is that IMF is mostly non-US control where the World Bank is more U.S. dominated. I assume US is the main funder of both. My opinion: funding from the US should be decided by the US on a case by case basis with recorded up or down votes by the people's elected representatives, not diverted to these multinational institutions including the UN.
Interesting take on the US ceding control of the internet - to countries and intl organizations more prone to global regulation and taxation. No one else seemed to pick up a negative take on our country giving up another valuable asset. I'm sure they will still want disproportionate US funding.
Also should note in this thread that references elsewhere to the controversial IPCC study regarding alleged global warming always seem to leave out the first name of the group of agreeing scientists, it is not just a random group of single minded scientists; it is the the UN - IPCC.
Green on the Outside, Red in the Middle
Reply #25 on:
December 08, 2009, 07:40:17 AM »
By John Griffing
Global warming as a science is defunct. Evidence of scientific dishonesty abounds, and the recent e-mail revelations may be the nail in the coffin. When all is said and done, temperatures are falling.
But as a tool for watermelon Marxists -- green on the outside and red on the inside -- climate change orthodoxy represents an opportunity to achieve age-old dreams of Communist wealth redistribution. Don't take my word for it. Listen to Cass Sunstein, Obama's new regulatory czar and perhaps the most powerful bureaucrat in America:
It is even possible that desirable redistribution is more likely to occur through climate change policy than otherwise, or to be accomplished more effectively through climate policy than through direct foreign aid.
We agree that if the United States does spend a great deal on emissions reductions as part of an international agreement, and if the agreement does give particular help to disadvantaged people, considerations of distributive justice support its action, even if better redistributive mechanisms are imaginable.
Furthermore, Sunstein thinks that, "If we care about social welfare, we should approve of a situation in which a wealthy nation is willing to engage in a degree of self-sacrifice when the world benefits more than that nation loses."
Sunstein is not alone. Sacked environmental czar Van Jones talks of "eco-apartheid." To a like-minded audience Van Jones exclaimed, "Give them the wealth! Give them the wealth! No justice on stolen land...we owe them a debt."
President Obama is presumably on board, having pledged to "bankrupt" the coal industry, among other telling remarks:
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.
President Obama is also on record as favoring Supreme Court intervention to "spread the wealth":
But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted....
There are several things wrong with this statement, but the most chilling expression of President Obama's anti-American philosophy lies in his willingness to "break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution...." Somehow, President Obama thinks he is exempt from the Oath of Office he took to "protect and defend the Constitution." Within such a paradigm, anything is permissible, including the complete destruction of American economic strength as part of an abstract notion of redistributive justice.
President Obama's proposed cap and trade bill would reduce US GDP by $9 trillion...and at a time of severe unemployment. Where is the indignation? Where are the calls for his impeachment?
The UN Climate Change Conference wants to go as far as orchestrating a "planned recession," in order to begin the process. Cass Sunstein agrees.
But who needs these people when the President of the United States is willing to destroy the American Dream by his own hand? President Obama has pledged to sign the Copenhagen Treaty, the biggest transfer of American wealth and sovereignty in US history.
Few have bothered to read the agreement, which like so many other damaging agreements is excessively verbose. In the agreement are calls for climate reparations to Third World countries, what the treaty calls "adaptation debt." This isn't optional. Clause 33 on page 39 of the agreement says that "by 2020 the scale of financial flows to support adaptation in developing countries must be [at least $67 billion] or [in the range of $70 billion to $140 billion per year]." And unlike previous climate agreements, Copenhagen empowers a new UN council to compel rich nations to comply with this theft of resources. The treaty states:
The scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention will be based on three basic pillars: government; facilitative mechanism; and financial mechanism, and the basic organization of which will include the following:
(a) The government will be ruled by the COP with the support of a new subsidiary body on adaptation, and of an Executive Board responsible for the management of the new funds and the related facilitative processes and bodies. The current Convention secretariat will operate as such, as appropriate. [Emphasis added.]
World government will be a reality if this agreement is ratified. Notice also the use of the words "financial mechanism." The Copenhagen agreement, for the first time in the history of international legal precedent, proposes giving the UN authority to levy a global tax on rich nations to pay for "adaptation debt." Page 135 of the agreement provides for "A [global] levy of 2 per cent on international financial market [monetary] transactions to Annex I Parties." Annex I countries are the rich nations.
What is astonishing about this "climate" treaty is that so little of it actually addresses climate. Emissions pledges remain merely pledges. The real focus of the treaty is the transfer of wealth. The words "climate debt" are used throughout the agreement, giving pseudo-credibility to the premise of wealth redistribution. But just what is "climate debt"? The essence of the concept is that rich countries raped the earth by emitting carbon, and deprived poor countries of economic opportunity. It would be funny, if it weren't actually the position of the Copenhagen Conference.
When all is said and done, what happens if we succeed in destroying American wealth and creating a world government to coerce the shift? Wouldn't world peace be a good thing? But the peace of submission is not a peace worth having, and the perceived economic benefits will be brief, owing to global economic dependence on American consumers.
Once America is gone, it will be gone forever. Nations will benefit most from the continuing existence of a strong America. Killing the golden goose will not bring balance to the universe. Plundering American wealth will provide only a temporary shot in the arm for poor nations, and then the drug will wear off, ushering in a new dark age on a global scale.
Right now, President Obama is the most powerful person in the most powerful country on earth. Obama may not have noticed, but we have world government, and America is king.
Just like the man who sells his soul for power, the Devil never delivers as promised. He's the Devil. And, paradoxically, for the world to destroy America it needs America's wealth and resources.
Whatever President Obama has been promised will evaporate the moment America loses the privilege of the last word. President Obama will be committing treason by signing this treaty, and he must be held accountable. The American Revolution was fought over this very issue: taxation without representation.
Page Printed from:
at December 08, 2009 - 08:36:38 AM EST
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #26 on:
December 08, 2009, 11:20:10 AM »
To all liberals:
I apologize to no one for any success I have. The US need not aplogize for it's success.
Stop apologizing to the world for me or my country. You want to redistribute wealth then give away your own and stop telling everyone else what to do.
Thank you, I get of my soap box now. eom
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #27 on:
December 15, 2009, 01:28:10 PM »
If you think our representatives in Washington, DC are disregarding the will of the people now, wait until you see what President Obama will try to pull off in Copenhagen this week.
You see, the very thing the U.S. Senate refuses to do here at home - mandate a costly cap and trade energy tax system in the name of saving the world -- President Obama is telling the world at the Copenhagen Climate Summit that he can do it on his own through the Environmental Protection Agency. Even though that would be "taxation without representation," the President must believe that his noble intentions can override the rules of our constitutional system.
So, this week, as the Obama administration prepares to sign an international agreement that our own Senate would likely never ratify, we're running a full page ad in the COP15Post, the go-to English language paper of the Copenhagen Summit, with this simple reminder:
In America, "We the People" govern, and without our approval through our Senators, President Obama has no constitutional authority to bind the United States to any international agreement whatsoever.
It's so basic a Constitutional fact that Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) recently wrote in a letter to President Obama: "As you well know from your time in the Senate, only specific legislation agreed upon in the Congress, or a treaty ratified by the Senate, could actually create such a commitment on behalf of our country."1
Take a look at our ad by clicking the image below.
While other governments represented in Copenhagen may be able to ignore the will of their people, that's not how it works in America.
And to demonstrate how "we the people" govern in America, we're giving you and every American Solutions member an opportunity to sign your name onto the ad. You can do that by going here.
With a small dona tion of $5 or more to help pay for the ad, your name will be added to it.
