UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week outlined the United Nations Organization's priorities for the year 2016, calling it a heavy responsibility in the final year of his mandate, highlighting sustainable development, gender equality, climate change, drugs, youth, terrorism, conflict and refugees as important issues to address. But what about international law?
Like his predecessor, Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon has been powerless... nay, impotent... to avert conflict or stop major international powers from committing war crimes, or involving themselves in the internal conflicts of sovereign states. He did nothing to avoid the confusion over the status of the Serbian Province of Kosovo, he did nothing to avert the travesty of international law by the FUKUS Axis (France-UK-US) in Libya, he did nothing to avert foreign intrusion in Syria which has fanned sectarian flames, he did nothing to stop the creation of Islamic State, he did nothing to avoid the conflict in Ukraine caused by a Fascist illegal Putsch against the democratically elected President and ensuing Fascist massacres which forced the Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Donbass to take up arms to defend themselves.
The reason why he stood back like a voyeur making emasculated noises from the sidelines is because institutionally, he has no clout, no authority and no means to impose the terms of international law enshrined in the UN Charter and in UN Covenants and agreements, which govern the cases outlined above.
It is illegal for a state to involve itself in the internal affairs of another sovereign state, yet the West in general and NATO in particular insisted in carving out the heart of Serbia and calling the emerging Albanian Mafia haven a State; western interference in Iraq caused the abject chaos we see there today way past a decade later; western troops were seen and heard among the Georgian hordes in their murderous incursion into South Ossetia and planned invasion of Abkhazia, until Russia re-established international law and the right of the populations of those territories to vote on their status as per the conditions of the Constitution of the Soviet Union and the terms of any voluntary process of dissolution, something Georgia had denied.
There was no reason whatsoever for the west to involve itself in Libya apart from the obvious reasons that they wanted to destroy Gaddafi's plans for the African Union, and wished to steal Libya's sovereign fund, cheap oil and gold reserves. The UNO did nothing. And in Syria, before Russia launched its anti-terrorist operation, the authorities representing the legitimate government of the country were being pressed back by marauding groups of Salafist terrorists, most of whom were armed, aided and abetted by the west. The UNO did nothing.
So we see Russia's interventions and positions (against the Iraqi catastrophe, against the Libyan catastrophe, against the Syrian catastrophe, against the Kosovo catastrophe) were far more effective than those of Ban Ki-moon's United Nations Organization.
True, the United Nations Organization contains some excellent branches and agencies such as UNESCO, such as UN Women, such as António Guterres' UNHCR, all of which perform life-saving actions with limited budgets and which are fulfilling their brief in full. But what about law enforcement agencies?
The International Criminal Court at The Hague is, as everyone knows, a kangaroo court set up to whitewash NATO's war crimes, by not bringing a single member of NATO to trial and for serving as a sort of Nuremberg war crimes court for enemies of the west, or the victims of the cutting edge of the lobbies, which is NATO, as it panders to the whims of the Banking, Energy, Finance, Food, Pharmaceutical and Weapons lobbies.
Until this fundamental hole in the UNO's armor is fixed, the Organization will be no more than a humanitarian shield, which although praiseworthy, does not answer the needs of today's international community nor does it match the job specifications of the UNO itself. The UN Charter was signed to draw up universal values based upon international law and the idea was not that it should be flouted whenever the USA or its European lapdogs so wished; the idea was to police and implement its terms to the letter, which means consequences for those who breach its terms.
Quite how this is done and the mechanisms for this effect are another question and another debate but until firm action is taken, we will continue to go around in cosmetic circles, discuss whether gender equality should be achieved through quotas, talk about empowering women and having as many girls in school as boys then see entire societies collapse, human rights swept off the table, more waves of refugees, more women raped and slaughtered, more schools bombed just because someone once again has found a weak State with cheap oil and has decided to arm a separatist group or else to invade it.
And so the story is repeated. The status quo, and keeping it, simply does not work, does it?
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.