Enough of the U.N.

Enough of the U.N.Anne BayefskyNew York Sun, September 12, 2006 

Today marks the opening of the 61st annual session of the United Nations General Assembly…  Just last Friday the U.N. gave the world its answer to 9/11. The General Assembly adopted its first-ever “Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.” The title is grand. The substance was not: it called for the [implementation] of a General Assembly resolution from 1991, which draws a distinction between terrorism and the “legitimacy of the struggle of national liberation movements.” The document was also telling for what it omitted: a definition of terrorism, a reference to state sponsorship of terrorism and a call to sanction states that harbor and assist terrorists. Worst of all it began, not with defeat of terrorists, but with “measures to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, which it describes as “prevent[ing] the defamation of religions, religious values, beliefs and cultures,” “eradicate[ing] poverty” and reducing youth unemployment… The previous post-9/11 record was just as bad. Shortly after 9/11 the U.N. created a new body to take the lead on responding to terrorist threats — the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee. To this day, the CTC has never named a single terrorist, terrorist organization, or state sponsor of terrorism. What does such a record do for the war effort? It leaves the stewardship of the war against terrorism in the hands of an agent that cannot define it. 

The U.N.’s top human rights body for six decades, the Commission on Human Rights, was charged with identifying and responding to human rights abuse. During that time, 30% of all its resolutions condemning a specific state for human rights violations were directed at Israel, while not one resolution was adopted condemning states like China, Syria, or Zimbabwe. In recent years, Libya served as Chair. In the name of enhanced credibility, the Commission was replaced this past spring by a Human Rights Council. Its members include Cuba, China, and Saudi Arabia. Since June, the Council has adopted three resolutions and held two special sessions critical of human rights violations in specific states. Now 100% of them are on Israel. In the meantime, thousands die in killing fields and deserts and torture chambers around the world…

 Last weekend U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, decided to go to Iran and shake hands with President Ahmadinejad. The message Annan delivered, in his own words, was that “The international community should not isolate Iran.” Mr. Ahmadinejad has embraced genocide, called for the eradication of a U.N. member state, denied the truth of the Holocaust even though its ashes form the cornerstone of U.N. itself, and broken his treaty obligations to end the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Yet the Secretary-General still believes the President of Iran does not deserve isolation. What does such a message do for winning the war [on terror]? It tells us to appease, apologize, and run away. The U.N. system produces hundreds of reports, resolutions, letters, journals, and circulars critical of human rights abuse by particular states… Of the top ten countries of human rights concern to the U.N. in 2005, Israel was first and America was 10th. Iran was 18th. The human rights actions statistics for 2006 are even starker. So far Israel is first and America is 3rd — of all 192 countries on earth… Time and again the United Nations has stood opposed to America’s attempts to ensure a decent world order, for itself, and for others. America has tried to galvanize legal and political forces by calling the millions dead, displaced, and dying in Sudan “genocide.” But the U.N. reported last year that events in Darfur didn’t meet their criteria for genocide. America has called for immediate sanctions to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But the U.N. Security Council called only for another report. Published a week ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that it “remains unable to…verify the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations with a view to confirming the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.” And we’re meant to wait. America has named Hezbollah a terrorist organization. But the U.N. refuses to do so—notwithstanding the 3,900 missiles directed at Israeli civilians this summer. On the contrary, said Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch-Brown, “It is not helpful to couch this [Lebanon] war in the language of international terrorism”—this because Hezbollah is “completely separate and different from Al Qaeda.” America has worked arduously to support the nascent democracy in Iraq. But the U.N. has dragged its feet responding to appeals to train Iraqi judges and prosecutors… Who are these opponents, wrapped in the U.N. flag, who inculcate the view that American unilateralism and non-cooperation is the root cause of the world’s ills? [They] include U.N. staffers like the secretary-general and his deputy, who claim they are hapless functionaries operating at the mercy of member states — notwithstanding self-motivated trips to Iran, handshakes with Hezbollah, “doing business” with Saddam Hussein, and blaming middle American ignorance for the credibility gap. They are the 45 “Not Free” nations — to use Freedom House labels — who pass judgment on others in the General Assembly. These are the state sponsors of terrorism. The ones who don’t let women vote or drive, or who kill them in the name of “honor.” The ones who raise their children to die while murdering as many others of a different faith as possible… The ones who claim that authoring a cartoon, a movie, or a book can justify a death sentence. They are also the 58 “Partly-Free” countries. Some of these are cronies, others are just cowards. Some are like-minded with their more notorious neighbors, others are very dependent. Together, these nations represent the majority of the 132 developing states and the majority of 192 U.N. members. They are unified not by a desire to democratize, or even to develop, since many are quite content with kingdoms and with servitude in their own backyards. They are a team because they are adroit at U.N. politics, and they have learned that the cartel is good for business. This holds true particularly for the largest single bloc amongst them — the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference… There is an alternative, an antidote to the self-doubt and moral relativism planted in our midst by Turtle Bay. Senator Frist calls it a “council of democracies outside of the U.N. system … [that would] truly monitor, examine and expose human rights abuses around the globe.” Such a gathering is an idea whose time has come: the United Democratic Nations — an international organization of democracies, by democracies, and for democracies. It is time to say enough. (This material is drawn from Anne Bayefsky’s remarks yesterday at a Hudson Institute conference.) 

