As the economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe worsens, with Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai seeking refuge in the embassy of the Netherlands and political thugs roaming the streets and murdering MDC activists, the United Nations Security Council produced a condemnation of the regime of Robert Mugabe. The VOA reports:
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said President Robert Mugabe and “his thugs” made it impossible to hold the run-off election and “now we face a critical crisis of legitimacy.” He said that “the only people with any shred of legitimacy are the people who won the March 29 first round and that was the opposition,” Miliband told reporters.
While some diplomats applauded the UN statement, the U.S., U.K., France and other democratic governments attempted to include language asserting Tsvangirai be considered the legitimate president until another fair election can be held. The final version claimed a free and fair election was impossible in the face of political violence. The Telegraph (UK) describes the statement as a “watershed…the first time that South Africa and its allies, Russia and China, have put their names to any statement of condemnation of Robert Mugabe’s regime.”
Is this a watershed moment? If so, what actions by Russia, China and South Africa will follow in the wake of this statement?
I want to focus on the second sentence/section of the UN statement as it reveals a contradiction at the core of the UN system and point to the need for a League of Democracies to supplant the discredited organization. The sentence begins, “The Security Council further condemns the actions of the Government of Zimbabwe that have denied its political opponents the right to campaign freely…” The full text of the statement is available here.
How does China, a single-party state (or even Russia for that matter) have the moral and political authority to put their signature on a document supporting free elections and allowing political opponents the opportunity to operate freely? Do you think they will allow this to happen at home? Don’t read this the wrong way, I think it would be fantastic if the PRC allowed free and fair elections and allowed more parties than the Communist party to operate. But we all know this is not happening.
So what does a document like this mean when the signatories do not support what is stated in the document? It is worse than simply a piece of paper, it is a farce. The UN system routinely perpetuates farces of this sort because it elevates dictatorships and authoritarian regimes to the same plane as liberal democracies. Look at the Commission on Human Rights for more evidence of this lunacy. It regularly contains some of the worst violators of human rights. The UN is past reform. New forms of international organization are needed and a League of Democracies would be a step in the right direction.
ADDED: The always astute Norman Geras (Normblog).
More from VOA:
Interview With Morgan Tsvangirai – Download (MP3)
Interview With Morgan Tsvangirai – Listen (MP3)
Report By Irwin Chifera – Download (MP3)
Report By Irwin Chifera – Listen (MP3)
Interview With Thokozani Khupe – Download (MP3)
Interview With Thokozani Khupe – Listen (MP3)
Statement By Tom Casey – Download (MP3)
Statement By Tom Casey – Listen (MP3)
Interview With George Chiweshe – Download (MP3)
Interview With George Chiweshe – Listen (MP3)
Interview With Princeton Lyman – Download (MP3)
Interview With Princeton Lyman – Listen (MP3)
Interview With John Makumbe – Download (MP3)
Interview With John Makumbe – Listen (MP3)