Amid the seething ashes, malodor of death and stifled sobs and ululations of numerous widows and orphans, the United Nations came into the picture out of the effluvium of World War II with the aim of abating global conflicts, sustaining peace and escalating socio-economic development throughout the world.
We have to be thankful that a war of a diabolic proportion leading to the creation of UN has eluded mankind till date. Nevertheless, minor conflicts spread out in the world, calamities engineered by man all amount to an equivalent third world war.
Northern Ireland Conflict led to over 2500 deaths since 1969.
This is one example for a regional conflagration in a very long series of conflicts fought by Britain in Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, with a Protestant majority loyal to London. The Irish Catholic minority has sought to disaffiliate and join the Irish Republic in the southern part of the island. The Irish Republican Army and other groups have orchestrated a largely urban guerrilla campaign since 1969. Protestant para-military groups also wage an underground war against the Catholic population.
Sunni muslims fighting Shia muslims is not something unheard of. These regional infernos, that have left millions dead, have dissevered the international community down the middle and currently present us with a stark scenario. Global decision making is acceleratingly becoming the monopoly of a few. Unilateralism is more so the order of the day. Amidst all these, the fate of the UN is impugnable.
But then one must accept that the demise of Cold War indeed held a great opportunity for the anointed institution as it enlivened the hope for a prosperous and peaceful world order.
However, this concept of a frictionless world turned out to be a fallacy with sectarian conflicts engulfing every nook and cranny. So disastrous is the performance of the UN in keeping its security promises that it appears to be heading the League of Nations at a snail’s pace. Unfortunately, the UN, as it exists today, is nothing but a bony structure, which is required to be imbued with adipose and sinew to be effective.
Let us not forget that the UN is obligated not only to provide a pacifistic system for maintaining global peace but also devise ways and means to manage critical problems, which no single government is capable of superintending. Who else other than this extensively mirrored world body can be tasked with monitoring and fortifying order in an ideal society based on law? The Iraq war has robbed the UN of this power in the ballpark and leaves a grey area to be exploited by any government.
With the inscribing of the UN Charter in 1945, a framework for a cogent system of international governance in an increasingly mutually dependent world came into being though both the Cold War and its subsequent era witnessed an unfortunate degradation in the entire institutional mechanism that everybody consented to adhere to. The UN Charter binds the member states into accepting a clear restraint on the use of inordinate force because the maintenance of peace and protection of accredited global interests vests with the UN itself.
The Security Council bearing primary incumbency for ensuring global peace has either been jittery in its approach to critical situations or undulated by partisan interests. Many believe that the biggest accomplishment of the UN is its success in thwarting a direct armed conflict between the major powers. But in reality, given the extenuating influence and impact of the world body in crisis situations, the trepidation of mutually assured destruction has so far forestalled the big powers from adopting adventurist action against each other. While there is no doubt at all that some ill-conceived action by dictatorial regimes does provide the perfect vindication for propagating unilateralism, the international community must put their heads in unison to come up with some peachy keen solution so that the damaged credibility of the UN can be refurbished at the earliest.
In the words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN must gear up to become a perfect symposium for resolving disparities rather than turning into a mere juncture for acting them out. It might not be out of context to remind ourselves that a high level panel appointed by Annan, for outlining the challenges faced by the UN, have given their nod for the use of brute force in some situations to prevent an impending threat.
The panel also suggested that the Security Council be made the nodal point for threat assessment.
It would be myopic of the influential world leaders to decline this opportunity in the revulsion of getting trapped by a clause or formal agreement that implies a legal commitment towards shared and collective responsibility in handling troubled situations.
As world powers struggle to find the most congruous global response to mitigate the sufferings of ordinary Syrians, Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu’s tenet that Syria can be bailed out from the grisly crisis through a political solution and that the UN has a role in it offers a glimmer of hope, however dim it might be.
The United Nations recently conveyed that it is “gravely concerned” about the mounting evidence of gross violations in South Sudan of international human rights law, including extrajudicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers.
Evidence gathered by the UN mission shows that South Sudanese citizens are being targeted because they belong to President Salva Kiir’s ethnic group, the Dinka, or to his former vice president Riek Machar’s ethnic Nuer group. The UN mission warned that allowing the violence to continue could “destroy the fabric of the new nation,” which gained independence in 2011 after a long war with Khartoum that claimed some two million lives.
A UN official urged both the warring sides to bring the country back from the brink.