By Odimegwu Onwumere
The United Nations (UN) was established in 1945, during the Second World War. It is perceivable that the fear of fighting another World War may have been the major compelling factor for a man like Franklin Roosevelt to commence with the UN idea, intending to create an avenue for countries to engage in dialogue first, and desist from the temptation to take up arms against each other when provoked.
Although, the UN has been of a mind to reduce violence, poverty, inequality, human rights abuse and hunger among other issues, since its inception; its responsibilities have also been on the increase, and this may have down-spiralled the objectives of this organization.
Terrorism is one form of global problems today that the UN has not been able to stem, and this has exposed the organization to ridicule, in spite of its attempts at showing-off in the area of foreseeing peacekeeping, arms control, and disarmament and human rights activities in general.
Apart from the fact that the nations of the world have so far managed to avoid another World War, the UN has not achieved as much as it could in its endeavours, of which Africa has shared much in the ugly banquet. The United Nations failed to thwart the deaths of almost a million people in the gruesome Rwandan genocide of 1994, as well as the wars in Somalia, Darfur, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, the Biafra-Nigeria war, the Second Congo War and, some other crises across the continent of Africa and indeed, the world at large.
But these failures did not just occur. There are several factors that are responsible for the UN not being able to protect the peace, safety and welfare of the people it is supposed to protect. These factors may be beyond the current organisation that is called the UN and go a long way to expose the underlying despotic tendencies that characterise the UN. There is no gainsaying the fact that the organisation’s underpinning was political, which has affected it so much, in the negative. Divergently, the origin of the UN was political, and this issue seems to have spread its ugly wings in recent times to affect the UN negatively.
In what can be perceived as Roosevelt’s favouritism, his major concern was for the USA, when the UN was established. His paramount preconceived-notion was that with the creation of the UN, the tendency of US, perhaps, losing in balance again as was the case in the 1930s, could be avoided. A most saddening aspect of all these is that the United Nations is a sovereign state, only in name. One example of this point is that the UN hardly runs a military of its own, except the troops that allied nations redeploy in the event of international peace keep.
The organisation earns its existence by the help of the member states, especially from some European countries and one in Asia, which is otherwise called the G-5., namely, USA, UK, France, Russia, China. It is surprising that these five countries have held the affairs of the UN unequal with the rest 188 member states, of which the mass of UN member states are not full-grown democracies. Just 87 of the UN member states are full-aged democracies, bringing the percentage of UN member states, which are full-fledged democracies to about 45 percent.
Another surprising factor is the issue of only the countries in the Security Council voting on issues bothering on security. Apart from the Big-5, there is also one rotating country that is changed every year in the Security Council. As if this is not enough, any of these five countries can veto a bill that is presented at the UN. For instance, it is evident that the United States of America vetoes any bill that is perhaps not agreeable to what Israel does in the Middle-East’s aged-long war with the Palestinians.
In the UN Charter, Article 39 of Chapter 7 suggests that the Security Council must first determine if there is a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.” Such undemocratic norms in operation at the UN have made the so-called Big-5 to be ranked high above other member states. The question now is what actually separates the Big-5 from the rest member states? Politics, of course!
Unlike what was obtainable in the League of Nations (which was the major organisation of this sort before the creation of the UN), the strength of the United Nations has continued to grow so much on a global scale into the mischievous leprechaun of an organisation for whom opinions are formed hierarchically among the Big-5 nations. These 5 super powers have gone so far as to use might and suppression as tools of influence on the other member countries, because of the fact that they are deemed to be permanent members of the UN Security Council. As a result of this, the UN has failed to wield and ordinance enough corporeal and officially-permitted power to deal with various objectionable situations.
This is clearly evident in the situations of the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, where troops under the UN supervision turned a blind eye to the mayhem and atrocities that were being perpetrated, even though they kept the UN flag flying to denote the presence of the United Nations in the area.
While the Big-5 functions like the Lord of Manor, the body activates a dangerous clause in its charter. This charter restrains the UN from intervening in any domestic crises of its sovereign member states. The UN intervenes in any crises only when there must have been killings and destructions of property in-the-offing, which will attract global denunciation. One instance of such crises is the continued activity of the dreaded Islamic terrorist sect called Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Not until recently was this Islamic terrorist sect perceived as a hazard to the West, as the West has indirectly fussed into African nations not to understand how to surround domestic issues to get the attention of the West. A case in point, an issue like oil larceny in Nigeria that is mainly run by some dubious Nigerians with the foster of some companies in Europe, has been poorly handled by the UN. Consequently, it is now seen as a Nigerian thing. Some void diplomats in the UN think that this is the optimum way to be patriotic and not be a marionette of the West. Therefore, the contention that the UN is a full-size tool that is being used by the Big-5 to control the rest of the countries of the world is not a ruse, while making it appears as if the decisions of the UN are made by many and for the benefit of the world.