If anyone is able to make a donation of $200 or more, we will make sure your signature is much more prominent, like John Hancock's on the Declaration of Independence. We will limit this to the first ten people to make such a donation.
Please add your name right away.
Thanks for helping us send the message that "We the People" govern in America.
Vice President for Policy
1Senator Webb Letter to the White House, November 25, 2009.
Paid for by American Solutions for Winning the Future. Not authorized by any candidate, or candidate committee. Not printed at government expense.
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Small Arms Treaty
Reply #28 on:
December 16, 2009, 09:22:23 AM »
I'm not familiar with the group that sent me this missive, but this matter of end-running our Second Amendment via an international treaty has been bandied about before and apparently is now gaining traction.
Dear fellow patriot,
With willing one-world accomplices in Washington, D.C., gun-grabbers around the globe believe they have it made.
In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just announced the Obama Administration would be working hand in glove with the UN to pass a new “Small Arms Treaty.”
Disguised as legislation to help in the fight against “terrorism,” “insurgency” and “international crime syndicates,” the UN Small Arms Treaty is nothing more than a massive, GLOBAL gun control scheme.
Ultimately, the UN’s Small Arms Treaty is designed to register, ban and CONFISCATE firearms owned by private citizens like YOU.
That’s why it’s vital you sign the special petition I’ve made up for your signature that DEMANDS your U.S. Senators vote AGAINST ratification of the UN’s “Small Arms Treaty!”
So far, the gun-grabbers have successfully kept the exact wording of their new scheme under wraps.
But looking at previous versions of the UN “Small Arms Treaty,” you and I can get a good idea of what’s likely in the works.
If passed by the UN and ratified by the U.S. Senate, the UN “Small Arms Treaty” would almost certainly FORCE national governments to:
*** Enact tougher licensing requirements, making law-abiding citizens cut through even more bureaucratic red tape just to own a firearm legally;
*** CONFISCATE and DESTROY ALL “unauthorized” civilian firearms (all firearms owned by the government are excluded, of course);
*** BAN the trade, sale and private ownership of ALL semi-automatic weapons;
*** Create an INTERNATIONAL gun registry, setting the stage for full-scale gun CONFISCATION.
So please click here to sign the petition to your U.S. Senators before it’s too late!
You see, this is NOT a fight we can afford to lose.
Ever since it’s founding almost 65 years ago, the United Nations has been hell-bent on bringing the United States to its knees.
To the petty dictators and one-worlders who control the UN, the U.S. isn’t a “shining city on a hill” -- it’s an affront to their grand totalitarian designs for the globe.
These anti-gun globalists know that so long as Americans remain free to make our own decisions without being bossed around by big government bureaucrats, they’ll NEVER be able to seize the worldwide oppressive power they crave.
And the UN’s apologists also know the most effective way to finally strip you and me of ALL our freedoms would be to DESTROY our gun rights.
That’s why it’s vital you act TODAY!
The truth is, there’s no time to waste.
You and I have to be prepared for this fight to move FAST.
The fact is, the last thing the gun-grabbers in the U.N. and in Washington, D.C. want is for you and me to have time to react and mobilize gun owners to defeat this radical legislation.
They’ve made that mistake before, and we’ve made them pay, defeating EVERY attempt to ram the “Treaty on Small Arms” into law since the mid-1990s.
But this time, time won’t be on our side.
In fact, we’re likely to only have a few days or weeks to defeat the treaty.
Worse, there’s no longer any pro-gun Republican Senate to kill ratification of the treaty.
There’s no longer any Republican in the White House who has stated opposition to the treaty.
And you and I know good and well how Germany, Great Britain, France, Communist China or the rest of the anti-gun members of the United Nations are going to vote.
So our ONE AND ONLY CHANCE of stopping the UN’s “Small Arms Treaty” is during the ratification process in the U.S. Senate.
As you know, it takes 67 Senate votes to ratify a treaty.
With 40 Republicans, that should be easy, right?
Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
First, you know just as well as I do that not all the remaining Republicans in the Senate are “pro-gun” in any sense of the term.
Second, even with the partisan rancor in Washington, D.C., many GOP Senators get “queasy” about killing treaties for fear of “embarrassing” the President -- especially with “international prestige” at stake.
They look at ratifying treaties much like approving Presidents’ Supreme Court nominees.
And remember, there were NINE Republicans who voted to confirm anti-gun Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
A dozen more GOP Senators only voted against Sotomayor after receiving massive grassroots pressure from the folks back home.
So if we’re going to defeat the UN’s “Small Arms Treaty” we have to turn the heat up on the U.S. Senate now before it’s too late!
That’s exactly where this petition comes in.
So won’t you click here to sign IMMEDIATELY?
And also, if you can, I hope you’ll agree to make a generous contribution of $200, $150, $100 or even just $35.
With your generous contribution, I’ll immediately begin contacting Second Amendment supporters through mail, phones and e-mail to turn up the heat on targeted U.S. Senators.
Tops on the list are the “usual suspects” like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lindsay Graham and the rest of the weak-kneed Republicans in the Senate whose votes we can never count on.
I also want to begin contacting gun owners in states represented by key Democrats -- like Senators John Tester and Max Baucus of Montana, Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb of Virginia, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
And finally, I’ve designed a “special” hard-hitting program especially for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to let Nevada gun owners know exactly what he and his anti-gun pals have planned for you and me.
Facing a tough reelection in 2010, Senator Reid knows he’s already skating on thin ice with Nevada voters.
So you and I could end up putting the final nail in his political coffin -- if I can pull out all the stops.
Direct mail. Phones. E-mail. Blogs. Billboards. Guest editorials. Press conferences. Hard-hitting newspaper, radio and TV ads. The whole nine yards.
Of course, if I can raise enough resources, my goal is to expand this full program to ALL our target states.
But that’s not going to be cheap, and we may not have much time.
In fact, if we’re going to defeat the UN’s so-called “Small Arms Treaty,” we have to start NOW!
So please click here to sign the petition to your U.S. Senators.
And if you possibly can, please agree to make a contribution of $200, $150, $100, or even just $35.
Every petition and every dollar count in this fight.
So please sign the petition and include your most generous contribution of $200, $150, $100 or $35 TODAY.
National Association for Gun Rights
P.S. The Obama Administration just announced they would be working hand in glove with the UN to pass a new GLOBAL, “Small Arms Treaty.”
Reply #29 on:
December 21, 2009, 12:37:01 PM »
Interpol and U.N. Back ‘Global Policing Doctrine’
By DOREEN CARVAJAL
Published: October 11, 2009
PARIS — Interpol and the United Nations are poised to become partners in fighting crime by jointly grooming a global police force that would be deployed as peacekeepers among rogue nations riven by war and organized crime, officials from both organizations say.
On Monday, justice and foreign ministers from more than 60 countries, including the United States and China, are gathering in Singapore for a meeting hosted by the two international organizations.
It is the first step toward creating what Interpol calls a “global policing doctrine” that would enable Interpol and the United Nations to improve the skills of police peacekeepers, largely by sharing a secure communications network and a vast electronic trove of criminal information, including DNA records, fingerprints, photographs and fugitive notices.
“We have a visionary model,” said Ronald K. Noble, secretary general of Interpol and the first American to head the international police organization, which is based in Lyon. More than 187 member nations finance the organization.
“The police will be trained and equipped differently with resources,” Mr. Noble said. “When they stop someone, they will be consulting global databases to determine who they are stopping.”
Modern peacekeeping has evolved dramatically since the blue-helmeted U.N. military force won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. Since 2005, the number of police officers within the total force of 95,400 peacekeepers has more than doubled from about 6,000 to 12,200 in 17 countries.
