That said, let us pause for a moment to consider that in one small way, Sudan, now looking like a shoe-in for the “reformed” Human Rights Council, is doing us all a favor. It is providing a certain amount of truth in advertising, about both the Human Rights Council, and the larger UN system that not only tolerates such monstrous farce, but protects and sustains it.
The UN is chronically a font of similar outrages. But it also a system so secretive, elaborate, geographically dispersed, and veiled in eye-glazing jargon and procedure that many of the horrors slide much too easily down the Memory Hole. Sure, there have been monumental multi-billion dollar corruption scandals, ranging from Oil-for-Food to procurement kickbacks; there’s the continuing problem of peacekeeper rape; there are the climate-change swindles, the grabs to control the internet, the UNESCO romance with dictators. Iran gets a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and bags the slot of rapporteur for the UN Committee on Information. The UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has recently been caught trying to provide dual-use hi-tch equipment to North Korea and computers to Iran. The list goes on and on.
All these cases matter, and some of them matter a very great deal — affecting national security interests and the basic integrity of any civilized international order. But many of these scandals are complex, and often muddied by UN investigations which themselves turn into cover-ups. For the average U.S. taxpayer, whose money helps bankroll this scene, it’s simply hard to keep track. There may well be a general sense that something is rotten at the UN. But who has time to sift through, absorb, and recall the details?
Unto the breach comes Sudan, running uncontested for a seat on the Human Rights Council. That’s a no-brainer. Memorable. Easy to sum up. It’s the UN in a nutshell. So, for one perverse moment, let us now thank Sudan, for this clarifying campaign. Of course, the current U.S. administration, in stooping in 2009 to join the Human Rights Council, did explain that such engagement would help clean up the Council. And if anyone in Washington should yet come up with a way to block Sudan’s bid for a seat, it would be unseemly to object.