The agenda will be long, conflicting and pressing. There will be grand speeches and even grander promises. In theory the UN is a force for good but like any conglomorate it sometimes wavers from the wonderful ideals celebrated by its foundation. It may sometimes compromise in pursuit of a bigger prize and by doing so risk its moral authority.
This week’s summit comes just months after the UN announced, in June, that Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, Faisal Trad, was elected chairman of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council. The previous month the Saudi government advertised for eight extra executioners. Amnesty International has reported that Saudi Arabia has executed at least 175 people in the past year. Another awaiting execution is Ali al-Nimr who has been sentenced “to be decapitated ... in a public square, and for his body to be displayed on a cross until his flesh rots”.
How can someone from this background, someone who represents the government behind this medieval butchery be considered suitable for any position on a human rights committee? Surely it is the job of the UN agencies to confront the Saudis over this kind of savagery? This seems another example of the establishment squandering, with obvious indifference, its authority, credibility and mandate.