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.

Patriarchy: Sex work and Body work.

The following text has been first written by Islam Khatib on her personal Facebook account and has been republished here following her authorization.

Two stories from Lebanon & Bosnia:

1- An ex-sex worker told me about her mid-nights working at a plastics factory (somewhere near Tripoli)
She said that the atmosphere was bitter and fraught with conflict between workers, supervisors and managers, and it was hell for Lebanese and non-Lebanese men and women alike, but she said that the women she worked with were under constant attack. She said she was always tired so I asked her why and she broke it down for me: “Well, I used to go home and bring the kids to school the same time my husband usually gets home for lunch, and he got really upset if didn’t make him something and stayed up and ate with him. The kids used to back home from school at 3, and then I had to make supper and clean the kitchen. I used to sleep from 7 until 9, and then got up for work. Funny how working in a nasty brothel was easier than working in a factory.” She said that once she got to the factory, she and other women were barraged with verbal abuse from whoever the supervisor happened to be. She told me a “funny” story about this religious supervisor who didn’t think God wanted women in the workplace, and constantly conspired to have the women on his shift fired.
That factory closed ages ago, but this shit still happens in ALMOST every local “factory” or “shop” or ”offices” that happens to hire non-Lebanese women or Lebanese women who have no one to turn to.

2- A Bosnian woman who came to Lebanon with an “artist” passport (also related to sex-work, if you don’t know about the “artist passport” please google it) told me about an incident that happened in 2013. She decided that she wanted to give up her Bosnian citizenship and take the German. She had to go several times to the Bosnian embassy 70 miles from where she lived. They’re the only ones that are responsible for her federal state and they know how dependent people are on them, there are no alternatives, apart from traveling to Bosnia, which is no alternative, either. So she requested the deprivation of citizenship and brought a ton of papers to look at. One guy in his 40ies sat face to face with her and checked on them. So in one of the papers it was listed that she used to work as “an artist” in Lebanon and then he asked her “Have you ever tried older guys?”

Does this remind you of an official institution that casually harasses non-Lebanese women in Lebanon?
Such situations are especially vile, because those guys know how much we need them. And there’s no one in charge of them. Well, the state, but c’mon, this is a culture where they would tell harassed “what’s your problem? Consider it a compliment”. So, back to that lady’s case, had that official had a bad day, he could’ve told her “no older guys? okay, no paper work done for you” and she wouldn’t have had anyone to turn to.
This literally happens here EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Then comes your typical sexist man and goes like “looool at this feminist defending sex workers stupid silly masculine go get married”

Forever laughing at the shit that sexist men say with a satisfied grin, that fades as his righteous anger subsides and the blood rushing in his ears gets replaced with the ever present, all encompassing silence of an empty life.

#JusticeForYves : No more guns in criminal hands.

I read up the story of Yves Nawfal on Elie Fare’s blog. What an awful way to die. To sum the story up, Yves Nawfal and another man, Charbel Khalil, got in a fight for a woman. Now, this happens all the time, even in what you may call “civilised” countries, the difference here is that Khalil had a gun.

The fight, supposedly resolved, continued outside the pub ‘Powder’ in Faraya. Khalil managed to block the road, but it was reopened. Soon after, Charbel, his “pride” hurt, fired on Nawfal’s car with a semi-automatic gun, killing him with 4 bullets.

Charbel isn’t caught, he hid under the wing of a “very influential” figure in Keserwan, a politician. Police searched in Charbel homes, but will they search for the politician that hid him ? I believe the Police already knows who this godfather is and won’t stop this man above the law. Soon, Charbel will probably be out in his jungle playing with his guns. Worse, Charbel already acted the same year last year.

Charbel Khalil did a similar thing to another victim last year and was not arrested for it. He was not thrown in jail, in which case Yves would have still been alive and his mother wouldn’t be grieving now, and social media wouldn’t be seething over such a heinous crime taking place just because the murderer is so influential he could get away with murder.

Also, if there were no guns in these irresponsible hands, I believe Nawfal chance of survival would have been much higher, and both of them, Khalil and Nawfal, would have gone home with few bruises. I want to believe that.

Charbel Khalil is just a sample from politician’s young proteges, I am sure Khalil is just one of the hundreds young adults protected by the political parties above the law, left or right. A protege will always get “cleared” with a very powerful entourage.

Politicians that allow such things, and believe they are above the law, must be stopped by the police. And if the police won’t do it, it is time to reform such forces. “Hey Maybe with new respectable parties!”

Guns must not be allowed in civilians hands, warrant or not. Too much guns are on the hands of people without any valable reason.

I also believe that Justice must be done by the responsible forces, no “manhunt” should be conducted by civilians for the killing of Nawfal.

It is time all those killers and murderers to get in prison.

Yves Nawfal, Rest in Peace, we will remember you.

Hamas off the EU terror list ; Cuba and USA Bff’s

EU removed Hamas from its “terror list” because it causes the EU “procedural” problems, it comes after a vote to recognize the Palestinian state and the two-state solution. It is in fact technical and have no real consequences yet.

