“The world's carefully constructed international system for maintaining peace and security, built around the UN charter, is now on its last legs,” former UN Mission in Iraq member Salim Lone contends ("The charter is on its last legs," The Guardian, July 22). “It tackles crimes by the weak but is mute and unresponsive in the face of lawless behaviour by the powerful.”
This is at least as good a description of the reigning international system as it would be for the interpersonal dynamic of kindergartners during recess period or the self-enforcement customs of the Mafia.
The major structural (i.e., constitutional) flaw in the organ of the United Nations to which are assigned the functions and powers for the maintenance of international peace and security is that the Security Council has five Permanent Members, each of which possesses absolute vetoes over the Council’s activities. In at least some of the examples that Lone mentions, one Permanent Member in particular happens to be the world’s unrivalled superpower, effectively having hijacked the Security Council to wage wars underneath its banner whenever it could, or simply contravening the wishes of the other Council members when it couldn’t.
Even the putative reforms recommended by the UN Secretary-General’s In Larger Freedom: Towards Security, Development and Human Rights for All (A/59/2005) utterly failed to challenge the absolute veto enjoyed by the Permanent Five. (See "Security Council," pars. 167 – 170.)
With the past four weeks’ rhetoric about “terrorists” and “militants” (of course, no comparable mention of the Super Terrorists or the Super Militants), it is high time to revive the spirit and the philosophical commitments of the era of decolonization. For example:
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (A/RES/1514), UN General Assembly, December 14, 1960
But don’t look to the milquetoast leadership at the UN’s General Secretariat to do it, however. They’re all too busy vying with each other to devise better mousetraps to snare the global menaces in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Besides, if the past 20 or 30 years have taught us anything, it is that the process of liberation is not irresistible and irreversible. And that, in spite of the great human imperative globally to put an end to colonialism and all the practices of subjugation and domination and segregation and discrimination associated with it, the Neocolonial project is not only alive and well—but flourishing.
Meanwhile, the Doomsday Clock keeps right on ticking. And ticking. And ticking.
"Apocalypse Near," Interview with Noam Chomsky, CounterPunch, August 16, 2006