Good Intentions III: A (Dis) United Nations

“We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.”

Vladimir Putin


As a beacon of what could be right with the world, an organisation that could lead by example and foster true and lasting human relationships, the ideology of the UN has proved almost impossible to put into practice. Some do say that the UN was never formed for any other reason than to control and divide; or as a long-term branch of a World government in the not-so-distant future. If the former is the case, the legacy of institutionalised corruption and sexual abuse as well as ineffectual presence during serious conflicts abroad has reduced its credibility to a rock bottom low.

Indeed, the phrase “peace-keeping” like the term “United Nations,” is fast becoming a less than palatable irony. From the rubber-stamping of the US intervention in 1950’s Korea which actually had no genuine Security Council clearance, right up to the same US-led invasion of Iraq, the UN is currently battling a serious indictment of its operations summarized by the grandiose title of “nation building.”

The organisation was founded in 1945 by 51 states, replacing The League of Nations. The building, built on land donated by the Rockefeller family and funded by  John D. Rockefeller, Jr., (which should tell us something right there) it led from an original 51 countries which were largely made up of the victors of World War II to a membership which presently stands at 191.

The UN describes itself as a “global association of governments facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, and social equity.” The real source of power lies with the Security Council with each of the major powers maintaining the right of veto. Ostensibly, it was set up to avoid future conflicts, encouraging peaceful resolutions to global difficulties via its many affiliations and sub divisions. However, this right of veto has proved to be a recipe for future paralysis and a severe obstacle for the decision making process and thus the protection of humanitarian rights.

The General Assembly of the UN has proved to be a toothless tiger on many occasions. Rather like the G8, it has become an enormous leviathan spotted with good deeds, with genuinely beneficial humanitarian missions, while at the same time, harbouring corruption, nepotism, fraud, miss-management and sexual abuse on a formidable scale. A catalogue of interventions have proved disastrous, including the hopelessly ill-suited “peace keepers” that were let loose in Bosnia, Cambodia, Somali and Rwanda, the latter proving to be the most spectacular failure to save lives in its recorded history. [1]

A large part of this failure, though by no means the whole, stems from the historical influence of the United States. With hardly a whisper regarding their arrival the closely associated multilateral institutions arrived on the scene, listed as the World Bank, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which was replaced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1993. (See The Structural Adjustment Team) These three agencies function under the directives set up by The Bretton Woods meeting of 44 nation representatives that took place in Bretton Woods July 1st – 22nd 1944. This set in motion the framework by which a global economy could flourish, with the pre-eminence of the US secured.

The Bretton Woods agencies are said to be closely affiliated to the UN, seen as an intrinsic part of its incarnation yet they are wholly autonomous and shrouded in secrecy. The IMF and The World Bank have veto powers of their own and an undemocratic share of the vote on decision making that ensures an overall control of the agenda. [2] This agenda is inherently biased towards standard free-trade, free-market and corporate colonisation. Under the auspices of the United Nations these institutions have been brought to fruition by the US, causing untold, long-term damage to developing nations around the world which outweigh any successes which have taken place.

In many ways, the United Nations was the brain-child of America and therefore guided to act in its own interests which has produced a historical battle ever since, at least on the surface. In an uncharacteristically forthright attempt to assert its authority the General Assembly of 1975 carried out Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism. The US took great umbrage, marking the beginning of the end of an apparent “working relationship,” though by 1991 the resolution was put out to pasture after relentless hounding by Israeli lobbyists.

The constant vetoing in favour of Israel in the face of clear breaches in human rights were due to a powerful Zionist network in the US administration underpinned by an equally powerful lobby which still dominates the media and culture in America. It is thus easy to see why Israel and the US are inevitably joined at the hip.

unitednationsfragmented© infrakshun

An example of “stalling for time” is illustrated by the US taking extraordinary lengths of time to sign and ratify treaties. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is one such treaty which remains unratified. Somalia, the other country yet to fulfill its responsibilities regarding the convention with the excuse that it had, as yet, no recognizable government. Due to its strained relations with the UN, the US prefers to fall back on a tried and tested bureaucracy as a reason for not ratifying the treaty, where the very act of signing up to the principles contained within the Convention – which one would imagine to be the most clear-cut case available – took over six years. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide took more than 30 years to be ratified and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, signed by the United States 17 years ago, has, at the time of writing, still not been ratified.

For a nation that considers itself the bastion of democracy and a leader of the free world, it is strange indeed that the government will consider only one human rights treaty at a time. Strange, that is, if one is still clinging to an illusion and not so strange when we remember the US blocking the creation of a new Human Rights Council and its proposal which was advanced on February 23 by the president of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson of Sweden.

The overwhelming majority of countries, including those of the European Union, Latin American democracies, Canada, India, South Africa, Japan, and most other so-called democracies and allies of the United States, have now said they support the proposal. It only becomes clear why the United States continues to block such a creation and the inevitable dilution of its mandate, when we realize that US secrecy and control might be at stake. One of the postulates states: “A new universal review procedure will scrutinize the records of even the most powerful countries – an important step toward redressing the double standards that the commission was often accused of applying.” [3] Naturally, at this stage, an open government is not something the current US administration is seeking, being counter-productive to its grand expansionist designs abroad and an emerging Police state at home.

