Melanie Phillips

14 September 2011

Basildon twinned with...Zimbabwe?

Published in: Daily Mail

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To thoughtful observers, the UN long has given cause for the gravest possible concern that it is making a mockery of the high ideals on which it was founded after the Second World War -- ideals of justice, freedom and international law. In recent years, it has stood those ideals on their heads by systematically disregarding or minimising human rights abuses by some of the most hellish regimes on earth, simply because these regimes came to dominate the UN’s proceedings.

Despite the fact that the UN now dances to the tune of the very human rights violators that it was founded to curb, it is still regarded as the global arbiter of justice. To the left in particular, it has remained sacrosanct as the foundation-stone of utopia, the forge of the brotherhood of man and the architect of peace on earth. Those of us who have been endeavouring for years to show that, on the contrary, the UN promotes injustice and illegality, violence and chaos have faced a challenge that would have discouraged Sisyphus.

Now, however, it seems that we have our poster-boy to advertise the grotesque charade that the UN has become. Step forward Professor Yves Cabannes, the UN’s Adviser on Forced Evictions.

You might think that Prof Cabannes would have his work cut out running round the world from tyranny to tyranny investigating the plight of people forced from their homes in an arbitrary and illegal manner through ethnic cleansing, for example, wars or religious persecution. The Third World is chock-full full of refugees.  In Zimbabwe, for example, as a result of the mass forced evictions programme carried out in June and July 2005 in which more than 700,000 people lost their homes or their livelihoods, thousands of people are even now living in inadequate conditions.

So where would you expect to find Prof Cabannes raising the UN standard in defence of those evicted from their homes by the monstrous tyrannies of this earth? Africa? Azerbaijan? China? Egypt? Turkey?

No. Basildon.


Yup, it turns out that Basildon council in Essex should be considered a flagrant human rights abuser, on a par with the most evil regimes in the world.  So what did Basildon do to deserve this damning designation? It had the brazen gall to uphold English law and enforce it against those who were breaking it.

Yes, you read that right. Indeed, in the eyes of Prof Cabannes Basildon should be effectively twinned with Zimbabwe for evicting some 400 travellers who had been illegally occupying plots on Dale Farm, Essex.

You see, according to the UN’s Forced Evictions Adviser it was not the travellers who had acted illegally but Basildon council which had broken international law in no fewer than three different ways and which therefore deserved to be in the dock alongside not just Zimbabwe but Nigeria and China.

Rub your eyes – Basildon council was upholding the law of the land. But in the Orwellian universe of the UN, it had acted illegally because had failed to provide the pitches it should make available to travellers.

There is no indication whatever that in any other than the upside-down universe of the UN’s Forced Evictions Adviser Basildon council has acted in anything other than a proper manner in evicting these travellers, thereby upholding the law of the land.

But to the UN Forced Evictions Adviser, it seems the law of the land now counts for nothing. What counts instead is his interpretation of a Higher Law, sanctified by the UN, which turns justice and democracy on their heads.

Moreover, by equating evictions carried out in accordance with the rule of law on the one hand with the illegal eviction of innocent people by tyrannical regimes on the other, the UN’s Forced Evictions Adviser is effectively denying the difference between the rule of law and its negation.

He is also inescapably trivialising and minimising the atrocities committed in Zimbabwe, China and other tyrannies, and the terrible suffering of those forced out of their homes for no reason other than the repressive nature of the regimes under which they are unfortunate enough to live.

For most people in Britain, the UN does not figure very high in their consciousness. The baleful part it is playing on the world’s stage in ignoring or condoning repression and worse, and the catastrophic consequences of this for global peace and freedom, are thus all but ignored. With the planting of the UN standard, however, in a Basildon flower-bed and his surreal press conference equating the enforcement of English law with ethnic cleansing and other atrocities, the preposterous Professor Cabannes may have finally alerted Britain to the moral degeneracy of the world’s policeman.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography


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Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
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