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June 7, 2006
UN: We Hate Free Speech

Just when you thought that the United Nations could not possibly sink any lower, Turtle Bay manages to find a little more wiggle room in the muck. Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown told an audience that the American government uses the UN too much to allow its citizens to criticize its shortcomings, one of which is apparently an aversion to free speech:

Secretary General Kofi Annan's deputy assailed the United States on Tuesday for withholding support from the United Nations, encouraging its harshest detractors and undermining an institution that he said Washington needed more than it would admit.

"The prevailing practice of seeking to use the U.N. almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable," said the deputy, Mark Malloch Brown. "You will lose the U.N. one way or another."

In a highly unusual instance of a United Nations official singling out an individual country for criticism, Mr. Malloch Brown said that although the United States was constructively engaged with the United Nations in many areas, the American public was shielded from knowledge of that by Washington's tolerance of what he called "too much unchecked U.N.-bashing and stereotyping."

"Much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S. heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News," he said.

Richard A. Grenell, the spokesman for John R. Bolton, the United States ambassador, said Mr. Bolton had not had time to read the speech to react to it fully on Tuesday evening. "Mr. Malloch Brown did not extend to us the courtesy of a copy of the speech," Mr. Grenell said. "We need to read it and will certainly have to respond."

It surprises me not one whit that the UN finds free speech and criticism intolerable. Unfortunately, they provide so much fodder for both that the impulse is irresistably. For instance, Malloch Brown asserted in his defense of the UN that the organization has eighteen peacekeeping missions operating at the moment, all of which perform at a lower cost and at higher effectiveness than anything done by the US. Apparently that higher effectiveness relates to the efficiency at which these missions abuse young girls, since the UN has failed to take any effective action to stop it. This is from March 2005:

The United Nations is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct by U.N. personnel in Burundi, Haiti, Liberia and elsewhere, which is complicating the organization's efforts to contain a sexual abuse scandal that has tarnished its Nobel Prize-winning peacekeepers in Congo.

The allegations indicate that a series of measures the United Nations has taken in recent years have failed to eliminate a culture of sexual permissiveness that has plagued its far-flung peacekeeping operations over the last 12 years. But senior U.N. officials say they have signaled their seriousness by imposing new reforms and forcing senior U.N. military commanders and officials to step down if they do not curb such practices. ...

The reports of sexual abuse have come from U.N. officials, internal U.N. documents, and local and international human rights organizations that have tracked the issue. Some U.N. officials and outside observers say there have been cases of abuse in almost every U.N. mission, including operations in Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Kosovo.

"This is a problem in every mission around the world," said Sarah Martin, an expert on the subject at Refugees International who recently conducted investigations into misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti and Liberia. "If you don't have a strict code of discipline, accountability and transparency in the process, then you're going to continue to have a problem."

Of course, that was over a year ago, so it probably has no bearing on their effectiveness now. On the other hand, we have this from February 2006, from the UN itself:

There are still too many complaints of sexual abuse against United Nations troops, the head of peacekeeping operations has said.

Jean-Marie Guehenno said the UN had investigated 295 cases under a new reporting system introduced last year.

It could take several more years to reform the system fully, says Jordan's UN envoy who last year urged changes. [emphasis mine -- CE]

And we also have this from last month, showing that the situation has actually gotten worse:

Young girls in Liberia are still being sexually exploited by aid workers and peacekeepers despite pledges to stamp out such abuse, Save the Children says.

Girls as young as eight are being forced to have sex in exchange for food by workers for local and international agencies, according to its report.

The agency says such abuse is becoming more common as people displaced by the civil war return to their villages.

And how effective have they been in keeping the peace? Here's a look at the Ivory Coast this past January:

IVORY COAST, once one of the wealthiest countries in Africa, was close to its second civil war in five years yesterday as gangs of armed thugs loyal to President Gbagbo ran amok across the southern half of the country.

A 300-strong contingent of Bangladeshi UN troops was forced to withdraw after an attack on their base at Guiglo, 300 miles west of Abidjan, the commercial capital. At least four people died when the peacekeepers opened fire to defend themselves.

Another contingent of 70 international peacekeepers was evacuated from the town of Douéké. Peacekeepers at the UN headquarters in Abidjan fired in the air and used teargas to keep the thugs at bay. Businesses across the city closed as Mr Gbagbo’s supporters blocked roads with burning tyres and stopped vehicles.

And again in January, this time in the Congo:

The United Nations pulled its remaining peacekeepers out of the national park where eight Guatemalan peacekeepers were killed in an apparent gunbattle with Ugandan rebels, a U.N. spokesman said Tuesday.

Hans-Jakob Reichen, U.N. military spokesman for eastern Congo, said the peacekeepers were withdrawn because they had completed a two-week mission to clear Garamba National Park of rebel forces. "It was decided to pull peacekeepers out of the park since any suspected rebels had melted into the jungle," Reichen said. ...

The 105-strong special forces contingent of Guatemalan peacekeepers was added to the 16,000-strong U.N. mission in Congo because of the Guatemalans' extensive experience fighting in wet, equatorial forests and hilly terrain, the U.N. official said.

Yes, they actually "redeployed" because the peacekeepers couldn't find any more rebels in the national park, even though eight of their contingent got killed by the supposedly non-existent forces.

That's pretty damned effective. It's reminiscent of the effectiveness of the Srebrenica mission, where UN troops herded Bosnians into a city in order to protect them, then ran away when Serbians came in force and abandoned their wards to a genocide.

But of course, we're not supposed to point any of this out, according to Mark Malloch Brown, the UN Deputy Secretary General. They prefer us not to inform people of their rank incompetence, corruption, and bureaucratic cravenness. Given the circumstances, I guess I can't really blame them.

UPDATE: Confirm this man now:

US Ambassador John Bolton rebuked a stinging criticism of Washington's policy toward the United Nations by UN chief Kofi Annan's deputy, demanding it be promptly repudiated to avoid doing serious damage to the world body. ...

In a furious reaction, Bolton called the speech by Annan's deputy a "very grave mistake."

"We are in the process of an enormous effort to achieve substantial reform at the United Nations," he said. "To have the deputy secretary general criticize the United States in such a manner can only do great harm to the United Nations.

"Even though the target of the speech was the United States, the victim, I fear, will be the United Nations," he added. "Even worse was the condescending and patronizing tone about the American people."

Bolton said the only way "to mitigate the damage to the United Nations" was for Annan to "personally and publicly repudiate this speech at the earliest possible opportunity."

Annan has already responded through his spokesperson that he stands behind the speech given by Malloch Brown and will not issue any retraction. I suggest we do the same and start by suspending all payments of any kind to any UN agency. Given the above examples, all we're doing is funding sexual abuse, graft, and incompetence anyway. Let them reform their system and then we can consider restarting our funding.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 7, 2006 8:35 PM

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» The UN: Beyond Criticism? from The Bullwinkle Blog
Captain Ed has a stinging rebuke of the UN’s Deputy Secretary General was complaining that the US, specifically American critics, were given to much freedom to talk about the UN “unchecked“. It surprises me not one whit that the UN f... [Read More]

Tracked on June 8, 2006 6:56 AM

» UN blames US from Cogent Reflections
Kofi Annan’s top aide believes the problem with the U.N. is the U.S.A. Malloch Brown sees beyond the Oil-For-Food scandal, beyond the penultimate mockery the Human Rights Council makes of itself (the ultimate being when they decide democratic gov... [Read More]

Tracked on June 8, 2006 7:11 AM


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