[first published March 2, 2005] Cheers were loud and hopeful when the United Nations passed the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. Here was the world body of practically all sovereign countries agreeing that genocide was a crime against humanity, and that its perpetrators should be tried and punished. Thereafter, the Convention was ignored for almost five decades.
Finally, the UN has taken action against genocide, as well as crimes against humanity, although sometimes half-heartedly. It has set up tribunals to try perpetrators of the genocides in Rwanda and Yugoslavia (Bosnia), has agreed with Cambodia on setting up a joint tribunal to try those Khmer Rouge responsible for murdering millions of Cambodians, and has negotiated with Sierra Leone a Special Court to try perpetrators of crimes against humanity during its ten-year civil war.
Such tribunals or courts are one reason the UN’s record is not entirely negative. But, and this is a very crucial but, the UN has ignored or paid nominal attention to the mass murders by most other thugs, such as those who rule Burma, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea. Although with the murderers still in power a formal Tribunal may be impossible or impractical in these cases, at least they could be thoroughly investigated in the light of some of its own reports, and sanctions taken against them.
One of the most telling cases is the mass murders, and government created famine in North Korea. The country is one vast prison in which hundreds of thousands have been murdered in the last decade, and possibly three million have been starved to death. With regard to the ruling thugs responsible, and Kim Jong Il, the chief thug among them, the UN is like the three monkeys that see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.
Similarly with the Taliban of Afghanistan, who when they controlled the country were systematically murdering their own people, repressing all their human rights, and enslaving (this is not hyperbole—the proper word is enslaving) all woman. The UN sat on its hands despite the written reports it received from its officials in the country pointing out that the murders were ordered or approved by Mullah Omar, the Taliban ruler. Just consider the Taliban murder of 178 people in the Yakaolang district of north-central Afghanistan, where UN officials had evidence that Omar was in contact with the Taliban troops doing the democide. One UN official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, exclaimed that, “These are the same type of war crimes as were committed in Bosnia and should be prosecuted in international courts.” Out of frustration that the UN was doing nothing to stop the Taliban, staff members leaked their reports to the public.
Then, consider Rwanda, in which during four months of 1994 about 800,000 people were murdered in a systematic genocide organized by the Hutu government, and carried out against the Tutsi minority by its troops, police, and specially trained death squads. In 1999, an independent report, commissioned by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and headed by former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, condemned the UN’s reluctance to accept evidence of genocide, and reluctance to act once the genocide was undeniable.
Perhaps the most famous case, although the genocide involved a much lower number of murdered–around 8,000 Muslim men and boys–was in Srebrenica, Bosnia, during the Bosnian war of 1995. Another UN commissioned report on this asserted that the UN peacekeepers stood by while Serb troops massacred those to whom the UN had promised protection. The UN had refused to reinforce their peacekeepers with enough troops, and even then severely restricted the action of those that were there.
Presently, there are a civil war and mass murders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And again, UN peacekeepers are under armed, under manned, and over restricted by rules of engagement. Some three million Congolese have been killed so far, but all UN peacekeepers have done is stand by and watch them being murdered. In response, the UN Security Council voted to deploy an additional French led 1,400 soldiers to Bunia, the capital. But, their mandate was temporarily confined to Bunia–they could not leave it to protect refugees in neighboring areas where most of the killing was taking place. As this killing escalated, the UN deployed a new force of 3,000 Pakistani and Bangladesh troops with permission to prevent killing and violence across the whole Ituri region–3,000 UN peacekeepers across a region over twice the size of Albania.
There is also Russia’s Moslem Chechnya in which Russian troops and agents have carried out a campaign of democide, torture, and war crimes. In 2000 and 2001, the Human Rights Commission noted Russian abuses there and asked that the Russian government investigate them, and cooperate with UN human rights monitors. At no cost to itself from the UN, Russia has ignored these resolutions and in 2003, a similar resolution failed to get enough votes.
Then there was Saddam Hussein’s mass murder, those of Iran’s Ayatollahs, the terrorist genocide bombing of Israeli Jews, and further back in time, Stalin’s post World War II murders, those of the new communist thug regimes of Eastern Europe, and then Mao Tse-tung’s massive extermination of “land lords,” “antirevolutionaries,” and “rightists,” . . . Enough. Why beat a dead horse? Simply, the thugs in the UN usually have had their way on this, as with so many other political questions. Millions, tens of millions, have thus been murdered SINCE THE UN WAS CREATED. But, for virtually all these poor souls, it was as though no UN existed.
However, international relations are undergoing a revolutionary change that is silently preventing democide regardless of the UN. In jumps and leaps, this is the buildup of democracies, which now amount to about 121, with about 89 of them liberal democracies. As this number has grown, violence in international relations and democide has sharply declined. More on this at another time.
Link of Note
WORLD WAR II” (5/98) By R.J. Rummel
In this article, I point out that since 1945, when the UN was created, and up to the end of the century, about 80,000,000 people have been murdered in cold blood by one regime or another, around thirteen times the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust . Most of this democide has been done for political reasons (reasons of state or power), but also much of it has been outright genocide (the killing of people by virtue of their ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality. About 87 percent of these murders were done by communist regimes—it was death by Marxism (see my commentary on this here).