11 July 2008

The UN Doesn’t Work – And Won’t

Today, Russia and China vetoed a measure in the Security Council to “impose an arms embargo and punitive measures aimed at Zimbabwe's president and top aides,” Fox News reports. Nine of the fifteen members of the Security Council supported the measure. Perhaps as a result, the US, Great Britain, and France – hopefully among others – will agree to impose their own set of sanctions outside of the UN structure.

What this veto means is that if a vicious dictator dismantles his opposition immediately prior to an “election”, it is outside the UN’s mandate to impose an arms embargo on that very dictator and his cronies. At least that is the reasoning as reported in the above-mentioned article.

Western democracies can and should decide who not to do business with and when they ought not do it. Western democracies should not be bound by the UN – and the veto powers wielded by Russia and China – and not take action which is clearly necessary. Allowing more guns and butter at the table of Mr. Mugabe seems like exactly the wrong thing to do. And yet, the power structure of the UN will allow it, unfettered.

This shows just how dysfunctional the UN is, and will be. It is dysfunctional by its very nature. There is no shared set of values among the member-states of the UN. It is not a place of action, it is, in my opinion, a discussion society. The humanitarian functions of the UN could just as well be accomplished by NGOs.

An international institution outside of the UN, made up of demonstrably democratic nations, should be formed as soon as is practicable. Issues such as imposing sanctions against certain countries (Zimbabwe and Iran, for example) may be one way to begin the formation of such a body. Cooperative (stick and carrot capable) negotiations by Western democracies with openly belligerent countries (Iran for example) may be another route. But clearly another avenue must be explored. The UN, in all its bureaucratic monstrosity, will provide no real solutions to real-world political problems.

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