peacekeeping

This Week in the World of Conflict… June 27th- July 3rd, 2011.

Hello all! Hope all is well!

I wrote this post several weeks ago, and although it is now slightly out of date, I thought better late than never since there are several interesting links to be found here.

Peace!

Rebecca

  • The head of UN peacekeeping operations, Alain Le Roy of France will step down from his post after his term expires in August. Le Roy has been the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations for three years, and has expressed his wish to devote more time to his family in France.
  • The IMF elected French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to the position of managing director on Tuesday, replacing scandalized Dominique Strauss-Khan (DSK). Meanwhile, the DSK case has taken an unsurprising turn, as reports attacking the credibility and personal life of his accuser began to surface, with allegations ranging from her being involved in prostitution to lying on immigration forms about a gang-rape causing her to flee Guinea. I’ll just reiterate two points here I think are important: one– a person is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty (why I believe there should be some media restraint until a verdict is issued); and two– even if a person has engaged in prostitution or has lied in the past, they can still be raped or abused and the typical characterizations and credibility attacks made in rape cases is something that needs to be seriously examined. DSK was released from house arrest and hopes were lifted among the French Socialist party of his possible return to the 2012 Presidential race, after his accuser’s “credibility” was tarnished by the released personal information regarding her past.
  • The OSCE called on all European and Central Asian states to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. Forty-six members states are currently party to the convention, though Armenia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Polan, the Russian Federation, the USA and Uzbekistan are not.
  • A recent article I read regarding the pacification of a troop of baboons and other peaceful primate species raises questions about the inherence of violence in humans. Hopefully, humanity will not need to have all our aggressive members of society die of tuberculosis from eating in a garbage dump for us to achieve peace.
  • A key jihadist Internet forum was kicked off the Internet after apparently being hacked. The cyber attack appears to have hit not only the website, but also the server of what counterterrorism experts call “a key al-Qaeda propaganda forum”.
  • UN SG Ban Ki-moon welcomed a meeting of five nuclear non-proliferation treaty States in Paris on Thursday, where they were to discuss transparency, verification, and confidence building measures. The US, China, Russia, the UK and France all attended the meeting.
  • A new article entitled Dilemmas and Difficulties in Peace and Justice: Considerations for Policymakers and Mediators discusses emerging trends relating to peace and justice during peace processes .
  • The Collaborative for Development Action (CDA) came out with a new issue paper that highlights the perspectives of aid in conflict afflicted-areas .
  • The US Institute of Peace (USIP) came out with a new article that discusses improving the evaluation of peacebuilding programs, in an effort to hold organizations accountable for using good practice and avoiding bad practices, while the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre released an article on measuring the effectiveness of peacebuilding operations. USIP also came out with an article that discusses trends in communication in peacebuilding ; the various forms of communication used to prevent conflict, improve early warning, monitor peace and promote peacebuilding in the post-conflict.
  • National Geographic came up with a fantastic article and stunning graphics that demonstrate the dwindling food varieties over the past century. Food insecurity is a major conflict trigger and the mass extinction of our food heritage is concerning to our future as humans.
  • An interesting article discussed a recent economic study that found that though real national income in the US had increased, aggregate real wages and salaries rose by only a meagre amount (and in some cases actually declined), while corporate profits soared. The study suggests that since 2009, 88% of income growth went directly to corporate profits and that just 1% went to wages.
  • Both Al Jazeera and the British Guardian newspapers published stories about water wars, with detailed maps showing major conflict zones. Studies suggest that as many as 1.2 billion people live in areas of physical water scarcity, and that by 2030, 47% of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress.
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The DR Congo, MONUC and Joseph Kabila.

MONUC, the UN’s mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will sadly soon be coming near an end, even though the country is arguably home to one of the most deadly and violent humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen. In December 2oo9, the UN extended their mission to run until May 2010 and have spent this time discussing plans for withdrawal. Recent talks suggest the troops will most likely stay past Congolese president Joseph Kabila’s hopeful June 30, 2010 deadline until the least devastating exit strategy can be fully devised. This will probably delay a full withdrawal until at least 2011.  The UN troop’s effectiveness and the necessity of their continuation in the country has been hotly debated. Congolese President Joseph Kabila calls for their immediate departure. Human Rights Watch has accused MONUC of complicity in massive abuses against the local population. Locals protest the UN headquarters, tell rumors of lizard-eating UN troops, and the abandonment of many bastard children parented by MONUC workers should they pull out of the country. Yet there is an obvious necessity for some stability as the local population is in desperate need of protection from wide-spread violence and an incredibly corrupt government system.

