FROM THE GUARDIAN
Tuesday April 16, 2002
Chemical coup d'etat
The US wants to depose the diplomat who could take away its
pretext for war with Iraq
On Sunday, the US government will launch an international
coup. It has been planned for a month. It will be executed
quietly, and most of us won't know what is happening until
it's too late. It is seeking to overthrow 60 years of
multilateralism in favour of a global regime built on force.
The coup begins with its attempt, in five days' time, to
unseat the man in charge of ridding the world of chemical
weapons. If it succeeds, this will be the first time that
the head of a multilateral agency will have been deposed in
this manner. Every other international body will then become
vulnerable to attack. The coup will also shut down the
peaceful options for dealing with the chemical weapons Iraq
may possess, helping to ensure that war then becomes the
only means of destroying them.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
(OPCW) enforces the chemical weapons convention. It inspects
labs and factories and arsenals and oversees the destruction
of the weapons they contain. Its director-general is a
workaholic Brazilian diplomat called Jose Bustani. He has,
arguably, done more in the past five years to promote world
peace than anyone else on earth. His inspectors have
overseen the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and
two-thirds of the world's chemical weapon facilities. He has
so successfully cajoled reluctant nations that the number of
signatories to the convention has risen from 87 to 145 in
the past five years: the fastest growth rate of any
multilateral body in recent times.
In May 2000, as a tribute to his extraordinary record,
Bustani was re-elected unanimously by the member states for
a second five-year term, even though he had yet to complete
his first one. Last year Colin Powell wrote to him to thank
him for his "very impressive" work. But now everything has
changed. The man celebrated for his achievements has been
denounced as an enemy of the people.
In January, with no prior warning or explanation, the US
state department asked the Brazilian government to recall
him, on the grounds that it did not like his "management
style". This request directly contravenes the chemical
weapons convention, which states "the director-general ...
shall not seek or receive instructions from any government".
Brazil refused. In March the US government accused Bustani
of "financial mismanagement", "demoralisation" of his staff,
"bias" and "ill-considered initiatives". It warned that if
he wanted to avoid damage to his reputation, he must resign.
Again, the US was trampling the convention, which insists
that member states shall "not seek to influence" the staff.
He refused to go. On March 19 the US proposed a vote of no
confidence in Bustani. It lost. So it then did something
unprecedented in the history of multi lateral diplomacy. It
called a "special session" of the member states to oust him.
The session begins on Sunday. And this time the US is likely
to get what it wants.
part 2 follows...
Wendy Strachan, Ph.D
Woodring College of Education-MH260-C
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA 98225-9090
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