Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann

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Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, M.M.
Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann2.jpg
President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
September 16, 2008 – September, 2009
Preceded by Srgjan Asan Kerim
Succeeded by Ali Abdussalam Treki
Libyan Arab Jumeirah Ambassador to the UN
In office
29 March 2011 – 2011
Succeeded by Abolished
Foreign Minister of Nicaragua
In office
1979–1990
Personal details
Born (1933-02-05) February 5, 1933 (age 81)
Los Angeles, California,
United States
Nationality Nicaraguan

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, M.M., (born February 5, 1933) is a Nicaraguan diplomat, politician and Catholic priest of the Maryknoll Society of missionaries. He was recently[when?] nominated as Libyan Representative to the UN, a request which is currently pending.[1][2] As the President of the United Nations General Assembly from September 2008 to September 2009, he presided over the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.[3][4] He was also the last UN ambassador for the Libyan Arab Jumeirah.

Early life[edit]

D'Escoto was born in Los Angeles, California, in the United States.[5] on February 5, 1933. He was then raised in Nicaragua but was sent back to the United States to begin his high school studies in 1947.[6]

Priesthood[edit]

D'Escoto felt called to serve as priest and entered the seminary of the Maryknoll Missionary Society 1953. He was ordained a priest of the Society in 1961, before engaging in politics. He earned a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism the following year,[6] and was a key figure in the founding of the Maryknoll publishing house, Orbis Books, in 1970. He served as an official of the World Council of Churches. As an adherent of liberation theology, he secretly joined the Sandinistas.

D´Escoto formed the Nicaraguan Foundation for Integral Community Development (FUNDECI) in January, 1973, to promote a non-governmental response to the displacement of thousands in the December, 1972, Managua earthquake.[7][better source needed] Today, he continues as President of FUNDECI, which operates in several departments in Nicaragua.[6][8]

Nicaraguan civil war[edit]

D'Escoto first publicly expressed support for the FSLN as one of Los Doce, in October 1977, and was appointed foreign minister after the Sandinista triumph in 1979. He served as foreign minister in Daniel Ortega's FSLN government from 1979 to 1990.[2] During a visit to Central America, Pope John Paul II publicly admonished him for his political activity.[9] In 1985 the pope denounced him and two other priests, brothers Ernesto and Fernando Cardenal, who all served in the Nicaraguan government, because they did not resign from office and were therefore in violation of Church law. D'Escoto was suspended by the Vatican in 1985, together with the two other priests. The suspension stayed in place until August 2014, when Pope Francis lifted it.[10]

Early in the Contra war, the Reagan administration perceived D'Escoto as a relative moderate who might break with the regime. While foreign minister, he received the Lenin Peace Prize for 1985-6, and the Thomas Merton Award for 1987.[11] In 1999, then Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, criticised those priests who became involved with the Sandinistas and abandoned their priestly ministry for politics. He said the priests never denounced the injustices that took place at that time.[12]

Political activity[edit]

On March 3, 1986, D'Escoto gave a speech on Nicaraguan television publicly insulting and condemning Obando for not siding with the Sandinista regime against the Contras: "There is no word uttered by human mouth, no adjective that we could use to truly describe the horror produced by this brother of ours."[citation needed]

After the Sandinistas lost the 1990 election, D'Escoto led the Communal Movement, but resigned that post in December 1991 after his support within the organization waned.[13] He has supported Ortega against the Sandinista Renovation Movement dissidents.[14]

United Nations[edit]

President of the General Assembly[edit]

GRULAC selected Brockmann as their candidate to become the president of the U.N. General Assembly. On June 4, 2008, he was elected by acclamation to preside over 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly from September 2008 to September 2009.[15]

Shortly after his election, D'Escoto stated during a press conference:

"They elected a priest. And I hope no one is offended if I say that love is what is most needed in this world. And that selfishness is what has gotten us into the terrible quagmire in which the world is sinking, almost irreversibly, unless something big happens. This may sound like a sermon. Well, OK."[16]

D'Escoto also stated that addressing rising energy and food prices around the world would be priorities.[15] His other priorities would include hunger, poverty, climate change, terrorism, human rights, disarmament, nuclear control, cultural diversity, the rights of women and children and the protection of biodiversity.[17]

D'Escoto designated[18] 16 senior advisers : Brother David Andrews, C.S.C.[disambiguation needed] (USA), Maude Barlow (Canada), Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria), Leonardo Boff (Brazil), Kevin Cahill (USA), François Houtart (Belgium), Noam Chomsky (USA), Ramsey Clark (USA), Richard Falk (USA), Michael Kennedy[disambiguation needed] (USA), Eleonora Kennedy (USA), Olivier De Schutter (Belgium), Joseph Stiglitz (USA), Sir John E. Sulston (UK), Francisco Lacayo Parajón (Nicaragua) and Howard Zinn (USA).[citation needed]

In June 2010, D'Escoto was elected by acclamation to the Council Advisory Committee to the United Nations Human Rights Council.[19]

Reform of the United Nations[edit]

Brockman has criticised the veto power wielded by the five permanent members of the Security Council: "I hope my presidency will address what has become a universal clamour all over the world for the democratisation of the United Nations. I promise to give full support to the working group on the revitalisation of the General Assembly."[15]

