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Those who seek ''the death of the United Nations''

While the United Nations is seen by many as merely a talk shop that gets little done, the truth lies elsewhere. For example, UNESCO has done a great deal for education and the work of UNICEF has been phenomenal.
MARVELLING: The United Nations
Orlando Marville, Barbados Nation Online, October 26, 2003

The war in Iraq brought once more into focus, one of the fundamental problems of the United Nations. Ultimately, any nation or group of nations powerful enough can ignore the will of the majority of nations.

While multilateralism, the process of acting together as a group has been the focus of the United Nations, and while President Bush and even more so Prime Minister Blair recognised the importance of multilateral moral support, they put the proposal to attack Iraq to the Security Council.

It was only when France et al used their veto power to indicate that it was not accepted to one and all that Messrs Bush and Blair invaded Iraq.

This attack on multilateralism was hailed by the Libertarian neo-conservative Richard Pearl in the strongest terms. He declared, "Thank God for the death of the United Nations. Saddam will go quickly. In a passing moment, . . . will go with him the fantasy of the United Nations." Soon thereafter, Pearl died and remained silent. Recent events might otherwise have led him to conclude, if we may paraphrase Mark Twain, the announcement of the demise of the United Nations was somewhat exaggerated.

The proof was simple. The same president Bush who had unilaterally declared war on Iraq was now coming back to the said United Nations for assistance in rebuilding that country. When at first rebuffed by the secretary general no less, he was prepared to reform his proposals to gain unanimous approval in the Security Council.

The neo-conservatives were generally silent except to indicate that it was a victory for the United States President in getting even the former objectors back on board. That is commonly referred to as spin.

This about-face may not be enough to satisfy the critics of the United Nations who insist that it is merely a talking shop. Yet, somehow, this talking shop has created a lot of jaw, jaw and not a great deal of war, war.

No one can, however, deny the need for a serious reform of the United Nations system. It was an unwise compromise to give the victors of the Second World War the power of veto in the United Nations. The failure of the League of Nations should have been a lesson. Unlearnt as that lesson was, we are now left with a United Nations that has a small segment of its membership -- to wit, the Security Council- that is more powerful than all the nations of the world.

A vote against the construction of a wall by Israel on Palestinian territory can be scuttled by a United States veto, which argues that the criticism/sanction is not valid unless there is some mention of terrorism.

Serious reform is needed either to remove the power of veto from the Security Council or to make the Security Council decisions such as can be overridden by a 67 per cent vote in the General Assembly.

Naturally, those who now possess the veto are unlikely to allow themselves to be deprived of a power reserved for the victors of a past war.

All of this, however, does not begin to scratch at what the United Nations has done through its agencies like United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), International Labour Organisation (ILO), Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO) -- of which PAHO is an outcrop -- International Telecommunications Union (ITU), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations Development Fund For Women (UNIFEM) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to name a few.

UNESCO has done a great deal for education, especially in the least developed countries, and has left us the first non-Eurocentric history of the world.

UNDP has funded many a small project in developing countries. The success of micro loans in Bangladesh and in the countries of the African Sahel point the way -- alas little heeded for other developing countries -- on how to attack poverty at its roots.

The ILO, as a meeting place for trade unionist and employers as well as Governments has done a great deal for the advancement of the working man not only in poor developing countries, but surprisingly in some of the more developed. It has attacked abuses like child labour.

Diseases like malaria which kill millions each year, but only a handful of developed country citizens, and sickle cell anaemia, en essentially African and African Diaspora (not only the Americas, but also India and the Mediterranean) would have gone unnoticed except for the work of the WHO. Regrettably, it is not only in areas of technology, but even in areas of relatively available medicines that we get left behind. Their work too in the area of HIV/AIDS has been considerable.

The work too of UNICEF has been phenomenal. One only has to look at the attention paid not only to children's health in today's world, but even the debate on children's rights to recognise how far we have come from children working exceedingly long hours in British mills less than 200 years ago.

It is true that we still have -- in spite of some efforts by the government to stop it -- child labour in a number of countries including India. But even that this fact is registered as an abuse of the young human kind is significant in that it highlights evils that would have been taken for granted before the days of the United Nations.

While the United Nations is seen by many as merely a talk shop that gets little done, the truth lies elsewhere. I was once dropped off at the United Nations by a taxi driver who pointed to the General Assembly building and remarked: "That is the biggest country club in the world."

The sarcasm is not untypical of United States citizens either complaining that the United Nations did not support them in some area -- however unjustified their action or that it does nothing.

Orlando Marville is a retired diplomat and specialist on African affairs.

homepage: homepage: http://www.nationnews.com/StoryView.cfm?Record=43655&Section=LO

Dean wants the UN to become a lethal fighting machine 26.Oct.2003 19:00


It was appalled to see that Howard Dean's comment that the UN should have kicked Hussein's ass even though Iraq had no chemical or biological stock piles and that the US gave Iraq these things in the early '90's. With an attitude like that, I feel better voting for Bush.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Peter Smith. I'm co-chair of the Coalition for a Strong United Nations. In that light, my question is, what changes would you make in our current US policies in general, in relation to the United Nations?

