- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2003

Once again the United Nation's credibility is torn, ripped, and shredded.Libya and hence the thug regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi is set to chair the U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

A yawn and a shrug followed by a "so what" is an understandable response. After all, the U.N. is the organization where Upper East Side diplomats sip champagne and nip French cheese, while deploring mass starvation in sub-Saharan Africa. Besides, Libya will hold the chair for only a year.

But this is no time for the blase acceptance of a sociopath whose murderous escapades and grandiose schemes have savaged fragile nations throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Libya's links to torture and terror are proven. The Gadhafi regime's domestic opponents are either dead or live in exile under constant threat of assassination. Libya's secret police and system of "revolutionary committees" throttle the populace. Libya has no independent human rights groups, and the Libyan government controls the press completely and absolutely.

The 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, (which killed 270 people) came at Gadhafi's order. It was no mistake; it was no misunderstanding. Pan AM 103 was calculated, callous murder, and it took 14 years of politics and police work to wrench a "confession" and compensation from the Libyan junta.

This "confession" was supposed to signal a change in Gadhafi, the birth of a "new and improved" political dude.

The "human rights" track record of the "old" Gadhafi includes a border war with Tunisia, attempts to undermine Egypt and assassinate Egyptian officials, the attempted "annexation" of northern Chad, a proxy war in Chad and murderous intrigue in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. He also hobnobbed with Uganda's vicious Idi Amin, sending Amin troops and weapons even as Amin's dictatorship disintegrated.

The "new" Moammar Gadhafi looks a lot like the old beast. He now pals with Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, amid allegations over deals in minerals extracted (i.e., looted) from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following a series of coups, Col. Gadhafi is muscling into the Central African Republic (CAR) by providing "security assistance." This activity has an interesting dimension, since the CAR and its neighbor, Chad, have been fighting a low-grade border war. Remember, Chad's neighbor to the north is Col. Gadhafi's Libya.

Why elect a terrorist to police human-rights violations? Col. Gadhafi's been practicing another form of African finagling. Allegedly, Col. Gadhafi has bankrolled the newly formed African Union (AU), thus buying votes from the autocrats and elites. The UNHRC job is part of his payoff.

The UNHRC is already a damaged institution. Recall in May 2001, the United States was voted off the UNHRC, to the delight of the planet's Castros, bin Ladens and Milosevics. Quite a coup, huh, kicking the United States, the world's greatest force for real human rights, off the board in favor of such stellar, committed human-rights activists like Sudan, Cuba, Congo, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

The sham is sickening, a destructive acid that undermines genuine efforts to promote and protect human rights. That's the shame of it.

Appeals to reason directed toward the U.N. diplomatic clique go unheard. Face it, too many U.N. bureaucrats are the elites of autocratic nations. At the U.N., they wear the outer garments of democracy (heck, the General Assembly holds votes), but back home autocratic oppression and corruption are their people's daily grind. The human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are threats to the autocrats.

But what the hey if this handing Col. Gadhafi the gavel undermines U.N. field organizations that are often the only institutions in Earth's hard corners that serve as the first international political road block against brutal anarchy and genocide?

For the UNHRC elites, it's Libya's turn to sit and spout platitudes. Don't rock the boat. Don't risk the New York and Geneva expense accounts that's the credibility that really counts, the diplomatic expense accounts. Yes, human rights. The Gadhafi-led UNHRC will surely issue a searing manifesto, right after the next round of champagne and the bite-sized bit of gooey cheese.


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