UN awards key Syrian regime figure with position defending 'subjugated peoples'
A leading figure in the Syrian regime has been re-elected to a UN panel that is responsible for defending the rights of subjugated peoples across the world, as hundreds of civilians die in Eastern Ghouta from Damascus' bombing.
Bashar Jaafari, Damascus' UN envoy, was appointed to the post of rapporteur for the "Special Committee on Decolonisation" on Thursday.
The body was created in 1961 to oversee the path to independence for colonies of the European powers.
Since the dismantling of the European empires in the 1960s and 70s, the body has been more focused on the 2 million people living in non-self-governing territories.
In addition to the Syrian regime, other members of the 24 nation body include key allies of Bashar al-Assad - Russia, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, China and Venezuela.
Jaafari thanked the 24 member panel - which included India and Chile - on Thursday for appointing him to the post, while UN chief Antonio Guterres opened the committee's first meeting of 2018.
Jaafari's re-election came as the Syrian regime continued its ruthless bombing of the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta. The campaign has killed more than 400 civilians since Sunday.
Key UN members have called for a 30-day ceasefire to stop the slaughter and an emergency Security Council vote will be held on Friday.
Russia - a member of the Security Council and key regime ally - rebuffed the proposed truce saying the US had "influence on the extremist groups remaining in this suburb of Damascus".
Jaafari called the ceasefire proposal "shameful" and launched into a rambling speech to reporters at the UN building in New York on Thursday.
He slammed Security Council members Kuwait and Sweden's efforts to initiate a truce and called the White Helmets rescue workers "terrorists".
Jaafari was slammed by human rights groups in 2016 after callously laughing off a journalist's question about the bombing of two hospitals in Aleppo.
Syria's war broke out in 2011 after peaceful protesters calling for democracy and reforms were beaten and shot by regime forces.
Mass defections from the army led to an armed uprising against Assad. More than 500,000 people have been killed in the war, mostly civilians from regime and Russian bombing and shelling.