President Kabila has been asking the troops to leave now for years, claiming things are getting better and that the government can manage on their own, however the poor human rights record in the DRC would suggest otherwise. The atrocities happening in the DRC rival any crisis and brutality our planet has ever seen, yet seems hidden in the media behind violence in Afghanistan, Iraq or the Sudan. The DRC has been wracked with war for more than a decade, pushed to the brink after colonial independence, decades of poor despotic governance, enormous global theft of resources, and the violent militias fueled by ethnic hatreds spilling into the country following the Rwandan genocide. It is still enraged in severe violence with as many as 45,000 people dying each month from war or war related causes.  The violence has not diminished over these last few years. In fact, if anything, it seems to be increasing. According to OSCHA (the UN office for the coordination of Humanitarian affairs), violent incidents against aid workers increased 26% in the first six months of 2009 compared to 2008. They also report that security incidents in Goma were up 44% and up 63% in North Kivu over the past year. People are still dying at alarming rates, with mass violent atrocities regular, daily occurrences. One would be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn’t been personally affected by violence in the country. Yet, it seems to drop from our view here in North America so easily.

The UN mission in the Congo is the largest and most expensive in history with now more than 20,000 personnel on the ground. 150 UN personnel have lost their lives since the mission’s inception in 1999.   These troops have been accused of atrocities ranging from rape and murder, to assisting local militias and rebel groups in their massacres and have faced protests at the UN doorstep in extreme anger and frustration by local populations who feel they are not being fully protected. We cannot forget that despite all this negativity these troops have also been credited with protecting thousands of local Congolese on a daily basis who would surely die if not for their presence and assistance; they have also had their hands essentially tied by vague mandate and lack of funding. Millions and millions of locals have died (at least 5.6 million in the past decade and probably much more than that), millions more have been displaced, many tens of thousands have been raped (if not more) and these atrocities still continue daily in the most brutal fashion. More than half of the remaining 55 million people in the country are children who are vulnerable to recruitment into fighting factions, are subject to a lack of access to education, malnutrition, or other major human rights abuses, which makes long-term peace increasingly difficult. If these children grow up in constant violence and war, how can they ever know peace?

The peacekeepers’ are under a Chapter VII mandate which allows them to take “necessary action, in the areas of deployment of its infantry battalions and as it deems it within its capabilities, to protect United Nations and co-located JMC personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of its personnel, and protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.” Their role on paper is essentially to provide stability, security and protection in the country while monitoring human rights abuses and assisting in disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration of rebel troops. The mission is clearly flawed as violence keeps increasing around them. By supporting the Congolese government, the UN peacekeepers are routinely found being complicit in operations that could be construed as war crimes. Peacekeeping is not enough for this mission. The corrupt government, police and army systems meant to protect are often accused of raid, rape, abuse and murder and the communities propagandized to continual vengeance by rumors that separate and demonize entire ethnic populations. Peacemaking, peacebuilding and regulation of government systems are a necessity on top of the peacekeeping force if any semblance of peace within the country is to be established.

President Joseph Kabila has been a controversial leader of the DRC since 2001. Taking control after his father’s assassination, he was elected as president three years later. His history (including even his age) is highly debated and the subject of great rumor. His lineage and parentage are also debated. Many local rumors claim he is the son of a Rwandan who was adopted by Laurent Kabila after his marriage to Joseph’s mother (Laurent was said to have as many as 13 wives and more than 25 children). There are also many claims of Joseph’s relation to and alliance to Rwandan forces, as he is feared as a puppet of Rwandan President Paul Kagame with an eventual plan to occupy and annex the eastern Kivu provinces from the Congo. Joseph spent many years of his life in neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, making his life even more of a mystery to many Congolese citizens. He was commonly known as the commander of the famous army of kadogos (child soldiers) in his father’s campaign to oust the Mobutu regime. Kabila is also said to have studied at the Makerere University in Uganda and the PLA National Defense University in China. He had to change the Congolese constitution in 2006, lowering the eligibility age for elections from 35 to 30 so that he could himself run for office legally. His government troops have been accused of mass atrocities and continuing violence that seem to go unpunished. Despite this violence and lack of accountability, his government continues to receive extensive funding and assistance from many foreign sources.

