Why Stay in New York Forever?
Seven countries call for UN to leave New York, accuse US of political exploitation
US needs a new Monroe Doctrine, or it will lose Africa!
Public opinion in Sudan and the rest of Africa is that if the United States refuses to subject U.S. citizens to the jurisdiction of the ICC, why should Presidents be inferior to them?
Al-Bashir is widely respected and very popular in Africa. In contrast, the image of the ICC in Africa is not like what activists in the US and Europe want to promote
By\ Mekki Elmograbi
The UN General Assembly and the high-level meeting on refugees and migrants in September is a very important event, in which countries like Sudan must be represented. Sudan is the destination for refugees from eight African countries, hosting 200,000 refugees from South Sudan, the world’s newest nation. Sudan receives a daily influx of refugees along its borders, sharing its limited resources with them in uneven political, economic and security situations. The government has exerted efforts on behalf of the international community to combat human trafficking and the migration movement to Europe, Libya, Egypt and even Israel. However, Sudan has a unique experience and “home grown solutions,” such as hosting refugees in villages and cities among citizens, instead of isolated camps that sometimes complicate the humanitarian situation and prolong conflicts. To promote international peace and security and human rights, the UN and the US should give Sudan the respect it deserves and should welcome and appreciate the participation of President Al-Bashir. Unfortunately – because of the political disturbance created by ICC – it went wrong before. Although obtaining visas for presidents should just be a procedural and ceremonial issue, there is still a debate on the visa, in a repeat of the fiasco in 2013. Public opinion in Sudan and the rest of Africa is that if the United States refuses to subject U.S. citizens to the jurisdiction of the ICC, why should African presidents be subject to it?
People who have visited Sudan know very well that dignity is great Sudanese value. It is totally unfortunate for the US to blackmail or intimidate Sudan by a politicized court, labeled in Africa as colonialist, anti-African and racist. There are some voices in American media who show a specific image of Al-Bashir, but this is not his image inside Sudan and all around Africa. In contrast, the image of the ICC in the entire continent is not the image that activists in the US and Europe want to promote. You may even hear Sudanese or Africans who have chosen to live in the West and hold Western nationalities agree with the ICC, but this is misleading! The visa issue of President Al-Bashir should be considered with an open mind and according to reality and without political bias. Al-Bashir is a president of a sovereign country, widely respected and very popular in Africa.
Now the ICC is losing every day, and Al-Bashir is gaining more lands, liberating more African countries from European – Backed ICC’s domination. I remember British politician George Galloway saying, in an interview, “I know Sudanese, they are the most dignified nation in the Arab world, as for the ICC, it is one of imperialism tools because if the court was serious about chasing war criminals it should have started with Tony Blair and Gorge W. Bush because they committed crimes whose effects have continued even after their going out of power. Up to the moment, Iraq is living in a state of instability, terror and killing because of Tony Blair’s and Bush’s crimes” he said.
There is a question for the Sudanese people: is the UN really “192 + Sudan”? If it is true, that means Al-Bashir has the right to attend the General Assembly in New York. If he does not attend, then the US has used its position as the host of the UN headquarters to decline Sudan’s membership in the organization.
The principle of extraterritoriality is applied to the headquarters of the United Nations which is, according to the agreement, not American land. The headquarters in New York City exists on international territory by the power of the agreement between the United Nations and the US regarding the headquarters of the UN. The agreement was signed in June 1947, and approved by the UN General Assembly in October 1947. Section 13 says the visas should be granted as promptly as possible; US authorities cannot deny or threaten the right of presidents to come and leave safely.
The visa issue has raised questions of the US misusing its power to manipulate UN decision and actions. I can list several calls for moving the UN headquarters out of New York. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, called for the headquarters to move to Asia, saying that for 70 years the West had dominated and now it is Asia’s turn, as the biggest continent. President Evo Morales of Bolivia suggests the UN move its headquarters because the US is not a neutral country. Once, many of his delegation had trouble getting visas to attend the UN General Assembly in 2007. In 2001, the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela called for moving the UN Headquarters. Deputy Prime Minister Dimitriy Rogozin of Russia also proposed moving the headquarters from New York. Last October, Igor Zotov, a member of the defense committee of the lower house of Russia's parliament State Duma, wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavroc requesting that the headquarters of the UN be moved to a more neutral country, accusing the US of using its position to leverage against its political opponents, “with the UN headquarters in its current location in New York City, the US is able to manipulate the work of the General Assembly through ‘selective’ access of other countries' politicians to the working meetings of the assembly” Zotov said.
Not just presidents, but other writers and analysts have said this. Katrin Park wrote an article in the New York Daily News under the title, “New York and the United Nations: Time for a divorce.” She suggested Nairobi, saying “The capital of Kenya, Nairobi, offers a gleaming 150-acre office complex - roughly 110 football fields - already serving as a regional hub for UN agencies, with plenty of room for more.”
Joel Kotkin and Robert J. Cristiano wrote in Forbes “Move the UN to Dubai.” This article has something to do with the relocation committee proposals during the period when the UN was facing delays in its efforts to refurbish its existing buildings. Alternative sites were considered as temporary sites. In 2010, the Dubai government offered Dubai as an ideal venue due to its proximity to international "trouble spots.” The relocation committee recommended that the organization move temporarily to Singapore by 2015, but nothing happened.
Joshua Keating wrote in 2013 “Why Is the United Nations in New York Anyway?” He mentioned the UN – US dilemma in 2013 “This year’s main UNGA subplot revolves around Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who seems intent on coming to New York despite calls by human rights groups for him to be arrested.” He went further, “It’s not entirely unreasonable to wonder why this should be the United States’ headache at all”
The US should cut it short and cooperate with African countries on the issues of the ICC. Let Europe lose if they have chosen so, but why should the US lose Africa? In fact, US needs a new Monroe Doctrine, or it will lose Africa in a miscalculation!
Mekki Elmograbi is a Sudanese Press Writer focuses on African issues, Media and Counterterrorism, he is the former president of Sudan Press Freedom Organization, currently he is Media & Information Attaché at Sudan Embassy – Washington DC
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