The court added in a statement that Wednesday’s decision to remove Hamas from the EU’s blacklist was based on procedural errors and did “not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group”.

Now of course, Bibi Netanyahu was very pissed off, how could the EU do that ? Are they antisemitic or something ? He was not satisfied because this move may actually help develop peace ! Not that I support the two-state solution.

The two-state solution omits completely the Palestinian refugees that fled their homes during the Nakba, a lot of these homes are in present-day Israel. And Israel keeps colonizing the West Bank by a rate never achieved before, in fact, Netanyahu has confiscated more land than previous prime ministers.
Hamas applauded the removal. Who likes to be called a terrorist ? Israel doesn’t when it bombs civilian homes…but hey !

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On the other side of the Atlantic ocean, USA and Cuba have had a historic rapprochement.

The two neighbor states have tensions since 1960 after Castro revolution and the fall of Batista.

Cuba have been under a heavy embargo since 50 years. It’s no surprise that Obama called the “isolation” a failure. Because it is. US will soon have an embassy built in Cuba, but it seems that Cuba didn’t decide yet to do the same ; I couldn’t find it in all these reports. Weird.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) greets Cuban President Raul Castro before giving his speech at the memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela at the First National Bank soccer stadium, in Johannesburg Tuesday. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

A lot of US residents are applauding the reconciliation that were marked with prisoners exchange. Some cite the economic benefits, others a new “Spring Break Destination”. Guevara must be turning in his grave.

The involvement of the Pope Francis surprised me, the latter facilitated the tense relations, sending letters to USA and Cuba Leaders. Oh and Happy birthday Pope Francis.

Lebanon still corrupted.

Transparency International is an NGO that fights the corruption worldwide, and they even have here, in Lebanon, a “chapter” related to them.

Lebanon is the 136th most corrupted country in a list that contains 175, it has a score of 27 i.e, the lower the score the more corrupt. This score is actually worsening ; in 2012 the score was of 30 and for 2013 the score was 28.

And some wonder why we don’t trust our government.

I don’t know who is bringing who. What I know is that the corruption is born within the state and develop outside. If a government act responsibly and punish those corrupted politicians, the country will follow.

We can fight for a better score.

1) Don’t bribe. This rule is simple. And even if “it’s the way of things” in Lebanon, if you want it to stop, you have to begin by yourself.

2) Report it, you could do it here or here.(international website)

Let’s hope Lebanon’s score will get better with time.

The Policing tendency of some Lebanese citizens.

I wrote that us, Lebanese citizens, were too much blaming each others for misconducts or our “uncivilized” tendencies, for example some will blame the people that won’t respect laws. In my point of view, this tendency to blame the “uncivilized” other should be redirected on the government’s lack of control in the country. With control, the incivilities would shrink and eventually stop.

This lack of control is dangerous because it also leads to policing each others ; in other words, everybody becomes everybody’s police because there is a clear lack of authority and appliances of existing laws. We begin to point out our fingers on some incivilities, shaming some in public thinking it would help to improve the society.

This is clearly visible on Twitter regarding the violation of driving laws, the dangerous of some vehicles and the illegality of some license plates. Some may tweet an image to the Traffic Control, and they will retweet you. I also did that, thinking it was enough. But it’s not. Let’s look at some of these revealing tweets.

https://twitter.com/AngRy961/status/535096775854788608

This brings us to another result. We police each others and report it to the formal authority, consequently, the formal authority will “reshame it”, pointing out a finger on the citizen, omitting that it is their lack of control that is the base of this situation. Let’s stop with taking pictures of entire families on tiny motorcycles and be surprised about it. Some families may have not the money to buy good cars, and some may find that getting on those tiny motorcycles is better than using the public transport. In some areas of Lebanon, the public transport is rare, sometimes nonexistent. Those people know that they risk their lives, we mustn’t me surprised every time we see these “backward” people, we must go to the origins, the lack of the control, the lack of basic transport. If the police were effective, we wouldn’t see them much, and if the government were effective, it wouldn’t exist.

Let’s say that the Police will act after the pointing out, great you may think. But is it our role as citizens to help the police solving clear road safety and law issues ? The common citizen may help the police to solve a mystery when it is asked to do so.

The lack of control doesn’t come from the citizen but from the government.
Another outcome of this could lead to expressing short but strong outbursts of Power from the government ; it is clearly shown with the minister of Health Abu Faour iron fists on food and water irregularities. The current government, lacking power over the people on social and sanitary issues, will try to inverse this situation. Abu Faour strikes the restaurants, shaming them and blaming them for their lack of control and their disrespects expiration dates etc. But is it not the origin, the base of all this debate the lack of the government control on food and water ? Abu Faour clearly wants a better country, but is the way of doing it ?

Let’s stop this nonsense, and point our fingers at the correct persons responsible for all the irregularities, the misconducts, the disrespect of laws, the “shocking” pictures you could see on twitter. Let’s point our fingers on the government because it simply can’t do a proper job.

