So where, then, are the signs of concerted international action to halt this global wave of death and destruction?
In particular, what on earth is going on in the monolithic glass-and-steel New York headquarters of the United Nations, the organisation charged with ensuring peace and security in the world since its founding amid the wreckage left by the Second World War?
Despite its obvious aggression in Ukraine, Russia remains a permanent member of the UN security council, the body primarily responsible for maintaining international peace.
China is a permanent member, too, notwithstanding its sabre-rattling over Taiwan and ongoing border skirmishes with India. As are the United States, Britain and France, all of which have armed Ukraine in its war against Russia.
Can the UN really claim to be a guardian of global peace?
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine grinds on, into icy winter and towards trench warfare, Erbil Gunasti asks: Where are the signs of concerted international action to halt this global wave of death and destruction?
In truth, the organisation is stuck in 1945, and has been run ever since its inception very much in the interests of the five permanent members of the security council – the five allies who defeated Nazi Germany almost 80 years ago.
Given that all are nuclear powers and all five have the power of veto over the council’s work, it’s no surprise that that you will fail to find resolutions on Taiwan or Ukraine in the past 12 months.
It was certainly no surprise to me.
I spent 15 years working in New York at the UN, and can confirm that it’s a bloated, impotent, multi-billion pound talking shop. Nothing I’ve seen since I left in 2008 has persuaded me to change my mind.
When I worked there, it was clearly a gravy train for those on the payroll and their associates. The UN dining halls were places for the world’s elite to be seen over three-martini lunches. Every night, there were receptions at which the diplomatic corps, invited guests – often celebrities – and packs of journalists were fed hors d’oeuvres as more free drink flowed.
I’d first arrived in New York in December 1992, as an idealistic young press officer for Turkey’s diplomatic mission to the UN.
I had expected a forum of if not honest, then at least informed geopolitical debate.
But I soon realised that only two nations, the United States and the USSR, had a real voice. Indeed, at the time the world’s press only took notice when the American or Russian ambassador came to the microphone.
Their utterances were invariably covered by the UN’s resident New York Times correspondent on the third floor, followed up by the three press agencies UPI, Reuters and Associated Press. All the remaining 300 or so accredited journalists would essentially copy and paste their reports – understandable, perhaps, because the UN was still functioning very much as a Cold War institution in which only those two rival superpowers really mattered.
But by the time I left in January 2008, the UN had become little more than a Cold War relic – undeniably symbolic, but as useless as a disembodied chunk of the Berlin Wall.
Members of the Ukrainian military drive an armoured vehicle through the streets amid the ongoing conflict
As its usefulness has withered away, the vast bureaucracy of the UN has grown and grown. Even accounting for inflation, annual UN expenditure is 40 times higher today than it was in the early 1950s.
The organisation now encompasses 17 specialised agencies, 14 funds, and a secretariat with 17 departments employing 41,000 people. Its annual administration budget, agreed every two years, has more than doubled over the past two decades, to $5.4 billion.
Yet the entire organisation is paralysed by vast bureaucracy and institutional corruption.
It has spent more than half a trillion dollars in 70 years, even though the vast majority of member nations – 193, at the latest count – who once felt privileged to be members of this international club have come to regard it as undemocratic and dominated by wealthy states, who use it to shape the world as they want it – and never mind the consequences for smaller nations.
But since the end of the binary certainty of the Cold War, the UN has become less useful and less important for almost everyone concerned.
It is clear the world has changed, but that the UN has not changed with it.
The organisation is still controlled by Russia, the United States and a newly-assertive China, none of whom hesitate to use the veto to ban discussion of anything they deem not to be in their own national interest.
But on top of that, the organisation has signally failed to recognise the growing importance of regional power-brokers such as Turkey, India, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
All these countries are denied an effective voice in the security council, as are any small countries who want to air a grievance or press their legitimate interests.
The charge sheet against the UN has become so long, sometimes I wonder why the smaller or less powerful countries bother to turn up at all.
During my tenure there, I witnessed the farcical stalemate of the UN-sponsored negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots – there has been a UN peace-keeping force on the island since 1964, but the talks haven’t progressed one inch.
I watched in 1994 as the UN did nothing as nearly two million Rwandans were massacred. The following year, Dutch troops acting as UN peacekeepers stood by as hundreds of Bosnian Muslims were murdered near Srebrenica during the bloody civil war following the break-up of Yugoslavia.
And in 2003 President Bush used the UN as a tool of American foreign policy to galvanise an international army to invade Iraq under the invented premise of weapons of mass destruction.
Observing the workings of the security council at close quarters, it was clear to me that it utterly failed to resolve any substantial problem. This was almost always because of a geopolitical tug-of-war between the five permanent members – though it usually concerned just three, the US, Russia and China.
But despite calls to modernise, the five nuclear powers show no willingness to give up the power they so often use in their own political interest.
Since 1982, the US has used its security council veto to block resolutions critical of Israel 35 times. More recently, Russia and China have used their vetoes to block UN intervention in Syria.
Meanwhile, the UN has ignored the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and missed at least three opportunities to prevent major human tragedies in Somalia.
The fundamental problem at the heart of the UN was summed up by Turkish president Reycip Erdogan in 2014, when he complained that ‘the world is bigger than five’.
It should be a rallying cry for any country not a permanent security council member.
For the UN’s only meaningful recent successes are the use of small peacekeeping forces provided by member states to bring an end to local conflicts that don’t affect the political aims of the US, Russia or China.
Take those away and the United Nations is revealed for what it is: an essentially frivolous, wasteful organisation that achieves almost nothing at all. SOURCE
WOW – Tell us how you REALLY feel about the U.N. – Dailymail!
Haha we wholeheartedly agree!