U.N. police are already battling kidnappings and drug crime in Haiti and illicit lumber trading in Liberia. The aim of the joint effort is to increase the ability to track the movement of criminals around the world by sharing resources and common standards, according to Mr. Noble. He is also pressing ahead with plans for special electronic passports for the agency’s staff of more than 600 Interpol investigators to speed border crossings.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is contributing more than $2 million to finance the development of international global policing standards, according to Andrew Hughes, an Australian who currently heads the U.N.’s force of police officers.
The ambition is to create a series of networks to counter borderless organized criminal operations, Mr. Hughes said. Women, in particular, are being recruited, with a goal of reaching 20 percent of the U.N. force and the development of all-female units like the group of 140 peacekeepers from Bangladesh that is about to be deployed.
“We’re working with refugees,” Mr. Hughes said. “Many of the victims of atrocities are women, and they’ve had enough of men with guns and uniforms.”
He said that among the most critical tasks for a global police force were combating illegal arms and drug trafficking. His own officers in West Africa have watched the growth of cocaine smuggling by Colombian and Venezuelan drug cartels through weakened countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia to the lucrative consumer markets in Europe.
The United States remains the biggest market for cocaine, according to the U.N.’s annual report on drugs and crime. But in the past three years, South American cartels have moved more drugs to Europe using transit points like Guinea Bissau, where the president and the head of the military were killed in sophisticated bombing attacks in March. Each year, at least 50 tons of cocaine from Andean countries passes through West Africa to the streets of Europe, where the drugs are worth almost $2 billion, according to the U.N. report.
“Organized crime is a business that looks for opportunity to expand their market enterprise,” Mr. Hughes said. “When you have a breakdown in police and courts and corrections, organized crime is ripe. We also see the toxic effect of corruption, because they are able to corrupt officials, which makes it difficult to build a functioning society.”
In Afghanistan, where heroin and hashish trafficking is also a thorny issue, NATO announced plans this month to start training the local police — a move it has avoided in the past to concentrate on military responsibilities.
But Mr. Noble of Interpol says he takes a dim view of transforming warriors into beat cops, because the mind-sets are so different.
“We caution on making the delegation of civil police development tasks to military structures,” Mr. Noble said, citing the example of an attack that freed hundreds of Taliban from a prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, last year. Although Interpol immediately asked for information about the missing prisoners, he said, “we were really shocked and dismayed to learn there were no fingerprints and photographs despite billions spent to train police there.”
With the meeting of justice ministers on Monday, which coincides with a general assembly of Interpol police members, the group is expected to debate the global police issue and to craft a declaration that would lead to an action plan for international police peacekeeping within 12 months.
Interpol above American Law?
Reply #30 on:
December 23, 2009, 04:16:20 PM »
Pasting here GM's post from the Issues in American Creed thread:
Did Obama exempt Interpol from same legal constraints as American law-enforcement?
posted at 2:55 pm on December 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
During his presidency, Ronald Reagan granted the global police agency Interpol the status of diplomatic personnel in order to engage more constructively on international law enforcement. In Executive Order 12425, Reagan made two exceptions to that status. The first had to do with taxation, but the second was to make sure that Interpol had the same accountability for its actions as American law enforcement — namely, they had to produce records when demanded by courts and could not have immunity for their actions.
Barack Obama unexpectedly revoked those exceptions in a change to EO 12425 last month, as Threats Watch reports:
Last Thursday, December 17, 2009, The White House released an Executive Order “Amending Executive Order 12425.” It grants INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) a new level of full diplomatic immunity afforded to foreign embassies and select other “International Organizations” as set forth in the United States International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945.
By removing language from President Reagan’s 1983 Executive Order 12425, this international law enforcement body now operates – now operates – on American soil beyond the reach of our own top law enforcement arm, the FBI, and is immune from Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests. …
After initial review and discussions between the writers of this analysis, the context was spelled out plainly.
Through EO 12425, President Reagan extended to INTERPOL recognition as an “International Organization.” In short, the privileges and immunities afforded foreign diplomats was extended to INTERPOL. Two sets of important privileges and immunities were withheld: Section 2© and the remaining sections cited (all of which deal with differing taxes).
And then comes December 17, 2009, and President Obama. The exemptions in EO 12425 were removed.
Section 2c of the United States International Organizations Immunities Act is the crucial piece.
Property and assets of international organizations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless such immunity be expressly waived, and from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable. (Emphasis added.)
Inviolable archives means INTERPOL records are beyond US citizens’ Freedom of Information Act requests and from American legal or investigative discovery (“unless such immunity be expressly waived.”)
Property and assets being immune from search and confiscation means precisely that. Wherever they may be in the United States. This could conceivably include human assets – Americans arrested on our soil by INTERPOL officers.
Actually, that last argument overreaches. American law does not consider people as “assets.” It does mean, though, that Interpol officers would have diplomatic immunity for any lawbreaking conducted in the US at a time when Interpol nations (like Italy) have attempted to try American intelligence agents for their work in the war on terror, a rather interesting double standard.
It also appears to mean that Americans who get arrested on the basis of Interpol work cannot get the type of documentation one normally would get in the discovery process, which is a remarkable reversal from Obama’s declared efforts to gain “due process” for terrorists detained at Gitmo. Does the White House intend to treat Americans worse than the terrorists we’ve captured during wartime?
Andy McCarthy wonders the same thing:
Interpol’s property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.
Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America’s defense).
Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?
I seem to recall the Left getting hysterical over the Patriot Act extensions that Obama finally backed. This gives Interpol a much wider operational latitude than anything contemplated in the Patriot Act, and with no accountability at all.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #31 on:
December 23, 2009, 04:45:45 PM »
This is utterly remarkable.
The guy Bama is not our President working in the best interests of us.
He is a Manchurian President though he is well aware of what he is doing selling the US down the river unlike the movie wherein the guy's mind was controlled by outside forces.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #32 on:
December 29, 2009, 10:03:46 AM »
A friend who recently retired from a long and highly distinguished career with the US Marshal's office, sees nothing amiss here and offers the following:
The Reagan version of the EO:
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and statutes of the United States, including Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669, 22 U.S.C. 288), it is hereby ordered that the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), in which the United States participates pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 263a, is hereby designated as a public international organization entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions and immunities conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act; except those provided by Section 2(c), the portions of Section 2(d) and Section 3 relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act. This designation is not intended to abridge in any respect the privileges, exemptions or immunities which such organization may have acquired or may acquire by international agreement or by Congressional action.
The White House,
The Obama version of the EO:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288), and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words "except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act" and the semicolon that immediately precedes them.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
December 16, 2009.
So the below sections are the ones affected by Obama's order:
it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words "except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act"
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #33 on:
December 29, 2009, 10:04:52 AM »
An additional offering from my friend:
Now here is the actual public law that these Executive Orders have modified:
You will note that it was passed in 1945 and does not solely address Interpol. It actually affects ALL international organizations (I can think of the World Bank, the U.N., and the International Red Cross off the top of my head):
For the purposes of this title, the term ‘‘international organization’’ means a public international organization in which the United States participates pursuant to any treaty or under the authority of any Act of Congress authorizing such participation or making an appropriation for such participation, and which shall have been designated by the President through appropriate Executive order as being entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions, and immunities herein provided.
So it would seem that all affected international organizations have had all the rights accorded by the public law EXCEPT Interpol. Now Interpol has all the rights and priviliges all these other organizations have enjoyed all along.
I fail to see the evil.
