NST Leader: Many UNhappy returns

Tawfiq Shanaa, a 66-year-old man, plays the oud as he performs traditional Palestinian songs outside his house in the Rafah camp for Palestinian refugees in the southern Gaza Strip.  -AFP picTawfiq Shanaa, a 66-year-old man, plays the oud as he performs traditional Palestinian songs outside his house in the Rafah camp for Palestinian refugees in the southern Gaza Strip. -AFP pic

ON June 26, the United Nations will turn 75. At that age, institutions will be tried and tested. Not the UN. It has bungled along. Perhaps its failing is in its history. After all, it was purpose-built for the big powers, the permanent five (P5) — the United States, Britain, Russia, France and China. Much of the world’s problems start from here where they sit, the UN Security Council, the law-making body.

They go to war as they please. They impose sanctions as their fancy dictates. It is not that we want the UN to make the world a heaven. The least it can do is not to turn it into hell. The geopolitical games of the P5 are doing just that. If this continues, the UN has to live with many unhappy returns.

The sad part is that there are some reasons for it to celebrate. Like the good fight that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is putting up against Covid-19 and other diseases that have gone before.

This is despite the US throwing hurdles along its path. It wants WHO’s fruits, but doesn’t want to fund it. Even the UN itself is under the threat of US fund cut, not to make the world body efficient, but as a threat to make it align its policy with that of America’s. And there are the UN efforts in pushing for sustainability goals as a blueprint to fight poverty, inequality, environmental degradation and other similar scourges.

The UN has also done much in educating millions throughout the world through its agency, the United Nations Children Education Fund (Unicef) for close to 74 years.

But what was hailed as a hope for the world in 1945 when the UN was signed into being by 50 nations gathered in San Francisco has proved to be a bane in some respects. Especially when the League of Nations failed the world so miserably.

Expectedly, the UNSC often comes in for criticism. One English writer even described it as a “den for dictatorship” some five years ago. He was right then, and is still. The UNSC has 15 members, but the P5 determine if it fares well or fails badly.

Most often, the latter is the case. It shouldn’t be so given that three out of the P5 are prescribers of liberalism and democracy for the rest of the world. A case of do as I say, not as I do. Many think the UN should be credited with preventing a third world war. But there have been many that have come close. The most recent being the India-Pakistan and India-China skirmishes.

Disputes between three nuclear nations with fingers on the nuclear button can’t be dismissed as something less. And we have not said anything about the US-backed persecution of the Palestinians and other genocides in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere.

Reformers have suggested a revamp of the UNSC for a more effective UN. But a mere restructuring exercise of the 15-member body by increasing its membership without discarding the veto power of the P5 will mean more of the same. For so long as the P5 are unwilling to give up their vetoes, the UN will remain an ineffective world body. What’s worse, an irrelevant one. Until then, a unhappy birthday it must be for it.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2020/06/602095/nst-leader-many-unhappy-returns

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