Monday, December 12, 2005

All In The (U.N.) Family

Ian Martin must be having the time of his life.
The former secretary-general of Amnesty International has inspired new hope in Nepalis of all kinds, ever since he arrived in Kathmandu earlier this year to open a U.N. human rights office in Kathmandu.
Under an agreement between the United Nations and the Nepalese government, Martin heads a team of monitors to try to establish accountability and prevent further abuses by all sides in the nine-year-old armed conflict with Maoist rebels.
Martin's bio is impressive. He has 30 years of experience in human rights, both with non-governmental organizations and with the United Nations.
Maila Baje pondered a bit. East Timor is perhaps Martin's most shining moment, inspiring him to write an entire monograph on self-determination there. Bosnia, too, can be counted as a success, but probably more because of Bill Clinton than anyone else.
As for Martin's other stints, let the proper nouns speak for themselves: Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan, Rwanda. Do these places evoke tranquility of any kind?
As for Rwanda, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had to apologize last year, on the 10th anniversary of the massacre there, that the world body had failed that country. Of course, Annan didn't mention that he was the U.N.'s Under-Secretary for Peace-Keeping Operations in 1994.
One Nepali lawyer on Monday filed a petition urging Martin's office to expedite the reinstatement of the House of Representatives. Dhruba Koirala complained that the Supreme Court had delayed hearing on his case and apparently his human rights had been violated.
Evidently, Martin wanted to relish every moment of this vanity. Where else could he find a real lawyer so awed by his omnipotence? Even his newest interns at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and International Center for Transitional Justice knew better than that.
But Martin knew he couldn't disappoint his Nepalese visitor by raising issues of improper jurisdiction and the like. So, in classic U.N. bureaucratic style, Martin passed the buck upwards. He told Koirala that his message would be conveyed to Annan.
It's all in the U.N. family.