Perhaps the ultimate wish of many throughout the world, and the vast majority of Israelis in particular, is to witness the shutting down of the United Nations and its replacement by a new organization of like-minded, democratic and law-abiding countries with the common and genuine aim of respecting and enforcing human rights.
But while many support such a vision, few have made any effort to carry out the requisite research and put forward a definitive plan aimed at achieving it.
In his book The Case for Closing the UN: International Human Rights – A Study in Hypocrisy
(2016, Gefen), Jacob Dolinger, retired professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, a recognized authority on international law and respected author, has “taken the bull by the horns” and written a masterful, in-depth analysis describing the utter failure of the United Nations, and of the organized international community, to live up to the basic visions of its creators.
This book is an eye-opener. The mere title is sufficient to whet the appetite of anyone concerned with the manner in which the international community in general, and the UN and other international organizations in particular have become hostage to a majority of non-democratic member states that support and license terrorism, promote antisemitism and appease and glorify tyrannical leaders who systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens.
However, the book does not limit itself to the UN. It traces the history of international hypocrisy during the 20th century, starting with the 1915 Armenian genocide in which one-and-a-half million Armenian Christians were murdered by Turks, while the world looked on. While limited expressions of sympathy and empathy were uttered by some Western leaders at the time, no action was taken to prevent it or to help the victims.
The fact that this was and is still not universally recognized by the major democracies as a genocide is indicative of the self-serving hypocrisy of the international community then. The fact that even today there is a desire to keep good relations with Turkey and a refusal to acknowledge this genocide, is indicative of what Dolinger terms “a crime of silence” by a still hypocritical international community.
Dolinger traces the same components of hypocrisy and self-serving interests in regard to the Holocaust. He sees the refusal of the US, the British, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark and the Dominican Republic and others to allow entry of immigrants fleeing the German atrocities as actual criminal complicity with Hitler’s designs. He states: “denial, non-interference and inaction enabled its continuation,” thereby adding to the numbers of those murdered – a grave accusation, to say the least.
Turning to the UN, Dolinger analyses the UN’s 1945 Charter and its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of which voiced the need, after “the scourge of war,” to “reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of the human person,” and “faith in fundamental human rights” as the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” But the built-in inconsistencies within the UN Charter between sovereignty and territorial integrity on the one hand and the prohibition of intervention in a state’s domestic jurisdiction, on the other, renders the organization ineffective in any genuine endeavor to act against human rights violators.
He concludes that apart from noble platitudes and good intentions “the UN is ruled by political interests which restrict the compliance of its conventions and covenants and the functioning of its committees.”
He regrets that even the 1948 Genocide Convention, intended to deal with punishment of those conducting genocide, did not deal in its prevention.
Dolinger goes on to detail the ensuing genocides in Cambodia, Congo, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and others, all “induced and aggravated by the complicity of the most important liberal democracies. A shameful inhumanity by nations that claim to be the leaders of the international human rights revolution.”
He describes the selective, political and opportunistic nature of the Security Council as belying any effectiveness and credibility. Its built-in veto system serves the interests of the violators of human rights. Its fixation with condemning Israel while ignoring constant aggression by the Arab states and other countries renders it hypocritical and ineffective.
He sees the UN Human Rights Council as reflecting “the partiality and political orientation of the Security Council.” Composed of a majority of non-democratic human rights abusers, and fixated on condemning one state – Israel – it turns a blind eye to genuine situations of discrimination and violations of human rights. As such it is, itself, a discriminatory body, discrediting the UN.
Dolinger decries the International Court of Justice and correctly observes that it has become an “adjunct of the Security Council,” with a “bigoted approach to certain international political situations, because of a dedication to the political interests and policies of the countries from which each judge is national.” As an example of the court’s failure to maintain international justice, the author cites the court’s 2004 Advisory Opinion on Israeli Security Barrier – one of the lowest examples of the court’s lack of juridical credibility.
Moving on to the blight of international terrorism and the failure of the international community to punish its proponents and to prevent continued terrorist violence, Dolinger attributes this to a number of sources, including blatant Muslim incitement, European blindness and US naiveté, vagueness and inaction. The fact that the UN welcomes membership of totalitarian and terrorism-abiding states, and even expends its efforts at defending the human rights records of those elements conducting terrorism, is indicative of the utter failure of the organization to realize the noble aims set out in its founding documents.
DOLINGER DEVOTES a chapter, aptly entitled “The UN in the Footsteps of Hitler,” to describing the inherent discrimination and antisemitism of the UN in its actions devoted to singling out, discriminating against and delegitimizing the State of Israel. Citing such partisan and discriminative bodies as UNRWA, referring to the General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism, and the myriad of political resolutions aimed at demonizing Israel, he concludes that the UN is nothing more than an accomplice to terrorists.
However, this is in his view not limited to the UN, but also extends to what he describes as the “malignant International Red Cross,” which has taken an anti-Israel political stance, influencing the other international organizations. Similarly with respect to international NGOs, the boycott movement, the international media and even US president Barack Obama – all considered to be collaborating with and encouraging Arab terrorism.
Dolinger’s aim in writing this book is to propose a viable alternative to the UN, through the creation of a new world organization that will not be “a hostage to blocs of undemocratic states that are mega-violators of human rights,” will not be hostage to its member states, will not promote contemporary antisemitism and will not support totalitarian leaders.
In his final chapter, he details the nature of a new international organization – a “League of Democracies” – totally disengaged from the UN, composed of a group of nations that would “set human rights above all aims and undertake to protect their own populations from harm, and also, where feasible, to intervene in third party states – not members of the organization – in order to save human beings from destruction.”
He adds as a unique addition the need for the involvement of leaders of all religions, as a source of inspiration and orientation, providing ethical norms and morality in the conduct of international economy and politics.
Dolinger concludes with the hope that such a dream may still materialize.
Time will tell.The author, an Israeli international lawyer, served as legal counsel for the Foreign Ministry and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada. He has participated in several sessions of the General Assembly’s legal committee. He was seconded to the legal office of the UN, and has since then, after returning to Israel, been involved in the negotiation and drafting of the various peace agreements and related documentation. He is presently director of the International Law Program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.