Disarmament via the UN
Reply #34 on:
January 08, 2010, 11:13:21 AM »
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #35 on:
January 08, 2010, 06:40:42 PM »
January 08, 2010, 0:30 p.m.
Obama takes America down another notch with an unnecessary, reckless act.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
Finally, today, we get at least an attempt at an explanation of President Obama’s dead-of-night decision on December 16 to grant Interpol — the international police force — immunity from American law. (See here and here.) Unfortunately, in the habit to which we’ve grown accustomed, the Obama administration itself didn’t provide the explanation. It comes from Interpol’s secretary general, Ron Noble, via an informative report by Valerie Richardson at Human Events. (Ms. Richardson, who quotes from my posts in her story, was good enough to call me for comment; I regret that, because of the press of other business, I didn’t retrieve the message until after I learned early this morning that her story was posted.)
The biggest problem with President Obama’s immunity grant is that it came without any explanation. The administration can’t or won’t explain why a president — whose administration is notoriously indifferent to American sovereignty — suddenly decided Interpol needed to be freed from the U.S. Constitution and other American law. Certainly, Interpol was not clamoring publicly for immunity; neither Noble nor any other Interpol official was heard to suggest that American law was interfering with some aspect or other of its operations.
READ IT ALL
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #36 on:
January 08, 2010, 09:01:49 PM »
Charles Krauthammer, whom I trust needs to description around here, said today on the Bret Baier Report on Fox that what BO did here is no big deal.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #37 on:
January 09, 2010, 01:22:41 AM »
I like Krauthammer. I would point out that to my knowledge, he has no legal background while Andrew McCarthy is a former Assistant US Attorney. Usually I am making a counterarguement to someone asserting that the police use of some kind of technology is rapidly leading us down the path to a police state. One of the things that reassures me is that the American system requires that everything done by a law enforcement officer, no matter if he or she is a deputy from Mayberry or a FBI Special Agent, is subject to review by someone in a black robe with a gavel and by a jury of citizens in the case of a prosecution. Everything you do in an investigation is subject to discovery and subpeona. If you, as a law enforcement officer, violate someone's constitutional rights, you are subject to multiple levels of civil and criminal liability. Why should foreign law enforcement officers be exempted from this while here on US soil?
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #38 on:
January 09, 2010, 08:26:28 AM »
That sounds well reasoned and sound to me-- and all the more persuasive because it is so contrary to perceived type!
Let me go to my retired US Marshal friend and see what he has to say.
UN: Buh Bye, Try Dubai
Reply #39 on:
January 13, 2010, 10:26:46 AM »
Move The U.N. To Dubai
Joel Kotkin and Robert J. Cristiano 01.12.10, 12:01 AM ET
The opening last week of the world's tallest building, the half-mile-high Burj Dubai, has largely been greeted with guffaws and groans. The Daily Telegraph labeled it "the new pinnacle of vanity"--"a purposeless monument to the subprime era." The Wall Street Journal compared it to the Tower of Babel. (When the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, in the throes of the greatest financial crisis of the 20th century, it was met with similar jeers. The then-tallest building in the world was called the Empty State Building, and it remained vacant for several years.)
Yet the Burj's completion--indeed the whole wild enterprise known as Dubai--could signal a potential opportunity to the global community: turning the place into the headquarters for that other misguided ship, the United Nations.
Let's spell out the logic. The United Nations is a pain in the butt. It pays no taxes and annoys hard-working New Yorkers with its sloth, pretensions and cavalier disregard for traffic laws. The place is a sinkhole dominated by anti-American, anti-Semitic and authoritarian fantasies. It is far from the elegant crown jewel that celebrated the U.S.'s global ascendancy after the Second World War.
Today the U.N. building is a mostly empty shell--water dripping through its roof, asbestos lining its ceiling and an erratic heating and cooling system have forced most UN workers to new facilities. The building is in the midst of a $1.87 billion overhaul--of which the U.S., which could use the cash for myriad other things, would be on the hook for $437 million.
And the U.N. may be leaving anyway. A relocation committee has recommended that the organization move temporarily to Singapore by 2015. It will be hard to vacate Asia again for New York, which is far away from the bulk of the world's largest population centers.
Singapore might make a fine world capital, since it does work like a fine watch. But it's already crowded, expensive and highly regulated. You have to wonder if hard-working, rational Singaporeans would want to drive up costs and lose their ability to run things as they see fit to accommodate the U.N. bureaucracy.
In contrast, the al-Maktoum family has transformed a once vast, empty landscape into a Star Wars-like capital city of the future. There is no skyline more arresting than the one built over the past 15 years by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Absolute Ruler of the tiny Emirate. In just 500 square miles, about half the size of Orange County, Calif., the sheikh has created a monument to modern architectural engineering.
Sheikh Mohammed could offer to build a United Nations City to house the U.N. in any number of vacant office towers. Business Bay has 65 million square feet of office space under construction in more than 200 high-rises. Dubai already has thousands of newly constructed apartments that await the international delegates. More than 2 billion people in Africa, Europe and Asia are within a six-hour flight from Dubai. Travel connections through the world's largest airport would be a breeze. Dubai has 55 five-star hotels to accommodate every regal and royal delegation, as well as the Harvard Medical School Dubai Center, a $1,400,000,000 facility branded with the Harvard crest, just in case one of the U.N.'s elite workers breaks a gasket.
Questions of taste and timing aside, you have to admire the sheikh's chutzpah. The al-Maktoums, descendants of the Bani Yas clan, have ruled Dubai since 1833, first under the protection of the British. The United Arab Emirates was founded in 1971 with big brother Abu Dhabi, the emirate with 96% of the confederation's oil reserves.
Like New York, Dubai aimed first to be a capital of capital. Recognizing that oil revenues at $70 a barrel brought immense cash flow to the Persian Gulf, Sheikh Mohammed set out to create a setting where Arab pride and excess oil revenues could be comfortably parked. His boldness caught the attention of the world financial community and soon the tiny emirate employed more construction cranes than any site on Earth.
For now flying so close to the sun has resulted in a painful and somewhat humiliating fall. With the financial market collapse of 2008 to 2009 international buyers disappeared and property values plummeted. Half of the $300 billion in construction projects screeched to a halt. The Dubai government, with $80 billion to $100 billion of debt, was in trouble, and Dubai World, its investment arm, announced suspension of interest payments on its loans. Enter Abu Dhabi. The neighboring emirate wrote kid brother Dubai a check for $25 billion. What does $25 billion get you in 2010? On Jan. 4, at the grand opening of the Burj Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed announced that the tower would forever be known as Burj Khalifa, named after the Emir of Abu Dhabi.
Let's look a bit longer term. Right now there's 33.6 million square feet of mostly state-of-the-art office space in Dubai. More than 8 million square feet is vacant with millions more in the pipeline. There's a great airport--as opposed to that aerial dumpster, JFK--that is hours closer to the emerging economic powers of the new century, notably the oil states, India and China. The workforce is skilled and open to foreigners, since the vast majority are foreigners. In Dubai 83% of the 2.2 million residents are from somewhere else. Talk about cosmopolitan.
But how about New York? "Moving the U.N. to Dubai would be a boon for New Yorkers who have to put up with traffic jams created by the likes of Colonel Qaddafi, scofflaws protected by diplomatic immunity and the loss of real estate revenue they would gain if the U.N. building were turned into something far more useful--condos with a view," suggests urban historian Fred Siegel, a visiting professor at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn and a fellow at New York's Manhattan Institute.
