UN is a failure, here’s why.

UN is a failure in the way it was built and in the way it is dealing with conflicts.

UN Security assembly, the permanent five, a “vetocracy”.

When I was a child, school taught me that five members of the security council were permanent. They are sitting there because they have “won” World War Two. If one member-state of the security council disagreed, it had veto power. It means that the permanent member can stop the adoption of any “substantive” draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. School (and life itself) also taught me that it is not very democratic to have one voice against all the others.

The five permanent members of the security council constitutes just another set for adversity between, but not exclusively, France, the UK, the USA on one side, and China and Russia on the other.

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The Security Council meet at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City, 2005. Jim Watson-AFP/Getty Images

 

A recent example was the vetoing from China and Russia against a draft resolution that condemned the state of Syria. (05/22/2014). Russia is fully and militarily supporting the Syrian government since September 2015.

World war two has not ended a very long time ago, but in a few dozens of years, when the politics and power dynamics will be completely altered, the position of five permanent members will be understandably and inevitably challenged. In 2055, 110 years after the end of WW2, how much “the winners” of WW2 will still matter to new generations? How logical will it sound? And more practically, how many countries will want to have their own place among “the permanents”?

The permanent members existence is a denial of democracy.

UN patches up conflicts, doesn’t really stop them or prevent them. 

UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, is the example I can relate to. UNIFIL deployed in Lebanon in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon which Israel had invaded 5 days prior. Its goals are to restore “international peace and security” and help the government of Lebanon restore its effective authority in the area.
UNIFIL is still active, it has witnessed many Israeli invasions, and worse, their compound has been directly bombed by the “Israeli Defense Forces” in the sad massacre of Qana in 1996.
On April 18 1996, the IDF bombed a UN compound where civilians had taken refuge amid heavy fighting between IDF and Hezbollah, during the Israeli Operation “Grapes of Wrath”. A UN investigation found that it was unlikely that Israeli shelling was a procedural or a technical error; an Israeli drone was spying on the compound before the shelling. More than 800 people were taking refuge in the compound, 106 civilians died in 17 minutes of constant shelling. Two thirds of the shells were equipped with proximity fuses, meaning that the weapon explode above the ground, to kill more.

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French peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) take part in a military parade to mark Bastille Day in the French UNIFIL base in Tiri village, southern Lebanon,14 July 2010. (Photo: REUTERS – Ali Hashisho)

Israel was never really punished, despite a decision from the General Assembly stating that Israel should be the one paying for the $1.7 million needed to repair the compound. They voted every year until 2003 with the same pattern, one-third for, one-third abstaining and two voices against belonging to Israel and USA.

UN General Assembly vote.

If you ever wondered why we see so many resolutions but no real actions, its explanation is simple.

The UN General Assembly is democratic, where one state equals one vote. They could pass resolutions with a simple majority or with two-thirds from the member’s states present and voting. Two thirds are required when they are dealing with “important questions”, i.e. the matters that deal with international peace and security and UN internal matters. But resolutions are generally non-binding, meaning they have no real legal power and consequences. A resolution is really just a piece of paper. The real power lies within the Security Council, where “vetocracy” and political adversity reigns.

Questionable morality and impartiality. 

UN wish of impartiality is understandable, but it usually ends in a moral and political fiasco. Impartiality is often an obstacle against action.

In Syria, the UN asks the green light from the Syrian regime to deliver basic humanitarian aid. Despite the regime almost constant refusal to allow the delivery of aid, a UN official said it would be too dangerous to deliver aid without the government consent, reported the Washington Post.
But how can the UN ask for the consent of the party responsible for so many besieged areas in Syria?

In a letter addressed to Stephen O’Brien, the UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, 112 Syrian civil society activists accused the agency of complicity in government-imposed blockades that violate the laws of war. The activists wrote that international law and that a 2014 UN Security council resolution oblige all warring parties not to disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid.
In other words, the UN is violating its own resolutions in Syria, and its desire of impartiality is sadly indirectly helping the suffering of the Syrian people.

