Sunday, September 18, 2005

Human Rights Watch Article in Independent on Sunday

Article in IoS from Human Rights Watch attacking the UN. Here's my reply:

The Letters Editor
Independent on Sunday

As a supporter of both the United Nations Association and of Human Rights Watch, I read Becky Tinsley's article (The UN is inefficient, wasteful and plain corrupt, 18 September) with great interest. She makes the case for all her accusations, yet we should not come away with the idea that the world could do without the United Nations.

Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) may well be more efficient at delivering aid in the field, but how are they at getting Governments to talk together, at preventing war, at forging international agreements to meet the threat of global warming, or installing measures to inhibit human rights abuses? For all the waste of money by time-serving UN officials, we should remember that the core budget of the UN is on a par with the New York Fire Department, and in those terms, the UN is still very good value for money.

The logical conclusion is to reform the UN, and fund it properly to do what it does best - producing intergovernmental agreements, not to join the fashionable movement of undermining it. NGOs should both do their job and also lobby the UN to make their job redundant. Nothing is perfect - not even Human Rights Watch, who, for all the excellent work that they do, are prone to fall over, as we all do from time to time, when it comes to little tasks like answering their mail.

Yrs &c
Richard Lawson

(The IoS may, of course, have edited out some moderating statements that Becky may have made, in the interests of creating a row, always a possibility at the forefront of the thinking of any professional journalist, but anyway, this may get HRW to start a correspondence on the Index of Human Rights.)
(This letter did notmake it to the letters page, but one from HRW did.)

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