The overpoweringly uneven relationship of developing nations with the West, say, after 500 years, is a succinct indication that the rest of the world doesn’t have the same decisive factor of what is good or bad in the UN, just like the issue of the Big-5. There are acutely deviating interests in the UN. If not, how can the three sub-Saharan African countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Gabon not depreciate the ‘Yes’ votes within the UN? It was the resolution of 1973 that inaugurated the latest form of colonisation of the developing countries in the name of ‘the protection of peoples’. It is believed that this norm has given a nod to the racist’s theories that have up-to-date helped Europeans since the 18th Century against the African world. These theories have given the North Africa upper hand and positioned the region to have nothing to do with sub-Saharan Africa, with the view that North Africa has progressed more, and is more civilised than the rest of Africa. The UN makes it look as if the countries in North Africa like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Algeria, are not part of Africa.
Due to the fact that the United Nations is championed by the Big-5, there has been a seemingly repulsive compass of the UN to ignore and undermine the position of the African Union (AU) in the affairs of its member states. This is hinged on the false pretence that it is ‘United Nations’, whereas detachment pervades sub-Saharan African countries from the UN, so that the Big-5 will continue to isolate and control the rest member states. In Africa, the North African countries are given an edge above the countries of the sub-Saharan countries, because of the economic derivations from the different countries. For instance, the biggest and most populous country in the sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria, followed by South Africa, are far behind Algeria, Libya, because the sub-Saharan African countries contribute only 3 billion dollars each to the UN, while Algeria contributes about US$16 billion, and Libya contributes about US$10 billion, giving a Gross Point (GP) of 62 per cent of the US$42 billion, which constitutes the capital of the African Monetary Fund (AMF). It is disheartening that the UN is based on the idea of selective affordance of peace, security and welfare to the people. Instead of using collective force as the most efficient means to fighting for the peace, safety and welfare of the world, it is rather using a selective method that is destructive to the future of any nation who sought after definitive power and take-over. The Balance of Power system holds that no nation should become as strong as to be able to overshadow all the others. The UN does not operate on any theory of the Balance of Power system under the Big-5 nations. There is no playing of the balancing role, and so maintaining the balance of power in the UN has proved to be elusive. The Big-5 nations, to a large extent, can be perceived to be an empire that has so far beleaguered the United Nations as a whole.
It is a crying shame that in the contest of the above, a section of Africa does not, in consideration, belong to the UN. If it does, how can Nigeria and South Africa always vote ‘Yes’ to everything the West says, which its countries are dominant powers that are in the UN? There is a glaring truth that there is nothing ‘united’ about the United Nations. Is it a United Nations when subhuman and unpretentiously practices are meted out to the less powerful member states? One example of this is the pseudo-promises always given to the Sub-Saharan African countries that the more they vote ‘Yes’ to any bill presented to the UN, the closer they would be to achieving a permanent seat at the Security Council with similar veto rights, but this is farfetched.
On the other hand, this subhuman practices by the Big-5 suggest that there is no collective agenda in the UN, but selective. The hoary demand of the developing countries has not been met in the UN, which is a seat for the entire African federation. The proposition is that for all the 50 African nations in the UN to make their demand home, they should approach the Chinese method or quit the body. It has thus been exposed that the UN only operates reforms that benefit the Big-5 nations on its security council, and not an agenda that will embrace all the 193 member states.
When Africa had a divergent opinion with the military action in Nouakchott, it is till date surprising, how the opposing opinion was purely overlooked by the so-called big wigs in the UN, hence bombs started tumbling on the African people and on their soil.
The disregard of Africa in the UN symbolises what happened to China at the end of the World War II. Mao’s China was downsized and Taiwan was chosen by a select worldwide community to be the sole representative of the Chinese people. While the UN has continued to make its African member states to continue to wallow in the misery of folly, after 26 years when on 25 October 1971, the UN was to pass resolution 2758, China was admitted and on its terms, but she rejected to be a member of the UN, if she would not have a veto right in the Security Council.
A letter which didn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘thank you’, but spelt out assurances that were required for China’s self-esteem to be reverenced, was sent to the UN Secretary General on 29 September 1972, by the Chinese foreign minister. About a year after the demand was made, a resolution was reached. It can be deduced that the Big-5, as it is called today, wants Africa to achieve what China achieved through a more severe approach. In a country where there is a UN bureaucrat as president, it is very hard to uproot the fellow at the expiration of his or her tenure. Africa perceivably experienced this in Cote d’Ivoire, when a UN bureaucrat saw himself to be above the constitution of the country, hence there was an (un)civil war that took many lives and property.
