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The United Nations' Rogue Agency


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the-united-nations-rogue-agencAmerican Spectator:

We have all heard the jocular remark about the inmates taking over the asylum. But I had never actually witnessed that unnerving event until last October 31, when I spent an afternoon in the press gallery of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris. The vast conference hall was not quite a madhouse, but it was noisy, agitated, and full of wild surmise. Hundreds of delegates from member states milled about, chattering excitedly as the president of UNESCO's biennial general conference plaintively called for them to take their seats and get on with the business at hand. To wit, voting on a request by the Palestinian Authority for membership—and with it, the first recognition of its statehood by a United Nations agency.

The stakes were high. In its quest for statehood without making concessions to Israel, the PA had applied for full membership in the UN in September, but it was obvious that the U.S. would veto that ploy in the Security Council. So PA President Mahmoud Abbas was targeting a weak link in the UN system where the veto does not exist. He knew that UNESCO, with its fuzzy cultural mandate, was as open to political manipulation now as it had been when it was an ideological battlefield in the Cold War.

The U.S. had made abundantly clear that, due to laws dating from the 1990s, admitting Palestine to any UN agency would mean an immediate cutoff of American funding. In UNESCO's case, this amounted to fully 22 percent of its budget. There was no leeway for interpretation, no possibility of waiving the laws' provisions. Perversely, that seemed only to sharpen the delegates' appetite for admitting Palestine. As the roll was called, it became obvious that they relished thumbing their collective nose at the U.S. and the handful of member states that held this was the wrong place to decide Palestinian statehood. Cheers greeted votes in favor by delegations from Africa, South America, the Middle East, Russia, China, and, of course, France. Joining the fun was the ambassador from Uzbekistan, the beauteous 32-year-old Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, socialite daughter of President Islam Karimov, whose use of torture against dissidents, including boiling to death, the UN itself has termed "systematic."Scissors-32x32.png

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