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united nations

More than ten years after the BBC aired a devastating report about North Korean concentration camps, mass killings, torture, poison gas chambers and other horrific atrocities, the United Nations has finally come around to the view that yes, maybe, there were some crimes against humanity going on in the world’s least free nation:

“Testimony was given … in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots, burned and then buried … It was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them,” he said.

The world stood by and watched this all happen. We knew about it. We talked about it. We reported it. But in our broken moral compass of the 21st century, “Never Again” apparently means “Never Again.. except when China is on the Security Council and doesn’t want us looking too closely at its North Korean ally.”

This quote by an unnamed UN official has got to rank up there among the world’s most ironic quotes in all of history:

“We’ve collected all the testimony and can’t just stop and wait 10 years.”

Why not? Isn’t that what we’ve done already?

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The UN Security Council has approved military action in Libya. Now the question remains: who will follow through?

So far, all of the uprisings across the Arab world have been domestic matters, deliberately so. By upping the ante against his own citizens to the point where the world had no choice but to intervene, Qaddafi has internationalized this crisis, and don’t think that he hasn’t calculated that into his plans. After all, every dictator needs some misdirection in the form of a foreign imperialist invader in the form of the United States or one of its “little Satan” allies. This could shift the whole tide and tone of this movement.

Obama, to his credit, doesn’t sound so eager to willingly take up that role. Action is needed in Libya, but Obama recognizes that there’s an optics problem if the US were to lead the charge. France and the UK sound tepidly on board, but support from elsewhere may be more moral than physical.

And with world attention still focused on Japan, everything else – Libya included – is taking a back seat. It’s hard to say who that benefits right now.

Of course, the question that nobody’s asking just yet is, what’s next? What happens after Qaddafi? What happens when any opposition movement gets tainted by the notion of being propped up by the Europeans or the Americans? Will whoever sends in troops be able to anticipate an exit date?

Stay tuned. This story isn’t getting any smaller.

Update: Canada is officially involved.

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Quote of the day

11.24.2010

“The United Nations is a wonderful idea in principle, except for the little problem of giving barbarians a vote.” That’s courtesy of PZ Myers, in a blog post WTFing the UN’s move to remove sexual orientation from a resolution that protects people from being summarily executed. In other words, according to the UN, it’s okay […]

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Freedom of speech, Palestinian-style

11.11.2010

A West Bank resident has been imprisoned for insulting Islam on Facebook: A mysterious blogger who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and hurling insults at the Prophet Muhammad is now behind bars — caught in a sting that used Facebook to track him down. The case of […]

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Iran blocked from UN Women’s Board

11.10.2010

The United Nations created a new body to promote the rights of women worldwide. And all the usual suspects, namely, Iran, rushed to sign up to the executive board. This is nothing new for the UN, which has regularly seen topsy-turvy things like Libya being elected to the UN Human Rights Council. The moral authority of […]

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Briefly

10.13.2010

The rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean miners, who have been underground for 69 days, is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. As of right now, two of the miners have been rescued so far, in a slow and emotionally-charged process. An American federal judge has issued an injunction against the […]

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Duh alert

02.18.2010

The IAEA is worried that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons: The U.N. nuclear agency on Thursday expressed concern for the first time that Iran may currently be working on ways to turn enriched uranium into a nuclear warhead, instead of having stopped several years ago. Its report appears to contradict an assessment by […]

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UN censures Iran: All bark, no bite

11.27.2009

The utterly useless, impotent United Nations sent its version of a “we’re warning you, or else…” message to Iran regarding its nuclear program: The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s board censured Iran on Friday, with 25 nations backing a resolution demanding that Tehran immediately freeze construction of its newly revealed nuclear facility and heed Security Council resolutions […]

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Canada shows some moral courage

01.14.2009

Canada was the only member of the ironically-named UN Human Rights Council to vote against a resolution condemning Israel for its actions in Gaza yesterday: At a meeting in Geneva, Canada asked for a recorded vote to emphasize its complaint that the resolution drafted by Arab, Asian and African countries did not recognize that Israel […]

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Sudan: Bad to worse

10.23.2006

As the Sudanese government does its best to boot the United Nations, the violence is getting worse. Damian links to this Times article from last week in which a janjaweed defector explains, in horrifying detail, the atrocities that he helped commit against civilians.

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