PURSUING A VISION OF A NEW UNITED NATIONS
Sixty long years after the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations Organization, the world has changed beyond recognition. Several countries in Asia and Africa, long yoked to colonial rule, have attained independence. The balance of power between the US and erstwhile USSR has become part of history and even the Cold War has become a thing of the past. Countries that refused to be sucked into the vortex of cold war politics kick started the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) with the initiative of great leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, President Sukarno of Indonesia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Chou-en-Lai of China. Even NAM itself looked redundant after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR displaced by a weak and disintegrating Commonwealth of Independent States, with many a state breaking away from the union headed by Russia. The Iron Curtain no longer exists. Most of the East European countries have thrown off the yoke of the Russian hegemony. The Berlin Wall was pulled down paving the way for the merger of East Germany and West Germany.
The very powers that took the initiative in forming the United Nations (UN) sixty years ago pursued relentlessly and shamelessly the very objectives they condemned in the powers that were responsible for the most disastrous war in history. The US tried its best to play dirty politics right from the beginning. China came under Red rule led by Mao-Zedong in 1949 after a bloody revolution that pushed the old ruler Chiang Kai-shek into the tiny island of Formosa, known today as Taiwan. Till 1971, the US took the bullying role of barring Communist China from entering the United Nations, bolstering up the puppet government in Taiwan. Even today the same old politics rules the roost. In the vast changed political spectrum of the new millennium, the old composition of a UN Security Council looks totally anachronistic. India is a surging economic power, having played a major role in world peace, representing the world’s largest democracy and poised to become a great technological power. But the efforts made by India, Germany, Brazil and Japan have drawn a blank because of the lobbying by both the US and China. The simple fact is nobody wants to share the power and privilege. In other words, at least some permanent members of the UN Security Council would not like to share the powers and privileges conferred on them by virtue of the special circumstances obtaining at die time when the rules were made in the composition of the Security Council. Is it not real palitik when China whose admission to the UN was barred by the US for 22 years running and whose admission was championed by India all those twenty-two years must find a strange bed fellow to torpedo the expansion plans of the UN Security Council on the basis of the hard realities.
In fact, the UN has been hijacked by the US who wants it to fall in line with its diktat and support the American attempts to go it alone to further its economic and political objectives. We have seen how blatantly, the US, together with Britain, arrogated to themselves the powers of a world cop to commit an illegal aggression of Iraq. Sanctions imposed on Iraq between Gulf War I and Gulf War II cost in terms of the loss of lives of more than two lakhs children who were victims of the UN-backed sanctions that prevented lifesaving medicines and nutritious food from reaching the victims. Lakhs of civilians and soldiers have been killed in Iraq in the wake of the assault on a sovereign country by the so-called Super Power who thought that it was their inborn right to bring about regime changes in countries they dislike and to fight a war to take charge of weapons of mass destruction mat did not exist. The UN has all these years proved to be an ineffective body to check naked aggression, euphemistically called ‘wars of liberation’.
Has the UN, by its action or omission, lived up to the set of laudable goals set forth in its Charter? That it has not, has been demonstrated by file prolonged debate on UN started years ago eliminating in the UN Summit in September2005. Each country or groups of countries or blocs-from both developed and developing countries-has its own viewpoint as to how to restructure the UN and its agencies and organs.
In June 2005 a resolution was adopted by the US House of Representatives that provided for a series of guidelines for reforms that stretched up to the veiled threat of possible withholding of US dues to the United Nations. Isn’t it pure blackmail? The caveat is: if the UN does not dance according to the tune of the Washington, it will withdraw the financial backing.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan himself has been making a plea for the reform of the United Nations. At the UN Summit in September 2005, Mr. Kofi Annan wanted the UN’s management to become more transparent and accountable. “All of us would like the General Assembly to streamline its agenda and committee structure, so that time and resources are devoted to the burning issues of the day rather than to implementing resolutions passed years ago in a different political context.” Mr. Kofi Annan wanted changes in the UN Human Rights Commission and reorientation of the UN Peacekeeping Forces.
The UN chief dealt with a wide range of issues including terrorism, NPT (Nuclear Non-ProliferationTreaty), poverty, disease, environmental degradation, civil conflict, etc. UN cannot act when each country views terrorism from its own angle. When India has been crying hoarse over terrorist acts from across the Pakistani border for over a decade, neither the OS nor the UN took note of it. When it is widely known mat terrorists from Pakistan had a hand in the terrorist attacks in September 11, 2001,
the US is all praise for Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror. Different countries have varying perspectives on terrorism.
Closely linked with terrorism is the illegal transfer of nuclear material to other countries. There is a growing fear of terrorists laying their hands on contraband material for making ‘dirty bombs’. It is said that the father of the atom bomb in Pakistan was guilty of supplying materials for making bombs to different countries including North Korea.
The US has been crying hoarse and even threatening to take military action against Iran for not abandoning its plans of enrichment of uranium to generate A-bombs. Iran admitted that it intended to make nuclear power for civil purposes, and not for making bombs. The issue is being taken to the UN Security Council through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But can the world forget the atomic weaponry programme subtly executed by Israel? Why fear the UN when the Big Brother is behind you?
Addressing the UN General Assembly session in New York (US A) on September 15, 2005, the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said that the UN suffered from a “democracy deficit” He lamented that the UN structure and decision-making process reflected the world of 1945 and not the world of 2005. He suggested that unless the organization became “more representative of the contemporary world and more relevant to our concerns and aspirations, it would not be able to carry out its charter obligations or deliver the Millennium Development Goals.”
At the same forum, the Chinese Prime Minister, Mr. Hu Jintao expressed his misgivings about the United States’ unilateralism and emphasized the need for multilateralism. ‘To eliminate the breeding grounds of terrorism”, Mr. Hu said, “It is essential to promote dialogue among civilizations and earnestly address poverty, ignorance and social justice.” From this, it was logical for him to envision “the century 6$ development for all.”
More than ever before, the Charter of the UN holds greater relevance in the New Millennium. Collective action alone is the key to the solution of most of the problems facing us in the 21st century. It could be resolution of conflicts, relief and rehabilitation, the global crusade against terrorism, poverty and ignorance, the fight against HIV/AIDS, etc.
The world situation now compared to the circumstances that brought into being the UN sixty years is no better either. One of the greatest dangers the world is feeling is tire threat of terrorism; with its roots spread everywhere. No country can look for any kind of total protection from this global terrorism. One country after another has been a victim of terrorism. The UN has still to evolve a global strategy against this threat Collective action under the UN aegis alone can mitigate the evil Unilateral action by one nation alone-as has happened in Afghanistan and Iran with the latter having nothing to do with what happened on September 11,2001 will plunge the world into greater chaos. Unilaterism has become another great danger to the relevance of the UN.
It is high time most of the UN bodies-like World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank and the International Monetary Fund-rose to the demands and the pressing needs of the developing world instead of merely remaining the puppets in the hands of the richer countries. The problems of poverty, ignorance and diseases in many parts of Africa demonstrate that the UN has yet to reach many of the unreached areas in world. It is in the interest of all that the countries. So, the developed and the developing must come together to make the UN an effective instrument to resolve conflicts and make it a vibrant body to promote global efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger and to fight diseases and bring about peace and prosperity in different parts of the world.