Relations with the United States[edit]

Described by Reuters as "a fierce critic of the foreign relations of the United States (he referred to Ronald Reagan in 2004 as "the butcher of my people"[5]). As president he said: "Because of Reagan and his spiritual heir George W. Bush, the world today is far less safe and secure than it has ever been."[2]

Following his election to the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly, he offered a statement interpreted[by whom?] as renewed criticism aimed at the United States: "The behavior of some member states has caused the United Nations to lose credibility as an organisation capable of putting an end to war and eradicating extreme poverty from our planet."[2] He denounced what he called "acts of aggression, such as those occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan."[20] However, he expressed his "love" for "the United States as a country," and added: "I do not want to turn this General Assembly presidency into a place to take it out on the United States."[2] Reacting to those comments, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad responded: "We have been assured that a page has been turned and that he understands his new responsibilities... We will wait and see."[2] Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. permanent mission to the United Nations, added that: "The president of the General Assembly is supposed to be a uniter. We have made it clear that these crazy comments are not acceptable, and we hope he refrains from this talk and gets to work on General Assembly business."[16] However, Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the United States Mission to the United Nations, said:[when?] "It's hard to make sense of Mr. D'Escoto's increasingly bizarre statements."[21]

Relations with Israel and Iran[edit]

On September 17, 2008, Israel's Ambassador to the U.N Gabriela Shalev called D'Escoto an "Israel-hater"[22] because D'Escoto "hugged" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Ahmedinedjad's strongly anti-Israel and anti-Zionist September 2008 speech to the UN General Assembly. She expressed anger over the UN reception of Ahmedinedjad, saying to an Israeli newspaper: "I heard that the Iranian president's address was followed by loud applause, and that d'Escoto warmly embraced him."[23] D'Escoto's spokesman responded by saying: "He cannot respond to each and every speech made by the leaders of these states."[23] The Israeli ambassador also criticised D'Escoto for attending a dinner marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan with a number of Middle Eastern leaders, including Ahmadinejad.[23] D'Escoto's spokesman responded by saying: "[D'Escoto] will join the dinner because he believes in dialogue, an issue which he had highlighted, and thinks that he should deal with all member states."[23]

Libyan Ambassador[edit]

On 29 March 2011, during the 2011 Libyan civil war, Libyan Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa wrote to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, nominating Brockmann as Libya’s new ambassador to the UN. The letter stated that Brockmann was nominated, as Ali Abdussalam Treki, also a former General Assembly president who was their first choice, was denied a visa to enter the United States under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.[24] U.S. ambassador Susan Rice claimed he does not have the proper diplomatic visa to represent Libya and suggested Mussa Kussa's recommendation may be void because of his resignation on March 30 from the Libyan government.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (March 30, 2011). "Ex-Nicaraguan Official to Represent Libya at United Nations". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Nicaraguan U.S. critic made U.N. assembly president", Reuters, June 4, 2008
  3. ^ "General Assembly Elects, by Acclamation, President for Sixty-Third Session", United Nations General Assembly official website
  4. ^ "Nicaraguan elected to head next session of General Assembly", United Nations General Assembly official website
  5. ^ a b "FACTBOX-Facts on new UN assembly head D'Escoto", Reuters, June 4, 2008
  6. ^ a b c "Excmo. Sr. Padre Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, M.M. Presidente del sexagésimo tercer período de sesiones de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas"
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "FUNDECI"
  9. ^ Pope John Paul II criticized political activity.
  10. ^ Pope lifts suspension of Father D'Escoto, former Sandinista official
  11. ^ "The Thomas Merton Award 2006 will honor Angela Y. Davis!", Thomas Merton Center
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ The Popular Organizations in Nicaragua Yesterday and Today
  14. ^ Revista Envío - “We’re Independent Leftists”
  15. ^ a b c "UN Elects Ex-Sandinista as Assembly President", Voice of America, June 4, 2008
  16. ^ a b "Priest elected UN General Assembly president" at the Wayback Machine (archived June 11, 2008), Associated Press, June 5, 2008
  17. ^ "Roundup: former Nicaraguan FM elected head of UN General Assembly", Xinhua, June 5, 2008
  18. ^ D'Escoto designates senior advisers
  19. ^ The U.N.'s war on Israel continues and the U.S. is silent 6/18/2010 New York Post by Anne Bayefsky
  20. ^ "Former Nicaraguan Official Wins U.N. Assembly Presidency", New York Times, June 5, 2008
  21. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,509596,00.html U.N. Official Accuses U.S. of Demonizing Ahmadinejad
  22. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1024552.html Israel ambassador to UN: General Assembly chief is an Israel hater
  23. ^ a b c d [3]
  24. ^ Bill Varner and Blake Schmidt (29 March 2011). "Former Nicaragua Sandinista Leader Named Libya’s UN Envoy". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  25. ^ AP (30 March 2011). "Nicaraguan Asked to Represent Libya at UN". Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Srgjan Asan Kerim
President of the United Nations General Assembly
2008–2009
Succeeded by
Ali Treki