The World Health Organization reversed its decision to honor Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador,” capping off yet another episode of UN hypocrisy.
The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) has retracted its decision to appoint Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to serve as a goodwill ambassador, following vociferous opposition to the move in light of his regime’s well documented human rights violations.
Mugabe was tapped this past week by the director of the UN health agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to fill the role, undertaking efforts to allay the phenomenon of non-contagious illnesses in Africa such as heart attacks and strokes.
Nevertheless, the offer swiftly attracted fierce criticism from opponents who bemoaned the agency’s conspicuous hypocrisy due to the almost comprehensive collapse of Zimbabwe’s health care system under Mugabe’s draconian rule.
“The government of Robert Mugabe has brutalized human rights activists, crushed democracy dissidents, and turned the breadbasket of Africa — and its health system — into a basket-case. The notion that the U.N. should now spin this country as a great supporter of health is, frankly, sickening,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
Following the international outcry, Tedros tweeted on Saturday night that he intended to reconsider the offer to Mugabe.
By Sunday, Tedros had announced his decision to heed the concerns expounded by activists determined to reverse the appointment.
“Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment … As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment,” he tweeted Sunday. “I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns, and heard the different issues that they have raised,” he added.
It is not the first time UN agencies have come under fire for what some of its members have slammed as flagrant hypocrisy.
Last May, for example, six member states stood against the organization in voting against a resolution that singled out Israel for unjustified criticism of health services for Palestinians and residents of the Golan Heights.
Passing with an overwhelming majority, the resolution was authored by some of the world’s most notable human rights violators, including Syria and the Palestinian Authority.
Also appearing among its chief sponsors were Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Pakistan, South Africa and a handful of other Arab countries with abysmal human rights records.
Israel, which was joined by the US and the UK in standing against the resolution, was flabbergasted by the resolution in light of the numerous IDF field hospitals which it has set up in the Golan Heights. In these Israeli facilities, doctors have tended to thousands of Syrian civilians wounded in the country’s ongoing civil war, which has churned out millions of refugees and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
The apparent double standard was highlighted by Neuer who was unequivocal in his criticism. “In the real world, Syria drops barrel bombs on its own hospitals. In the UN world, Syria co-sponsors @WHO resolution today targeting Israel,” he tweeted at the time.