This is an open letter to the United Nations Secretary General, Mr.Ban-Ki-Moon. Given the ongoing strife all around the world, terror and war threatening us at every nook and corner of the earth, we ar eleft wondering what exactly was the role of the UN? What was the objective of its formation and today, what is it left doing? These are few pertinent but disturbing questions. For most in the market this peice would be irrelevant but sometimes, we need to look beyond the market and at the world around us.. as ultimately it all affects us. So as the weekend approaches this is some food for thought, something to instrospect upon.
The Secretary General
We in India are fighting our own battles, against corruption, against legislative inaction, against inflation, against intolerance, against politics; all this will grappling with the struggles of living on a day-to-day.
In the midst of all this, we Indians find very little time to actually empathize with the turmoil happening in the world. The plight of Syria and the people fleeing as refugees touches us but only briefly before our strife takes over again.
In all this, the images on international news channels are moving and we seem to be on the brink of a third world war, with Russia threatening to have “Turkey” for Thanksgiving. Amidst all this, one cannot help but wonder about the exact role of the United Nations (UN). I always thought that the UN, which symbolizes world peace, did nothing but just stand and watch, putting relief camps and aid in place. A year or two ago, when there was the use of chemical weapons, and because it was broadcast on TV, at the behest of some of the Big 5, the UN had to act. But that’s all it did – it merely validated that chemical weapons were indeed used. Its role ended there and even till date, the war continues in Syria while the rest of the world continues to live life as usual. I wondered why the UN did not play a more active role.
I read through the UN resolutions and realized that it has the mandate to only prevent war by using peaceful means like negotiations, use of peaceful settlements and also use enforcement measures like economic sanctions. But there is no mandate for use of force in conflicts, especially when it is perceived to be an “internal matter” of the country, where the UN has to respect the sovereignty and privacy of the country. Yet, I did not find any clause which defines the exact nature of “internal matters” and when there are thousands of lives lost, why does the UN continue to adopt the stand of a bystander or mere relief provider.
I have a few pertinent questions which I would like to ask you Mr. Moon:
- Why is the UN unable to provide any sort of mediation or act on its mandate of maintaining peace?
- Why is the UN’s sole focus on economic and political priorities of the big 5 nations? So without being democratic itself, how can the UN bring about democratization of the world?
- Why was the UN unable to prevent genocide in Bangladesh, Rwanda, Bosnia, Libya?
- Why is the UN not able to strike a balance between peacekeeping efforts and humanitarian efforts? The UN is on record stating that they did not intervene or speak out during the rout of the LTTE for fear of risking access.
I am also a bit perturbed that the Security Council veto power is with the Top 5 and this is very much against the spirit of the UN; it goes against the idea of all nations acting together as a force for peace, multilateral diplomacy and world peace. Unfortunately, on many occasions it has been seen that the use of the veto has led to members deciding privately to discuss resolutions; for example Srebrenica and Darfur - no sanctions were placed on the country.
Respected Mr. Moon, it is my fervent appeal that you should ensure that each member of the Security Council must put aside their allegiances to other members and be very objective while executing the UN mandates in conflict resolutions.
I apologize if I might have sounded rude or seemingly castigating the role of your esteemed body but I seriously think that the UN does need to rethink its role in today’s world or else, it would soon become an irrelevant body, a mere relief provider. And that would make UN just another “me too” organization and not the lofty objective it was incorporated for - of establishing international co-operation and peace.