Maro, sas ta xwnei xondra!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
UNESCO and Equatorial Guinea
A brilliant idea from the UN
May 6th 2010
From The Economist print edition
Why let only one despot endow and name a new prize when so many others
HE IS no cannibal, whatever the scurrilous Western press and exiled
opponents say. No court has convicted him, or his family, of pocketing
state funds, whatever the American Senate and NGOs allege. And he wins
regular elections, as free and fair as many in central Africa. Anyone
who doubts his people's love need only note the admirable 95% support
for him in a presidential poll last November.
So why fret over a decision by UNESCO, the United Nations body
responsible for education and science, to launch a prize for
achievement in life sciences, paid for by and named after President
Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea? Was not Alfred Nobel an arms maker
before he became a prize-endower?
Many carp about Mr Nguema's regime, perhaps because he snatched power
in a coup 30 years ago and vies with Libya's Muammar Qaddafi as
Africa's longest-serving leader. They should instead commend its
impressive stability. Foreigners moan about the arrest and murder of
opposition leaders, a clampdown on the press, or frittering of oil
revenues on palaces and luxury cars. But pragmatists will agree with
Mr Nguema that Human Rights Watch and others are clearly out to
"blackmail" his country. Rumours of horrors in his jails, such as the
notorious Black Beach prison, are clearly overblown. A UN special
rapporteur who described "inhuman" conditions and "systematic torture"
in Equatorial Guinea's prisons was quite reasonably dismissed by Mr
Nguema for discussing the issue with the country's sole opposition MP.
Observers should focus instead on Mr Nguema's generosity. The new
UNESCO award is going to set him back some $3m (not including fees for
the lobbyists and public-relations firms who swung this for him).
Instead of cavilling, other organisations should follow UNESCO's
All shall have prizes
The World Food Programme, for starters, should ask Zimbabwe's
president for funds to establish a Robert Mugabe award for
agricultural productivity. Next, the UN refugee agency could squeeze a
few million dollars from Myanmar's junta for a Than Shwe prize for
promoting the rights of women prisoners. The World Health Organisation
could surely seduce Italy's prime minister into providing some cash
for a Silvio Berlusconi medal in sex education. The International
Atomic Energy Agency might tap Iran for a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prize
for the peaceful sponsorship of nuclear power.
The only thing wrong with this proposal is that nobody thought of it
earlier. Saddam Hussein could have endowed a prize celebrating
multiculturalism. Idi Amin, Uganda's great showman president, might
have set up an award for innovative culinary science. Many American
conservatives are suspicious of the UN; they might feel differently
had the former vice-president's friends endowed a Dick Cheney
transparency-in-government prize. Perhaps UNESCO could next promote
sartorial elegance with a Kim Jong Il gong for best-dressed dictator
or launch a campaign for brevity in public speaking named after
Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez.
Setting up such prizes should pose no problem. Getting anybody to
accept them may.