January 6, 2009
No such thing as United Nations
Linda Heard I email@example.com
I NEVER imagined I would one day agree with that bizarre neoconservative warmonger John Bolton, who was briefly the US ambassador to the United Nations. In 1994, Bolton was quoted as saying “There’s no such thing as the United Nations. If the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference”. I differ from Bolton only on one point. The entire expensive and useless organization founded in 1945 to prevent wars and pursue human rights should be demolished because it has failed to live up to its charter over and over again.
On Saturday night, the UN Security Council met in a closed-door emergency session so as to agree a resolution on Gaza, where more than 520 Palestinians have been murdered and over 3,000 wounded. But due to American pro-Israel bias, hypocrisy and double standards its members couldn’t even come up with a joint statement calling for an immediate cease-fire.
For once, Britain broke with its joined-at-the-hip US ally and demanded an end to the aggression whereas only last week it, too, had blocked UN calls for a cease-fire. It seems that Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decided he is no longer willing to provide Washington with moral cover but unfortunately this is too little, too late.
Saturday’s stalemate is a repeat of attempts in the summer of 2006 to end Israel’s war on Gaza that robbed the lives of 1,200 civilians. Then, the US and Britain, both veto-holders, stood together against the rest of the world and allowed the carnage to go on until it looked like Israel was receiving an unexpected bloody nose.
The council’s current inaction was too much for the president of the UN General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, who termed it “a monstrosity”. “Once again, the world is watching in dismay the dysfunction of the Security Council,” he said, while blaming certain countries for playing politics.
Article 1 of the UN Charter headed “Purposes of the United Nations” calls for the body “to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: To take collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace; and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes…”
Article 73 states members of the UN which have responsibilities for the administration of territories whose people have not attained a full measure of self-government must recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount and must ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social and educational advancement, their just treatment and their protection against abuses”.
The UN has failed on all the above points and more. It does not maintain international peace and security. It does not suppress acts of aggression or settle international disputes and it does not censure Israel’s willful failure to hold the interests of the occupied Palestinians paramount and protect them against abuses.
The charter is further based on the sovereign equality of all its members. This fine sentiment has turned out to be a huge joke. There is no equality amongst members and there cannot be as long as the five permanent members of the Security Council have veto power – a power, by the way that cannot be withdrawn unless the five veto-holders agree.
In reality, the 192 member states are under the boot of the five veto-holders. This situation makes a mockery of the term United Nations. There are the five bosses and then there are the others.
To be precise, there are six bosses, one unofficial. Israel and the US are practically one when it comes to foreign policy and, thus, Israel receives carte blanche to produce undeclared nuclear weapons, carry out a policy of extrajudicial assassinations as well as bomb and invade neighboring countries at will. The US vetoes most resolutions critical of Israel and blocks all resolutions binding under Chapter 7.
No wonder Israel feels free to publicly confront the veracity of UN representatives who say there is a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza and expel those it doesn’t like such as UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, who says he was treated like some sort of security threat locked in “a tiny room that smelled of urine and filth”. Falk received such appealing treatment all because he had spoken out against Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law.
A fair and just world formed by the true will of all the international community requires a nonelitist body where all nations are empowered with a vote that counts. Moreover, such an organization should not be headquartered in the US where delegates are vulnerable to being browbeaten, threatened, bribed and monitored as occurred in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Instead, a neutral home such as Switzerland or even Dubai should be considered.
In the meantime, Israel continues its bloodletting in Gaza unimpeded while the United Nations will continue to be nothing more than an empty debating society, to borrow an expression from George W. Bush. It needs either a shake-up or a demolition squad. As it stands it shames us all.