Why U.N. Fact-Finding Is a Flashpoint in Syria’s Civil War

Why U.N. Fact-Finding Is a Flashpoint in Syria’s Civil War
Edmond Mulet, the head of the U.N. mechanism charged with reviewing chemical weapons incidents, addresses the press at U.N. headquarters, New York, July 6, 2017 (Sipa via AP Images).

Diplomacy is a mendacious business. “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country,” one 17th-century wit supposedly quipped. Diplomats are still expected to massage, twist or conceal facts to suit their countries’ national interests. By contrast, international institutions are generally meant to make diplomacy a marginally more honest business by upholding higher standards of objectivity. Organizations like the United Nations and World Bank draw a lot of their credibility from the assumption that they tell the truth. In the last century, the League of Nations and then the U.N. pioneered the global […]

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