Security Council Meeting: The situation in the Middle East - Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council.
Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator briefs Security Council on humanitarian situation in Syria. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

UN is also subject to the Syrian regime “inputs” into its documents and reports. In an alarming report from Foreign Policy, the newspaper discovered that the U.N, after consulting with the Syrian government, “altered dozens of passages and omitted pertinent information to paint the government of Bashar al-Assad in a more favorable light”. The UN doesn’t deny this.

Linda Tom, an OCHA spokeswoman replied that “it is standard procedure in each country for the UN to consult with the government of the country”. Amanda Pitt added more: “I assume it was done in consultation with a range of partners including the Government, as is normal practice”, she said in an e-mail to Foreign Policy.

More recently, Stephen O’Brien told the security council that the organization will formally ask the Syrian government to approve airdrops of humanitarian aid. The Syrian government has said there is no need for airdrops because no one is starving.
The decision to use airdrops was taken by US, Russia, and other powers. The use of airdrops was to be applied if the Syrian regime refused aid to be delivered by land.

UN is subject to pressure from countries over its decisions.

Earlier this month, U.N put Saudi Arabia in a blacklist of nations and armed groups responsible for killing children. Saudi Arabia didn’t stay very long on the list; UN removed it after pressure from Saudi Arabia itself. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition that is bombing relentlessly Yemen since March 2015. Saudi Arabia and its coalition are responsible of 60 per cent of the 785 children killed in Yemen last year, according to the UN.

UN bowed down to Saudi Arabia after mounting pressure and threats from the Kingdom and its coalition to remove their financing from UNRWA, the UN agency that deal with Palestinian refugees.

“Bullying, threat, pressure”, a diplomatic source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The source added it was “real blackmail”.

Vote manipulation. 

Saudi Arabia didn’t only remove the blacklisting with pressure, it has its own seat on the UN Human Rights Council because of a phony deal with Britain. In 2013, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia gained a seat in the UNHRC, in an “exchange of support”. It was basically trading votes and money. The Saudi Cables that were released last year in 2015 by Wikileaks revealed an alarming case. UN watch, an NGO based in Geneva, translated the cables.

“The ministry might find it an opportunity to exchange support with the United Kingdom, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would support the candidacy of the United Kingdom to the membership of the council for the period 2014-2015 in exchange for the support of the United Kingdom to the candidacy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Another cable uncovered that KSA transferred $100,000 for “expenditures resulting from the campaign to nominate the Kingdom for membership of the human rights council for the period 2014-2016”.

Recently, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch urged UN member-states to suspend Saudi Arabia from the UNHRC over the killings of civilians in Yemen and repression in their own territory.

UN is a failure because of its structure, the security council is a place where bickering powerful nations deal with each other, on the other side, its extreme impartiality pushes the agency to inaction and to asking dictators to allow helping starving civilians. Votes can be bought, it is dependent on funds and will bow down to pressure from unhappy and unsatisfied countries.

The United Nations should be either heavily reformed, or dismantled to let space for the creation of an agency that will at least ensure quick help of civilians in war-torn countries. It should be funded by individuals, not governments.

Orlando LGBTQ club massacre: homophobia is an issue among Muslim communities.

A man called Omar Mateen entered a gay club and massacred 49 people because of their sexual orientation.

Omar Mateen had been investigated by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 and reports said he pledged his allegiance to Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State.
His father said that the act “had nothing to do with religion, and that he got angry when he witnessed a gay couple kiss in front of his family.”
His wife, Sitora Yusifiy, said that Mateen was mentally unstable and would beat her, she claimed that he was bipolar and used steroids. His allegiance to Daesh seems to be baseless, and in 2013, he told his friends he had family connections to al-Qaeda and that he was a member of Hezbollah, the Shia group fighting Daesh in Lebanon and Syria. Obama said that the attack appeared to be “an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been concerned about”. There are no direct links between him and IS.

