- - Sunday, October 20, 2013

Like so many grand schemes, an international organization dedicated to ensuring world peace and global harmony seemed like a good idea at the time. After 68 years, war, misery and human rights abuse haven’t gone away. Part of the reason is that the United Nations has become an unwieldy bureaucracy that warmly embraces the worst offenders, elevating them to positions of honor and authority. On Thursday, it tapped Chad and Saudi Arabia to take seats on the 15-member Security Council.

The Security Council is one of the six principal organs through which the world body functions. Five nations have permanent seats, with veto power: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. That veto has thwarted efforts to intercede in Syria, but it enables the United States to protect the interests of its allies, especially Israel. Five of the 10 seats for temporary members are up for election annually to two-year terms, and this year’s winners include the nations of Chad and Saudi Arabia, where barbarism abounds.

Saudi Arabia, where women can’t drive a car, can’t vote and can’t travel without the permission of a male relative, turned down the honor Friday because it’s peeved that the Security Council sanctioned Syria for its violation of human rights. This upset the Russians, a potential ally on the council. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was surprised by the “unprecedented decision of Saudi Arabia, whose candidacy was supported by the majority of the General Assembly.”

Security Council membership enables countries to play a limited role in overseeing U.N. peacekeeping forces. Since 1999, those forces have been assigned to protect young children from conscription as soldiers. Last May, the Security Council received a report from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon placing Chad on a list of countries that sweep children into the army. The State Department said as long ago as 2007 that “Chad is a source, transit and destination country for children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. The majority of children are trafficked within Chad for involuntary domestic servitude, herding, forced begging or sexual exploitation.” This is a festering problem, getting worse.

This is not the first time, nor likely the last, that representatives of despotic regimes have served on the Security Council. According to U.N. Watch, Chad is slated to join the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, too, further mocking the values that civilized nations must uphold.

The United States contributes more than any other nation to pay for the U.N., with $7.7 billion for charity, investment, aid and contribution that amounts to 22 percent of the General Assembly’s budget. Money talks. Reducing America’s subsidy of this dysfunctional world organization would not only be fiscally prudent, it would send a message that America doesn’t support equal-opportunity oppressors. Samantha Power, our new ambassador to the U.N., must be loud, insistent and unyielding in condemning U.N. abuse of human rights, oppression and religious liberty.