by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 41, No. 8, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1433)
The UN has become virtually irrelevant to the affairs of the world since it is in the grip of western powers that refuse to allow justice or fairness to prevail.
Every winter penguins on the South Pole perform an elaborate ritual that is a most striking example of collective effort at survival. Given the bitter cold and biting winds, the penguins form concentric circles; they huddle close together to keep warm but take turns doing duty at the outer rim where the wind is strong and the cold intense. Naturally, no bird would be able to survive on the outer rim for too long. Thus, each penguin does its turn on the outer rim and then moves inside. The penguins’ behaviour provides a good example of mutual help for survival.
There is another ritual that is performed, not by penguins but by men and women at the United Nations each September. Presidents, prime ministers, kings, generals, colonels and other potentates make their way to New York for the start of the new session of the UN General Assembly and prattle about the efficacy of the world order. Unlike the penguins, the ritual at the UN is motivated by selfishness and greed. While talking about the rule of law, the militarily stronger powers bully weaker ones into toeing their line, no matter how unjust.
This is not to suggest that nothing sensible is uttered at the UN. Leaders of some countries — Islamic Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, for instance — make a strong case for justice and peace in the world. They expose the misconduct of the imperialists and Zionists and bring their grievances to the world forum not so much in hopes of getting justice but to make other people aware of the injustices they suffer at the hands of the oppressive powers. Apart from the UN providing a platform to air some grievances, the UN has lost its relevance.
Perhaps, only one example will suffice. The Zionist State of Israel is in violation of more than 70 Security Council resolutions yet it continues to be provided a platform for its ambassador and other officials to pollute the environment with their racist cant. Zionist Israel should not be allowed to sit in the UN. Its membership of the UN body in 1948 was made conditional on the fact that it would permit the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and villages when the Zionist State was illegally created. For 64 years, the Zionists have adamantly refused to allow the Palestinians the right of return to their homes and villages from where they were driven out by a campaign of terror.
The UN suffers from an even more basic structural flaw. At its founding in 1945, the victors of the Second World — essentially Western powers and the erstwhile Soviet Union — arrogated to themselves the right of veto. Until 1971, the Peoples Republic of China was denied a seat on the Security Council; the US maintained the fiction that Taiwan, then called Nationalist China, represented all of the Chinese people. By 1971 and to advance American interests, this fiction was no longer tenable and China took up its seat on the Security Council table.
The Security Council with its veto-wielding members is an inherently unjust and undemocratic system. How could a few Western powers and China and Russia claim to represent the will of the international community? The five veto-wielding members of the Security Council represent at best 1.6 billion people out of a total world population of 7 billion. If China were excluded, they would represent a mere 600 million people — essentially Europeans and Americans. They have the gall to call themselves the “international community” and impose their will on the rest of humanity. It is this imbalance that has led to great suffering globally.
Unless this inherent injustice is redressed, there will be little peace in the world. Imperialist powers and their allies will continue to oppress the weaker ones. The wars that are unleashed against other peoples are the direct result of this fundamental injustice. The UN has not prevented a single war from breaking out, which was one of the fundamental reasons for its creation. The world is in desperate need of a more just order, not the one crafted by aggressive militaristic powers only interested in furthering the narrow interests of the ruling elites in their societies.
Perhaps, human beings have much to learn from the penguins about mutual help and survival but it may be too much to expect them to display such sense. It might be more realistic to move the UN to the South Pole!