Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton and Heritage Foundation fellow Brett Schaefer have a new book out. It’s calledConUNdrum (get it?!): The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives. I confess to not having read the book yet, so I hesitate to pass judgment. But you know who does have an opinion? Fiji’s UN Ambassador, Berenado Vunibobo. He hosted a book launch for Bolton and Shaefer at the end of October.
This raises eyebrows, shall we say, because Fiji has been under military rule since December 2006, when Commodore Bainimarama toppled the government. Since then, Human Rights Watch reports that Bainimarama has consolidated his power and detained political opponents. Fijian troops are even barred from participating in UN Peacekeeping missions. And, just last week, the self-appointed Bainimarama expelled top diplomats from Australia and New Zealand who criticized his regime.
Since 2007, there have been four deaths in military or police custody, and dozens of people have been arbitrarily detained, sexually assaulted, intimidated, beaten, or otherwise subjected to degrading treatment (http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2007/02/04/letter-interim-prime-minister-voreqe-bainimarama-and-president-ratu-josefa-iloilo-fi ).
Since the interim government abrogated the constitution on April 10, 2009, the administration has limited the independence of the judiciary, removing all judicial officers from office, reconstituting courts and commissions, intervening in the licensing of lawyers, and legislating to prohibit legal challenge of its acts. Violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, among others, have intensified. The media are heavily censored. Officials have released military and police officers convicted of crimes prior to the completion of their sentences, fueling impunity.
The bottom line here is that Bolton and the Heritage foundation should probably have known better than to associate themselves with this regime, no?
UPDATE: Heritage Reponds
The event was not hosted by the Fiji mission as is clear in the attached announcement flyer for the event. C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute) organized the book release event for ConUNdrum, which includes a chapter by one of their scholars. C-FAM has a cordial relationship with the Fiji mission and the Permanent Representative is interested in U.N. reform issues and wished to comment on the book.
If you are interested in Heritage’s position on the governments established through coup d’etat, please see a recent Heritage paper (http://www.heritage.org/Research/InternationalOrganizations/bg2339.cfm) which urges the U.S. to “consider a proposal by Namibian Foreign Minister Marco Hausiku, which urges the U.N. to ‘not recogniz[e] governments that come to power through military coups.’”