With the United States holding the purse-strings of the UN and refusing to pay its dues as a means to control UN policy, it is little wonder that swords have frequently been drawn. The UN charter is clear that members should pay for expenses incurred but the actual collection mechanism of money is absent. It is assumed to be voluntary which sets up a further problem when forcing a member to cough up. It appears to be an effective tactic however, even while the US still owes a considerable financial debt to the International Body which had reached $1.246 billion (41 percent) by September 2005. This was hotly disputed by some policy and economic analysts, though mostly from republican commentators who bridle at any expenditure “for UN missions that contribute little or nothing to our national security” and for whom the failure to receive “proper credit” for their largesse is seen as nothing short of disrespectful. [4]  The Oil-for-Food (OFF) “scandal” is an example of genuine corruption for which the US remorselessly milked in order to force the UN into compliance, a tactic that is a normal part of the US intelligence armoury of Psychological Operations. After a spate of accusations that UN personnel were receiving vouchers from the Iraqi government to purchase oil and where Saddam Hussein was believed to have more than $10 billion in illicit funds, a crusade was mounted, with Congress leading the charge.

The CIA Duelfer Report (originally on the absence of weapons of mass destruction which nonetheless, led to the illegal invasion of Iraq) also said that the majority of these illicit transactions were “government to government agreements” [5] that were secret trade deals taking place outside the OFF program and which resulted in an income for Iraq to the tune of $7.5 billion. [6] If we look a little closer at some of the accusations of smuggling for example, we can see that the body called the UN Multinational Interception Force [7] made up of member nations tasked with the role to interdict Iraqi smuggling was in fact, largely made up of the US Navy. While Congress castigated UN personnel at every available opportunity they ignored illicit contracts on the ground which UN staff consistently reported to the Security Council 661 Committee where the US dominates. Even though “billions of dollars of humanitarian contracts –$5 billion were on hold as of July 2002–it never took action to stop kickbacks, even when they were obvious and well documented.” [8] (The fact that the US Navy was involved at all sets off warning signs from the beginning as we shall discover towards the end of this series).

Though the OFF program did save lives with the average daily calorie intake almost doubling in Iraq from 1996 to 2002, [9] corruption was flourishing. By September 2005 The Volcker Panel conducting the OFF UN inquiry released its final report where it condemned the “illicit, unethical and corrupt” behaviour during the scheme, and blamed the secretary general for mismanagement.[10] Certainly, several companies made a substantial profit from the $65 billion from the program. And it is certain that other UN financial corruption issues are being revealed with over 200 different reports of abuse, mostly in the U.N. supplies and services, both in the department of management and the department of peacekeeping operations which could run into “tens of millions of dollars.”[11] Halliburton, Bechtel and other US corporations with close connections to the Bush administration plundered what it is left of Iraqi resources and reshaped the country according to US “democracy” by effectively steering the UN rudder.  So much so, that it would certainly be in the US interests to foster corruption rather than prevent it.

Since 1991, these tensions have increased in tandem with the US led unilateralism which continues to destabilize the world still further. The UN is now seen as the only way to stop the expansion of US designs and to shore up its inevitable signs of decline. It is here that we see how compromised the UN has become. It has never regained its credibility after presiding over the one of the most appalling war crimes in recent times.

After the 1991 Gulf War, and sanctions in which saw Senior UN diplomats in Iraq resigned in protest, the genocide of children in Iraq continues. Consequently, most Iraqis see the UN as an effective tool of NATO-US foreign policy, and like it or not, that is exactly what it is. Accordingly, the state of the UN under the direct influence of American policy is revealing an undercurrent of financial and sexual abuse among some peacekeepers and UN staff, a practice, which after all the stone-walling on the scale of the Catholic Church – continues to this day, this time in Haiti. [12]

Whether the UN can embody the highest principles humanity has to offer or continue to be the arm of the current Neo-Liberal disaster of the Structural Adjustment Team remains to be seen. Like so many of our institutions they may have to be symbolically demolished in order to be rebuilt on solid ground before it can be an authentic vessel for global truth.


Notes

[1] Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda by Michael Barnett, published by Cornell University Press (2003). From the Synopsis: “[T]he UN culture recast the ethical commitments of well-intentioned individuals, arresting any duty to aid at the outset of the genocide. Barnett argues that the UN bears some moral responsibility for the genocide. Not only did the UN violate its moral responsibilities, but  many in New York believed that they were “doing the right thing”. Barnett addresses the ways in which the Rwandan genocide raises a warning about this age of humanitarianism and concludes by asking whether it is possible to build “moral institutions.”
[2] ‘Fifty Years of Political Meddling by the World Bank’ The Ecologist 24, No.1, 1994
[3] ‘U.N.: Intransigence of US Endangers Rights Council – Washington Should Work to Make New Body Effective’ Human Rights Watch http://www.hrw.org New York, March 9, 2006.
[4] ‘The US Debt Is Outrageous and Untrue,’ by Roscoe Bartlett, News Release, January 27, 1998.
[5] Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD September 2004, http://www.cia.gov/
[6] Ibid.
[7]  Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) http://www.globalsecurity.org/
[8] ‘UN Oil for Food ‘Scandal’’ by Joy Gordon November 18, 2004 The Nation, (December 6, 2004 issue) http://www.thenation.com
[9] United Nations web page http://www.un.org/ Oil for Food program Humanitarian relief page.
[10]  ‘Timeline: Oil-for-food scandal’ BBC News, 7 September 2005.
[11] ‘UN: Probe of Peacekeeping Fraud and Contracts Abuse’ by Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service January 24th, 2006.
[12] ‘UN releases report on sex abuse by peacekeepers’ Study found that troops commonly paid for sex with cash, dresses, jewellery, perfume, and mobile phones. Al-Jazeera, 16 Jun 2015.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s