Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 10:22 AM
The United Nations General Assembly in New York: More a Tower of Babel than a tribunal for resolving international conflicts and coordinating humanitarian relief!
175 Heads of State and Government will assemble in New York City today for a world summit marking the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations. Unfortunately, the record of the UN in recent years raises grave concerns about whether it will ever prove “adequate to the historic purpose” proffered in its founding instrument by the General Assembly’s First Plenary Meeting in 1946. That instrument states that the UN’s purpose, in part, is the
…maintenance of peace and security by collective recourse…and the establishment, through cooperation in the economic, social, educational and humanitarian fields, of those conditions of stability and well-being which will ensure peaceful and friendly relations, based on the principle of equal rights and self-determination among the nations of the world.
But as the General Assembly convenes today, the UN is regarded more with contempt for internal corruption and spectacular mission failures (e.g. oil-for-food, Rwanda & Bosnia) than with acclaim for establishing conditions of stability and well-being through mission successes (e.g. Cyprus, Kashmir & East Timor).
Moreover, the “sweeping and urgent reforms” that the Volcker Independent Inquiry Committee proposed last week to redress the UN’s “systemic failures” are fated for even longer and more futile debate than the organization’s 60-year effort to define “terrorism”. In fact, this fate (of abiding futility) was sealed weeks ago when U.S. Ambassador John Bolton proposed an unprecedented 750 amendments to the UN’s draft agreement for reforming the organization.
Therefore, one is constrained to wonder about the point of this gathering: Especially since French President Jacque Chirac’s mysterious illness will prevent him from attending to amuse us by hounding President Bush like a woman scorned; Libyan leader Mouammar Kadhafi, now humbled, has become an insufferable bore; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not the American hostage-taking terrorist we were led to believe he was; and, North Korean President KIM Jong Il is too smart to even think about showing up!
Even more disappointing, however, is the fact that the intriguing spectre of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez leading a band of merry nations in opposition to every amendment proposed by the US (as he did at the historic OAS summit earlier this year) has lost its suspense. Because Chavez was hoisted by his own petard just last week when key members of the CARICOM group – whose unified political allegiance he was attempting to bribe with cheap oil - rebuffed his advances.
Although, where Chavez is concerned, all is not lost because we can still indulge in idle speculation about how many bullet proof vests he will feel compelled to wear and whether he’ll have the cajones to look Bush in the eye and dare him to “bring it on”.
But beyond the curious interpersonal dynamics amongst Heads of State, all else at this world summit will be cheap talk (about management transparency, seats on councils, viability of commissions and putting teeth in UN resolutions); and costly folly (as poor people continue to die needlessly whilst bureaucrats bicker over sanctioning authority to launch humanitarian (or collective military) interventions around the world!)….Sound familiar?