- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2002

Harare isolates itself
It's been a busy week at the United Nations, with more than 160 nations sending a top leader or foreign minister to address each other at the annual debate.
If Iraq had not been dominating coverage of the two-week event, you might have heard that Zimbabwe's "agrarian reforms" were speeding along despite international condemnation.
"My delegation is happy to inform you that Zimbabwe has concluded the fast-track land-redistribution program, which we introduced in July 2000 in order to transfer [white-owned] land to the hitherto landless black majority," said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
"It will be recalled that we had to face vehement protestations, bad publicity and misinformation from those who did not wish us well. We remained resolute in the face of powerful forces determined to preserve vestiges of colonial privilege."
In a combative speech, Mr. Mugabe informed the assembly that the government in Harare had "discarded the colonial yoke for all time" and would brook no outside interference.
"I appeal to this General Assembly to convey to Britain and especially to its current prime minister, Tony Blair, that Zimbabwe ceased to be a British colony in 1980," Mr. Mugabe declared.
British Foreign Minister Jack Straw did not respond at his turn Saturday morning, but German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer rebuked Mr. Mugabe from the podium, saying "a wholly irresponsible policy is the reason for the difficult situation in the country."
White farmers owned roughly one-third the nation's arable land before the seizures began before the 2000 elections.
The seizures condemned by the United Nations, international development organizations and many governments have exacerbated the plight of Zimbabwe's people and poisoned its politics.
Nearly half the population of 14 million is facing famine in a country once known as southern Africa's breadbasket. Tourism has dropped over fears of unrest. And the country's diplomatic isolation threatens its options for emergency assistance.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe soon could be expelled from both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for failing to repay more than $135 million and $180 million in loans, respectively.

Cementing a precedent
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg earned a few irritated titters from diplomats during his speech to the General Assembly, in which he alluded to the friction between member states who don't pay their parking tickets and the host city that wants to tow away their limousines.
"Of course, like all neighbors, we do have our friendly disagreements from time to time about local problems," he said from the podium that usually is reserved for representatives of sovereign states. "As a matter of fact: If you own the illegally parked black Lincoln Town Car with license plate number DPL 1-2-3-4, I'm sorry, it's about to be towed."
U.N. officials say assembly President Jan Kavan invited hizzoner, setting in concrete a precedent they aren't sure is a good idea. Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani who thanked foreign dignitaries for coming to New York shortly after September 11 started a trend it might be too late to stop.
Mr. Bloomberg, meanwhile, played the generous host.
"To the delegates of this organization, to your staff and guests, we pledge that this city will remain safe and open," he said in a speech that dealt primarily with terrorism. "As mayor, I'm committed to ensuring that New York is able to welcome and protect people from all over the world, even those whom we disagree with."
Mr. Bloomberg brought a sizable entourage to watch Friday's address, including his sister, Marjorie Tiven, the city's commissioner for the United Nations and consular corps.

Candidate for ICJ
It looks like Hans Corell, chief legal adviser to the United Nations since 1994, will be departing.
The Swedish government has nominated Mr. Corell for a nine-year term on the International Court of Justice, beginning in February.
There are 10 candidates for five judgeships, but Mr. Corell a prominent jurist even before joining the United Nations is considered to be a sure winner.
It's not clear who would replace Mr. Corell if he does leave at the end of the year.
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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