Liberating New York from the United Nations, in fact, would open up some of the best situated real estate in the world. A treasure trove of great apartments and offices right along the East River would suddenly become available, bringing a potential revenue windfall to New York City, which could use it. None of this would threaten the city's---or the country's--economic and political status. That grows out of economic and military power, which the U.N. does little or nothing to augment.
What would Dubai get? It's an ideal opportunity to refurbish its tarnished image on the world stage in a way that plays to its infrastructural and geographical advantages. The Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean are increasingly the focal point of the world economic and political systems. Some of the biggest challenges facing the U.N. are concentrated in the south in Somalia and Yemen, to the west in Israel and Palestine, and to nearby Iran and Pakistan. Dubai would have to reconcile itself to a permanent Israeli presence, but that may not be as difficult as many think. Jews, and even Israelis, do business today in Dubai with perhaps less worry about running into manifestations of anti-Semitism than in London or Paris.
Bringing the United Nations to Dubai makes sense. New York gets rid of one of its worst welfare cheats, and Dubai finds new tenants to fill its vacant towers. Dubai has already built something that looks the part of a 21st-century world capital. Let it get a cast appropriate for its glittering set.
Joel Kotkin is a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. He is also an adjunct fellow at the Legatum Institute in London and serves as executive editor of newgeography.com. He writes the weekly New Geographer column for Forbes. His next book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, will be published by Penguin in February 2010. Coauthor Robert J. Cristiano Ph.D. is a successful real estate developer and the Real Estate Professional in Residence at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.
Patriot Post on Interpol immunity
Reply #40 on:
January 15, 2010, 11:00:18 AM »
Culture & Policy
Second Amendment: Interpol and the Executive Order
There have been disarming reports of late about an Executive Order by Barack Obama concerning the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol). According to the NRA-ILA, "President Obama's order amends a 1983 order by President Reagan, in which the U.S. recognized Interpol as an international organization that is entitled to certain legal immunities under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA)." Interpol, founded in 1923 and composed of 188 countries that share information about international criminal investigations, has long been immune from civil lawsuits, so the claim that the immunity comes from Obama is incorrect. Many reports assert that Interpol personnel would be granted diplomatic immunity and would then have the ability to seize firearms, among other violations of U.S. citizens' rights. These fears are likely unfounded.
Diplomatic immunity applies only to diplomats, not agents. The immunity the agents do have is only "relating to acts performed by them in their official capacity." Furthermore, the NRA notes, "Law enforcement officers working with Interpol are detailed from agencies in various countries, such as the FBI or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They have no power of arrest outside their own countries. Therefore, a seizure of an American (or of an Americans' firearms) would likely not fall within the official duties for which Interpol officials would be immune from prosecution."
Granted, we are wary of Obama and other leftists around the world -- particularly when it comes to Second Amendment rights -- but this appears to be a false alarm.
The UN Climate Crack Up
Reply #41 on:
February 20, 2010, 11:18:00 AM »
A breakdown in Copenhagen saves a divided world from carbon rationing.
Ronald Bailey from the March 2010 issue
On December 18, the Copenhagen climate change conference collapsed. Heads of state from about 120 countries had flocked to the Danish capital, anticipating a historic photo op that would lead future generations to lionize them as visionary saviors who rescued the planet from the menace of man-made global warming. Instead the world’s leaders participated in an embarrassing diplomatic flop.
Officially, a Copenhagen Accord was reached, but the three-page document largely consists of vague promises expressing the “political will” to combat global warming. Many leaders were already fleeing to the airport before the conference officially closed. This fiasco could spell the end of the United Nations’ attempts to use a costly and flawed carbon rationing scheme as a way to handle man-made climate change.
The conference came to this humiliating conclusion because the world’s two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, remain at loggerheads. The U.S. needed China to accept legally binding carbon targets with some kind of monitoring arrangement to make sure the Chinese don’t cheat. Without these provisions, U.S. manufacturers (and the unions representing their workers) would be at a clear disadvantage, because their competitors in China could continue to use cheaper fossil-fuel energy. “From our point of view,” declared Todd Stern, the American special envoy for climate change, “you can’t even begin to have an environmentally sound agreement without the adequate, significant participation of China.”
Stern is right. Unless China is seen as participating in the global effort to limit carbon emissions, the Obama administration will have a very hard time convincing Congress to pass carbon rationing legislation during a time of high unemployment at home.
Not surprisingly, the most ideological wing of the environmental movement was livid at the outcome. Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth U.S., denounced the Copenhagen Accord as “a sham agreement,” adding, “This is not a strong deal or a just one—it isn’t even a real one.” John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace U.K., agreed: “The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport.” The American environmentalist Bill McKibben—founder of 350.org, which advocates keeping atmospheric carbon dioxide below 350 parts per million (compared to 387 parts per million today)—declared, “The president has wrecked the U.N., and he’s wrecked the possibility of a tough plan to control global warming.”
The good news for the rest of us is that the Copenhagen collapse provides the world with an opportunity to step back, reassess the political and scientific situations, and find a better way than the deeply flawed Kyoto Protocol process to address the problems associated with a warming planet. Preferably the new approach will neither clobber the global economy by dramatically boosting energy prices nor impose a Kyoto-style carbon rationing system that clearly doesn’t work. As President Obama pointed out in Copenhagen, “Kyoto was legally binding and everybody still fell short anyway.”
First a bit of background. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1992 after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Under the convention, signatory countries were committed to reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels, to prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth’s climate system.” Every year since the treaty came into effect, a Conference of the Parties (COP) has been convened to assess what progress has been made. The Copenhagen meeting was the 15th such meeting and is thus known as COP-15.
Under the 1992 convention, which has now been signed by 193 countries, emissions goals were voluntary. But they became mandatory for 37 industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated in 1997 at COP-3 and fully ratified in 2005.
The Kyoto Protocol, which President Bill Clinton never even forwarded to the U.S. Senate (President George W. Bush withdrew from it completely), set up a cap-and-trade emissions reduction scheme for participating countries. Under a cap-and-trade program, a business that wants to emit greenhouse gases—say, an electric utility or an oil company—needs to acquire permits equal to the number of tons of carbon dioxide it wants to emit. Governments then set a declining cap on emissions by issuing fewer and fewer permits each year. The permits, however, can be bought and sold on an open market. Producers that cheaply abate their emissions can sell their extra permits to other emitters that find the process more expensive. In this way, the theory goes, the market will find the cheapest way to cut emissions. As it happens, only the European Union ever established a carbon market under the Kyoto Protocol, and it has been riddled with problems. So far the scheme has not induced emitters to make significant investments in low-carbon energy technologies.
The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, after which a second commitment period is supposed to replace it, with more extensive mandatory emissions reductions. At the Bali climate conference in 2007 (COP-13), it was agreed that a binding global treaty setting the new standards would be finalized at Copenhagen. But two years of preliminary negotiations proved difficult, so that goal was dropped a month before the conference was even convened. Instead, the Copenhagen meeting was supposed to produce a “politically binding” framework agreement that would set specific commitments to emission reductions and climate aid to developing countries as a basis for future action. The weak Copenhagen Accord does not even achieve that much, putting off those decisions indefinitely.
Chiefly negotiated by the U.S., China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, the nonbinding Copenhagen Accord sets a goal of preventing global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The Accord reaffirms the importance of the two degree goal and “recognizes the scientific view” that the temperature increase should be held below this number. (As Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of the global anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam International, put it to the Times of London, the accord “recognizes the need to keep warming below 2C but does not commit to do so.”) Many environmentalists and scientists had argued for a more ambitious 1.5 degree Celsius limit. Initial drafts of the accord set a global goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next 40 years, with the developed countries reducing their emissions by 80 percent. That goal was dropped at China’s insistence, according to Ed Miliband, Britain’s climate and energy secretary.
