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Saturday, January 10, 2009

An Impotent United Nations


I have been astonished at the impotence of the UN resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Gaza. Both parties have blatantly ignored the UN's call for peace. Hamas said "they would not heed a resolution they were not consulted about." Israel said "the state of Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens." Wonderful! By this logic the UN can't tell North Korea or Iran to stop their nuclear programs either! The problem with such logic is that unilateral decisions are often not the best decisions. This is why private companies have boards, nations have parliaments, and the civilized world has the United Nations. I employ a very simple formula when it comes to determining responsibility resolving matters such as this: responsibility is directly proportional to power, i.e. entities with the most power have the greatest responsibility to help resolve the conflict. By that logic, the first in line are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (also known as the world's superpowers). The first on the list is, you guessed it, the United States of America. Then we have the United Kingdom, France, the Russian Federation, and China. Then comes Israel. And finally Palestine and Gaza. The voting record for resolution 1860 also tells an important story: 14-0 with the United States abstaining. Need I say more?

3 comments:

  1. How would one define 'power' though? And where would India fit?

    I like your thinking though!

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  2. Kris, you ask a good question. One measure of power might be to look at the size of economy or, perhaps more usefully, the size of per capita GDP. Another measure is political influence (often as a result of having access to nuclear technology), e.g. nations with permanent seats on the UN security council. As an emerging power on the world stage, a nuclear power, and an aspirant to a permanent seat on the security council, India cannot legitimately continue to sit on the sidelines.

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  3. The five permanent members of the UN have repeatedly shown just why the UN body needs to be revamped and other countries need to be brought into the Security Council. Trust the US abstaining on such a critical vote, in a geo-political region where western powers have themselves created conflict zones such as Palestine that I believe has directly fuelled the rise of Islamic angst and anger (and terrorism) in the world. As an aspirant to a major role in world politics, India should have the guts to take a stand -- unlikely that it will though, given its recent dependence on Israeli military technology.

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