Is the Taxi-Service reliable ?

Have you ever been expelled out of a service because other customers where able to pay more or because their destinations were relatively closer to your destination ? I have, and several times I’ve been left out in a street I don’t even know. You also have some drivers that will tell you “I will drop you here because It’s not my way even if you didn’t arrive yet at your destination but hey gimme your money”

A Lebanese taxi.   From This is Beirut Blog

1)Services have too much bargaining power.

They could expel you, decide whether to take you, bargain a price, and put ten other customers in the taxi when the car just allows 4 or 5 passengers. Consequently some customers will “choose” their services. “No I don’t get in this car”, Urgh, too much passengers”. This will considerably slow the transport.

Oh and have you ever been cheated on ? I have.
Me : “Look khaye we made the deal right ?” Driver : “No I want more because you made me go in this neighborhood and there’s a lot of traffic and I need money for gas”

Also, you could wait and wait and wait for a service to pass by and get rejected while you are losing precious minutes.

The drivers have too much bargaining power, some could use this and arrange or cheat with a price. It’s also because there’s not really a  clear prices to arrive at your destination. I am not stereotyping  the drivers or generalizing them, but I believe these stories are frequent among passengers.

2) The constant drop/entry of passengers.

Services, because they can get more than one person, will constantly and suddenly change lanes to get newcomers, sometimes they will talk and bargain a price, and you are miserably waiting for them to finish their chats, slowing all the traffic behind them. With a price based on distance, there would be no time to bargain, just get in the car, and announce your destination.

3) You can’t go far with a Service.

A service will never take you from A to B if B is too far. You will have to bargain a huge price but first you have to find an empty service (or break the hearts of passengers that get expelled) Good luck with that.

There are some benefits in the service system…

More passengers means less pollution ; if every citizen needed a cab to get moving, more cars are needed or more movement, so more pollution. But this is manageable by sharing cabs.

Fixed prices : with only 2000 L.L you can get very far if you are lucky. But sometimes it’s just not enough.

 

I believe it’s time to install honest counter in every service, with fair prices for both of the driver and the customer. This will empower the common citizen and the use of public transports could grow.
And if it’s too complicated, it is time to ameliorate this system and find a common ground for both of the frustrated parties.

Racist Attacks in Lebanon.

Another day, another Lebanese racist attack and harass Syrians.

Why do some persons act this way ? Is it a kind of revenge following the long occupation of Syrian Army in Lebanon ? Is it just pure and simple racism ? Superiority complex ? Xenophobia ? Disrespect for human rights ? Is it because some Syrians belong to terrorist groups ? (Some Lebanese belong to the same group)

Why is there no government decision or declaration on this matter ? Human Rights Watch came up with a list of recent attacks against Syrians ( Refugees or not ), the harassment has become recurrent.

On Monday November 10th, three Syrians were attacked, a man threw a bucket of paint on them, shaming them in public.. they were barefoot.

Three Syrian men get attacked in Lebanon.

Is it the image we want to give to foreigners ? Arabs and Non-Arabs ?

The government must act and arrest these wrongdoers.

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Read the Article of Human Rights Watch : http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/30/lebanon-rising-violence-targets-syrian-refugees

Dear Syrian Refugees, Citizens, Brothers.

I am sincerely sorry if you have felt threatened, badly treated by some Lebanese citizens.

Yes, Racism is present in my country, and it is present in all of the countries of the world. The difference here is that racism may go unpunished by the law, sometimes applauded by watching citizens.

After Arsal incidents and beheading, some lost men released their anger and adrenaline onto you and made some of you fear for their lives, that fear you fled. This illegitimate anger is growing, and it is unfortunately not being stopped by the leaders of our country, and if it is, their voices is not really heard.

The racist behavior is deep down explainable, but will never be accepted by the majority of Lebanese citizens. There are many institutions here to help you and welcome you, to make you feel safe and at home as much as they could.

Many are proud of Lebanon different cultures, religions, origins, many are also proud to receive you.

The number of the Syrian refugees is a problem yes, their accommodations is the question, not expelling them. We don’t have any right to say :” they should return to their country, some towns are at peace”. “They” forget or close their eyes on the fact that the war is killing dozens every day. The moment the civil war is finished, and the moment the refugees that fear for their lives are welcomed back in Syria, they will return. Because no one runs away from his home.

Generalization is dangerous, if some Syrians are from terrorist groups, that doesn’t mean that one should be beaten and ashamed.

If some Lebanese are racists, that doesn’t mean all the Lebanese are racists.

I insist on the fact that this unpunished Racism is very dangerous, it could lead to the resentment of the Syrian refugees towards the Lebanese, again here a generalized response, an explainable one, not a legitimate one.

So, Dear Syrian citizens, don’t play this game, don’t allow yourselves to feel resentment, anger. All of this lead to extremism.

I advise all of us, Lebanese and Syrians, to feel and act responsibly to close this awful door of hate.