March 18, 2009

March 18, 2009 | Commentary on Europe

The Worst UN President in History

In a highly competitive field, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann surely wins the award for worst ever President of the 192-member United Nation General Assembly. The former Sandinista foreign minister and excommunicated Catholic priest has been a massive embarrassment, even by the extraordinarily low standards of the UN.

A loyal follower of Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega, D'Escoto famously accused Ronald Reagan of being "the butcher of my people", and once declared Americans to be "the most ignorant people around the world."

As head of the powerful 192-member General Assembly, which oversees the massive UN budget, D'Escoto holds the second most prominent position in the world body after the Secretary General. His profile though has been considerably higher at times than the low key Ban Ki-moon, who replaced the hugely controversial Kofi Annan as secretary general in 2007. The Presidency is decided by a system of regional rotation, and the Nicaraguan was the choice of the 33-nation Latin American and Caribbean Group.

Since his astonishing unopposed election in June last year, D'Escoto has been an outspoken critic of the United States, using his position as a high-profile bully pulpit to launch venomous attacks on the country of his birth (he was actually born in Los Angeles), as well as against Israel. General Assembly presidents are supposed to be neutral representatives, but d'Escoto has been a firebrand radical driven by a hatred for America and its allies, and never misses an opportunity to rant and rage against the West. And while he is hurling abuse at the United States, D'Escoto has been drawing on a salary that is partly paid for by American taxpayers -- 22 percent to be precise.

The General Assembly President has railed against U.S. policy on numerous occasions, including an interview last October with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, where he described the Iraq War as "the worst unpunished crime that is currently being perpetrated in the world" and called the United States a "rogue and warmongering state".

Even the Obama Administration, hardly an outspoken critic of the UN or the numerous tyrants that lurk within it, felt obliged to condemn his recent speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where d'Escoto declared:

"The aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan and their occupations constitute atrocities that must be condemned and repudiated by all who believe in the rule of law in international relations."

D'Escoto went on to accuse the United States of causing one million deaths in Iraq, "as a direct result of the illegal invasion of their country", and referred to the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003 as "the largest human catastrophe on earth." He also charged Washington with war crimes, stating "these must be addressed to bring an end to the scandalous present impunity."

The Nicaraguan firebrand has also targeted Israel on numerous occasions, echoing the widespread anti-Semitism that is so widely prevalent in the General Assembly. In an interview with Al Jazeera in January, D'Escoto accused Israel of "genocide" during the Gaza offensive against Hamas terrorists, and declared that the Palestinians had been subjected to "subhuman treatment for decades." He has also compared Israel with the apartheid regime in South Africa, and has consistently called for the isolation of the close U.S. ally. In a statement before the United Nations General Assembly in New York in November, following a plenary session on "the question of Palestine", D'Escoto declared:

"I urged the international community to raise its voice against the collective punishment of the people of Gaza, a policy which we cannot tolerate. We demand an end to this massive abuse of human rights...I spoke this morning about apartheid and how Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories appear so similar to the apartheid of an earlier era, a continent away. I believe it is very important that we in the United Nations use this term. We must not be afraid to call something what it is."

D'Escoto has also defended the nuclear ambitions of Iran, a dictatorship whose president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe Israel "off the map". He recently made a six-day visit to Tehran, attending a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization. During his love-in with Ahmadinejad, D'Escoto did not breathe a word about Iran's genocidal threats against its neighbours, its support for international terrorist groups, its widespread suppression of human rights, or its defiance of several UN Security Council resolutions. Further, in an address to the Iranian foreign ministry's international and political studies center, the UN leader ludicrously noted that "the major problem of the United Nations is the lack of cooperation on the side of the U.S. with the world body."

D'Escoto's pantomime presidency of the UN General Assembly comes across as a bizarre tale from the realms of the Twilight Zone, so ludicrous it would be written off as pure fantasy were not it true. He is little more than a far left ideological zealot driven by a deep hatred of America and what it represents. How an extremist like him came to the helm of the UN without any opposition (even from the U.S.) simply beggars belief, and is yet another nail in the coffin of the reputation of the United Nations.

Thankfully, D'Escoto's term ends in September, but it is doubtful his likely replacement, Ali Triki, a Libyan diplomat, is going to be much of an improvement. It is hard to see what the servant of a despot like Colonel Gadaffi has to offer the world body except further humiliation for the UN. Like the League of Nations in the 1930s, the United Nations continues to dig its own grave and limp down the path of terminal decline.

Nile Gardiner is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC.

About the Author

Nile Gardiner, Ph.D. Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
The Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom

First Appeared in Human Events