United we stand by Trevor Plumbly

Some things need a total rebuild to function in line with their original purpose and I wonder if this isn’t the case with the United Nations. In a time of high global uncertainty, it seems about time for an overhaul.

Dreamers and schemers

In 1942, 26 countries signed the ‘Declaration by United Nations’ to form a joint war effort against the German, Italian and Japanese forces. This was followed by the signing of a formal charter in 1945. In those days the UN Security Council was all but governed by its five permanent members: Russia, France, China, USA and the United Kingdom, all of which were granted the power of veto, intended to prevent the adoption of any ‘substantive’ resolution; in short, never mind democracy, the big boys can handle things.

Show ponies

This power of veto needs urgent reclassification; currently its use permits blatant hypocrisy and selective bigotry. Of those five permanent member countries, France seems to have the best record in terms of national restraint: remember ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’? Uncle Sam blew the bugle and Britain couldn’t wait to send troops to combat a fallacy. China’s attitude to its own version of civil rights is slowly mellowing, but its programme of claiming neighbouring sea and island territory brings its judgement into question. Then, of course, there’s Russia, who trampled over Crimea and Ukraine with scarcely a slap on the wrist from their fellow ‘permanent members’.

UN Security Council meets in New York

Moveable morals

When this particular mouse does roar, it imposes sanctions; the sort of things that were intended to curb Russia’s appetite for political control of its near neighbours. Do they work? Not so far! Despite trade ‘sanctions’, Russia continued to deal outside its borders, practically unchecked. Financial ‘sanctions’ are even more of a joke; it’s probably a lot quicker and easier to shift a few billion off shore than it is to get a driving licence. As they meet, argue, sanction and veto, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are busy deciding which country has the nuclear equivalent of the biggest penis. Add to that the dozens of countries sandwiched between them in political tatters and it’s small wonder millions are seeking even the most basic sanctuary. To use a sporting analogy, the world urgently needs a ‘safe pair of hands’ and, if the Security Council lacks the powers to provide them and impose sanctions that really have an effect, we desperately need a change of rules and attitude from all parties, not just a powerful few.

Stay safe! T.

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