Unfulfilled Mandate

The Charter of the United Nations was drafted and approved in 1945. Its stated objectives are to prevent war, forced occupation, and promote global justice. This vision is beautifully captured in a sculpture in the court of the UN building which consists of a pistol whose muzzle has been tied in a knot.

However, the UN has not been able to fulfill its mandate. Since its creation war, famine, illegal occupation, and inequity between nations and classes has increased. This failure of the UN is built into its structure.

Five members of the Security Council can, and have consistently, vetoed resolutions against injustice, occupation, and war. These five nations are the richest and/or most powerful nations on Earth. All five of them are also major manufacturers of small and large arms and all of them are exporters in the global market. The purchasers of these arms are by and large countries that suppress their people, like Saudi Arabia, or seek to impose their will on the region in which they exist, like India. When not directly involved, they develop proxies to destabilize the region. The guns and ammunitions manufactured by these powers have been used in Yemen, Syria, Libya, various regions in Africa, and, for the last 40 years, in Afghanistan. They have killed women and children indiscriminately and justified it as collateral damage. They have been used to take away Palestinian land and give it to Israel through massive military aid of US$ 18 billion yearly that they provide to the Zionist state.

In addition, it has been well established that some of these countries smuggle arms to warring factions in their zones of influence through a network of contractors (60% of this trade is from the US and 25% from Europe) (Mellin 2017). Global spending on manufacture of arms is US$ 3 trillion of which 39% is America’s share. China’s share is 13% and UK, France, and Russia, collectively, add up to 8.8% (STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE 2021) This also shows the imbalance in power within the Security Council.

37% of all arms export is from the US, 20% from Russia, and 16.7% from the other members of the Security Council (STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE 2021). Meanwhile, Israel is also becoming a major manufacturer of arms and its exports between 2016-2020 increased by 59% (Mehta 2021). This has major implications for the Middle East. The big importers of arms, on the other hand, are Saudi Arabia (11%), India (9.5%), Egypt (5.8%), UAE (3.0%), and Pakistan (2.7%) (STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE 2021).

These figures give us some idea of the interests the members of the Security Council in promoting a state of war. Their economies are heavily dependent on arms production and sale and this has expanded phenomenally from US$ 95 billion in 2017 to US$ 3 trillion in 2020.

The figures also point to the fact that the UN is all but dead and survives only because it has become a part of the larger global system to maintain the present status quo of which a proliferating arms economy is an integral part.

The UN employs 37,000 permanent staff and has an annual budget of US$ 3.231 billion (2021 figure). This does not include its special programs like peacekeeping (whose last year’s budget was US$ 6.58 billion) (Congressional Research Service 2021) or projects related to famine relief. Much of this expense is provided by the five powers. For instance, the US contribution to UN expenses is 22% of its total budget (Wikipedia 2021). To add insult to injury, these five powers and their allies are collectively known as the “international community”.

The UN has a close working relationship with international financial institutions (IFI) whose political and economic agendas, such as neoliberalism and global trade treaties, it promotes despite being discretely critical to them at times. Enough has been written about these organizations, in the case of Pakistan as well, to show that they are not interested in development but in creating dependence and pushing their loans. The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, DFID, combined employ 23,857 fulltime staff and have a combined budget of US$ 5.4 billion. In addition, both the UN and these agencies support thousands of NGOs and consultants in developing data, evaluating programs, and implementing small and medium projects that serve the various programs that they promote. This huge bank of human resources, the power it creates, and the interests it generates, collectively manage to prevent the UN from dying formally. They are happy to keep it on a ventilator so that they can also survive.

There is a need for a global network of organizations and individuals to be created, nurtured, and formalized to push for UN reform or/and to non-violently agitate collectively against injustice to prevent the consolidation of an anti-poor status quo. If this does not take place, there will be many more Palestines, leading to global anarchy, and we will watch helplessly.

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