It’s quite perverse enough that the United Nations would have a so-called Committee on Information whose members include such censorship-loving regimes as those of Belarus, China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and Syria.
That alone would suggest it’s time to disband this committee, which is charged with steering UN “public information policies and activities” – a task that according to the committee’s web site includes being “responsible for overseeing the work of the Department of Public Information and for providing it guidance on policies, programmes and activities of the Department.” The question is not only what kind of policy guidance such despotisms as North Korea, Syria or China might contribute to UN information programs and activities. The further question for the UN is what kind of insane farce of an “information” committee would stoop to dignify the likes of the governments of North Korea, Syria, China, or the rest of this caboodle of despotisms, with membership?
But then comes the cherry on top of this particular UN confection, the icing on this slice of multilateral cake. The current rapporteur chosen by this UN Committee on Information is none other than Iran.
Here it is folks, the web site for the committee, listing the officers for 2011-2012, including, as “rapporteur,” Mohammad Reza Sahraei, of Iran’s Mission to the UN in New York. Yes, this is the same Iranian tyranny that jails and murders its own people for speaking out in dissent. Just this past spring, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei decreed the formation of a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, including, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “heads of intelligence, militia, security and the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as media chiefs” — the aim being to institutionalize what was already the regime’s stock practice of ferocious censorship.
It is Iran that currently prepares the reports of the UN’s Committee on Information, to be submitted to the same General Assembly where Iran currently serves as one of the 20 vice presidents. Here’s a link to the UN Department of Information’s report on last month’s meeting of the Committee on Information, at which the main voices, along with the European Union (which applauded the proceedings), appear to have been those of the Palestinian observer, Algeria, Cuba, Venezuela and Moldova.
You might suppose that with 193 members states to choose from, the UN would be able to scrounge up better candidates to guide its adventures with information. But at the UN, merit counts for little or nothing in such decisions. Many of the slots are apportioned according to geographic groups. Iran belongs to the Asian group, in which, for reasons which it would behoove America’s own public information services — including those of the State Department and the White House — to explain to the rest of us, Iran wields a remarkable degree of influence. Despite being under Security Council sanctions since 2006, Iran continues to enjoy an out-sized number of special posts at the UN.
All this might be of some interest to U.S. taxpayers, whose dollars bankroll 22%, or more than $20 million of the whopping $92.5 million annual budget of the UN’s Department of Public Information. With guidance like this, perhaps it’s worth taking a closer look at what, exactly, all that money’s paying for?