What is troubling you, senator?

. . . continued from page 1

In one irate letter to Bill Richardson, the American chief delegate at the UN, Helms described Nadiaye's inquiry as a "perfect example of why the United Nations is looked upon with such disdain by the American people".

Likewise, doesn't it occur to Helms that American interference elsewhere, which is common, is also strongly resented?

Nadiaye was surprised at this frosty reception particularly because he was part of an earlier American-backed UN team that sought to uncover human rights abuses in the former Zaire which has now assumed its old name, the Republic of Congo.

The UN investigation of human rights abuses in the US was prompted by the rise in the number of executions, reports of racism in the use of the death penalty and the execution of mentally-retarded prisoners and those convicted as minors

And since Helms is the powerful demi-god who controls the American purse strings for paying off Washington's debt, will he turn the UN investigation into another excuse in addition to the litany of other excuses not to pay its obligation to the world body?

Then there are these other cases: Clinton told the UN that the US will help eliminate landmines (which Diana, a good friend of the Clintons, campaigned so hard against), but in another breath two weeks or so later he declared he won't sign a treaty to ban landmines unless it made exceptions for the Korean peninsula.

In any event, the Nobel Peace Prize for 1997 was given to the International Campaign to ban landmines, and to Jody Williams, an American woman, who coordinates it. The peace laureate said she will use the award to step up political pressure on recalcitrant countries including the US and China - two powerful countries which remain opposed to the ban.

It's high time for Clinton to lay down the law to Israel. When the Israelis are wrong, he ought to say so, too. Not just to the Palestinians.

The US and its leaders - Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright - must learn to be even-handed, at least, be seen to be doing so, otherwise, the chances of a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, between the Jews and the Arabs are as good as China giving up its claim on Taiwan.

Maybe, Americans should devalue their political hubris and racial conceit. I can understand if they are imperious occasionally. After all, US is the new imperial power. People can stand conceit but not American double standard and hypocrisy.

If Americans believe in democracy as they stoutly profess they do, then they must respect other people and other nations' constitutional rights to uphold their independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Nadiaye had figured he would start his probe of human rights abuses in the US at the top with Clinton then work his way through Vice President Albert Gore the Supreme Court, Albright and other Washington luminaries.

What a letdown for the Senegalese!

In any event, Nadiaye did manage to interview lesser mortals such as George W. Bush, governor of Texas and a son of former president George Bush and one or two judges. He was allowed to visit state prisons in Huntsville, Texas and San Quentin in California.

I look forward to reading his findings which will be published in a report to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

Said Nadiaye: "I have a simple mandate. I have visited East Timor, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. All these states have agreed to have some standards of behaviour, and some standards of rights to be available to their citizens. It is very important not to be seen as having a double standard. I will not treat the United States differently from any other country."

Bravo, brave Senegalese, proclaims an Asean diplomat.

Dato' Abdullah Ahmad is Malaysia's Special Envoy to the United Nations

(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Sun )