Tanja Bueltmann 0

Call for UNWTO to withdraw letter to Mugabe

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Today the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which is part of the United Nations, has released details about its leaders for tourism campaign - a campaign designed to help 'position tourism as a driver of economic growth and development, and thus a priority in the global agenda.' While this is a laudable objective indeed, it is absolutely incomprehensible that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbawe has essentially been made an ambassador for tourism as part of the campaign. Although Mugabe has not been appointed to an official position, he will receive an open letter from the UNWTO like the other heads of state who are part of the leaders for tourism campaign, thus giving recognition to Mugabe as a champion of tourism. Moreover, Zimbabwe has also been invited to co-host, together with Zambia, the UNWTO General Assembly in August 2013.

In light of the ongoing problems in Zimbabwe, but specifically the policies of ethnic cleansing, violation of human rights, media censorship, manipulated elections and the oppression of opposition parties, the letter endorsing Mugabe as a champion of tourism is wholly inappropriate.

We, the undersigned, call on the UNWTO to withdraw the open letter to Robert Mugabe. He is not a champion of tourism. Instead of giving undue recognition to Robert Mugabe, the UN must focus its activities on supporting non-governmental organisations, human rights campaigners and opposition parties in Zimbabwe to boost democracy and economic growth in the country.


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