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What a Revitalized United Nations Could do for the Entire World
October 20, 2006

by Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
President, International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University

It is obvious that the job of the United Nations Secretary-General has emerged to become the most important job in the world in terms of its tremendous potential to put pressure and to exert influence in bringing needed vital changes into proper perspective. If we were to analyze the history of the United Nations since it started in 1945, we would discover that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council served more as a detriment than an asset to this world-wide body of nations.

Veto Power Sign of Weakness

For the United Nations to be revitalized, something drastic needs to be done about the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The major weakness of this Council lies in the fact that each one of these five members carries the power of the veto. This means if one of these five nations objects to the implementation of a law on a global scale, such a law cannot be implemented even if it would have the support of the rest of all the nations of the world! In essence, the welfare of the entire world as a top priority does not really mean anything by these permanent members of the UN Security Council. These countries are the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France.

Each one of them feels to be absolutely above the law and when it comes to doing what they want individually or collectively, they may become quite nasty and even dangerous. If we were to analyze the numerous vetoes these nations exerted, we will find out they served more to defeat the peaceful objectives of the United Nations rather than to promote them properly and effectively. This was done systematically to the detriment of the welfare of all people of the world without exception. For example, when the United Nations voted to abolish all nuclear weapons and all landmines, the United States objected and refused to accept such a plan. That was enough to destroy the chance for people everywhere to live in peace and security.

Besides, these members of the UN Security Council hardly ever took the initiative to develop an international program of disarmament and arms control, even though the UN Charter advocates it. Needless to say, this could be easily understood since all the members of the UN Security Council deal with the business of the manufacture and sales of weapons, above all the United States. The eventual waging of wars has become a lucrative business! Today, wars are no longer waged to defend one’s nations from unjust aggression. They are waged particularly by the United States because wars are now viewed as a lucrative business where one could make an enormous amount of money fast and smooth.

Exposition of Latent Belligerent Policies

We re all familiar with the dictum: Actions speak louder than words. To make the waging of struggles and wars a tangible reality, the United States has proceeded to establish military bases in almost every single nation of the world, some 146 of them out of about 180 countries. And it is still building more and more with virtual no limit. This is done under the guise of "national defense and security," a phrase that has emerged to become the most deceitful and misguided statement in history. In a way, this well elaborated phrase would be true if we were to consider that such "national defense and security" refers merely to the financial gains of the weapons industrialists and not to the safety of the people.

The new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, is faced with a clear alternative. Either he tries to accommodate the members of the UN Security Council to the detriment of our earthly community, or he tries to assume strong leadership by advocating the importance to democratize the United Nations for its continued survival in the future. This means that not one single country should have a monopoly over this world body of nations. The new UN Secretary-General should always speak clearly, without any ambiguity, about the importance of the abolition of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council. For example, he must make it clear that to have the permanent members of the UN Security Council amassing as many nuclear weapons as they want serves as a stimulant to make other countries have nuclear weapons as well, as observed recently with the case of North Korea and Iran.

Since there seems to be no chance that such permanent five members would ever consent on the total dismantling of their nuclear weapons, their permanent seat should be abolished the sooner the better. At the same time, we need to create a federation of nations that firmly believes in world peace through education that comes through healthy dialogues, abolition of hunger and poverty, provision of shelter for all the homeless and environmental protection and the safeguard of people’s good health everywhere.

Besides, the new Secretary-General could emphasize the safeguard of human rights where every single human being is acknowledged to have the right of free movement and to visit every single global area without hindrance. Besides, the new UN Secretary-General should be adamant in pushing for an international program of disarmament and arms control. Unfortunately, at one time or another, all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have rendered themselves quite conspicuous in their violation of human rights. While each one seems to advocate democracy, none of them reveals respect for this vital form of government, above all the United States where mockery of democracy, or plutocracy with a democratic garb, became the way of government.

Sanctions as Abuse of Power

Sanctions imposed against any nation for any reason whatsoever constitutes an abuse of power which is criminal. The United States, for example, acted criminally when it put an embargo on Iraq for 10 years and another embargo on Cuba for more than 40 years! It is not the intention of the writer to make long lists of violations of human rights and of crimes against humanity that were exercised so many times by the five members of the UN Security Council, individually and collectively. What the new UN Secretary-General, Ban Kim Moon, needs to do is to follow the footsteps of Nelson Mandela of South Africa, when he addressed his government for the first time.

He said:
"Let bygones be bygones, let us move forward and not backward while trying to make the nation of South Africa a great nation for every single person who lives in it."

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council must make a simple decision: Give up their veto power and try to develop international programs that are in the best interest of all people without exception. This would certainly be a gigantic step toward peace where everyone will be a winner and no one will be a loser. The alternative would be for the five permanent members to continue to retain their veto power, doing what they always wanted to do, even to the detriment of millions of people around the world.

This way the problems of the world will continue to build up where everyone will eventually end up to be a loser and no one a winner, like the United States is experiencing nowadays in a very vivid way. This nation boasts to have the strongest military in the world, military basis across every continent, atomic bombs in tens of thousands capable of annihilating the world ten times over, and enough money to bribe and control every single head of state and key figure in a nation as needed. Yet, it lost all of its respect and trust of the world’s people, it has emerged as the most despised and hated country in recent history, and, like Nelson Mandela stated, "it has emerged as the most dangerous nation on earth."

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist regime, the United States could have emerged as the most beneficial nation on earth and the world would have benefited immensely, including the American people themselves. Until then, it armed itself always in preparation of a possible war with the Soviet Union and the communist regime. Ironically, after this Soviet collapse, the United States has embarked upon the most expensive and extensive military build up in history. When questioned about its motive, the United States was quick to say: "We have to be prepared to wage a devastating war against the rogue states, if needed." These rogue states, where most of the people abounded in poverty, were enlisted as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and Libya!

Need for Strong UN Leadership

Confronted with such realities, the new UN Secretary-General has a real challenge. Mr. Ban Ki Moon happens to be well prepared for this important and difficult job. It is important because he happens to be the Chief Executive of the world body of nations. It is difficult because he is faced with the absolute necessity of reforming the structure of this world body of nations as to make it the way it meant to be from the outset: the best instrument available in our planet to bring about a permanent peace. It is quite a challenge for him because if he does not succeed to eliminate the seats of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United Nations’ reform would not have been achieved, in no way whatsoever, when his term as UN Secretary-General expires.

Should a UN Security Council is found appropriate to continue then the rules of membership should change. For example, only nations with over 100 million in population could become permanent members of the UN Security Council and then an equal amount of nations that would rotate every two to three years. Besides, no nation should have the right to exercise a veto power. As we have already experienced for over 60 years, all the nations of the world have become hostage of the present five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Keeping nations hostage is equivalent to enslavement. In recent centuries we all read with awe about slavery and the treatment of slaves. We cannot afford the United Nations, through its UN Security Council, to continue to hold entire nations as hostages.

In view of what has been stated, we need to look forward with hope and enthusiasm for an eventual radical reform. We need to encourage the new UN Secretary-General to provide the United Nations with a strong leadership. He needs to eventually make this body of nations what it meant to be from the outset: the most effective instrument to bring about a permanent world peace, where the very concept of war would become a thing of the past.

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