Listening to Special Rapporteur Ms. Sheila Keetharuth make her final presentation yesterday to UN Assembly’s 3rd Committee was very strange, to say the least.
Leaving aside the politically motivated report that she predictably wheeled out, Ms. Keetharuth surprised us with her request for some sort of administrative power over Eritrea so that she can help run the country as she sees it fit and supposedly free the people of Eritrea from Eritrea itself.
Her subliminal argument would have been considered a joke had she not actually made specific recommendations as part of her final commentary to the committee.
One of her poignant recommendation was to require Eritrea delink its educational system from the country’s economic and security programs, specifically the national service. Really? Someone should have reminded her that higher education, in particular, is expected to be in sync with a country’s economic, social, security structures in order to produce the next generation of leaders.
For example, while countries like Korea, Singapore and Israel have incorporated national service as a way to strengthen their national defense capabilities, most South-American countries use national service as a practical policy solution to tackle unmet youth employment needs. Eritrea’s National Services Program too is designed not only to enhance its national security capability but also foster economic, cultural, and social development for its next generation leaders.
The other notable recommendation she proposed was to require Eritrea to cooperate fully with her to access unidentified “prisons.” Of course, she made this statement with a wink and a nod. In plain English, she was asking for unfettered access to sensitive military areas. This one is a big joke and here is the punchline: a few weeks ago Ms. Bronwyn Bruton told the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa that she was surprised to learn how CIA analysts knew little about Eritrea and they asked her to find out to what extent the government controls the country outside the capital city of Asmara. This is where the Ethio-US plan comes full circle – i.e. to bring about regime change.
I must say that knowing what we know about Ms. Keetharuth’s anti-Eritrea agenda and the pressure she has been under after the Human Rights Council rejected the report this past June, I did expect dramatic and unexpected changes in her presentation but I got more than I anticipated.
Nonetheless, it was not difficult to see how these recommendations are in-fact part of the larger political game taking place in closed doors at the UN. Mind you, her recommendations are usually considered nonstarter at the UN because they infringe state sovereignty. In fact, last year the US rejected a request by a Special Rapporteur on torture to visit US prisons (including Guantanamo Bay), stating his request infringed the sovereignty of the US.
If there is one thing clear form Ms. Keetharuth presentation (along with some of the speeches made by diplomats from US, Ethiopia and Djibouti) is that both the US and Ethiopia’s mischievous use of human rights to bring about regime change in Eritrea is running out of steam. It is important to remember the Human Rights Council has already rejected the COI report for being full of lies and exaggerated stories. For this reason, today I am more confident than ever that Eritrea will defeat Ms. Keetharuth’s agenda a lot sooner.
Even at the UN, I expect Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity to ultimately prevail — doing the same thing over and over again will not bring different results for the sponsors of Ms. Keetharuth.
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