Beirut – If the United Nations has arguably become an empty shell of an organization, no more than a tool in the hands of a powerful political elite, its most recent decision to appoint Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador at the UN in Geneva, Faisal bin Hassan Trad, as chair of a prominent UN human rights panel has let many observers dumbfounded.
While it would be unfair of course to blame Ambassador Trad for his country liberal use of the death penalty, his office certainly represents those policies and as such, the UN might have want to consider the fact that the kingdom remains one of the most repressive, and punishing regimes in existence before appointing one of its officials to such a position.
A reactionary theocracy build around the Wahhabi school of thought – a religious devolution which claims itself to be the only pure expression of Islam – Saudi Arabia’s love affair with oppression and repression has inspired, and to a degree gave license to the likes of ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Wahhabi-inspired radical terror groups. However one chooses to look at Saudi Arabia, whether one agrees or not with its belief system or even its judicial make-up, the kingdom nevertheless stands in negation of the founding principles of the United Nations; especially when human rights are concerned.
The very idea that the kingdom could be called on by the UN to not only represent but champion issues related to human rights is preposterous – not only that, it somewhat exempt Saudi Arabia from answering to its own crimes and violations of international law.
While the UN has been keen to keep Ambassador Trad’s appointment quiet, most likely to avoid a media storm, especially since the kingdom is currently engaged in a genocidal military campaign in Yemen, UN Watch, an independent campaigning NGO, was able to confirm that Ambassador Trad was indeed elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council on September 17. But here is where it becomes scary – As head of a five-strong group of diplomats, Trad would have the power to appoint human rights experts and thus charge them with running investigations on behalf of the UN where it has a mandate on human rights.
The UN handed a Saudi official, the representative of a country which to this very day hands out death penalty sentences as one would do candy on Halloween, the power to determine, identify and denounce human rights abuses at an international level. If the kingdom can sentence its people to the death penalty by beheading, crucifixion and other niceties without batting an eyelid how exactly do we expect one of its officials will look on human rights violations in other countries? But that’s not where the crazy train stops. The UN would have offered Ambassador Trad the position as a consolation prize after the kingdom was dropped from its bid to become president of the entire 47-nation human rights council.
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