Isn’t it time to consign this useless and ineffectual body to the dustbin of history, once and for all?
One of my favourite artists of all time — The great Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, in his album — beast of no nation — released in 1986, after being let out from prison by the military government led by Ibrahim Babangida, took the United Nations to task in its failure to address the pre-eminent geopolitical conflicts of the age — between Iraq and Iran, the apartheid regime of South Africa and the cold war.
This profoundly disreputable body came into existence, in the aftermath of the second world war and desperate to avoid the fate of its predecessor — the league of nations, championed by Woodrow Wilson, its western cheerleaders drew up a charter, put together in extraordinarily clear detail, to which every member nation, signed up and ratified.
The UN Charter, which I have lifted, below, from Wikipedia, states the following:
The preamble consists of two principal parts. The first part contains a general call for the maintenance of peace and international security and respect for human rights. The second part of the preamble is a declaration in a contractual style that the governments of the peoples of the United Nations have agreed to the Charter and it is the first international document regarding human rights.
- Chapter I sets forth the purposes of the United Nations, including the important provisions of the maintenance of international peace and security.
- Chapter II defines the criteria for membership in the United Nations.
- Chapters III–XV, the bulk of the document, describe the organs and institutions of the UN and their respective powers.
- Chapters XVI and Chapter XVII describe arrangements for integrating the UN with established international law.
- Chapters XVIII and Chapter XIX provide for amendment and ratification of the Charter.
The following chapters deal with the enforcement powers of UN bodies:
- Chapter VI describes the Security Council’s power to investigate and mediate disputes;
- Chapter VII describes the Security Council’s power to authorize economic, diplomatic, and military sanctions, as well as the use of military force, to resolve disputes;
- Chapter VIII makes it possible for regional arrangements to maintain peace and security within their own region;
- Chapters IX and Chapter X describe the UN’s powers for economic and social cooperation, and the Economic and Social Council that oversees these powers;
- Chapters XII and Chapter XIII describe the Trusteeship Council, which oversaw decolonization;
- Chapters XIV and Chapter XV establish the powers of, respectively, the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Secretariat.
- Chapters XVI through Chapter XIX deal respectively with XVI: miscellaneous provisions, XVII: transitional security arrangements related to World War II, XVIII: the charter amendment process, and XIX: ratification of the charter
So given the rich, meticulous detail of the UN charter, which was designed to protect all nations — big and small, rich and poor — you are left wondering why it has failed miserably since? Is American hegemony responsible? Is the treatment of member states underpinned by their place in the global racial hierarchy?
Like millions across the world, who are outraged at the images of Israel’s determined forced removal of Palestinians from the homeland and not to mention, ethnic cleansing, one wonders, shouldn’t the United Nations be condemning the state of Israel, in the strongest possible terms? Working hard to ensure that no more lives are lost — including those of babies and older citizens, by having troops on ground to preserve lives? Isn’t that what the raison d’etre of the UN is?
But then, given its antecedents, Its extraordinarily poor performance, really shouldn’t come as a surprise. The events of Hungary in 1956, come to mind, when the soviets crushed the Hungarian protests, with our friends, doing very little or when the Rwandan genocide took place on its watch, back in 1994, did absolutely nothing and subsequently withdrew its troops, just as the aggressors, were getting warmed up, in commencing the full scale slaughter of the Tutsi people.
The oil for food program, which was launched in the aftermath of the first gulf war, was yet another example of the body’s incompetence and corruption.
For as long and I have been alive, not one of the secretary-generals of the UN, has been effectual, or could be described as having made a difference to the global peace. From the likes of Javier Perez de Cuellar, to Boutros Boutros-Ghali; from Kofi Annan to Bank Yi-Moon and whoever the incumbent is, at the moment, the UN has been perpetually useless.
The United Nations isn’t in a position to fulfill its mandate in the age of American or Chinese hegemony. Even as the people’s communist republic is set to overtake the US, as the largest economy in the world, it will seek to bully the likes of Taiwan and the other small countries, in its sphere of influence. And we can’t leave out Russia in all of this too, given its recent misadventures in Ukraine and Chechnya.
The UN has a very long record of failure and it’s been on life support for a while now. The sooner, it is put out of its misery, the better for the smaller nations of this world, who have never really benefited from its existence.
Thanks very much for reading.