Of United Nations’ voices, visions and values

A few days ago, I came across an article at the Gatestone Institute regarding the hot diplomatic water in which the Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, found herself by failing to follow “the rules” (my bold -hro):

[…] Wallström’s criticism of “medieval” conditions in Saudi Arabia has caused great parts of the Muslim world to rise up in anger against her and Sweden, the country she represents.

“Almost the entire Muslim world joins in the criticism of Wallström,” wrote the Swedish national daily Dagens Nyheter on March 19, adding that around thirty Muslim countries have distanced themselves from Wallström’s comments. The Arab League has denounced her for criticizing the lack of human rights in Saudi Arabia, and on Saturday the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which represents 57 Arab and Muslim states, as well as the Palestinians, accused her of having “degraded Saudi Arabia and its social norms, judicial system and political institutions”.

[… with the result that:]

Wallström and her government have now come in for the surprise of their lives. The good-hearted Foreign Minister suddenly finds herself denounced all over the Muslim world as an enemy of the prophet.

[… the Gatestone authors ask and conclude:]

will she stand by her words and accept that Sweden — and any other country in Europe that claims to stand for humanistic values and the primacy of human rights — is in for a debacle that may well be more severe than what Denmark experienced during the Muhammad cartoon crisis in 2005/2006?

There is increasing talk among observers that Wallström will have to step down, and that Sweden will have to accept a global role more commensurate with its knowledge of world affairs.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström wanted to lecture the Arab League on human rights. Saudi Arabia's King Salman was not amused. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons) via Gatestone

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström wanted to lecture the Arab League on human rights. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was not amused. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons) via Gatestone

As you know Saudi Arabia, along with 50+ members of the Arab League, is also a member of the United Nations. So, being fairly certain that the UN Charter contains some very specific wording regarding human rights (not the least of which are those of women), I had to ask myself, howthehell did such nations ever get accepted into the “club”?!

Article 4 of the UN Charter states (my bold -hro):

Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.

YMMV, but “peace-loving” is certainly not the first word that comes to my mind when I think of the Arab + Muslim block (or non-member Palestine and a few countries in South America for that matter).

But back to the UN’s “human rights” (vs Moslem supremacy) front …

Chapter 9, in which one finds Articles 55 and 56, is all about “International Economic and Social Co-operation. One of the clauses of article 55 indicates that the United Nations “shall promote” (my bold -hro):

universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

[followed by Article 56:]

All Members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operation with the Organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55.

Seems like a pretty clear indication of the requirements and expectations of member nations’ behaviours and commitments, does it not?! If there is any provision in the UN Charter for member nations to opt out of Articles 55 and/or 56, there is no such indication that I could find in Chapter 9.

Yet, as the authors of the Gatestone article noted:

Gatestone asked [Wallström’s press spokesman, Erik Boman] if he was aware that practices such as the death penalty for blasphemy, flogging and barring women from driving a car are based on the Koran. He said he was not. Nor, he said, had he heard of the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which states that all human rights must be based solely on sharia law, and rejects human rights as expressed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Veronica Nordlund, from the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s press service, told Gatestone that she has heard of the Cairo Declaration, but thinks that Saudi Arabia has signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Saudi Arabia did not, in fact, sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It abstained, claiming the Declaration violated sharia law.

The “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR) is certainly far more detailed and comprehensive than the relevant Articles I’ve cited from the UN Charter, above.

However, I cannot help wondering how a nation can be admitted to – and/or remain a member in goodstanding of – the UN when it has clearly demonstrated (via failure to sign on to the UNDHR) that it has absolutely no intention of following through on its responsibilities vis a vis Article 55 and/or 56.

Unless, of course, the provisions of the UN Charter are nothing more than a “shopping list” from which countries are permitted to pick and choose their preferred UN products – including such bargains as “sustainability” and/or “climate change”. Neither of which has ever rated a mention on the official chartered UN generated “shopping list” of Articles!

In light of all of the above, I suppose I should not be particularly surprised to find in the UN’s grandiosely named “Open Working Group proposal for Sustainable Development Goals” [latest (undated) “Draft” here; previous draft (July 14 -18/14) here (pdf)], that which appears on p. 28 of the latter:

MyWorld Flowchart and Wordmap

While the aforementioned Major Groups and other stakeholder inputs address the concerns of constituencies and organizations from across the world, it is also essential to address what citizens in the field have prioritized as their priorities.

MY World is a global survey for citizens led by the United Nations and partners. It aims to capture people’s voices, priorities and views, to provide a different dimension and perspective to international discussions, and engage all voices as leaders negotiate the new sustainable development agenda for Post-2015.

Through creative online and offline methods, MY World asks individuals which six of seventeen possible issues they think would make the most difference to their lives. Existing research and polling including that on the MDGs, sustainability, security, governance and transparency serve as the basis for the selection of the seventeen issues. See more at: MYWorld

But that which I found the most interesting about this particular version was the following image found on p. 29 of this Jul. 14-18 “draft”:

Only in the lofty world of UN processing could a bottom of the list "priority" make it to a higher level with 3  associated goals!

Only in the lofty world of UN processing could a bottom of the list “priority” make it to a higher level with 3 associated goals!

As an aside, if the above image appears vaguely familiar, then it’s probably because you’ve seen a variant thereof on this very blog [here, here and here] in the past.

It didn’t survive the editing process to make it into the final draft, of which there are at least three versions extant. At a single skim, all three versions appear to be the same with the notable exception that the only dated ‘final’ version is that which was actually presented to the UN General Assembly as “A/68/970” sometime presumably after the August 19, 2014 date of the “United Nations Official Document“.

