[First published on December 16, 2004] In an address to a December 16, 2004, luncheon hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized again, that the United Nations is central to dealing with global threats. He pointed out that the UN is “The only universal instrument that can bring States together in such a global effort.
Ha! In fact, the United Nations has become a weapon and a shield for the world’s dictators.
Not all dictators are the same. Some are no more than thugs. While hiding behind their guns and goons, they murder their captive citizens, condone torture (and a few even approve slavery and rape), and loot their country’s wealth and resources for personal gain, for power, for an ideology, or for a religion. Of the many such thugs since 1945, the list would include Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Idi Amin of Uganda, Pol Pot of Cambodia, and recently deposed Charles Taylor of Liberia Now we have such ruling thugs as General Than Shwe of Burma, Fidel Castro of Cuba, General Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei of Iran, Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi of Libya, Kim Chong-il of North Korea, King Fahd Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, General Umar al-Bashir of Sudan, Bashar al-Asad of Syria, Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, General Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, to mention some of the worst of them. These and the other thugs, along with the more moderate, but sympathetic and collaborative dictators, dominate the UN and now defeat its mission.
This is a reluctant conclusion about the UN that I’ve come to since my early years of strong support.
What’s to be done? I don’t suggest withdrawing from the UN. It has too many useful functions, serves as a neutral forum for contact and communication between adversaries or enemies. When there is general agreement on conflicts, interventions, peacekeeping, refugees, humanitarian aid, sanctions, criminal tribunals, human rights, and so on, the UN helps save lives and promotes human welfare and security.
Nonetheless, what is clear to me from the UN’s overall record is that given the millions dying from war, democide, famine, and poverty, the good of the organization is still much too limited by its dictatorships. Two things should be done. There should be a democratic-nation-only-caucus to deal with all issues before the UN. Such a caucus is now in its teething stage.
Second, there should be an international governmental organization of all democracies to deal with issues about which the UN cannot or will not act, particularly the promotion of peace, human security, human rights, and democracy. I have written on such an Alliance of Democracies, and need not say more here. Given what I have pointed out about the UN’s problems, the need for such an organization is obvious. It would not compete with the UN where that body could act to promote democratic values. But, where it could not, particularly because of the opposition of the dictatorships, then the Alliance would serve a most useful cause.
There is already growing movements and governmental activities pointing in the direction of such an Alliance. Democratic activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders, have come together to cooperate in the organized international promotion of democracy. Such is already underway. Democratic activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders have come together to cooperate in the organized international promotion of democracy. They call this a World Movement for Democracy. It has it’s own website, on line publication Democracy News,
courses, a steering committee, secretariat, and periodic assemblies. It now needs strong public support, and especially a formal way to deal with global issues.
Down with thug regimes and their UN power. Democracies of the world, unite.