The initial aim of adopting a binding treaty by the next international climate conference, to convene this coming November in Mexico City, was also dropped. Now the implementation of the Copenhagen Accord will be reviewed by 2016.
The accord promises that the industrialized countries will supply $30 billion worth of climate change aid to developing countries by 2012 and will “mobilize” $100 billion annually in aid by 2020, using both public and private sources of funding. With regard to monitoring each country’s emission reduction pledges—the big sticking point between China and the U.S.— countries are supposed to provide information on their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but the guidelines for auditing those activities are to be negotiated later. In any case, it’s unlikely that the politicians who are in office in 2020 will feel constrained to honor the Copenhagen Accord’s vague promises about emissions and financing.
Back in the USA
In the wake of Copenhagen’s spectacular blowup, what will happen to the domestic regulation of carbon? That idea is clearly advancing in one area: The Environmental Protection Agency announced in early December that it will start enforcing strict carbon controls. (See “The EPA’s Carbon Footprint,” page 36.) But what about the carbon rationing proposals advanced by the White House and the Democratic leadership in Congress?
Back in June, the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey Act, which aims by 2020 to reduce U.S. carbon emissions 17 percent below the level emitted in 2005. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dropped by the Copenhagen conference, she said of Waxman-Markey, “It’s all about the jobs.” To hear Pelosi talk, saving the planet from climate doom is incidental to making sure Americans are employed making solar panels and weatherizing houses. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a co-sponsor of an energy and climate change bill in the Senate, similarly asserted in Copenhagen, “Our bill is essentially a jobs bill.”
Showering government largess on an industry will certainly increase employment in that industry. It’s much less clear that such subsidies will produce more jobs on balance. Kerry thinks it will, claiming that when Germany enacted “strong policy mechanisms to drive investment in solar power and other renewable energy sources,” the result supposedly was employment growth: “Renewable energy usage has tripled to 16 percent, creating 1.7 million jobs. By 2020, Germany’s clean energy sector will be the biggest contributor to the nation’s economy.”
An October 2009 study by RWI, a nonprofit German economic think tank, however, concluded that policies pushing renewable energy end up producing “job losses from crowding out of cheaper forms of conventional energy generation, indirect impacts on upstream industries, additional job losses from the drain on economic activity precipitated by higher electricity prices, private consumers’ overall loss of purchasing power due to higher electricity prices, and diverting funds from other, possibly more beneficial investment.” The report called Germany’s experience “a cautionary tale of massively expensive environmental and energy policy that is devoid of economic and environmental benefits.”
Perhaps carbon rationing and higher energy prices will help us avoid a climate disaster. But these measures will tend to increase rather than decrease unemployment. The carbon rationing proposals in Congress are not really job bills, a fact that will make them harder to pass. Republicans seem confident that Waxman- Markey, which passed the House in June by a margin of just seven votes, will never make it to the Senate.
Before the Copenhagen conference collapsed, Sen. Kerry declared that getting climate change legislation passed in the U.S. “can be enormously assisted by what happens here.” Once the nondeal was announced, the Massachusetts senator gamely peddled the same line: “With this in hand, we can work to pass domestic legislation early next year to bring us across the finish line.” We’ll all find out this spring who is the better political prognosticator, Kerry or Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who said, “This Waxman- Markey bill would lose by 50 votes if it were up for a vote now. This bill is dead in the water as it is and that’s why it’s DOA in the Senate.” After the diplomatic debacle in Copenhagen, my bet is on Upton.
And if the U.S., as the world’s second biggest carbon producer, does not adopt some form of rationing, it is highly unlikely that the rest of the world will do so. On the way to his plane, President Obama declared the Copenhagen Accord a “meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough.” It would be more accurate to call it a meaningful and unprecedented breakdown— one that could end up sparing the world from a costly and flawed scheme of global carbon rationing.
Ronald Bailey (
) is reason's science correspondent.
Iran elected to Status of Women Commission
Reply #42 on:
April 29, 2010, 08:27:36 PM »
NEW YORK — Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged "immodest."
Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is "dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women," according to its website.
Buried 2,000 words deep in a U.N. press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of "vacancies in subsidiary bodies," was the stark announcement: Iran, along with representatives from 10 other nations, was "elected by acclamation," meaning that no open vote was requested or required by any member states — including the United States.
The U.S. currently holds one of the 45 seats on the body, a position set to expire in 2012. The U.S. Mission to the U.N. did not return requests for comment on whether it actively opposed elevating Iran to the women's commission.
Iran's election comes just a week after one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame for earthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar — but little affected their bid to become an international arbiter of women's rights.
"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," said the respected cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.
As word of Iran's intention to join the women's commission came out, a group of Iranian activists circulated a petition to the U.N. asking that member states oppose its election.
"Iran's discriminatory laws demonstrate that the Islamic Republic does not believe in gender equality," reads the letter, signed by 214 activists and endorsed by over a dozen human rights bodies.
The letter draws a dark picture of the status of women in Iran: "women lack the ability to choose their husbands, have no independent right to education after marriage, no right to divorce, no right to child custody, have no protection from violent treatment in public spaces, are restricted by quotas for women's admission at universities, and are arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws."
The Commission on the Status of Women is supposed to conduct review of nations that violate women's rights, issue reports detailing their failings, and monitor their success in improving women's equality.
Yet critics of Iran's human rights record say the country has taken "every conceivable step" to deter women's equality.
"In the past year, it has arrested and jailed mothers of peaceful civil rights protesters," wrote three prominent democracy and human rights activists in an op-ed published online Tuesday by Foreign Policy Magazine.
"It has charged women who were seeking equality in the social sphere — as wives, daughters and mothers — with threatening national security, subjecting many to hours of harrowing interrogation. Its prison guards have beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and raped female and male civil rights protesters."
Iran's elevation to the commission comes as a black eye just days after the U.S. helped lead a successful effort to keep Iran off the Human Rights Council, which is already dominated by nations that are judged by human rights advocates as chronic violators of essential freedoms. The current membership of the women's commission is little different.
Though it touts itself as "the principal global policy-making body" on women's rights, the makeup of the commission is mostly determined by geography and its membership is a hodge-podge of some human rights advocates (including the U.S., Japan, and Germany) and other nations with stark histories of rights violations.
The number of seats on the commission is based on the number of countries in a region, no matter how small their populations or how scant their respect for rights. The commission is currently made up of 13 members from Africa, 11 from Asia, nine from Latin America and the Caribbean, eight from Western Europe and North America, and four from Eastern Europe.
During this round of "elections," which were not competitive and in which no real votes were cast, two seats opened up for the Asian bloc for the 2011-2015 period. Only two nations put forward candidates to fill empty spots — Iran and Thailand. As at most such commissions in the U.N., backroom deals determined who would gain new seats at the women's rights body.
The activists' letter sent to the U.N. Tuesday argued that it would be better if the Asian countries proffered only one candidate, instead of elevating Iran to the commission.
"We, a group of gender-equality activists, believe that for the sake of women's rights globally, an empty seat for the Asia group on (the commission) is much preferable to Iran's membership. We are writing to alert you to the highly negative ramifications of Iran’s membership in this international body."
A spokeswoman for the U.N.'s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which oversees the commission, did not return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.
When its term begins in 2011, Iran will be joined by 10 other countries: Belgium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Estonia, Georgia, Jamaica, Iran, Liberia, the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand and Zimbabwe.