The IMF has loaned over $502 million to the government of the Congo, requiring with it a roll-back of government services that have had some devastating effects. The World Bank and many other agencies continually supply the Congolese government with financial assistance, despite claims of massive human rights abuses by governmental parties. The DRC currently owes billions in debt from Mobutu’s dictatorial period with interest payments consuming more than 10% of the government budget each year, although talks are currently underway to try to reduce this debt. CIDA, Canada’s international development agency funnels over $30 million per year to “political and economic governance” programs with little accountability and transparency of where this funding actually goes. Natural resource wealth is the prime fuel for much of the violence including that earned from uranium, cobalt, coltan, gold, copper, tin, zinc, diamonds, and tantalite often found in many electronics products or packaging for products such as cans. Rebel and government groups battle it out for control of resources; a single mine able to provide them with upwards of $20 million per month in profit, enough to fund more weapons, power and control. The Chinese, Belgians, French, Canadians and Americans (among others) all have a vested monetary interest in the country and often take the opportunity to politically maneuver the government for their own interests.

Refugees returning to the Kivus are adding to the tensions as local politicians and rumor say the returnees are not Congolese Tutsi but rather Rwandans who have never even lived in the Congo. They are accused of throwing locals off their land, fueling further ethnic tensions and hatred in the region. Armed militias for several different ethnic groups who claim to “provide protection” for local and refugees populations are themselves accused of mass rape, murder, forced recruitment of soldiers (including child soldiers), and using slaves to illegally exploit minerals. There is little place to really turn for protection. The intense violence has caused dwindling humanitarian services (see also here, here, here, and here) that will surely diminish even further if the UN does withdrawal.

Something must be done to stop this violence. Proper oversight of natural resources is an absolute necessity combined with awareness in consuming nations to pressure the change within North American, Chinese and European consumption and lending habits. UN withdrawal will only bring more devastation, murder and abuse to the civilian population and must be avoided at all costs.

Please speak out against these crimes to anyone who will listen and be aware of what you purchase as you may be much more connected to this war than you might think. If you would like to read more about conflict resources in the Congo, please read about my quest for a conflict free laptop.

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Some hope for the future.

In Canada:

Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries

In the US:

Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009

Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009

In the EU:

Global Witness pushes for legislation

Some of the corporations:

Congo tracking project aims to end IT industry’s use of “blood tin”

Supply chains unite to start iTSCi mineral traceability project in DRC

Global e-Sustainability Initiative


Evolutions of peacekeeping: The UN’s constraints to global conflict resolution.

The UN’s peacekeeping role in global conflicts has evolved since the first mission in 1948. Since World War Two there has been a reported rapid decline in traditional interstate conflict, which seems to have been replaced by a rise in intrastate conflict (Yilmaz, 2005: 13). There has also been an increased tendency to describe the conflicts occurring after the 1980s as “ethnically-based” (Gilley, 2004: 1155), changing the way collective security forces respond to disputes. This change from interstate political wars to “ethnic civil wars” makes it natural for many outside parties to assume that the warring country will settle the conflict itself, as it is seen as their own concern and business, and based on long-standing hatreds . However, uncontrolled escalations, and psychological components such as increased tensions, lack of trust, suspicion, and biased communication, makes those disputing unable design a solution since they are the least equipped to stop the fighting. A third party, in this situation can be the difference. The UN has increasingly been this party, as the “grand guardian” of international peace and security in the world (Yilmaz, 2005: 14). The lack of success in many UN peacekeeping missions is based on a variety of factors which hinders its capability to fully act and transform the conflict into non-violent solutions. The UN’s evolving medley of structures is currently incapable of dealing with the roots of global violence and must be re-designed to reflect the current realities, focusing on transforming the UN itself and the sources of global dispute into non-violent structures.

The international community expects more from the UN than any other party in solving disputes, even though member states so often ignore their role in keeping this institution alive. Despite these intense expectations and UN involvement in over 60 peacekeeping operations so far, the term “peacekeeping” is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the UN Charter, making the actual concept incredibly ambiguous within the organization. Peacekeeping evolved as a pragmatic solution in the early years of the organization, and is often referred to at the UN as “Chapter 6-and-a-half” since it falls between Chapter 6 of the UN Charter (on Pacific Settlement of Disputes) and Chapter 7 (on Action with Respect to Threats of Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression) and is not specifically outlined or defined anywhere (Yilmaz, 2005: 15). Peacekeeping evolved as a non-coercive instrument at a time when Cold War constraints prohibited the use of more forceful steps permitted by the Charter. Peacekeeping without combat connotations emerged. This called for trained military personnel not to wage war, but to prevent fighting between warring parties, ensure the maintenance of cease-fires, and to provide some stability while negotiations are conducted (Nambiar, 1999).