Many people rushed to write on social media that now Muslims, Arabs, or really, people looking “oriental” will face repercussions from this attack. This is true, but this is erasure of homophobia. It is important to note that this attack will lead to more violence and essentialism, but to quickly speak about one’s own oppression is running away from the subject of homophobia. To say such things as: “In the Middle East, we have everyday a 9/11” brings nothing to the debate. To rush and claim that the attack doesn’t represent Islam is to put the homophobia quickly under a carpet. It’s denying a reality: homophobia and extreme rejection of non-heterosexuals is extreme in the region, the Arab-Muslim world.

This early “but we’re oppressed too” is erasure of homophobia. I am not saying that Muslims should apologise, as many Muslims accept LGBT people, and many Muslims are LGBT themselves. White Americans also don’t have to apologise for the Charleston church massacre, when a white man killed black Americans, because they were black. But we cannot ignore the many posts on social media praising the massacre such as this “caricature” that received over 3000 likes in just two days.

Report this picture by clicking here.

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It is written: “the faggot shouldn’t be killed by bullets but be thrown from the highest place in town”. 3000 people “liked” this post and thought it was a good joke. And of course some commentors criticized the drawer. No community is completely homogenous. I have personally heard half a dozen comments not completely condemning the attack, sometimes people showed content.

The polls done at PEW research in 2013 on homosexuality are still prevalent today. They found that religiosity and opinions have a strong relationships. In other words there is less tolerance for homosexuality in more religious countries.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 11.10.14 AMSome countries are unique such as Brazil or Russia,  Brazil is religious but has a relatively high acceptance of 60%. Russia has a very low score on religiosity but where only 16% think homosexuality should be accepted by society. Russia might have a very low score because of patriarchal nationalism, where the land, the father, the mother, and the traditional family must be sacred. (Study) 

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Omar Mateen was American of Afghan heritage. Here‘s what Fariba Nawa, an American woman of Afghan descent said about homophobia in Afghan American homes.

Most Afghans are almost too tolerant. The homophobes and radicals exist but we refuse to acknowledge them. We look the other way; don’t ask, don’t tell. If Mateen had won an award, we would have claimed him as ours. But now that he’s a mass murderer, he is viewed as an outsider. Disowning him and many others like him allows us to shun the responsibility of confronting our demons.

In many Afghan American homes, homophobia is normal. If a son or daughter is gay, it’s a well-kept secret, one that could ruin the family name if it’s revealed.

Several of my friends are gay but scared to come out — they fear dishonoring their families or being beaten or ostracized by them. One of my high school friends in Fremont was hospitalized after a group of Afghan American men found out he was gay. I never saw my friend again.

Omar Mateen seemed to be gay himself, he visited the club called Pulse several times before the massacre and a had gay app on his phone. A former classmate believed he was gay but didn’t come out. Mateen was a G4S security guard and selfies of him with the NYPD (New York Police Department) shirts appeared online. If Omar Mateen was raised up differently, had another context, felt accepted within his own community, he may have acted differently. If he wasn’t so stuck between patriarchy and community religion pressure and himself. Omar Mateen may have been different. An oppressor, especially those who want to erase what he hates, shouldn’t be talked to, but the context should be understood. LGBT people don’t have to talk to people who want to erase them or to the people who are silent regarding homophobia if they don’t want to.

Muslims of USA and the world don’t need to condemn the attacks, they already did it, they don’t need to claim #notInMyName and feed the imperialist and orientalist essentialism. But they need to discuss homophobia and find a way to beat it down.

And most importantly we need to call this attack an attack on LGBT, the worst attack since WW2. We cannot claim this is an attack on freedom ONLY and downplay the homophobia.

Owen Jones, a gay English journalist said it better on Guardian newspaper.

This isn’t about LGBT people taking ownership of the pain and anguish. […] But this was a deliberate attack on a LGBT venue and LGBT people. […] Omar Mateen could have chosen many clubs, full of people laughing and living, but he chose a LGBT venue. This was homophobia as well as terrorism. It is not enough to simply condemn violence: we have to understand what it is and why it happened.


Read more here: The Muslim Silence on Gay Rights: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/13/opinion/the-muslim-silence-on-gay-rights.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0