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #43 on:
June 05, 2010, 08:54:18 AM »
Given some of the shared rhetoric from Mexico and Obama-Clinton, and the presence of Harvard prof Harold Koh in Clinton's State Dept, rumors of efforts at an international treaty to end run US sovereignty and Second Amendment rights were plausible , , , as were suspicions of these rumors being used/fomented for fund raising purposes:
Hillary Clinton And The UN Arms Trade Treaty Rumor
Friday, May 28, 2010
We continue to receive numerous inquiries regarding UN international treaties, and their impact on our Second Amendment rights. The latest rumor making its way around the Internet claims that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually signed a UN small arms treaty.
Contrary to this widely circulated e-mail, Hillary Clinton has not signed any small arms treaty. She could not have done so, in fact, because no such treaty has yet been negotiated.
As we noted in an update from last November, the UN Arms Trade Treaty will be drafted between now and 2012, and even if signed, would not take effect in the U.S. until it was ratified by the Senate.
Please rest assured that, as we said in November, NRA will be actively involved in this process and will oppose any treaty that would attempt to impose limits on our Second Amendment rights. In the meantime, we urge gun owners to follow this issue in NRA's magazines and NRA-ILA's Grassroots Alerts. We also urge gun owners not to circulate misinformation on this issue.
Patriot Post on Kagan
Reply #44 on:
July 09, 2010, 03:10:23 PM »
I also posted the following on the Kagan thread but post it here for future reference/research purposes.
News From the Swamp: The Kagan Hearings
The Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan this past week were a glimpse into a pretty dim future for American jurisprudence. Kagan offered an obsequious and often glib performance over two days of softball pitches by Democrats and surprisingly light questioning by Republicans. She remained true to her featherweight legal background by deflecting most of the questions she received, and everyone, including the American public, walked away from the hearings just as clueless about her as when the whole charade began. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn't help matters, because they refused to follow up on some important lines of questioning. They also didn't demonstrate any coordinated plan of attack for exposing Kagan as a doctrinaire leftist with no respect for constitutional Rule of Law.
Still, the clues about the real Elena Kagan are evident in her prior record, scant though it may be. She advised Bill Clinton to veto the partial-birth abortion ban, a bill that later became law and was upheld by the Supreme Court. In doing so, she even went as far as to manipulate the medical language of a statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to help protect the barbaric practice. Kagan also suggested that the Court should overturn the Solomon Amendment, which provides for the removal of federal funds for schools that deny recruiting opportunities to the military. The Amendment has since been upheld unanimously by the High Court. These two instances are indicative of just how out of step Kagan is with the jurisprudential requirements of the position to which she has aspired since her college days.
More troubling, though, is Kagan's embrace of trans-nationalism, the trend among lawyers and judges who believe that the U.S. Constitution and legal system should incorporate international and foreign laws and legal rulings. On Constitution Day 2007, when most of the nation's educational institutions were embracing an educational program on the U.S. Constitution, Kagan hired noted trans-nationalist Noah Feldman to speak to the Harvard faculty. Feldman has been a constant and vocal critic of the American legal system because it has not fully embraced international law to guide its jurisprudence. Because Democrats control 58 Senate seats, Kagan is likely to win confirmation with a couple of turncoat Republicans, but the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and the American public will pay heavily later.
Reply #45 on:
July 21, 2010, 11:15:38 AM »
U.N. Insider: ‘There Is No Transparency’
An internal memo reveals the downward spiral of U.N. oversight and accountability.
It’s often tempting, after the latest scandal, to think that the United Nations’ reputation for shoddy oversight and lack of transparency can’t sink any lower. And yet it keeps doing so.
The latest charges of mismanagement, corruption, and fraud come from the organization’s own bureaucracy. An internal memo by Inga-Britt Ahlenius, a Swedish auditor whose non-renewable five-year term as undersecretary-general of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) ended last week, charged U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and his associates of undermining efforts to combat corruption in the organization.
This has long been obvious to observers of the U.N. Efforts to improve accountability, transparency, and oversight are often attacked from within. Many member states become angry if their citizens are fingered for corruption, and U.N. officials seem fearful that any report of problems will damage the organization’s reputation. Thus the decision to eliminate the Procurement Task Force — the only truly independent investigatory and oversight body the U.N. has ever had — in December 2008 was a frustrating but not surprising example of how effective and independent oversight is discouraged and attacked in Turtle Bay.
This also explains why scandals keep occurring. A few notable ones include:
the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scandal that Saddam Hussein used to generate some $10 billion in illegal revenue, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office;
a huge corruption scandal in which more than 40 percent of U.N. procurement for peacekeeping was revealed to be tainted by fraud, leading to three U.N. officials’ being charged in American courts;
widespread incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. personnel in Bosnia, Burundi, Cambodia, Congo, Guinea, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
Only rarely, however, are the efforts of those seeking to impede U.N. oversight reported by the media or otherwise brought to light. But now, we have first-person testimony from a U.N. official about just how effective the efforts to hamstring U.N. oversight have been. Among the harsh assessments relayed by Ahlenius to Ban in the summary of her end-of-assignment report, according to Foreign Policy’s Turtle Bay blog, is this:
There is no transparency, there is lack of accountability. Rather than supporting the internal oversight which is the sign of strong leadership and good governance, you have strived to control it which is to undermine its position. I do not see any signs of reform in the Organization.
I regret to say that the [U.N.] Secretariat now is in a process of decay. It is not only falling apart into silos — the secretariat is drifting, to use the words of one of my senior colleagues. It is drifting into irrelevance.
Additional comments attributed to Ahlenius in the Foreign Policy post placed the blame squarely on Secretary-General Ban:
Your actions are not only deplorable, but seriously reprehensible. No UN Secretary-General before you has questioned the authority delegated to the [undersecretary-general of OIOS] to appoint the staff in OIOS. Your action is without precedent and in my opinion seriously embarrassing for yourself.
Ban’s defense, offered by his chef de cabinet Vijay Nambiar, essentially denies responsibility, changes the subject, and questions Ahlenius’s version of events. A choice quote:
This secretary-general, like his recent predecessors, has had to strike a balance between acting as a chief administrative officer of the United Nations on the one hand, and providing truly global leadership on the other. A look at his record shows that Secretary-General Ban has provided genuine visionary leadership on important issues from climate change to development to women’s empowerment. He has promoted the cause of gender balance in general as well within the organization. He has led from the front on important political issues from Gaza to Haiti to Sudan. And today, he is in Afghanistan.
Well, as long as the gender balance in the U.N. is being addressed, the secretary-general must be doing his job, right?
His visionary leadership didn’t prevent indecision and divisions in Copenhagen (for which we can be thankful, considering his goals). We’re still waiting for the results of his leadership to appear in Gaza and Sudan.
And Ban’s denial of impeding transparency and oversight of the U.N. is greatly undermined by his refusal to allow Ahlenius’s full 50-page report to be made public. This response serves only to confirm the lack of leadership and effective management at the U.N., exactly the failings Ahlenius focused on.
While Ban and his associates richly deserve this criticism, Ahlenius is wrong to ignore (at least in the summary of her report) the role that member states have played in preventing U.N. transparency, accountability, and oversight. Indeed, the primary pressure to eliminate the Procurement Task Force came from the Russian and Singaporean missions to the U.N. They were upset that the Task Force had charged and provided evidence that their nationals had been involved in corrupt actions. Russia even sought to prevent staff from the Procurement Task Force from being transferred to or hired by OIOS.
