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Annan's unhealthy obsession

ANNE BAYEFSKY- Monday 20th Oct 2003

Negative comments from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan this past week are effectively stymieing US attempts to achieve a Security Council resolution on rebuilding Iraq. Administration officials called his contribution "surprising."

Isn't it about time they figured out who their friends are?

One day before US President George W. Bush made his speech outlining the threat to peace and security posed by Iraq in September 2002 at the General Assembly, Annan released his own speech in advance of his delivery hoping to draw public opinion in a different direction.

One day before the February 2003 Security Council meeting at which UN weapons inspector Hans Blix delivered his penultimate report and US Secretary of State Colin Powell outlined America's case, Annan deliberately released his report on the UN-predicted humanitarian catastrophe from an Iraq war.

Thirty minutes before Bush urged the General Assembly on September 23 to work with America and its "friends and allies on a new Security Council resolution which will expand the UN's role in Iraq," Annan stuck out his foot in the president's path. In UN-speak before the same audience the secretary-general pulled back the reins: " the United Nations system is prepared to play its full role in working for a satisfactory outcome in Iraq as part of an effort by the... international community pulling together on the basis of a sound and viable policy. If it takes extra time and patience to forge that policy... then I for one would regard that time as well spent."

WAKE UP. This is a secretary-general who believes UN resources are better spent focusing on Israel than assisting the war against terrorism and democratic reform in the Arab Middle East.
More attention, despite the fact that September saw one more emergency session of the General Assembly on Israel. Indeed, an entire UN division works round-the-clock on on Palestinian rights and nothing else.

Annan is more interested in the Security Council spending its time on the eve of Yom Kippur criticizing Israel's bombing of Syrian terrorist bases. Within hours he had issued a release "strongly deploring" the strike and putting it in the loaded category of "threatening regional peace and security."

By contrast, according to the secretary-general, the Haifa suicide-bombing and its Syrian connections posed no such threat.

This is a UN that cannot even define terrorism. On Friday, October 10 a working group of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly found itself, after many years of similar attempts, deadlocked over a Comprehensive Convention Against Terrorism.
The Organization of Islamic Conference is denying consensus over the issue of a definition of terrorism, since blowing up Israelis does not count in their books.

Where is the voice of the secretary-general demanding of UN members that they agree on a common understanding of terrorism? Surely, the identification of a terrorist lies at the heart of any successful campaign to defeat terrorism.

On September 5, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation that would reduce the president's request for the UN regular budget from $341 million to $328.9m. Bill S.1585 has now been sent to the Senate floor.

The Appropriations Committee argued that it did not wish to provide the US proportionate share of expenses associated with the operation of the UN Human Rights Commission (currently chaired by Libya).

The panel wrote, "The Committee refuses to allow American tax dollars to be spent in support of an organization that serves merely to provide an air of legitimacy to nations that commit the very crimes this organization was created to combat."
At least someone is awake at the switch.

The writer, a professor at York University in Canada, is an international lawyer and a member of the Governing Board of UN Watch, based in Geneva.



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