Canada withdraws from UN group over Mugabe tourism pick
Canada has chosen to formally remove itself from The United Nation World Tourism Body (UNWTO) over the body’s latest choice of ambassadors. With a lineup of questionable ambassadors ranging from Drew Barrymore to David Beckham, it seems that the latest pick has pushed Canada over the edge.
The Guardian reported last week, that Robert Mugabe, 88, “he has been honored as a “leader for tourism” by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, along with his political ally, Zambian president Michael Sata, 75. The pair signed an agreement with UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai at their shared border at Victoria Falls on Tuesday.”
Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe since 1987, is leader to a country with its economy in the tank, and millions starving. Over his 25 year presidential term, Mugabe has been accused of election rigging, controlling the media, terrorizing opposition, engineering hunger and ethnic cleansing.
Today, Mugabe is banned from traveling throughout the EU and the United States. This decision has left many wondering how a man, who can’t travel to some countries, can be the ambassador for tourism for all countries.
The Tourism Review reported “The Canadian foreign minister, John Baird said that the UN tourism office correspondence in which the body’s secretary general on Tuesday reportedly praised President Sata of Zambia and President Mugabe for their role in tourism at Victoria Falls was the ‘last straw’ in Canadian participation at the UN body.
Although the position holds no real power, many believe that the symbolism of giving Mugabe a role in the international organization raises questions about the UN’s credibility.
British MP Kate Hoey, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe, said: “For a man who has destroyed his country’s infrastructure and cynically engineered hunger to be an ‘ambassador’ for tourism is disgraceful – particularly as he has been personally responsible for the downward spiral of the economy and destroyed the hotel, travel and tourism industry in the process.”