It’s announcements like the appointment of Robert Mugabe as a World Health Organization goodwill ambassador that makes people ridicule the UN and its bodies.
Mugabe has been the Zimbabwean dictator for 38 years, a country where human rights are non-existent. Its plethora of natural resources means Zimbabwe should be one of the wealthiest in the world — not 117th, according to the International Monetary Fund. Most important, for this topic at least, Zimbabwe’s health system (like its human rights) has virtually shut down.
According to the World Health Organization itself, Zimbabwe has one of the world’s lowest life expectancies (59 for men, 62 for women); and one of the lowest expenditures on health (6.4% of GDP). More than a quarter of the population dies between the ages of 15 and 60.
The person ultimately responsible for this health care disaster — not to mention the other disasters he has wrought upon the Zimbabwean people — is Robert Mugabe. Now he’s being appointed a goodwill ambassador for the international organization tasked with improving health care. What a joke! (In the case of Mugabe, the ridicule was so widespread that WHO has withdrawn his appointment).
But that’s what many have come to expect from UN bodies: jokes. Is this any surprise when:
• the UN passes a resolution singling out Israel at the annual assembly of the same World Health Organization as the only violator — worldwide — of “mental, physical and environmental health.”
• both the UN’s Human Rights Council and General Assembly routinely adopt significantly more resolutions against Israel than they do against all the rest of the world combined;
• every refugee population is administered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees except for Palestinians, who have their own body, UNRWA;
• UNESCO has adopted a resolution excluding Judaism from Jerusalem and Islamicizing the Western Wall.
The disproportionate — to use former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s phrase — attention on Israel allows human rights abusers worldwide to escape unscathed: Witness North Korea, Syria — and Zimbabwe.
The UN’s facilitation of Israel as public enemy number one frees the rest of the world from accountability for its own crimes.
And the US is covering 22% of this organization’s budget!
The UN itself, to its own detriment, has contributed myriad reasons for nation states to withdraw from the international organization. (Another joke: Just last week, human rights abusers including Qatar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were elected to the Human Rights Council.) It should come as no surprise that the US, which already began withdrawing from UNESCO in 2011, has now made it official. The Trump administration — like the Obama administration before it — sees no return on its investment.
It is in neither the US’ nor the UN’s interest that the US withdraw from the international community. Isolationism reduces influence, power and economic success. But if the UN fails to make itself relevant to its highest paying member, it runs the risk of further withdrawals and irrelevance. Other countries may follow suit.
The UN must realize the price it is paying when it does absurd things like appoint an aging dictator as a goodwill ambassador. Sure, many of us shake our heads and say, “typical, out of touch UN.” But if the American example on UNESCO is followed by others and with regard to other UN bodies, it will be more than a laughing matter.
Copyright © 2017 by the Intermountain Jewish News