Monthly Archives: June 2008

Mugabe calls for western sanctions to bolster Southern African democracy

This was too striking to ignore.

From Foreign Affairs, Winter 1987/88

Robert G. Mugabe is Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and currently chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement.

“As a nation with long-term interests in southern Africa and a fundamental commitment to the promotion of justice and democratic values, the United States cannot stand aside as a human tragedy of potentially immense proportions threatens to unfold in South Africa. The stakes are too high. At risk are the lives of thousands, possibly millions, of South Africans, black and white, the future political and economic viability of the entire southern third of the African continent, and history’s judgment of the United States.”

“It goes without saying that in South Africa such negotiations cannot take place from prison cells, and therefore political prisoners and detainees must be released and bans on individuals, organizations and political parties lifted, so the representatives of the people can take their places at the bargaining table. The alternatives, in the words of Mr. Botha’s predecessor, the late Mr. John Vorster, more than a decade ago, “are too ghastly to contemplate.” Civil war is already upon us. The Commonwealth’s Eminent Persons Group presented the reality clearly to the international community in their report, published more than a year ago.”

“Time has run out. Serious choices must be made now. Just as the leaders of the United States over a century ago chose to try to overcome their house divided and use the strength of freedom, equality and human dignity to build a powerful nation, we must make the choices necessary to assist South Africa in shortening this difficult period in its history and getting on the road to prosperity and peace. We must do this, not only in the interest of regional peace and security, but in the interest of global peace and stability, giving due and careful consideration to the future of our small planet.”


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Did Ramos Horta botch his bid?

A fun read from The Age

Not diplomatic: Did Ramos Horta botch his bid for UN job?

IT WAS Jose Ramos Horta’s Hamlet moment, and he played it for more than it was worth. He agonised for a month over what he called his great dilemma: to be, or to not be, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights?

He didn’t keep his internal torment to himself…

There were two assumptions in his indecision: he had the credentials for the job, and it was his for the taking. And there’s the rub. The first assumption was contentious. The second was false. And in publicly revealing his dilemma, he may have fumbled the diplomatic game he’d once played like a virtuoso.

read more


Also of note, from the Australian

“Mr Ramos Horta said an “idiot journalist” in New York had backed Mr Ban into a corner, and made him look like he was claiming the job was his.”

Aderito Hugo da Costa, a member of the AMP ruling coalition, said: “There is so much confusion behind what he has done. People need his focus, his attention on the country. He is always confusing people.

“Ban Ki-moon didn’t offer him a job. It is only coming from Ramos Horta. What is behind these moves? We just don’t know. It’s a big question for all East Timorese.”


Actually, feelers had been put out… this had been reported from NYC some time back. What really seems confusing here is the process of choosing a Human Rights Commissioner, and Mr Ramos Horta – at least in part – appears to have been a victim of that. How much better it would be to have this in the open.

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UN Watch: Micheline Calmy Rey

Not a name widely discussed, but this campaign from UN Watch raises the possible candidacy of the Swiss Foreign Minister. I have heard no independent confirmation of it yet… seems questionable whether the post would go to a European.


Tell the UN: Ask Tough Questions of Top Human Rights Contenders

Who will replace outgoing UN human rights chief Louise Arbour? According to the New York Times, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico is a top contender. But as inaugural chair of the UN Human Rights Council, he oversaw its descent from reform to regression. His reform package, pushed through in middle of the night, eliminated scrutiny of violations by Cuba and Belarus, while instituting the permanent indictment of Israel. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey is also vigorously campaigning…

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Ramos Horta “says no”

This from Reuters and this from the IHT confirms it.

What a curious saga indeed. Did Mr Ramos Horta get ahead of himself, only to be slapped down by SG Ban yesterday? Was he even in the running to begin with? Some insiders had suggested that by this stage he was not a top contender.

Either way, one fears what this saga will do for others’ willingness to talk about their potential candidacies, and the UN’s readiness to embrace a high level figure for this post. The trouble with senior world-renowned people is they have a tendency to speak without consulting first.

East Timor President says no to U.N. job

Fri 27 Jun 2008, 7:12 GMT

By Tito Belo

DILI (Reuters) – East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta said on Friday he would not pursue the job of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, confirming earlier media reports.

“An early departure from my current responsibility would result in early elections and this would be an unfair burden on a people who went to the polls three times in 2007,” he told a news conference in Dili.

“I have reflected on the challenges, complexity and honour of serving the international community … I have consulted with my East Timor colleagues and friends. I have heard the voices of many humble East Timorese. I have also consulted many friends whose opinion I cherish,” he said.

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Ban K-M on Ramos Horta: “never spoken to anybody to offer nomination”

From today’s press encounter:

“It may take a few more days before I will be able to submit the final candidate to the General Assembly for confirmation. At this time, I would like to make it quite clear that I have never spoken to anybody to offer my nomination.”

Q: Jose Ramos Horta, the President of East Timor, claimed that you have offered him the post of High Commissioner for Human Rights. Can you confirm? Because he said he is going to announce it tomorrow, Friday, in East Timor. Can you confirm that you have offered him the post, and under what criteria have you applied to select him?

Ban Ki-moon, UNSG: As you know, the current High Commissioner, Ms. Louise Arbour, is going to retire as of the end of this month, and my senior advisers and myself have been actively going through a selection process. There were a number of candidates, very qualified candidates, and we are now in the process of narrowing down to a final shortlist of the candidates. In fact, I have interviewed some of them. I am still in the process. It may take a few more days before I will be able to submit the final candidate to the
General Assembly for confirmation.

At this time, I would like to make it quite clear that I have never spoken to anybody to offer my nomination.

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Ramos Horta speaks of possible candidacy

This from ABC News; many others including BBC, AP and Reuters are also reporting it. What is encouraging is that he is going public with his interest in the job; a move that is likely to spark public debate about his suitability. Which said, it would hardly be possible not to, given his current position. But few can doubt that Ramos Horta would be a high profile Human Rights Commissioner.

Ramos-Horta considering UN human rights role

East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta says he is considering becoming the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Several member nations have encouraged the East Timorese leader to nominate for the UN job.

If he takes up the post it would leave the presidency vacant. It is expected his deputy, Fernando “Lasama” de Araujo, would take the post until the next election.

“I can’t say anything yet. I’m waiting 24 hours to say whether I’m a candidate or not because of my concern and responsibility to this country. I’m taking all the consequences into consideration,” Dr Ramos-Horta told reporters.

“Many people are supporting me out there and I’m also interested in the job. I’ve spoken to many people and I promise to announce my decision tomorrow.”

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AP: Ramos Horta has accepted job?

This from the IHT:

Lawmakers: East Timor President Ramos-Horta accepts top UN human rights job

The Associated Press

DILI, East Timor: President Jose Ramos-Horta, who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by rebel soldiers earlier this year, has accepted the top U.N. human rights job, members of East Timor’s parliament said Thursday.

U.N. officials were not immediately available to comment. But lawmaker Aderito Hugo da Costa and another legislator, who spoke off the record because a formal announcement had not yet been made, said Ramos-Horta told them last week he had “accepted the job.”

Ramos-Horta, a Nobel laureate who became president of Asia’s youngest democracy in May 2007, was scheduled to give a press conference later Thursday. He would replace Canadian Louise Arbour, who steps down as human rights commissioner at the end of June.

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