Qaddafi: Good message, but the wrong messenger?


by Kawuma Daniel Busuulwa, September 23, 2009 • Many will call Qaddafi’s address to the UN general assembly today a hopeless rant, as evidenced by many of the pundits and post-speech analysis on the news networks. Some have called him a crazy man taking advantage of his debut at the UN to rant about every subject and historical event that occurred throughout his forty years in power. However, there several key points that Qaddafi touched which might be overshadowed by the conspiracy theories he outlined.

Qaddafi bluntly addressed the reality and complexity at the heart of the United Nations. He methodically cut through the monopoly within the hierarchy of the UN—particularly blasting the status quo in the Security Council. He renamed it the “terror council” where the permanent superpowers conveniently use the security-council when addressing violations pertaining to other nations— These same nations he argued turn a blind eye to the recommendations of the Security Council when their individual interests are at stake. Qaddafi then navigated through all the wars that occurred following the establishment of the United Nations—and how the organization has failed to live up to the expectations of the founding fathers. Next, he targeted war crimes—his argument rooted in the notion that some leaders of smaller nations have been convicted for war crimes by the ICC while their counterparts from the super-powers are never convicted for similar atrocities. It was a dramatic criticism at some point he tossed the UN charter. Qaddafi proposed equal representation of every nation in the Security Council as a solution to the monopoly. He was applauded by the African delegations when he suggested that members of the African Union also deserved to have permanent membership on the SC.

At this point of the speech many of the delegates were yawning and half of the room had empty seats. Qaddafi slammed the United Nations anti-nuclear proliferation initiatives which appear to single out other nations, imposing sanctions while ignoring inspecting nations with larger nuclear arsenals. All of Qaddafi’s arguments were rooted in the notion that as far as the United Nations is concerned, ‘some animals are more equal than others’. That in fact ‘Somali’s are not the pirates, we at the UN are the pirates.’ Qaddafi was not done—he went ahead and demanded Africa to be compensated for the wealth stolen during colonial times with a lump sum of 7.7 trillion dollars. Only Qaddafi knows how he came up with this figure.

Qaddafi surprisingly commended Obama and his plan to bring change in the world, particularly regarding nuclear disarmament but he was skeptical that America will follow through with these plans especially once Obama leaves the presidency. Qaddafi demanded further investigation of the assassination of Lumumba, Kennedy and MLK. He rebuked the travel restrictions imposed on some of the delegations arguing that if the United States is worried about its security, he will do them a favor and propose changing the head-quarters of the United Nations to another country where they won’t even need travel visas. He stated that he was not a big fun of flying for 20 hours and having to attend meetings in a different time zone when his country men were sleeping!

Qaddafi’s message was very blunt, and it reflected the underlying problem and perception in the Middle East and rest of the world regarding the fate of the UN. There is a belief that the status-quo at the United Nations gets away with everything—many nations feel they are not represented. As Qaddafi plainly stated, many nations are treated and despised as 2nd class nations—and sternly stated that ‘laws are either made for all of us or none of us’

This was a speech to remember but just like I wrote several months ago, it is a shame that the African Union elected a leader with such a poor track record to be chairman of the AU. Within his rant at the United Nations were some good points—-but one can’t expect Qaddafi to be taken seriously when he decides all of a sudden to talk about justice, equal representation and democracy. After governing Libya with an iron fist for over 40 years and been responsible for some human-rights violation, it is hypocritical to have him lecture the UN about democracy no matter how true some of his message was. He was at the United Nations to speak for the voices of millions of Africans. This leaves me wondering, if he is the right messenger?