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January 23, 2006

African Union Stands Up to One of Its Own
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

One of the most frustrating phenomena that bedevils the US at the UN is having to deal with dictators, failed states and rogue leaders that are routinely annointed to lead and represent regional groups.   This is how we wind up with the likes of Libya on the UN's Commission on Human Rights and Syria on the UN Security Council. 

Several regional blocs, including most notoriously the African Group, have traditionally determined their leadership on the basis of a strict rotation that is oblivious to the credibility or qualifications of countries for the leadership posts they seek. 

The premise of this policy, which is not impossible to understand, seems to be that with all the world judging them for their failures, they will refuse to stand in judgement of one another.   The result, however, has been to undermine the participation of Africa in international forums and to discredit the forums themselves on account of their inappropriate membership and leadership.

But there's finally some evidence this practice may be coming to a stop.  Based on the rotational system Sudan was slated to become the next President of the African Union.  Enmeshed in multiple civil wars, accused of sponsoring grave atrocities against its own people, and under investigation by the International Criminal Court the Sudanese government has hit an all-time low in terms of credibility on the continent and around the world.

To their credit, Sudan's African neighbors seem poised to break with tradition and deny Khartoum the top slot.   Faced with mutiny, the Sudanese government seems ready to end its bid for the chairmanship.

It's a small but potentially significant step forward.


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