Wednesday, May 10, 2006 at 10:13 AM

The UN (continues to) dither and debate as Africans die by the thousands…everyday!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Last week, I wrote this article (for a different publication) lamenting the fecklessness of the United Nations as a peacekeeping and humanitarian organization – especially where conflicts and crises in Africa are concerned. And I concluded with this admonition:

…as our brothers and sisters in Haiti and Darfur know all too well: if your country is facing a military or humanitarian crisis, don’t bother calling the UN….

But I was surprised by how many of you appreciated neither my candor about, nor assessment of, the UN’s performance of its mission. Nonetheless, I appreciate the time each of you took to email your points of disagreement.

However, even though I am loath to say to anyone – “I told you so” – I’m constrained to present evidence not only to support my lamentations but also (and more importantly) to bring a little of the UN’s abysmal record in Africa into stark relief:

Just yesterday, the BBC reported that the menace of UN workers abusing and raping women and children is as “widespread” in Liberia today as it has been in refugee camps in Darfur (Sudan) and Chad for years. (Moreover, UN peacekeepers are rivaling government soldiers in raping refugees and helpless villagers caught in the crossfire of cival war in the Congo, which, incidentally, has killed almost 4 million people that no one at UN headquarters or in the American government seems to know about….)

Just yesterday, the New York Times reported that when riots broke out amongst longsuffering refugees in Darfur – who are begging the UN for more humanitarian assistance and protection – UN peacekeepers fled the scene instead of quelling the riots; and

Just yesterday, the Washington Post reported that – as anarchy and starvation were spreading like a Florida wildfires throughout African refugee camps – the UN Security Council was dithering and debating in New York City over the wording of a resolution to entreat the Sudanese government to stop killing its own people and allow more UN forces to reinforce the spine and discipline of the ones already deployed along with even more spineless troops from the African Union.

Now, taken in proper context, here’s what these reports portend:

That, even if the Sudanese government accepts the UN resolution, it will take months to implement; and, even then, there’s no guarantee that it will have any salutary impact on the lives of the refugees – who are living what U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described during yesterday’s UN debate as a “long nightmare”. (Although, someone from the U.S. delegation should have reminded Rice that her predecessor, Colin Powell, described the plight of these refugees as a “genocide” over 2 years ago, and things have only gotten worse since.)

Moreover, that, even if the Sudanese government accepts the UN resolution, everyone acknowledges that it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on unless the tenuous peace agreement patched together last week between the government of rebel forces holds:

The peace agreement seeks to dismantle marauding militias, fold thousands of rebel forces into the national army and pave the way to wealth and power-sharing between the central government and an impoverished area the size of France.

Unfortunately, the prospect for peace does not look good. After all, only 1 of 3 rebel groups signed the agreement and its leader, Minni Minnawi, only signed after he was reportedly reprimanded and intimidated by the American broker, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick (r), who, the Post reports, “icily told” Minnawi:

I’m disappointed in you. I expect people to keep their word….I can be a very good friend, but I am a fearsome enemy.

Now, anyone who thinks Minnawi or any of the other rebel leaders will honor the terms of this peace agreement is either naïve or stupid. Therefore, it seems disingenuous for Zoellick, Rice and President Bush to hail the agreement as “the beginning of hope” for Darfur. Moreover, one wonders why there’s this push for the UN to deploy more peacekeeping forces pursuant to its resolution when everyone knows that there will be no peace to keep in Darfur for the foreseeable future.

But that’s the UN.

However, as I argued in this previous article, the U.S. has an obligation to honor its commitment to Africa based on the following promises President Bill Clinton made to them in 1998 – as the binding force of his apology to survivors of the genocide in Rwanda on behalf of the United States:

….the international community, together with nations in Africa, must bear its share of responsibility for this tragedy….We did not act quickly enough after the killing began. We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: genocide. We cannot change the past. But we can and must do everything in our power…to ensure that genocide like this never happens again in Africa…never again.

Therefore, I repeat now what I wrote then:

….unless President Bush amasses a coalition more willing to intervene in Darfur than the coalition he amassed to invade Iraq, the casualties from this genocide will soon surpass the body count in Rwanda, and it’s all happening right before our eyes…

NOTE: If any of you require any further evidence to disabuse you of your faith in the UN as an effective humanitarian organization, consider that – just yesterday – Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia were among the nations elected to the new UN Human Rights Council….

ENDNOTE: Please click here to contribute to private charities providing relief in Darfur.



  1. Anonymous May 10, 2006 at 11:52 am

    Hey ALH

    Great blog but I’m getting tired of reading this depressing stuff about Africa.

    What do you think of Bonds breaking the Babe’s record?

  2. Richard May 10, 2006 at 1:11 pm


    I hope you pay no attention to idiots like the anonymous commenter here. Clearly if he had taken a moment to scroll down your page he would’ve seen how incredibly varied your posts are. Besides, there aren’t enough people bringing these issues to light with the kind of perspective you bring. Keep up the good work and thanks for providing the link to private charities as opposed to the UN. I agree with you completely on their “fecklessness”

  3. Anonymous May 10, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    There are no easy solutions to any of Africa’s problems. But I agree that after all of the moralizing over Rwanda the US has an obligation to end the genocide in Darfur. Otherwise no one will believe anything the Americans say.

  4. Karen (London) May 10, 2006 at 4:06 pm

    I think America’s credibility was shot ages ago, Anonymous(can you say WMD?)But it really breaks my heart to read about the worsening conditions in some of these countries. And the continued failure of the UN to do anything but further exploit them, not to mention wasting already limited resources to do so! Frankly, it’s criminal. But as long as they’re policing themselves, I despair of ever seeing any improvement in my lifetime.

  5. Rebecca May 10, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    I agree Karen. That’s why I think Anthony is right to dismiss those incompetent criminals at the UN and throw Pres. Bill Clinton’s words in back in our faces. His legal and moral argument to Bush and his fundamentalist Christian followers might be the way to get them off their asses to do something about “this” genocide. If God gave us all this power to do anything, it has to be to help people like those in Darfur, not picking fights with Iraq and Iran.

  6. Anonymous May 11, 2006 at 2:09 am

    You cant tell us we shouldn’t act unilaterally when we think it’s in our national security interest, by invading Iraq or Iran for instance, but that it’s OK for us to do so to save Africans from genocide.

  7. Karen (London) May 11, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    The US can, and does, conveniently justify any such action if they choose to do so. What threat did Iraq pose to national security? From phantom weapons? Bottom line – oil. Which is ironic given the amounts of money the US is hemorraging to pay for this never-ending war. So if they can overrule the UN for cash, why can’t they consider doing it when it counts; to save lives and protect people from an obviously corrupt system. But I guess that’s too idealistic….

  8. Ken May 11, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    This is ridiculous. The same people who piss on us are the ones who have their hands out for aid and that includes ungrateful Europeans. We give more to charity and do more for world peace than any country by far yet people like London Karen make it seem like were the ones starving people in Africa or threatening to wipe Israel off the map.

    That’s bullshit!!!

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