The non-use of force has been central to UN peacekeeping for many years, with more than half of operations prior to 1988 consisting of only unarmed military observers who were allowed to use force only in cases of self-defense. The non-use of force has been critiqued as making peacekeeping ineffective, but has also been seen as essential to ensuring the legitimacy and credibility of the organization. For example, in Cyprus in 1974 and Lebanon in 1982 the presence of UN peacekeeping troops could not prevent the breakdown of order and the subsequent foreign invasions that resulted in tremendous violence because of their non-use of force left them powerless (Yilmaz, 2005: 16). To keep legitimacy and credibility, peacekeeping at the UN has always been based on a triad of principles: the consent of the parties to the conflict, the impartiality of the peacekeepers and the use of force by lightly armed peacekeepers only in self defense. The reality of meeting these principles in violent conflict is remote. Consent by warring parties to be restrained by the UN is only really possible if there are already negotiations going on and relative peace to keep between the parties. By their very nature, enforcement actions are subjective and biased towards one side. Peace enforcement is no different. Many believe that force must be met with force, and the only way for peacekeepers to keep peace is through intense enforcement and military solutions (Nambiar, 1999).

Certain international actors often feel that the UN’s non-use of force mandate prevents it from making any real progress towards peace. Individual nations have instead taken on military action themselves with the alleged intention of stopping violence, often even with Security Council authorization (for example, Korea in 1950 and Persian Gulf War in 1990). The end of the Cold War saw a removal of the perceived major obstacle to implementing collective security; the end of hostile relations between the United States and the Soviet Union (Clark, 1995: 238-9). The end of the Cold war also resulted in a decline of the use of the veto in the UN Security Council (Yilmaz, 2005: 17), which has in the past few years again started to increase (Global Policy Forum, October, 2008). Some states have been reluctant to trust the UN to act (especially in cases that affect their own interests), and so are increasingly more likely to take matters into their own hands (Clark, 1995: 238-9), as has been the case for the US.

The veto privilege held by 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) works against the UN’s aim to be legitimate and credible. The veto privilege allows these members to stop any action of the UNSC (responsible for global peace and security, economic sanctioning, trusteeship functions and UN peacekeeping initiatives) by exercising their veto. Since the UN’s inception in 1946, there have been 261 vetoes in the Security Council: 124 by the USSR/Russia, 82 by the US, 32 by Britain, 18 by France, and 6 by China. Among the actions vetoed were potential peacekeeping operations, such as the vetoes by the US in 2001, 2004, and 2006 that prevented the UN from demanding a cessation of violence in the Gaza strip and the establishment of a UN observer force to protect Palestinian civilians. Lebanon’s complaints against Israeli violence (1986, 1988); Nicaragua’s complaints against US violence (1984-86); complaints against South Africa of violence by Angola, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (1981, 1986); Libya’s complaint against US attack (1989); Grenada’s complaint against invasion by US troops (1983); and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1980) were all ignored by the UN because they were vetoed in the UNSC. The veto privilege also resulted in full out war being ignored on several occasions by the UN (in Lebanon, Panama, occupied Palestine, Namibia, Nicaragua to name a few; Global Policy Forum, October, 2008). This has resulted in inequitable structures in a body that is meant to be impartial in maintaining global peace and security. Peace and security is clearly only maintained for some.

The deployment of UN peace enforcement and peacekeeping forces has been moderately successful at resolving disputes between larger players and may be essential to terminate these types of conflict. It is currently not sufficient, however, for the local disputes, long term recovery of a conflict or for addressing the root cause of the conflict. In order for long term recovery to happen, intense DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants), civilian policing programs, judicial programs, law reform programs and conflict transformation programs must be in place to help re-order society and instill some sense of stability and rule-of-law. Sadly, these programs often receive comparatively meager funding next to other initiatives, such as running “democratic” elections (Global Policy Forum, 2004). The “democratic” push has also had the effect of calling into question the impartiality and motive of the UN and international structures, as the implementation of market democracy through aid programs is often seen as “western” and almost colonial, leading to increased ethnic tension and global insecurity (Chua, 2003).

