Recent news that human rights abuser Robert Mugabe has been appointed a UN Ambassador has shocked many. Still more found this so extraordinary they filled the Internet with messages that this was a hoax, a joke and other indications pointing to this statement being untrue. They were wrong; it is true, at least in part, or so it appears.
There are two slightly contradictory versions of what happened, and for now what lies behind the assertion Mugabe was an Ambassador seems slightly obscure. It does seem likely he is not exactly an ambassador but has some sort of function for the UN.
It has been stated in many supposedly reliable places, (the “National Post“, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian), that Mugabe has been appointed UN Ambassador for Tourism. Each of these places gives details of how this came about and why, along with serious concerns about such a man being even recognised by an organisation such at the UN.
Canada believed this affirmation, and is withdrawing from the United Nations World Tourism Office, over the agency’s recognition of Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. (See “CBC World News Report“, or The Star, for more details.)
UNWTO, (United Nations World Tourism Office), apparently stated after the fact when world uproar became loud, that it gave “an Open Letter on Travel and Tourism to the presidents of Zimbabwe and Zambia on May 29, in recognition of a tripartite agreement with both countries on the hosting of the 20th Session of the UN General Assembly in Victoria Falls, which straddles the borders of both countries.” (The Star)
Looking at who Mugabe is does not make pleasant reading.
Mugabe is banned from travelling to the United States and European Union because of human rights abuses in his own country. He is listed in the “Top 50 Genocides“, as having been responsible for 20,000 deaths, (where this data comes from is unknown). News articles all over the world, such as the article “PM Cameron Articulates Vision for Free & Fair Elections in Zimbabwe“, state, “For nearly thirty years, Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF have ruled Zimbabwe with ruthless, destructive focus. Employing torture and terror to maintain control of the citizenry, they’ve confiscated private property, dismantled once thriving businesses, and shuttered all but state-controlled media. Thousands have been killed, tens of thousands have been raped or maimed, and hundreds of thousands have been forcibly removed from their homes.” These things really happened, as anyone who has ever lived there will tell you, (and I did), and people in Zimbabwe often fear for their lives.
The UN’s own declaration states, “The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.”
This leaves open the question, whether or not Mugabe has been made an Ambassador, why are the UN dealing – in any way – with a proved human rights infringer?