The United Nations Human Rights Council heard an update on September 15th from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on what she regarded as the salient human rights issues of the day. Mentioned were the recent “marred” election in Afghanistan and her claim – shared by the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Obama Administration – that “constitutional order had been subverted and democratic space undermined” in Honduras. But somehow the fraudulent presidential election in Iran, and the murder and rape of political dissidents that followed, escaped the Human Rights Commissioner’s attention.
Shortly before Pillay addressed the Human Rights Council, the Council’s president upheld the barring of the Permanent Representative of Honduras in Geneva from participating in the Human Rights Council sessions, as is the right of every UN member state, because he was not the “accredited representative of President Zelaya’s Government”. The fact that Manuel Zelaya had been replaced by the current interim president pursuant to Honduras’ constitutional processes and with the full support of its elected legislative body and its civilian high court, was completely ignored. The United States has sided with the opponents of Honduras’ constitutional processes and in support of Zelaya, who had tried to pull a trick out of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez’s playbook and end-run the Honduras constitution in order to give himself another term in office.
Meanwhile, Iran’s illegitimate government was not challenged. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be in full attendance during the opening week of the 64th United Nations General Assembly session and is even planning his own press conference at UN headquarters. Sadly, the world is passive in the face of the grievous injustices still being committed today by Iran’s illegitimate president and his mullah-supported militia against Iranian citizens peacefully protesting Ahmadinejad’s theft of the presidential election last June.
I asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at his monthly press conference on September 17th whether he saw any double standard between the UN’s denial of credentials to representatives of the interim government in Honduras to allow them to participate in UN meetings on the one hand, and welcoming Ahmadinejad with open arms on the other. He replied that he deferred in such matters to the General Assembly credentials committee. But a few minutes later in the press conference, he launched into a full-throated defense of Zelaya.
Ban Ki-moon declared that “when a leader [is] elected constitutionally, through a transparent election process, then his authority and office should be protected and guaranteed. This is the principle of the international community and the United Nations. For that, all the Member States of the United Nations have supported President Zelaya. I would like to reaffirm that again”.
The fallacy of this argument is that Zelaya was removed through Honduras’ constitutional process, which should be as much respected as the constitutional process under which he was elected initially. And Ban Ki-moon ducked my question as to why Ahmadinijad – who certainly was not elected “through a transparent election process” - should be given a free pass by the UN.
For its part, while taking a hard line against little Honduras’ current government, the Obama administration is actually rewarding Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by agreeing to sit down with Iran as part of the so-called 5+1 talks (the 5 permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) starting on October 1st. This is part of Obama’s engagement-without-conditions policy. The agenda will be built around Iran’s self-titled “package of proposals by the Islamic Republic of Iran for comprehensive and constructive negotiations”. Iran – like Obama – wants to discuss complete world-wide disarmament, but has said that its own nuclear program is off the table for discussion.
When talking about Iran during his Cairo speech last June to the Muslim world, Obama said that “I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”. (Emphasis added)
Does anyone seriously think that a brutal dictator like Ahmadinejad has any intention of honoring anything that Iran signed unless it advances his power-hungry ambitions?
As EyeontheUN Editor Anne Bayefsky put it so succinctly, President Obama’s “group-hug theory of diplomacy deserves the disdain of anyone who can separate rhetoric from reality”.
The only regimes that Obama and the UN seem to be playing hardball with these days are Honduras – and Israel.