HOWARD DEAN: Let me be blunt about this, as I usually am. I don't approve of the President going to war in Iraq without the United Nations. But the United Nations is not blameless in this. The United Nations really had not enforced the previous resolutions in terms of disarming Iraq. And the United Nations does have a mandate to use military force in Iraq, as the United Nations, because Iraq is a threat to countries in its own region, because it likely possesses horrible weapons, including not nuclear weapons, so it's not a threat to the United States, but chemical weapons, which makes it a threat to all the countries around it, including some which they've used them on. So the way I would now try to reconstitute our relationship with the United Nations is simply to begin the dialogue, and say, "Look, we're interested in being part of the United Nations again, but it's very important to us that when we make a resolution that we enforce that resolution, and that we learn from this very difficult experience that we've had in Iraq that there are two parties here." The United States must really become a member of the world community. But the United Nations really does have to be serious about enforcement.

All talk and no action 26.Oct.2003 19:19

open mind

You still haven't provided anything tangible. Loans, regardless of the terms, are still oppresive. Writing condemnations and documenting things doesn't exactly clean up the water, provide septic systems, and bring in convoys of nutritious food to people.

From what you've posted as proof, the extent of the UN's good works amounts to nothing more than writing things and making speeches. Oh, I forgot to mention the helpful genocidal forced inoculation programs.

The UN is an arm of the USA's empire 26.Oct.2003 22:37


Ever noticed how the UN rarely stands up to the US? Ever noticed how the UN seems to do what the US wants it to? When the US ignores the UN, the UN does... nothing. The UN is prepared to help imperialism in its own way, which is disgusting enough. The UN was established with the US being fully aware of every country's covert communications, which gave the US immense power in the forming of the UN. The UN talks a lot, even saying the right thing oftentimes, but it's only impotent talk.

The UN is worthless at protecting people 27.Oct.2003 08:46

Andy from Beaverton

To all those who think the UN peacekeepers actually keep the peace, all is not well in Kosovo. More than 200,000 Serbs have fled the province since the "end of major hostilities" because of constant attacks like this one. "An elderly Serb couple and their son were axed to death and their house was set on fire last month in one of the worst incidents of violence in Kosovo in recent months", said a United Nations official. The flow of refugees continues as they are run out their homes or forced to sell them for next to nothing or suffer the consequences. Since the deployment of KFOR and UNMIK in Kosovo and Metohija on June 10, 1999 to August 9 of this year 6,535 attacks have been reported. In those attacks 1,201 people have died, 1,328 have been injured and 1,146 people have just "disappeared". Most of the victims have been Serbs and Montenegrins and these attacks have gone on right under the noses of U.N. 'Peacekeepers'. They continue on a daily basis.
We put the UN in to protect the Albanians from the Serbs. But ever since the UN has moved in, the Albanians are killing the Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonians and Roma without any repercussions. Seems to me these people from Kosovo who have been ethnically cleansed from their homes would have been better off defending themselves. Screw the UN!

Give Thanks to the UN 27.Oct.2003 20:47


Einstein, no slouch of a thinker, stated 'Nationalism is the measules of the human race' . The United Nations has flaws but is the only organization large enough to confront problems as immense as global warming, overpopulation, war between nations, ect...the VETO power of the United States is destroying the integrity of the UN and I think a 2/3 override is a great idea...
What about this solution for a real 'security' force...EVERY nation contribute 5% of their military force for UN 'Peacekeepers'....the U.S. could withdraw all our current troops stationed oversea's and still have 95% of the United States military for the 'homeland'...being assigned as a UN troop would be a high honor for every military man(& woman)...those in power who belittle the UN offer no alternative or VISION

The UN reinforces and upholds nationalism 27.Oct.2003 23:40


By doing what the USA commands it to do, the UN is practically a branch of the US government. The UN has made decent proclamations, even chastising the US for its behaviour at times, but the UN will inevitably *act* in the US's interests, no matter what it pays lip service to.

GRINGO, you're not looking at the evidence 28.Oct.2003 13:25

red cross

The US didn't want the Kyoto Accords to be sanctioned by the UN
The US didn't want the The International Criminal Court either
The US tried to command a UN Resolution to go to war with Iraq
The US tried to command the UN to pay for rebuilding Iraq

Guess what?

The US doesn't have the control over the UN that you claim. Fact is, for so many millions of people in this world, the only organization that treats their sickness or settles their disputes is the U.N. If you truly care about this world, don't take away their lifeline without first providing an alternative that is at least as effective (in the humanitarian concerns).