Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The UN Gang

Jonathon Kay has a great piece on the United Nations this morning on why we westerners shouldn't suck up to the UN. Here's my take on it from a few years ago:

Every October each weekend is dedicated to visiting University of Toronto book sales. (Darn, my secret is out). There, for a pittance, I can fill my library with everything from trashy pulp fiction to erudite and astute political science tomes and histories that weigh as much as a snowmobile.

This year, my prize find was "The UN Gang" by Pedro A. Sanjuan. Here's an excerpt from the jacket notes. I recommend that you read it (and next year don't go to the U of T booksale before I do).
Sanjuan soon discovered that incompetence, corruption, anti-Semitism, and outright criminality were rife throughout the UN Secretariat. Among the shady activities that he personally observed or documented were rigged bidding for major service contracts; drug transactions conducted in the UN’s parking garage; sale of shotguns and beryllium directly out of the UN building; ties to global organized crime figures; use of UN Information Centers and other agencies to disseminate anti-US and pro-PLO propaganda; systematic theft and abuse of UN facilities and budgets in East Africa; graft and corruption in Vienna; widespread sexual harrassment; use of the UN employee’s lounge to plan anti-Israel and anti-US activities by Muslim delegates; open celebration of 9/11 by said delegates in the halls of the UN; and inexplicable tolerance of all of the above on the part of the secretary general and the US government.
Meanwhile, here's a piece I did in the CCD the year before Pedro's book came out:

July 26, 2004 - Originally Published in Canadian Coalition for Democracy
Never in the history of mankind have we lived in such a period of peace and prosperity.
Without much help from the UN.

Of the 193 UN Members:

33 have a democratic government (for the people) and an economy which adequately provides the UN's defined basic human rights to its people (Food& Water, Shelter & Clothing.

30 nations are democratic, but are economically unable to feed, clothe and house their citizens.


How right is the UN, when 130 member countries (which represents almost 3/4 of the world's population) do not provide their citizenry either with the UN's basic rights, or with the rights of freedom for which hundreds of thousands of Americans, Britons, and Canadians have died.

Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Movement, Freedom of the Press, a Right to Education are not defined by the UN as basic rights to which a human is entitled.
Under the UN Charter, despotism is not considered wrong; a freely elected government is not a requirement, feudalism is a legitimate form of government, female circumcision, sexism and racism are permitted.
The UN, if it does not adopt a truly humane and modern Charter of Human Rights, and enforce these rights, is irrelevant. And by not so doing, the UN does nothing to improve the lot of almost all humans. It exists only to provide cushy jobs for a chosen few to live in fancy digs in New York and allow them to not pay their parking tickets.
Perhaps, worst, tt provides a convenient "out" for the rest of the world (i.e. Canada under the Liberals) to not take action against the 133 criminal regimes in the world that treat their people obscenely.
If the UN chooses not to enact and then act, then who is left to solve the hunger, education, and freedom deficit that pains almost everyone in the world?
Is Martin Sheen going to carry bags of rice through the checkpoints of Somali war lords?
Are all of the marchers in all of the WTO and G-8 protests and demonstrations going to show the Mugabi's, and Fidels, and Irani mullahs so much love that they see the light, resign and heap oil royalty checks on their people?
I don't have the answer. Sanctions generally only harm the subjects, not the objects. Diplomacy has been proven to almost never work - especially Bill Graham's "quiet democracy".
What do we have left? Well, thanks to the fighting men and women of the United States, Canada and other countries, women in Afghanistan aren't forced to wear burkhas anymore, and that's a start, and that didn't come from the UN being nice.
Good to have dialogue, though. Cause about 5.5 billion in the world can't.

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