Saturday, May 12, 2007

UN-democratic?

"We're very disappointed in the election of Zimbabwe as chair," said the U.S. representative to the commission Dan Reifsnyder, deputy assistant secretary for environment and science at the State Department.

"We really think it calls into question the credibility of this organization to have a representative from a country that has decimated its agriculture, that used to be the breadbasket of Africa and can't now feed itself," Reifsnyder said.

He was joined by several European countries who criticised the outcome of the vote forced by Germany which did not go as expected in spite of strong British lobbying efforts.

As usual there's been a lot of talk about how this vote discredited the United Nations. Now I don't exactly think that Zimbabwe in the chair will move the agenda of the commission on sustainable development forward a great deal, but the vote is nonetheless a victory for democracy - not because of the result but because of the principled objection by those supporting Zimbabwe's nomination to the arrogant US-UK-Europe assumption that just because they divided the world amongst themselves after the 2nd world war and gave themselves seats on the security council and veto rights, the countries of the world want to be constantly dictated to by a minority of governments whose withdrawal from colonialism was only symbolic. Britain, complaining of the sad state of Zimbabwe's economy, is just as responsible for this outcome as the Harare government.

The nomination of Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe's minister of environment and tourism, is an open challenge to the European travel ban imposed on members of Mugabe's administration. For Western nations it has almost become a habit to impose economic and other sanctions each time they are unhappy with the outcome of democratic elections around the world, for example the Hamas majority in the Palestinian Authority. Likewise, the United States and Britain were only interested in international legitimacy through the UN provided it rubber-stamped their illegal invastion plans in Iraq. Democracy is a hollow word even within Western societies. The UK population, just having finally got rid of its most unpopular prime minister, is going to get another equally unpopular prime minister without having the slightest say in the matter.

If world politics were not so badly skewed in favour of imperialism, the world would probably be a better place. And instead of pointing the finger at Zimbabwe's poverty, maybe human suffering could be alleviated once a handful of nations stop (or are stopped from) appropriating more than their fair share of the world's resources.

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