Another shameful UN momentEditorial, Jerusalem Post, Sep. 20, 2006 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not bang his shoe on his desk at the UN General Assembly, as did Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev in 1960. He did not address world leaders wearing a pistol, as did Yasser Arafat in 1974. The Iranian leader’s appearance may well, however, be recorded as an even more shameful moment in the checkered history of an organization supposedly dedicated to advancing international peace and security. The leader of Iran is a Holocaust denier who, not surprisingly, also denies Israel’s right to exist. From other podiums, Ahmadinejad has called for “wiping Israel off the map.” This is incitement to genocide, and he continued it, albeit in more polite terms, from the UN podium. A good part of his speech was dedicated, not to opposing Israel’s policies, but to decrying the “tragedy” of its establishment… In [Kofi Annan’s] final speech as secretary-general to the gathered leaders, he [said:] “We might like to think of the Arab-Israeli conflict as just one regional conflict among many… But it is not. No other conflict carries such a powerful symbolic and emotional charge among people far removed from the battlefield… “As long as the Security Council is unable to end this conflict, and the now nearly 40-year-old occupation, by bringing both sides to accept and implement its resolutions, so long will respect for the United Nations continue to decline. So long, too, will our impartiality be questioned… And so long will our devoted and courageous staff, instead of being protected by the blue flag, find themselves exposed to rage and violence, provoked by policies they neither control nor support.” With this, the UN’s leader waved not a blue flag, but a white flag of surrender to the very forces he hoped to combat. Why is he blaming “both sides” for a war, not to establish a Palestinian state, but to destroy Israel? Why does he imply that Israel is provoking “rage and violence” against UN forces, rather than condemning that violence and the Arab war to destroy Israel of which it is a part? The Security Council has indeed failed to enforce its resolutions because, time and again, it has stood silent as Israel is attacked and leapt into action to stop Israel from defending itself. The UN’s silence in the face of Iran’s open calls for Israel’s destruction is an abdication not only of its responsibility to enforce its own calls for peace with Israel, but a mockery of its own charter and the Genocide Convention. The prospect of removing Iran from the UN or at least denying its leader the UN’s most prestigious podium has not been considered, let alone acted upon. Not only was Ahmadinejad allowed in the UN, but Annan himself met with him just weeks ago in Teheran. When bullies and terrorists crush their peoples and feel free to lecture the leaders of nations at the UN, it is a bad sign for the forces of freedom in the world. Speech, whether on our side or theirs, cannot obscure the stark reality as described by eminent historian Bernard Lewis: “Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.” 

Same old UNIFIL?Editorial, Jerusalem Post, September 25, 2006 

Since the cease-fire took effect a month ago in Lebanon, the existing 2,000-member UNIFIL contingent has expanded to about 5,500 troops, and it is expected to grow to 8,000 in November. Time and again, Israel and the US were assured that the new, more robust UNIFIL would be nothing like the old, discredited force, which acted as human shields for the massive Hizbullah weapons buildup that led to the recent war.

Signs are already growing, however, that the “new” UNIFIL, though larger and better armed, will not act appreciably differently to the “old” UNIFIL that has existed since 1978.

 …UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini [has] explained that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 resulted in new rules of engagement for UNIFIL. Previously, UNIFIL could only open fire to defend itself. Now, it is authorized to use force to implement Resolution 1701, which requires the disarmament of Hizbullah. 

Yet when asked whether UNIFIL would intervene against Hizbullah forces on their way to attack Israel over the international border, Pellegrini said that UNIFIL was in Lebanon to “assist the Lebanese army…and to inform them and advise them how they can do their job.” UNIFIL was not there to disarm or engage Hizbullah, and if it saw “something dangerous” unfolding, it would “inform the Lebanese army” and would take action only if asked to do so by the Lebanese army.

Pellegrini was less circumspect when it came to Israel. Speaking of continued Israeli intelligence-gathering overflights of Lebanon, he called them “unacceptable and dangerous…violations [of 1701 that] are not justifiable with the deployment of the Lebanese army and the enhancement of UNIFIL.”

For the first time in 40 years, the Lebanese army has been deploying along the border with Israel. On Thursday, however, hundreds of Hizbullah supporters marched up to the border fence near Metulla, waving Hizbullah flags…

If there is any lesson to be learned from the last war, it is that the only way to prevent a renewed conflict is to prevent Hizbullah from being in a position to start one. This means disarming Hizbullah, and keeping it away from the border, not just “sharing” that border and standing by as it becomes a potential flashpoint. It is hard to see how this can happen if UNIFIL refuses to use its new capabilities to fulfill its new mandate.

Preventing the next war also means UNIFIL actively working to at least report violations of 1701 by Lebanon, Hizbullah and Syria, not just violations by Israel. These Israeli violations are necessitated by the failure of Lebanon and UNIFIL to fully implement that resolution’s essence, namely preventing the recreation of a tinderbox.

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