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From irc@irc-online.org Thu May 17 07:23:05 2001
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 23:16:00 -0500 (CDT)
From: Progressive Response <irc@irc-online.org>
Organization: Interhemispheric Resource Center
Subject: U.S. Militarism, UN & U.S., Colombia
Article: 120135
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

(Excerpted from an FPIF Global Affairs Commentary, posted at:

U.S. arrogance on display in UN Human Rights Commission flap

By Stephen Zunes, The Progressive Response, Vol. 5, no. 16, 15 May 2001

The decision by the U.S. Congress to withhold $244 million in dues owed to the United Nations only builds upon the growing global perception of U.S. arrogance. In recent days, both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have placed themselves to the right of even the Bush administration in their sharp anti-UN rhetoric.

For over fifty years, the United States has used the Human Rights Commission to advance its ideological agenda, attacking the human rights record of countries America did not like, while defending and covering for regimes with as bad or even worse records that happened to be seen as strategic or economic allies.

Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the U.S. has sent more weapons to oppressive police and militaries around the globe than any other nation. The list of dictatorial client-states supported by the U.S. is a veritable rogues’ gallery of the most serious human rights violators on the planet: Suharto of Indonesia, Mobutu of Zaire, the Shah of Iran, Park of South Korea, Marcos of the Philippines, Pinochet of Chile, and literally dozens of others.

To this day, the U.S. arms and trains Colombian armed forces closely linked to right-wing paramilitary organizations engaged in gross and systematic human rights abuses. The School of the Americas at Fort Benning--despite recently being renamed--continues to train some of the worst human rights abusers in the hemisphere. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, billions of dollars worth of arms flow to the misogynist family dictatorships of the Arab Gulf while Israeli occupation forces use American weapons to rain death upon protesting Palestinian children.

As recently as two months ago, the U.S. cast the sole dissenting vote against a UN Security Council resolution to send unarmed human rights monitors to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Despite strong backing by reputable human rights groups from around the world, the resolution was defeated--even congressional Democrats rallied around the Bush administration in support of America’s veto.

Unfortunately, that vote on human rights monitors was not the first time the U.S. has used its veto power to shield allies from criticism at the United Nations. Nor is the Human Rights Commission the only forum where the U.S. has stood out for its opposition to basic human rights: The U.S. is one of the few countries to oppose the international treaty to ban land mines, which, if enacted, would save thousands of children from death and maiming every year. It is the only country in the world besides Somalia--which hasn’t even had a government for years--to refuse to sign an international convention against the use of child soldiers.

As if to underscore its contempt for the UN’s human rights efforts, the Bush administration nominated John Negroponte as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. As ambassador to Honduras during the 1980s, Negroponte covered up widespread human rights abuses by Honduran army units trained and organized by the CIA, and withheld from Congress evidence of large-scale human rights violations by the U.S.-backed government.

In effect, the chickens have come home to roost. The withholding of UN dues will only make the U.S. less credible and effective in the international community.