Posted by: Dissol on Nov 26, 2010
I love the concept of the United Nations (and South Africa has a proud history of involvment with that organisation, and the League of Nations, its predecessor). The original preamble was penned by a great South African, Jan Smuts. Sanctions and pressure organised through the UN helped to accelerate the end of apartheid. South Africa is the only UN member which has voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons.
But sometimes the UN does some odd things. Recently, there have been 2 events which are completely messed up, and have caused me to shake my head in exasperation. In fact, they are connected.
In recent years there has been a concerted, and successful move from several countries to load the UN human Rights Council to load the membership with countries who have some of the worst human rights records in the world (such as Saudi Arabia, Libya, Russia, etc.). Consistently they have come under criticism from both within the UN organisation (with previous UN presidents calling it "deeply flawed", and "bringing the UN into disrepute"). They put in proposals to try to avoid any criticism of Islam. They have continually put forward motions against Israel (quite rightly), but at the same time refusing to back any motion against Islamic countries, such as the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.
They have tried to put forward motions concerning the "defamation of religion", which is a thinly veiled attempt to stop any critisicm of the islamic faith. This would mean that countries could not, for example censure or even comment, on the recent crazy situation in Pakistan, where a woman has been sentenced to death, due to blasphemy. I personally believe that blasphemy cannot be a crime in any country, as the basic concept is ridiculous, but even if one does accept that blasphemy might be considered a crime, surely no sane person would conclude that the death sentence is a suitable punishment!!?
More recently, the same ideologically challenged (and ruled) Council have changed the wording of some previous UN agreements. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people were once again subject to the whims of homophobia and religious and cultural extremism this week, thanks to a United Nations vote that removed "sexual orientation" from a resolution that protects people from arbitrary executions. In other words, the UN General Assembly this week voted to allow LGBT people to be executed without cause!!
To say this is messed up is an under-statement! The world has gone crazy!! Freedom of expression has be the overriding consideration. Which should mean that anyone can follow whichever faith they want to (or not) - as long as it does not effect other people, but no faith or lack of faith should be protected from criticism purely because it is a faith. In the same way, people should be able to follow whichever sexual preference they want to, as long as it does not effect other people. Yes, it also means that their lifestyles cannot be immune from criticism from others, although quite why religious fundamentalists feel that they have to comment on what happens in the private bedrooms of consenting adults is beyond me.
The UN in concept is a beautiful thing. We need to stop counties from hijacking it to promote a religious agenda. There are certain places where religion (of any flavour) should not enter, and these include the UN, Governments, Schools & colleges.