The United Nations showed its true colors once again last week when it snubbed the Dalai Lama during his visit to New York. The UN caved to the paranoid leaders of China, who view the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader as a mortal threat to their nation’s integrity because he has dared to challenge China’s brutal takeover and occupation of his homeland. China considers the Dalai Lama a traitor for advocating Tibetan self-rule.
This was not the first time that the UN acted in so craven a manner toward the Dalai Lama, who won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global human rights and resistance to the use of violence in his people's struggle to regain their liberty. Back in 2000, Secretary-General Kofi Annan defended the decision not to invite this man of peace to the UN headquarters during the Millennium World Peace Summit held in New York that year. The Dalai Lama was excluded from the UN-sponsored religious conference at China’s behest. Annan defended the decision as necessary to maintain consensus among the member states. "This house is really a house for the member states and their sensitivities matter," he declared.
The Dalai Lama preaches non-violence when speaking truth to power. But he is persona non grata at the UN because it is afraid of insulting the ‘sensitivities” of the Chinese occupiers of his homeland by allowing him on the premises of the headquarters of the world organization. Yet the UN had no problem inviting the terrorist Yasser Arafat into its “house for the member states” to speak at the General Assembly – before the Palestine Liberation Organization received official observer status at the UN and decades earlier than Arafat won a Nobel Peace Prize for participating in the Oslo peace negotiations that he ended up torpedoing. Arafat became the first representative of a non-governmental organization to address a plenary session of the UN General Assembly, over the objections of the United States and Israel whose “sensitivities” as member states were completely ignored. Wearing a holster with a barely disguised pistol and carrying an olive branch and dressed in a military uniform, Arafat said that "I come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand."
Needless to say, the Dalai Lama would never have brought a gun to the UN building to drive home his points, if he had been given a chance to speak there. His weapon of choice is his persuasive rhetoric of peace, human rights and religious freedom. The Dalai Lama believes that freedom is a universal aspiration, and has called for peaceful actions to bring democratic autonomy to Tibet. He has reserved his harshest criticisms for the dictatorships and totalitarian regimes that deny their people basic human rights, but he has not spared the United States from criticism when he believed we were pursuing the wrong path such as the war in Iraq.
One would think that such a man would be a perfect spokesman for a global institution that is supposed to be devoted to the peaceful solution of conflicts and human rights. But it should be no surprise that an institution as morally bankrupt as the United Nations would pay homage to Arafat and other terrorists while blackballing the Dalai Lama. After all, the UN condemned democratic Israel for alleged human rights violations five times more than it condemned the autocratic Chinese regime occupying the Dalai Lama’s homeland. With the Human Rights Council in the grip of some of the world’s worst human rights abusers including China, the UN is an enabler of China’s efforts to marginalize the Tibetan spiritual leader and to escape accountability for its human rights violations against his followers. Incidents such as the Chinese police dragging a poor woman through the streets by her hair, beating her with electric prongs and throwing her into jail for three years simply because she was seen carrying a picture of the Dalai Lama are entirely ignored.
For his part, the Dalai Lama bends over backwards to see more good in people than they sometimes deserve. Unfortunately, for example, he mistakenly refuses to call out many followers of Islam for being particularly prone to extremism, even when Buddhists themselves have been victimized by Islamic fanatics who regard the Buddhists as pagans. Although his own life has been reportedly threatened by an al Qaeda affiliated Islamic extremist group in Southeast Asia, Lashkar-e-Toiba, he dismisses such terrorists as a few mischievous people who plague every religion.
It is impossible to separate the most lethal terrorists from Islam, as the Dalai Lama would like, when these terrorists do their deeds in the name of Islam, are far more numerous in number and have far more sympathizers than any other religion and are not publicly challenged, much less punished for their deeds, by enough recognized Muslim religious leaders to make any difference.
Nevertheless, to his credit, the Dalai Lama has tried to galvanize those Muslim clerics and other religious leaders from around the world who are willing to speak out publicly against terror in the name of Islam or any other religion. “I feel, this moment, we Buddhists and other traditions must come together,” he said.
One such gathering that the Dalai Lama helped bring together was held last year in San Francisco because that is where the United Nations was founded. How sad it is that the United Nations he was honoring with this gathering has strayed so far from its founding principles that it has banished the Dalai Lama from its premises.
As the UN’s snubs of the Dalai Lama demonstrate, it has lost whatever moral bearings it may originally have had and has become the corrupted instrument of anti-democratic forces. It accords the same voting rights in the General Assembly to dictatorships, which have no accountability to their own people and which flout the founding principles of the UN Charter, as it does to democratic countries that uphold these principles. Dictators certainly have no respect for the bedrock principles of freedom and respect for individual human rights that are so fundamental to a democracy. And dictators could not care less what the United Nations says or does unless their own survival is at stake. Raw power is their raison d'être and they do not hesitate to manipulate the processes of the UN to their selfish advantage.
China uses its veto power in the Security Council, its membership on the Human Rights Council and its leadership of a large bloc of developing countries in the General Assembly to protect rogue states like Myanmar, Sudan and Iran from any meaningful sanctions because that serves its economic and political interests. And, of course, China makes sure that the United Nations remains quiescent when it comes to China’s own pitiful human rights record. Thus, as far as the UN brass is concerned, the Dalai Lama simply does not exist.
 'Westerners are too self-absorbed' by Alice Thomson, Telegraph.Co.UK (January 4, 2006).
 The Times of India (October 10, 2006).
 Dalai Lama meets with Muslim leaders at US anti-terror summit, Khaleej Times (April 16, 2006).