Interestingly, in contrast to the other two extant versions (here and pdf here), the “UN Official Document” noted above also contains the following contextual introduction (my bold -hro):

Sixty-eighth session
Agenda items 14, 19 (a) and 118
Integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields

Sustainable development: implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit

But it is interesting in that it demonstrates how the nameless (and blameless?!) UN bureaucrats, who actually manage the process of such document production, succeed in steering the writing process through to its virtually foregone conclusions.

Who knows, perhaps it was thirteen+ years of working with obfuscatory word-salad producing UN bureaucrats – and role models such as Kofi Annan – that persuaded now former Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chair, Rajendra Pachauri that he could simply invent for himself the highly implausible excuse that his computer had been “hacked”.

Based on his past performances – not to mention his more recent attempts to wipe away the virtual evidence of his potboiler semi-autobigraphical “novel” – I would not be in the least surprised to learn that he’s in the process of changing his story. [Note: I do recall seeing somewhere – although my mouse and I have not succeeded in finding it again – that Pachauri has more recently claimed that he was not the only one with (supposedly authorized) access to his laptop.]

UPDATE 03/24/2015 Thanks to helpful hint from commenter Tony, below, I have now tracked down the source of the above additional access details – which I had first read on a post from Donna Laframboise, and which came her way via HuffPost (India). Here is the full quote (my bold -hro):

Pachauri has alleged that his computer and phone was hacked, and denied the allegations. Interestingly, his counsel later told the court that his email had not been hacked, but that he had shared the password with several people, who could have sent inappropriate emails to the complainant on his behalf.

Once again, as I had noted below, Pachauri has demonstrated that his “word” – not to mention his knowledge and appreciation of basic computer and/or cellphone security requirements – approximates “worthless”!

After all, Pachauri long ago demonstrated that he’s not a man who can be taken at his word. Consider, for example, his “views” on the IPCC’s holiest of holies: “peer review”. As I had documented and summarized his relatively rapidly evolving views almost five years ago:

Nov. 9, 2009:

“Let someone publish the data in a decent credible publication. I am sure IPCC would then accept it, otherwise we can just throw it into the dustbin.”

Apr. 20, 2010:

AR4 cited approximately 18,000 peer-reviewed publications. It also included a limited amount of gray (or non-peer-reviewed) literature

May 14, 2010:

He said the media and other sections of society had misunderstood the role of such information, labelling it grey literature, “as if it was some form of grey muddied water flowing down the drains”.

Meanwhile … speaking of voices, visions and values at the UN … I’m very sorry to report that I seem to have missed UN Secretary-General (i.e. head honcho, at least of the symbolic-kind), Ban Ki-moon’s celebration of the March 20, “International Day of Happiness“. In addition to declaring that he wishes (h/t DAmbler and my bold -hro) …:

“everyone around the world a very happy International Day of Happiness! The pursuit of happiness is serious business. Happiness for the entire human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations.”

… Ki-moon demonstrated his personal commitment to this “main goal” (mention of which, btw, is nowhere to be found in the Official “A/68/970” noted above) by appearing in a video:

No doubt this video went a long, long way towards improving the plight of far too many refugees in the Middle East. A plight created by the UN’s inaction – with more than a little help from the US’ utterly mindless UN cheerleader, the untruthful (or ignorant, you may take your pick!) sound-byte issuer-in-chief, Obama.


7 thoughts on “Of United Nations’ voices, visions and values

  1. hi lhilary, great sleuthing, the reference to Pachauri saying others had access to his computer is via a recent Donna post, maybe in a link within that post, I read it only yesterday, cheers tony >

  2. I was wondering how all the various countries could be ok with the Human Rights. I was not aware of the “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam” before now:

    ARTICLE 1:
    (b) All human beings are Allah’s subjects, and the most loved by Him are those who are most beneficial to His subjects, and no one has superiority over another except on the basis of piety and good deeds.

    ARTICLE 2:
    (a) Life is a God-given gift and the right to life is guaranteed to every human being. It is the duty of individuals, societies and states to safeguard this right against any violation, and it is prohibited to take away life except for a shari’ah prescribed reason.

    ARTICLE 25:
    The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.

    Now I understand why Muslim countries could be ok with United Nations promotion of human rights – Muslim countries effectively substituted the Human rights with Shari’ah.

    Another irony related to United Nations conduct.

    • That Cairo Declaration certainly explains a lot, doesn’t it! Although I do think you’re leaning somewhat too far on the kind depiction side – particularly in light of the paragraphs you’ve cited – when you aver that this is:

      Another irony related to United Nations conduct

      I’d be more inclined to describe it as: ‘Yet another indicator of the UN’s ever-expanding and self-serving hypocrisies’.

      Speaking of which, you had asked in another comment here about the Club of Rome. To the best of my knowledge, they are somehow affiliated with UNESCO (not a big player on the climate change front) and seem to have undergone an overhaul in mission etc. in recent years – during the course of which they’ve strayed from their “pure” environmentalist goals by incorporating obligatory obeisance to the latest and greatest on the climate change front.

      Such a shift is one I’ve noticed in many NGOs over the years, which may or may not account for their “acceptance” into the “club” of the UN’s ECOSOC-blessed NGO’s. See my (now somewhat outdated, because I know the numbers have increased), “hockey stick”:

      Introducing … the UN’s jolly green sustainable hockey stick

      But I digress … If you want to explore Club of Rome further, here are a few links:

      http://www.donellameadows.org/archives/forty-years-later-the-reception-of-the-limits-to-growth-in-italy-1971-1974/ for “old time” stuff

      and for a kinder, gentler post-overhaul perspective, you could start with: http://www.clubofrome.org/?p=324

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