I almost couldn’t believe it when I watched the news reports about the speech made by Mr. Mark Malloch Brown, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. In his speech at a conference sponsored by the Center for American Progress and The Century Foundation, the second highest ranking official at the United Nations accused the United States of not publicizing to “Middle America” the organization’s positive contributions around the globe.
But why shouldn’t I believe it. Mr. Malloch Brown represents an organization whose relocation to the European continent is long overdue. The United Nations, as a body, never misses an opportunity to undermine the United States, probably in an effort to counter the weight wielded by the world’s only remaining superpower.
Yet, while the U.N. is busy pointing fingers at the United States, it continually turns a blind eye to its own problems. Problems, as fortune would have it, that reinforce the opinion held by many in the American public: that the United Nations is a corrupt organization in desperate need of an overhaul. These problems include the well publicized Oil-For-Food Scandal and the corruption charges involving U.N. officials, and the Secretary-General’s own son, just to name a couple.
It is true that the United Nations provides some valuable humanitarian assistance around the world. It is also true that Secretary-General Annan’s would-be world governing body is involved in multiple peacekeeping operations in various trouble spots across the globe. But when it really matters, when the good of the world is truly at stake, the United Nations cannot manage anything more than wordy resolutions that will not, in most cases, be enforced by its member nations. Such was the case when the United States sought U.N. cooperation for action against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime. Despite repeated violations of U.N. resolutions, the expulsion of weapons inspectors, and the continued taunting of the world community with regard to weapons of mass destruction, in the end, when it really counted, an impotent Security Council could not come together.
The current permanent members of the Security Council are not representative of the major powers at play on the geopolitical scene today. France is not the power it once was and should probably be replaced on the Security Council by an increasingly powerful and increasingly important India, or possibly even Japan. Here’s another idea. Instead of a Security Council with only five member states that truly matter, perhaps all member nations should have an equal vote. Under the current structure, 190 nations could vote in favor of taking military action against Iran, the most important security issue faced by the United Nations today, and still be stymied by any one of the five permanent members of the Security Council who may choose not to endorse the action. The time for an overhaul is long past.
The United Nations tries too hard to make the world a harmonious place, where everyone gets along and no one state is any better than another. Take, for example, the recently installed Human Rights Council. Sticking with the “can’t we all get along” mindset, the seats on the council were distributed by region, with African states receiving 13 seats, Asian states receiving 13 seats, Eastern European states receiving 6 seats, Latin American and Caribbean states receiving 8 seats, and Western Europe and other states receiving 7 seats. When repressive regimes with poor human rights records (China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, for example) are given seats in exchange for a promise to do better, the United Nations loses all credibility. While it is true that known human rights violators Iran and Venezuela were not given seats on the council, the nations that do have seats are representative of a United Nations more interested in making sure that everyone feels wanted than a United Nations that is taking a hard look at human rights records.
Mr. John Bolton, the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, alluded to the possibility of serious harm being done to the United Nations as a result of Mr. Malloch Brown’s speech. That harm should involve the withdrawal of the United States from the organization and the relocation of the United Nations to a place where it will feel more at home. Perhaps with the thorn of the United States removed from its side, the U.N. will finally be able to find the peace and harmony it is so desperately looking for. Or perhaps it won’t.
This piece was previously published online by The American Chronicle, OpinionEditorials.com, and The American Daily.