UN to hold Food Summit, Mugabe’s presence “obscene”


The UN Food Summit, organized to develop solutions to the global food crisis brought on by high prices, will kick off on Tuesday in Rome. Whether governments, international institutions, climate change, or a combination of factors are the cause, action must be taken to prevent hundreds of millions from starving. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to propose easing farming taxes, export bans and import tariffs in a package costing $15 billion. He is also expected to target US subsidies aimed at biofuels.

The role of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels in the energy crisis has been debated for months. Fidel Castro says that up to 3 billion people could die as a result of the current policy. His view is that using food to fuel engines will ultimately end in the destruction of humanity.

I believe that reducing and moreover recycling all motors that run on electricity and fuel is an elemental and urgent need for all humanity. The tragedy does not lie in reducing those energy costs but in the idea of converting food into fuel.

Among those in attendance at the summit will be the Zimbabwe delegation led by President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe’s presence is proving to be a controversial matter. “Robert Mugabe turning up to a conference dealing with food security or food issues is, in my view, frankly, obscene,” said Austrailian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. Mugabe is normally unwelcome on EU soil, but an exception is made for UN matters. “We will not allow the millions of people who can’t afford a proper meal to be held hostage by President Mugabe,” said Dutch minister for overseas development, Bert Koenders. “We will ignore him and do all we can to tackle the food crisis with concrete measures.”

While the hardship inflicted upon the people of Zimbabwe at the hands of Robert Mugabe is inexcusable, should he be ignored? This summit could be used as a forum to put further pressure on Mugabe, and his cooperation could be useful for helping other nations in sub-Saharan Africa. The fact is that Mugabe attended a similar event in 2002, was invited to this food summit, and all countries need to be represented for global issue like this. Allowing him to attend this event does not permit his actions, only opens the door for positive action to be taken.


2 Responses

  1. This debate recalls the way in which McCain and George W. Bush publicly denounced Obama for being willing to speak to Castro and Ahmedinejad. While presumably Mr. Obama would have very strong words for these dictators and probably hopes to pressure them into some west-friendly concessions prominent Republicans act as though he should recoil immediately to avoid ‘enhancing their status’.

    It smells a bit like a slippery slope argument: one minute you share the negotiating table with them, the next you share nuclear secrets. It’s just not plausible, there’s just not that much of a risk. As for benefits, like you said, we need to try to get as many countries as possible on-board with our policy initiatives, and even a despot might occasionally have an idea that should be given consideration in free countries.

  2. According to the BBC

    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said the two key issues were “global warming and the use of agricultural commodities for the reproduction of biofuels”


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