U.S. Playing Catch-Up as Zimbabwean Bid for UNCSD Chair Moves Forward

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SustainUS, the U.S. youth network for sustainable development, sends delegations of young people to U.N. sustainable development meetings every year to meet with governments and discover the connections between global challenges and the problems they face in their communities every day. My own experience with SustainUS was incredibly formative and gave me my first real insight into the world of international affairs.
I highly recommend the blog written by the SustainUS delegation to the 2007 Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). It’s fascinating to read each of their perspectives as they experience the unique mix of hope and frustration in international negotiations. It was an incredible growth experience for me as I’m sure it will be for this year’s SustainUS delegates.
Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that Zimbabwe is the presumptive African candidate to chair the CSD, and it’s Africa’s turn. Under “President” Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean strategy is apparently to accumulate posts like the CSD chair to demonstrate their regional support and humiliate the U.S. and EU, its harshest critics.
Most of the CSD talks are usually conducted by mid-level negotiators, but since the FT article yesterday, the CSD election is now being taken up at the U.N. Missions at higher levels. A well-placed source tells me that the EU, presumably pushed by Great Britain, is working hard to stop Zimbabwe’s election. Tanzania is rumored to be an alternative candidate.
The U.S. delegation to the CSD has been unusually quiet, possibly in part because of the recent departure of longtime delegation leader Jonathan Margolis. The delegation is usually an extremely cohesive, effective unit – sometimes frustratingly so – and includes some very dedicated and well-intentioned career civil servants.
The State Department has rightly made Zimbabwean human rights and political abuses a top-tier issue (below Iraq and Iran, above most other regional problems). That means the CSD election now presents a critical diplomatic test for new Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
Zimbabwe’s election as the CSD chair was all but assured a day ago. Can Khalilzad help turn the tide? Or will the Europeans have to fight this battle alone?
I’ll be digging around and I’ll post again if I find anything.
— Scott Paul

Comments

4 comments on “U.S. Playing Catch-Up as Zimbabwean Bid for UNCSD Chair Moves Forward

  1. bongan says:

    The last time I checked the UN membership list Zimbabwe was still a member with full rights and paid up for that matter despite the economic difficulties it is going through because of the USand EU sanctions.Countries like the US are in arrears in their payments to the UN despite what they have. So in all fairness Zimbabwe has every right to seek any post in the organization that it is a member. The problem is that countries like the UK at times think they are still old British Empire and they own the world. That is history. All regional groups except the EU are saying they have no quarrel with Zimbabwe, and they will respect the decision of the African Group and will not stand in the way for the election of the Zimbabwean Minister to chair CSD 16. We look forward to Friday and see what will happen. Hon Francis Nhema Zimbabwe Minister of Environment will be elected chair for CSD 16

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  2. Marcia says:

    “Question: do you see any grassroots support for the United Nations out there the heartland of the USA. I see almost none. A few deluded hippies, a few folks who have smoked too much dope and that is it.”
    One really wonders what actually is out there in that “grassroots heartland” we hear so much about.
    It is difficult to think it is peopled only by religious fanatics, war-mongering zealots, racists thugs and macho blustering. Even in these sparsely populated areas there are citizens who know the world is vast and diverse.

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  3. Robert Morrow says:

    I think Zimbabwe should be on the Security Council to give it even more credibilty. it should also head the United Nations “Human Rights” commission.
    Question: do you see any grassroots support for the United Nations out there the heartland of the USA. I see almost none. A few deluded hippies, a few folks who have smoked too much dope and that is it.

    Reply

  4. JohnH says:

    What exactly gives the U.S., the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gasses, the legitimacy to determine who presides over the CSD?
    And, after Iraq, what gives the U.S. the moral authority to lecture Mugabe on human rights?
    Shouldn’t the U.S. clean up its own act before lecturing others?

    Reply

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