via UN watchdog urges international boycott of ‘disgraceful’ Zim meeting | SW Radio Africa. Posted by Alex Bell on Monday, August 12, 2013
An international non-governmental organisation that monitors the performance of the United Nations (UN) has called for a boycott of the upcoming UN tourism meeting being hosted by Zimbabwe this month.
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly begins on 26th August in Victoria Falls, with Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosting the globally significant event. Over 500 diplomats and dignitaries from 150 countries will be participating in the event, which critics have said is a “disgraceful show of support for a corrupt regime.”
Among these critics is the UN Watch monitoring group which has called for a high level boycott of the meeting. The group’s Executive Director, Hillel Neuer, told SW Radio Africa that UN is “legitimizing” the Robert Mugabe regime and the just ended, deeply flawed elections that saw Mugabe re-elected as President.
“We cannot understand how a major UN body would decide to legitimise that government. The government is also using this (the meeting) for propaganda reasons and we think this is the wrong place and the wrong time,” Neuer said.
He added that the decision to allow Zimbabwe to host the conference, despite the Mugabe government’s history of human rights abuses and the current electoral crisis, “brings discredit to UN.”
“These kinds of decision only bring harm to the reputation of the UN. We see how much Mugabe’s government is trying to use this international summit and good name of the UN to legitimise massive abuses of human rights that contravene universal declarations of human rights and key UN declarations. So how is someone who is acting against core UN principles, how can that person be regarded as a leader who should be host to the world on tourism?” Neuer asked.
He called on UNWTO members to follow in the footsteps of Canada, which last year formally withdrew from the conference on the basis that the meeting “legitimised Mugabe.” The UK is also not participating this year, although the country has not clarified if this decision is linked to the electoral process in Zimbabwe, which it expressed concern about.
“We are calling on other countries to stay away,” Neuer said, adding: “If the UN were living up to its own ideals, Zimbabwe would be the last destination for this meeting.”