Inequitable structures that fail to provide basic political and civic freedoms are most often the cause of “ethnic conflict”, which has been on the rise globally since the end of the Cold War (Gilley, 2004: 1162). In the Congo, for example, ancient ethnic hatreds are often cited as the reason for conflict in the region. Colonial and political choices that favored arbitrary groups of people over other groups cemented divisions along “ethnic” lines and ensured one group’s access to resources, opportunities and services over the others. This fueled tensions and led to conflict (Jackson, 2007). Ethnic groups in the Congo lived (and continue to live) in mostly intermixed communities and are not completely homogenous and static (Pottier, 2008). Ancient ethnic hatreds are seen as almost natural and inevitable; making action to stop them unlikely. Rarely are the underlying roots of the conflict (the colonial or political choices, access to resources, etc.) addressed, making continual conflict inevitable. The focus on ethnicity has prevented the UN from taking action in many cases.

When the UN peacekeeping forces are not inhibited by vetoes, ethnicity or other factors and decide to act to keep the peace; they are still incredibly restrained in their capabilities. Member States are important for support, financially, logistically and in troop commitment. The debt owed by the 15 largest payers of the peacekeeping budget is certainly a cause for concern. The US currently owes $1.466 billion in debt to the UN; Japan owes $832 million; France owes $235 million; China owes $213 million; and Germany, the UK, Italy, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Korea, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, and Russia are all among the top debtors. These millions of owed dollars prevent the UN from being able to properly implement its missions (Global Policy Forum, November, 2008). Dues for peacekeeping missions are collected separately, allowing for each member state to reject funding for individual projects as they choose (Yilmaz, 2005: 24).Calls for troop support are commonly ignored by international players who are over committed to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, with priorities of defending “terrorist actions” (Yilmaz, 2005: 21-2). Without its Member States support, the UN is virtually useless to act and prevent violence.

The genocide in Rwanda and massacre in Srebrenica and the failure of the UN to prevent these atrocities, led in 1999 to the Brahimi Report, recommending a funding minimum and personnel requirements for UN peacekeeping missions. New peacekeeping missions grew by almost 50% in the summer of 2006, stretching the peacekeeping resources of the UN to the extreme. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for peacekeeping reform and re-structuring of the UN peacekeeping structures in February of 2007, was at first rejected by the General Assembly. In July of 2007, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) was restructured to focus on operations, leaving management and logistics to the newly created Department of Field Support (Pelz and Lehmann, 2007). This restructuring ignored the other problems faced by the DPKO and left it still incapable of addressing root causes of conflict.

If countries ignore the UN and its missions, it loses its power and its meaning in the international community. The UN is important because it is the only place where all countries can work together and have a voice, and is the best chance for peace in the world. The UN is capable of much more than it is currently doing, but it does not have the resources to do these things alone. It must have the support of its Members in the international community to work, who must practice what they preach and provide their promised share in the international community. The UN can work if it is provided the proper resources and support to actually run. Major violators should not be allowed to decide what methods of peace should be used in an area that they have a hand in violating. This is wrong and is preventing justice from existing in the world. All violators should be brought to justice, regardless of whether they hold a veto power or not.

The current state of the UN is inequitable. How can the UN possibly inspire positive peace, if its own structures are so incredibly unjust? The current international peacekeeping strategy is based on an evolution of changing ideologies and as such, is incapable of truly handling conflict. It must be restructured to address the political choices, colonial legacies, and continuing inequitable structures that enhance tensions and ensure continual conflict. It must also be restructured to address financing and troop support issues. It is time to learn from past mistakes and create a new structure that tackles all of the inequities of the former structures. Without this, there can be no possibility for peace in the near future.

