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United Nations, Inspect Yourself

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

A United Nations Commission has just finished a human rights investigation of the United States and what a surprise(we were found to be in violation. The UN decided that our resurgence of the use of the death penalty is a breach of international law. So a human rights investigator from the UN, Waly Bacre Ndiaye of Senegal, came to our shores to examine potential abuses.

Ndiaye is a long-time UN envoy. Exploratory investigations are generally conducted in countries that are accused of human rights offenses. It seems that Ndiaye's trip was prompted by several allegations to a Geneva-based commission regarding an increase in U.S. executions and the likelihood of misapplications of the death penalty.

If a world body felt the necessity to explore possible human rights infringements, recorded patterns of conduct would dictate that the last place on earth to begin such an investigation would be within the American justice system. Compared to the other nations of the world, we are a virtual human rights utopia.

So, why is the United States being investigated? After all, our criminal justice system has been downright disappointing to us lately, precisely because it has been so utterly soft and ineffective. O.J. is off playing golf. The Menendez brothers' case took two juries to finally achieve a modicum of resolve. And most recently, after a combination of civil and criminal proceedings involving an untold number of sordid White House activities, the American people continue to endure an avalanche of words ending in "gate," and Paula Jones is left with only a disgusting memory. And oh yes, the alleged perpetrator does not even have to provide a simple accounting, never mind an actual plausible explanation. Instead, he gets to play his celebratory bongos.

In reality, the use of the death penalty is one of the few areas in the criminal justice system that has restored some moral, retributive and spiritual coherence to the current upside-down climate of ours. If the UN wants to investigate human rights abuses, there is a much closer entity that needs to be scrutinized. The United Nations ought to begin with itself.

UN human rights violations are not your run of the mill atrocities. In 1993, during so-called "peacekeeping" operations, two UN soldiers from Belgium were charged with restraining a helpless Somali child over an open fire. Photos published by the Village Voice showed the two soldiers smiling as they tortured the child. Another soldier is depicted forcing a child to drink worms mixed with vomit, while one more shows a UN garbed warrior urinating on the body of a presumably dead Somali victim.

You might wonder if this kind of activity is rare and unusual for this notable international organization. Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Recent UN peacekeeping actions have involved several examples of blatant abuses including harassment, torture, and even murder. Furthermore, UN officials have been involved in drug smuggling, embezzlement, illegal arms trading and prostitution, all in the name of keeping the peace.

In one example, prostitutes were allegedly employed by the UN and were said to have been transported on UN planes to provide services for UN staff members in hotels paid for by the UN.

In other instances, 26.7 million dollars in Rwanda and another 3.9 million dollars in Somalia have vanished mysteriously. The UN investigators dismiss this massive embezzlement as mere "mismanagement."

Meanwhile, last week at a meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Publishers, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made some interesting remarks about critics of the UN.

"There are some who believe the UN is a sinister organizationThey say it is bent on world domination, which is absurd, and that we cannot trust it because it is full of foreigners, which we really can't help," Mrs. Albright stated. Somehow the characterization of this global body as "sinister" seems relatively mild when assessing the disgusting brutalities perpetrated by members of the organization.

The recent investigation of the United States by the UN strongly underscores a very important principle concerning the relationship between the UN and America. They don't like us. They really don't. Our standard of living, our success and our culture are viewed as creating many of the problems that confront the rest of the world. International environmentalists consistently tag the U.S. consumer as the number one enemy.

Mr. Ndiaye's bizarre human rights investigation is intended to accomplish two objectives. First, it is a way for those opposed to capital punishment to try and accomplish their goal at the international level without having to deal with the domestic legislative process. Secondly, it will create an additional source of unfounded and offensive criticism of America to be used liberally by our detractors. That sinister shoe still seems to be a perfect fit.

Copyright © 1999 -
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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