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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Babies Don't Belong on UN Agenda




Only the bureaucrats of the United Nations could have come up with the idea of designating an innocent newborn as "the world's 6 billionth person."


Of all the many children born Tuesday, UN officials selected an eight-pound boy in Sarajevo. Why Sarajevo - and not, say, Mogadishu, or Calcutta, or Beijing, or some other place associated with rapid population growth? Why a boy and not a girl?


As this is a naked public relations exercise, the logic is self-evident: The UN is thinking ahead to putting this poor child's face on posters and funding appeals for population control drives - and they have selected the ethnic and geographic profile they think will work best. In one sign of how the UN is thinking, Secretary-General Kofi Annan was even on hand giving out T-shirts marking the birth.


What an awful fate to hang on a person within minutes of his birth - and for absolutely no good reason other than because it makes a good fund-raising gimmick for an organization. Perhaps the only consolation for this child is that by the time he is 11 or 12, the UN will be in a position to designate a 7 billionth child - but even then, the 6 billionth child will probably find himself drawn into some kitschy, internationally televised UN-sponsored passing-the-torch ceremony at the 2012 Olympic Games.


Annan gave the maternity ward where the boy was delivered a $50,000 gift, and the mother a silver Peace Medal. He said Sarajevo was a fitting home for the 6 billionth person because it was "a city returning to life - to a people rebuilding their homes, in a region restoring a culture of coexistence after a decade of war."


This is all pretty uninspiring. What could be more Third World-corrupt than handing out medals and public-funded grants on such a frankly non-merit basis?


As to Sarajevo being such a symbol of hope, the truth is that Annan and the UN see Sarajevo as a serious PR problem that a celebrity baby can help solve: In the 3 and 1/2 years of fighting in Bosnia, the UN was criticized for not organizing international intervention and some 17,000 children were killed. As he was handing out those 6 billionth child T-shirts to Sarajevo children, Annan, remembering the war, told them: "We have betrayed you."


One could debate whether Annan is right. But there's no debating that pasting on the label of 6 billionth person was a betrayal of at least one newborn. UN officials should be ashamed of themselves for playing such a frivolous chess game with this child's future.