By Shep Gerszberg
It is time to stop pretending the U.N. is a legitimate political or moral authority.
For years now, that has been the way the world has viewed the U.N.: a moral or political authority. Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions, the continued presence of the U.N. Human Rights Council. The U.N. likes to portray itself as an international body which represents the world’s political and moral authority.
It is time to realize it has completely and utterly failed in that regard. Its hypocrisies, self-contradictions, and lack of standards for membership have wholly disqualified it from carrying that mantle.
It is becoming an increasingly popular exercise for individuals and political pundits on the Right to criticize the U.N. and call for a complete U.S. pull out. I am not going to be making that kind of argument here nor am I going to be saying that the U.N. is a complete failure in its entirety, as it still serves a good purpose in organizing aid to nations which need it.
Additionally, it gives nongovernmental organizations a platform to speak to governmental representatives directly, considering there are regimes which would otherwise ban NGOs from having any contact with government officials.
Nonetheless, the U.N. has failed as a political or moral authority.
The most recent evidence of this failure is this Friday’s emergency Security Council meeting regarding the current Iran protests, an important issue given the brutality of the regime and its lack of true democracy and political freedom, traits common to many of the world’s theocracies.
During this session, countries like China, Russia, and Ethiopia condemned the U.S. with varying levels of hostility for “abusing the Security Council” and “taking it away from its intended purpose” by calling an emergency session to respond to internal policy of another country. The Security Council’s purpose includes responding to massive events which directly threaten international peace. The hypocrisy and absurdity present in these country’s words should be staggering if they were not commonplace.
It is fascinating to notice the countries that condemned the U.S. on this matter. Russia, China, and Ethiopia are countries that have massive domestic human rights issues. Two years ago, Ethiopian police killed 100 peaceful protesters during similar anti-government protests like the Iranian demonstrations we are seeing now. China and Russia similarly have repressive regimes that regularly violate human rights. It is obvious that their resistance to the U.S. using the Security Council to condemn such actions is based in their concern that any punitive measures implemented by the Security Council against Iran for these actions might be used as precedent against them one day.
But these sentiments reveal an even bigger structural issue that is one of the reasons why the U.N. is disqualified as a moral and political authority: These repressive, autocratic, human rights-violating regimes are on the Security Council in the first place! Any body that pretends to be a moral authority when simultaneously having countries like this on its highest committee cannot be anything but hypocritical.
Another hypocrisy ties right back into the growing anti-U.S. sentiment in the U.N. The countries complaining about the U.S. using its authority in the Security Council to criticize the internal politics of another country participated in the same exercise when they criticized the U.S.’s internal policy decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The U.S. is not forcing other countries to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as it was a decision made by the U.S.
Still, the Security Council decided to step in and attempt to condemn that decision, only stopped by a U.S. veto, and the countries who condemned the U.S. today for using the Security Council to interfere in another country’s internal politics, used the security council to condemn the U.S.’s internal politics. This utter hypocrisy, as well as a multitude of other sins by the U.N. Security Council and other U.N. bodies like the U.N. Human Rights Council, disqualifies the U.N. from acting as the world’s moral and political authority.
To address possible accusations of hypocrisy of my criticism of the U.N.’s interference into U.S. policy, I will say this: The U.N. does not have the right to criticize internal policy decisions by countries. The U.S. policy statement did not threaten world peace, nor, according to the wording of the statement, did it prejudge the outcome of any future peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. There are disputes over the status of Jerusalem under international law. It did not threaten world security or violate human rights or international law, therefore, the U.N. was wrong to intercede.
Iran’s violent repression of political activism, its repressive political structure and actions in destabilizing the Middle East through their proxy wars, and support for terror threaten international peace and violate human rights. In such cases, the U.N. has a responsibility to intercede. If they do not, it cannot be considered anything remotely like the world’s moral and political authority.