The role that the Nigerian government could not play in the Ivorien crisis that followed the difference-of-opinion in the country’s election of November 28, 2010, is what it has been playing out in Mali in 2013, even though the ECOWAS, which resolved to renew President Jonathan’s tenure as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government till December 31, 2011, resolved in its meeting of December 7 to accord formal recognition to Alassane Ouattara as President-elect of Cote d’Ivoire, while urging his rival, Gbagbo, to make a peaceful exit from power in the best interest of the Ivorien people.
As the chair state of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, the only solution that Nigeria could offer about the Ivorien crisis in its Resolution A/RES.1/03/11 signed by President Jonathan, was to tell Gbagbo, as armed supporters of the two men continued to fight one another, that: ‘The time has come to enforce Decision of 7 and 24 December 2010 in order to protect life and ensure that transfer of the reins of power to Alassane Ouattara without further delay.’
In its extraordinary session in Abuja on December 24, following Gbagbo’s refusal to yield power to his ‘successor’, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government under President Jonathan, said it regretted that its previous resolutions were ignored by Gbagbo, and warned him against this. President Jonathan later requested the UN Security Council to authorise the immediate implementation of these decisions to stem the tide of the rapidly deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation in Cote d’Ivoire. And the resolutions had since been endorsed by the (AU) and the (UN); but the UN did not perform and didn’t sanction AU to implement its numerous policies in the Cote d’Ivoire crisis.
While President Jonathan condemned the widespread violence against civilians in the Ivorien country, he did not sue for war as he has done in Mali, because of France’s presence in the Malian war. The military junta in Mali, headed by Captain Amadou Sanogo, had seized power on March 22, 2012, accusing the democratic government of President Amadou Toumani Toure of failing to deal effectively with a Tuareg rebellion that had started in January.
Former parliament speaker, Diouncounda Traore later emerged as interim president, following international heaviness on the military junta to relinquish power. The following comment by President Jonathan will further expose the Big-5 parading itself as the United Nations. Jonathan apparently said: ‘The crisis in Cote d’Ivoire has now become a regional humanitarian emergency. We request the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to strengthen the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) to enable it use all necessary means to protect life and property and to facilitate the immediate transfer of power to Mr. Alassane Ouattara.’ President Jonathan was urging the UN Security Council to adopt more stringent targeted sanctions against Gbagbo and his collaborators, and not war. So, how come Jonathan is involved in the Malian war?
It is this man-made complex that is created against the developing nations of the world that has made Africa, unlike China, to enlist in the UN, by agreeing to be following the Big-5 sheepishly, like slaves in the hand of their imperial masters. This is just as funny as it is also melancholic to the suitability of peace, safety and welfare of all the people.
The question has been that when the African Union endorsed Ouattara’s conquest and buffed over opposing reports from its own electoral spectators simply because it wanted to please the imperialists, how then can Africa say that it has been enjoying peace, safety and welfare in the UN. The endorsement of the AU was against the South African president Jacob Zuma’s stance that Ouattara didn’t win the elections. But Zuma later took an opposite stance during a trip to Paris.
It is evident that the UN is simply serving its Big-5 interest more than the interest of the world. The UN is always speedy when the interest of Big-5 domination it is serving is threatened, and it goes with the speed of the snail when it is not. Although from the biblical background, there is estimation that the United Nations can’t bring about peace, safety and welfare to the people, because man is not peaceful himself and cannot bring peace. Man on the other hand, has dominated man to his injury (Eccl. 8:9).
The United Nations is under the close supervision of the Big-5, which is a man-made government that the Bible said will soon come to an end (Dan. 2:44). It is believed that the world in general is lying under the power of the Wicked One – Satan (1John 5:19). And so, because it is under the control of someone who is alienated from God, nothing positive can be expected to come out of its leadership.
Another viewpoint suggests that only ‘God’s Kingdom’ can bring the hard-to-pin-down peace, safety and welfare to the people. The UN uses arms to fight arms, weapons to fight weapons, corruption to fight corruption, injustice to fight injustice, and evil to fight evil, which is simply not good enough.
If we agree on this, it has become palpable that the inefficiency of the United Nations to bring peace, safety and welfare to all the people is because it hinders the success of the smaller and less powerful countries, as the organisation has not accomplished most of its projects in a transparent manner. The UN’s treacherous tendencies have proved it feeble, as an organisation that has never enforced the rules and sanctions it had ever imposed simply because it feigns having real power.
Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.