Controversy over the US’s continued involvement with the UN has grown in recent years with a string of controversial actions by the organization. Some of these have involved increasing infringement on the sovereignty of the US, most recently the involvement of the organization in the country’s elections process. On Saturday, Ben Emmerson of the UN warned against a Romney presidency, and on the same day, the UN announced that foreign observers would be checking the American election and electoral process for voter intimidation.
Ben Emmerson, the British UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights was speaking at a Toronto Symposium on the impact of 9/11 on human rights when he speculated that waterboarding could be reinstituted under Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying that a Romney administration would be the first in history “to be able to claim a democratic mandate for torture.” He also said he plans to address the issue at the UN general assembly this month, and warned that the reinstatement of enhanced interrogation techniques would increase the threat of terrorism aimed at Americans both at home and abroad. The UN official making a statement to the Canadian press hoping to influence the outcome of an American election has drawn attention and criticism.
In addition, American liberal activist groups called on the UN to monitor American elections, citing concerns about “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans – particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.” These groups include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU. The 44 election observers from the OSCE, a partner organization to the UN come not only from Germany and France, but also from countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, all of which have serious election integrity problems themselves.
In most states, invitations were given to OSCE observers despite the fact that state law does not provide for international observers. Critics include Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote, who said in a statement to the newspaper The Hill that “The United Nations has no jurisdiction over American elections.” It is also noteworthy that this is a partisan undertaking, admittedly directed specifically at conservatives, though there is video and other evidence of liberals also committing voter fraud.
Recent UN controversies have included criticizing US border patrol agents for excessive force and criticizing an Arizona immigration law which the US State Department included in a human rights report to the organization, and criticizing an individual American pastor for burning Korans. These actions have raised questions of UN infringement of American sovereignty, while events such as considering Iran’s bid for a seat on its Women’s Rights Commission have also stirred significant controversy. Iran’s bid was rejected, but only months later after significant outcry, and with Saudi Arabia accepted to the Commission.