Each new session of the United General Assembly in September opens with much fanfare. Not much is achieved at the UN except that leaders of different countries get an opportunity to talk about their pet subject. Few people, whether inside or outside the assembly chambers, pay the slightest attention.
On September 22, the UN Fact-Finding Mission finally released its report about Israel’s May 31 attack on the peaceful Turkish aid flotilla bound for Gaza. The report confirmed that the Israelis had “executed” Turkish peace activists
In President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad’s recent visit to the United Nations in late September, he easily became the most-watched head of state. In his various speeches, he took the UN and US to task for presiding over the wars on Afghanistan
There is a plethora of institutions masquerading as global do-gooders. Some of them might even be doing some good work but that is incidental to the overall objectives for which they were created.
Under the terms of a peace agreement signed in 2005 between northern and southern Sudan, the latter is expected to vote for secession in a referendum in 2011. But the traditional competition between nomadic groups in the south for the best cattle and grazing land has developed into a serious ethnic conflict in recent months, so the region could be too unstable to hold either the elections due next year or the referendum.
The latest crisis in Sudan began on March 14, when the international criminal court (ICC) in the Hague indicted President Omar al-Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and issued a warrant for his arrest. Bashir is being held responsible for crimes allegedly committed by his command in the Western region of Darfur, since 2003, by security forces and allied groups said to be “Arab”, financed by the regime to suppress “non-Arab ethnic insurgents”.
By challenging Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos on January 29, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan captured the imagination of millions of people, especially Muslims, around the world. His 56-word response to Peres echoed globally: “You are older than me and your voice is very loud. The reason for your raising your voice is the psychology of guilt. I will not raise my voice that much.
Somalia is being recognised as the worst and most violent “failed state” in the world, and the tragedy of its people as the “most-ignored human tragedy”. Even the odd commentator in the international media is now calling on the ‘international community’ to help Somalia to restore peace by ignoring the corrupt and ineffective Interim Government (IG) and replacing it with “moderate” members of the Islamic Courts Union.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency – the UN’s anti-nuclear watchdog – left Syria on June 25 after spending three days collecting samples and other materials from the al-Kibar site bombed by Israel in September last year.
That, in most cases, the UN merely goes through the motions of mediating an end to conflicts is widely known and generally resented. Consequently, the inevitable failure of most of its efforts comes as no surprise to most. Its mishandling of the conflict in Somalia – culminating in the bogus ‘peace-deal’ signed by the weak interim government and nominal insurgents on June 9 is typical.
The pressure on the Sudanese government to allow a UN peace force into western Darfur to set the basis for a political settlement – similar to southern Sudan’s right to secede after a referendum – is intensifying. The latest push comes from the UN and from a joint effort by Britain and France.
It is widely argued that the United Nations is needed for the promotion of international peace and security, as well as for the protection of human rights and the advancement of human development worldwide. But it is also widely held that the UN is unequal to its tasks, mainly because a few powerful states have a monopoly over its decisions and control the selection and functions of its secretary general and other officials. It is not, therefore, surprising that it is those very countries, led by the US, which oppose every attempt to improve the functions, procedures and powers of the UN and its various officials and agencies. Worldwide attention on these fault lines was focused by the appointment of the foreign minister of South Korea (which is a close ally of the US) as secretary general to succeed Kofi Annan, whose term of office ends in December.
Hizbullah has won a stunning victory over the Israelis in southern Lebanon. That is a reality recognised by virtually everyone around the world, despite the efforts of the Israelis and their supporters in the West to pretend otherwise.
As international pressure on Sudan to admit UN peacekeepers in Darfur appeared to flounder by mid-August, the US and Britain – the two main powers behind the scheme intensified their effort to break the resolve of president Omar Hassan al-Bashir to resist their ill-disguised plot to prepare for the eventual separation of the Western region from the rest of Sudan.
UN secretary general Kofi Annan, under pressure from the US and zionist-Christian groups, dispatched Lakhdar Brahimi to Sudan on May 25 to coordinate the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops in Darfur after the Darfur accord signed in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, on May 5.
The United Nations general assembly has overwhelmingly approved a new Human Rights Council to replace the "widely discredited" Human Rights Commission; 170 of its 191 members voted in favour, four voting against and three abstaining. The vote followed a proposal for reform that was made by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, who is keen to make his dismal term seem better before he bows out at the end of this year.
Since the conflict in Darfur began three years ago, about 180,000 people have died, mainly because of hunger and disease; about 2 million have been displaced. Clearly, the conflict is too vicious and costly to be allowed to continue, but the current efforts of the African Union (AU) to resolve it are not equal to the task. But the so-called international community cannot seriously be concerned about the fate of the people of Darfur or of Sudan as a whole.
In the second paper we are publishing from the IHRC conference “Towards a New Liberation Theology”, GHADA RAMAHI discusses the right to resist. In its attempt to reconstruct humanity, the contemporary state system has given itself the authority to delegate rights to inhabitants of the earth...
The principal task of the UN Security Council – established under the founding charter of the UN as one of the UN's main organs – is supposedly to promote international peace and security in every part of the world. Yet it is undoubtedly more notable for its failures than for its achievements since its first official meeting, which took place on January 10, 1946.
The United Nations, an organisation with a richly deserved reputation for corruption and ineffectiveness, undoubtedly needs urgent and extensive reforms. But the powers that control it and its mainly corrupt leading staff will not allow any serious changes that might bring to an end their deleterious influence or affect their careers.