Sources:
1) Chua, Amy. 2003. World on fire: How exporting free market democracy breeds ethnic hatred and global instability. Doubleday. Random House. 329 pages.
2) Clark, Mark T. Spring 1995. The trouble with collective security. Orbis. Vol. 39, No.2. pp. 237- 258.
3) Gilley, Bruce. 2004. Against the concept of ethnic conflict. Third World Quarterly. Vol. 25, No. 6. Pp. 1155-1166.
4) Global Policy Forum. December 4, 2004. UN panel on reforming UN peacekeeping recommends a new peacebuilding commission. Citizens for Global Solutions.
5) Global Policy Forum. October 7, 2008. Subjects of UN Security Council Vetoes. Global Policy Forum.
6) Global Policy Forum. November, 2008. Debt of 15 largest payers to the peacekeeping budget 2008. Global Policy Forum. Retrieved November 20, 2008, from
7) Jackson, Stephen. November, 2007. Of ‘doubtful nationality’: Political manipulation of citizenship in the DR Congo. Citizenship Studies. Vol. 11, Issue 5; 481-500.
8) Nambiar, Lt. Gen. Satish. March 17-19, 1999. UN peacekeeping operations: Problems and prospects. Embassy of India.
9) Pelz, Timo and Lehmann, Volker. November 2007. The evolution of UN peacekeeping (2): Reforming DPKO. Dialogue on Globalization. Friedrich Ebert Foundation. New York.
10) Pottier, Johan. 2008. Displacement and ethnic reintegration in Ituri, DR Congo: Challenges ahead. Journal of Modern African Studies. Vol. 46, Issue 3; 427-450.
11) Yilmaz, Muzaffer Ercan. June 2005. UN peacekeeping in the post-cold war era. International Journal on World Peace. Vol. XXII, No. 2.


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Why is the UN failing in many of its missions?

The United Nations is only as powerful as its Member states. It can call on its Members for support: financially, logistically or in troops and hope that they answer the call. If this call goes unanswered (as is currently the situation), what powers does the UN have to ensure enforcement or support?

 

The structures of the International Court of Justice, the UN’s principle judicial organ, are only meant to settle legal disputes between states, and rely on local enforcement structures to arrest and detain crime suspects. The International Criminal Court, which tries crimes against humanity and war crimes, is also reliant on local enforcement structures, which prevents it from trying many international criminals because of a lack of cooperation or capabilities of local enforcement.

 

Five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) enjoy a veto privilege, which means they can stop any action of the UNSC by exercising their veto. The UNSC is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, investigating disputes, recommending methods to solve disputes, regulating armaments, determining the existence of threats to peace or acts of aggression, recommending what actions are to be taken, applying economic sanctions and other measures to prevent or stop aggression, taking action against an aggressor, recommending admission of new Members to the UN, overseeing trusteeship functions of the UN, and recommending the appointment of the Secretary-General to the UN and Judges of International Court of Justice. Since the UN’s inception in 1946, there have been 261 vetoes in the Security Council: 124 by the USSR/Russia, 82 by the US, 32 by Britain, 18 by France and 6 by China. These vetoes have included subjects such as condemning the violence by the government of Zimbabwe against civilians following the elections in 2008 (vetoed by China and Russia), stopping Israeli military operations in Gaza in 2004 and 2006 (vetoed by the US), on taking action against the killing by Israeli forces of several UN employees and the destruction of the World Food Programme warehouse in 2002 (vetoed by the US), on establishing a UN observer force to protect Palestinian civilians in 2001 (vetoed by the US)[1]. Many others operations are never even brought to the table, since the veto will ensure the action cannot happen.

 

It is structures like these that allow major criminals to evade justice and limits the power of the UN. Combine this with incredible budget arrears owed to the UN by its Member states. The debt owed by the 15 largest payers of the peacekeeping budget is certainly a cause for concern, especially considering that peacekeeping support is so desperately needed in many areas of the world. The US currently owes $1.466 billion in debt to the UN; Japan owes $832 million; France owes $235 million; China owes $213 million; and Germany, the UK, Italy, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Korea, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, and Russia are all among the top debtors. The hypocrisy that these countries all sponsor intense humanitarian aid (and state loans) to conflict zones, yet cannot manage to pay their promised share of peacekeeping debt should not go unnoticed. Requests for troop support to areas are also frequently ignored by the international community.

 

If countries ignore the UN and its missions, it loses its power and its meaning in the international community. The UN is important because it is the only place where all countries can work together and have a voice, and is the best chance for peace in the world. That being said, it is time the UN lived up to its original purpose, and created some means of enforcing its own legalities. The UN is capable of much more than it is currently doing, but it does not have the resources to do these things alone. It must have the support of its Members in the international community to work, who must practice what they preach and provide their promised share in the international community. The UN can work if it is provided the proper resources and support to actually run. Major violators should not be allowed to decide what methods of peace should be used in an area that they have a hand in violating. This is wrong and is preventing justice from existing in the world. All violators should be brought to justice, regardless of whether they hold a veto power or not.


[1] A full list of vetoes can be found at http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/membship/veto/vetosubj.htm

 


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