Wednesday, 13th June 2012
In its annual report, Amnesty International has described the UN Security Council as "tired, out of step and increasingly unfit for purpose”. This is appropriate, if somewhat belated, as such has been the case throughout most of GOAL's 35 years in existence.
On numerous occasions, appalling levels of suffering and loss of life have been caused by the international community not responding quickly enough – or, on occasion, not at all - to a major humanitarian disaster.
From genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda to horrendous bloodbaths in the former Yugoslavia, the Balkans region in general, and at countless locations across Africa, human suffering and final death tolls were often dramatically increased by failure on the part of the Security Council to properly intercede.
Given such historical precedents, it is no surprise that little has been done as governments in North Africa and the Middle East - with Syria being but the latest – have recently butchered and brutally suppressed their populations for demanding basic freedoms.
Millions of people around the world are being held in subjugation by such governments, yet no-one intervenes on their behalf. And unfortunately, while Russia and China, both serial human rights abusers themselves, have the power of veto over UN interventions this is how the situation will remain.
Supporters of the UN Security Council will argue that it is the only body on the planet capable of ruling upon and intervening to halt instances of genocide and blatant human rights abuses. Yet, if it is going to stand by and do nothing in the face of blatant crimes against humanity, the Security Council might as well not exist. It is obscene that at present a single dissenting voice can determine whether or not defenceless people should be rescued from oppressive regimes or left to their fate.
In the absence of a global army or police force, it falls upon the United Nations to protect the world's most vulnerable and oppressed peoples, and it is abjectly failing in its duty.
It is well past time that the decision-making process at the Security Council was radically reformed. Either that or a new body capable and willing to do its job should be established
An International Humanitarian
Po Box 19, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Tel. 01 280 9779
Charity No CHY 6271
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