Regardless of whether Ban deserves most of the blame or only part of it, the assessment by Ahlenius should alarm the U.S. Congress, since the OIOS is one of the few oversight bodies in the U.N. If it remains hamstrung, there will be virtually no oversight of U.N. activities — or of the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars going to Turtle Bay each year.
Congress should also closely question U.S. officials in New York, especially U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, about why the U.S. allowed Secretary-General Ban to run roughshod over Ahlenius. The interference in OIOS has been widely known. As reported in Foreign Policy, “The U.N. has failed to fill dozens of vacancies, including the chief of the U.N.’s investigations division, which has been vacant since 2006, leaving a void in the U.N.’s ability to police itself, according to U.N. diplomats.”
The unfortunate reality is that few countries are interested in making sure that the U.N. has adequate oversight and accountability. Most pay the U.N. a pittance and, therefore, have nothing at stake. If the U.S. doesn’t press this issue, no other nation is likely to step forward.
As it represents the largest financier of the U.N., the U.S. mission should be the best friend of U.N. auditors and whistleblowers. Without them, we would have little chance of keeping the organization honest and accountable. So why has the U.S. mission been so silent and seemingly indifferent?
The U.S. should demand the public release of Ahlenius’s full report. It should also argue for a fully independent U.N. oversight body modeled after the Procurement Task Force. There is a vital need to hire a competent, qualified replacement at OIOS for Ahlenius. Someone who has a record of independence. Moreover, American policymakers should make certain that the many open slots in OIOS to be filled by qualified individuals as soon as possible.
— Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation. He is also editor of ConUNdrum: The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009).
RB Ginsburg at it again
Reply #46 on:
August 03, 2010, 11:23:12 AM »
My Constitutional law prof is at it again. POTH approves, naturally:
Nativism in American politics has become so rampant that it is considered scandalous in Republican circles for a judge to acknowledge paying any attention to foreign courts and their legal rulings. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the few prominent jurists to speak out against this trend in recent years, gave an on-the-money speech last week pointing out the xenophobia on recent display in the confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan.
At one point, Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican of Iowa, noted with scorn that Harvard Law School, where Ms. Kagan had been dean, required first-year students to study international law. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican of Oklahoma, asked why Ms. Kagan thought it was acceptable to use foreign law to interpret the Constitution, which she retorted was almost never the case. Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican of Arizona, summed it up: “I’m troubled by it,” not because foreign law would create a United States precedent, but “because it suggests that you could turn to foreign law to get good ideas.”
In her remarks on Friday, delivered to the International Academy of Comparative Law at American University in Washington, Justice Ginsburg said that kind of thinking is completely at odds with the views of the nation’s founders, who were extremely interested in the opinions and laws of other countries. The authors of the Federalist Papers, she noted, cited the “high importance” of observing the “laws of nations.” And, of course, the Declaration of Independence itself was an appeal to the “opinions of mankind” in a “candid world.”
To the extent that the United States wants its ideals and legal system to inspire others, it should take interest in ideas from overseas, she said, not necessarily adopting them but drawing on them. Ms. Kagan made it clear that foreign opinions are not authoritative, Justice Ginsburg said, adding: “They set no binding precedent for the U.S. judge. But they can add to the store of knowledge relevant to the solution of trying questions.”
In 2002, the Supreme Court prohibited the execution of those mentally retarded, noting that the practice is overwhelmingly disapproved around the world. In 2003, it struck down prohibitions on gay sex, which it called “an integral part of human freedom in many other countries.” In 2005, the court prohibited the execution of minors, again noting global opinion. “It does not lessen our fidelity to the Constitution or our pride in its origins,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in that case, to acknowledge “the express affirmation of certain fundamental rights by other nations and peoples.”
The reasoning in those cases was greeted with catcalls from legal isolationists, as no doubt will be Justice Ginsburg’s brave speech. Foreign law will undoubtedly be cited this week as a reason why many Republicans will vote against Ms. Kagan’s confirmation. They might want to re-read James Madison’s description in the Federalist Papers of the ideal legislator: “He ought not to be altogether ignorant of the law of nations.”
Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
Reply #47 on:
August 04, 2010, 10:54:08 AM »
My read on Ruth is that she is a quintessential progressive and uses non-American sources to advance that agenda.
Reply #48 on:
September 24, 2010, 08:33:18 PM »
Pasting BBG's post in the Immigration thread here as well.
An U.N.-Conscionable Act
Published on September 22, 2010 by Edwin Feulner, Ph.D.
Thanks to a certain immigration law, the Obama administration isn’t very happy with Arizona these days. But did you know the White House has gone so far as to put Arizona “on report”? And to the United Nations, no less.
That’s right. Apparently the federal government can’t handle this dispute alone. It needs to elevate it to the world stage, encouraging international criticism of the offending state. So Arizona’s alleged transgression comes up in a report the administration submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council:
“A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.
“President Obama remains firmly committed to fixing our broken immigration system, because he recognizes that our ability to innovate, our ties to the world, and our economic prosperity depend on our capacity to welcome and assimilate immigrants. The Administration will continue its efforts to work with the U.S. Congress and affected communities toward this end.”
No wonder Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called this “downright offensive.” If the administration felt compelled to mention an unsettled legal dispute in a report to an international body, it should have at least adopted a more neutral tone. Instead, it sounds like the administration is saying, “Don’t worry, world; we’re doing all we can to show this slow, backward child of ours the error of its ways.”
Here’s a larger question, one worth considering as the United Nations gathers for its annual General Assembly meeting: Should the United States even have joined the Human Rights Council, whose membership roll includes such blatant human-rights tramplers as China and Cuba?
The HRC was created in 2006 as a replacement for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. For years, the commission had failed to hold governments accountable for violating basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Unfortunately, the HRC’s track record has been no better. In theory, it “offers an unprecedented opportunity to hold the human rights practices of every country open for public examination and criticism,” as Heritage Foundation experts Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves have noted. But in practice, the HRC “has proven to be a flawed process hijacked by countries seeking to shield themselves from criticism.”
Consider Cuba’s report to the HRC. It turns out its “democratic system is based on the principle of ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’.” And guess what? Its citizens enjoy the right to “freedom of opinion, expression and the press.” I’m sure that will surprise the thousands of Cubans who have risked life and limb to escape the island nation, and the thousands more who remain locked in Castro’s jails for political “crimes.”
China made similarly laughable assertions in its report to the HRC. It even claimed its citizens enjoy a right to religious freedom. North Korea, too, is a downright utopia, judging from its report to the U.N.
It’s bad enough these countries lie. But it’s not unexpected. What’s worse is that the U.N. accepts these demonstrably false claims at face value. The majority of member states approve these reports.
To avoid becoming a party to this charade, the Bush administration wisely declined membership in the HRC. The Obama administration reversed that policy. So we have a situation where the U.S., just by being a member, lends legitimacy to a U.N. farce on human rights. And now the administration is compounding the error by offering up a state for criticism by a body that includes some of the world’s most egregious human-rights offenders.
Talk about “downright offensive.”
Dr. Edwin Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation.
Never fear, UNOOSA is ready!
Reply #49 on:
September 27, 2010, 08:37:43 PM »
UN to appoint Earth contact for aliens
THE United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earths first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.
Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.
She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.
During a talk Othman gave recently to fellow scientists, she said: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials.
"When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”
Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law and governance at the UK Space Agency and who leads British delegations to the UN on such matters, said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person.”
However, he thinks humanity’s first encounter with any intelligent aliens is more likely to be via radio or light signals from a distant planet than by beings arriving on Earth. And, he suggests, even if we do encounter aliens in the flesh, they are more likely to be microbes than anything intelligent.
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