14 CommentsTags:Politics, Raffique Shah, Rodney Charles
, T&T Govt, UN
TRINIDAD and Tobago's
Ambassador to the United Nations, Rodney Charles
, took two rather curious positions over the past week.
On October 31, the UNESCO's
General Conference voted on a motion to admit Palestine to that organisation.
Then last Thursday, Mr Charles
was one of only three ambassadors who accepted invitations to have lunch with Marine Le Pen, French presidential candidate and leader of the extreme right-wing party, the National Front.
I imagine after that opening paragraph, many readers yawned, and after reading what my fellow-columnists wrote, dismissed this intervention as being inconsequential.
We have always relegated foreign affairs to the lowest rung of the issues-ladder.
We have so many matters of national importance, why bother with a few million Palestinians in some hellhole a million miles away?
And who the hell is Le Pen?
Why waste valuable media space on her
, on why Mr Charles
chose to have lunch with her?
But back to our man at the UN
, Rodney Charles
Why did he
abstain when the vote on admitting Palestine to UNESCO
came before the Conference?
acting on instructions from Foreign Affairs Minister Suruj Rambachan?
abstain by "vaps"?
Did Mr Charles
, in our name (well, he
does represent us all), decide it was in our best interests to scuttle Palestinians' efforts to "build peace" or "eradicate poverty"?
We need to know what's in Mr Charles's
mind because later this week an even more critical vote comes before the Security Council-whether or not to admit Palestine as a full member of the UN
Palestine aside, what went through Mr Charles's
head when he
agreed to have lunch with Marine Le Pen?
This woman represents the ugly face of racism in France, and worse, the resurgence of Nazism in Europe.
In ordinary circumstances, she
would spit on Mr Charles's
face and hurl the N-word at him.
But there he
was, one of only three ambassadors to the UN
, sharing a meal, and, I suppose, polite conversation, with her
Le Pen's father, when he
was leader of the National Front, had made negative remarks about the extermination of Jews in Nazi concentration camps, for which he
That left Mr Charles
and ambassadors from Uruguay and Armenia as the only persons of note in attendance.
It's not as if Le Pen looks like she would be the next president of France so our man needed to court her.
The woman was on tour of the USA, seeking to enhance her
What these two episodes tell us is that our foreign affairs are rudderless and in shambles, left to the whims and fancies of political appointees posted to head diplomatic missions.
Line Minister Rambachan must shoulder some blame for Mr Charles's
Or, as the man charged with shaping our new foreign relations policies, he
must let citizens know what is Government's position on politically-charged issues like the recognition of Palestine and fraternising with neo-Nazis.