LAST week Iranians woke up to a startling piece of news: their government had dispatched Tehran’s notorious prosecutor general, Saeed Mortazavi, to Geneva as a member of Iran’s delegation to the opening session of the new United Nations Human Rights Council.
Iranians weren’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Mr. Mortazavi is one of the country’s highest profile rights violators. Human Rights Watch urged Iran to remove him at once and asked other governments not to meet the Iranian delegation while Mr. Mortazavi remained a part of it.
Well-known and widely despised in Iran, Mr. Mortazavi personifies most of the ills affecting Iran’s judicial system: lack of accountability, rampant impunity, disregard for fundamental constitutional rights, manipulation of the law to promote a political agenda, systematic use of torture, and above all, abuse of judicial powers to repress peaceful expressions of dissent and criticism.
This seems to be typical of UN bodies. It is all a big show and no substance. UN delegates regularly strain at the gnat of minor or imaginary abuses by the U.S. and Israel while swallowing the camel of governments like Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia sitting in judgment on their betters.
This amply illustrates why pronouncements by the UN should be treated with the same gravity as would the gibberings of a pack of baboons. Though this might be undervaluing the baboons.
But don’t worry; the New York Times has not suddenly been stricken with a dose of reality. This is simply a guest column. The New York Times will continue to inform us that the UN is an august body requiring the utmost deference, even if the delegates are gibbering baboons, they are “international” baboons and thus to be treated with deference.