Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Encouraging signs at the UN?

Strange as it may seem, a special session of the UN commemorating the liberation of Nazi death camps featured some fairly direct words:

In comments to the body, Secretary-General Kofi Annan directly recognized Jews as the chief victims of the Holocaust, not just one group among many that suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

``An entire civilization, which had contributed far beyond its numbers to the cultural and intellectual riches of Europe and the world, was uprooted, destroyed, laid waste,'' Annan said.

The United Nations was created in part because of world leaders' hope that it could help make sure the Holocaust was never repeated. That fact had largely been ignored for years, until Annan stated the fact starkly.

``The United Nations must never forget that it was created as a response to the evil of Nazism, or that the horror of the Holocaust helped to shape its mission,'' he said.

Even more interesting:

Later Monday, a photography exhibit opened at U.N. headquarters featuring images from the death camps, the first time an exhibit about the Holocaust is being shown at the United Nations.

U.N. officials defied longtime protocol against allowing prayers at the United Nations. The ceremony began with the El Maleh Rachamim, the traditional memorial prayer, and ended with the Israeli national anthem.

The words and symbolism are encouraging signs, but without decisive actions, they are worthless.

The UN barely gives lip service to supporting the Iraqi elections, providing just a handful of workers (who most likely just complicate the process anyway) and another toothless resolution.

These signs may be nothing more than the death rattle of an organization that has outlived its usefulness, but since I don't see the UN going away anytime soon, they're certainly better than nothing.

I look forward to Bookworm's take on this one.

Update: Bookworm responds.

UpdateII: Above link is now fixed.