Comment: Does the UN facilitate crimes against humanity?

The reality is the UN has never prevented genocide and crimes against humanity, it has merely kept the spotlight off what the genocidal regimes are doing.

 A protester holds up a sign during a demonstration against the UN mission in downtown Port-au-Prince November 18, 2010 (photo credit: REUTERS)
A protester holds up a sign during a demonstration against the UN mission in downtown Port-au-Prince November 18, 2010
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Five years after a cholera epidemic broke out in Haiti the United Nations admitted it played a role in causing the deaths of 10,000 and infecting 770,000. The disease “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations,” a report said according to The New York Times.
There hadn’t been a case of cholera in Haiti for 100 years when the outbreak took place in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake. The Haitians suspected it was connected to sick Nepalese at a UN base of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. But officials from the UN and other international bodies resisted attempts to investigate the source, as thousands died. One official said they didn’t want “finger pointing.”
When the UN report had finally admitted the organization’s role, it still didn’t take responsibility. The UN mission that was supposed to “stabilize” Haiti had actually destabilized the country, which provided an excuse for the UN to maintain its mission there and keep paying its well-heeled foreign hires. Now the UN is trying to raise $2 billion to “help” Haiti “eradicate cholera.”
It’s alarming to imagine being a poor person in a struggling country with a UN base next to your house. As a citizen of the country you have no say over the UN and your laws do not apply to it. If UN workers rape you, they will not be arrested. That happened in more than 100 cases in the Central African Republic. The perpetrators were members of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. “At the last UN checkpoint, there were four peacekeepers,” the victims told Al-Jazeera. “They called me – but I was reluctant to go, then one pointed a gun at me. They pushed me into a thicket and raped me.”
Like the people of Haiti, the women of the Central African Republic are at the mercy of their UN colonial overlords. In a Western country, for an international organization to set up a military base and checkpoints, spread cholera and rape people would be considered an occupation, and a crime against humanity. One wonders why UN abuses tend to involve black people in marginalized communities. Is this a form of neocolonialism? The larger picture of the UN is that it is not merely an organization whose missions have been implicated in so much suffering in Haiti and Africa, but an organization with ties to crimes against humanity around the world.
When the UN was founded it was supposed to be an agent for good, a place for nations to hold discussions and work toward peace. It was supposed to help prevent the kind of genocide that had just taken place in Europe.
But since the foundation of the UN there have been more genocides, not less – and the rate has been increasing.
The UN has not merely been ineffective at confronting genocide in places like Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and Iraq, it has often been willfully blind, facilitating the genocide and crimes through its silence.
The UN Human Rights Council has consistently elected members who are the greatest abusers of human rights in the world. Burundi is a member. Ethiopia, where protesters have been shot in the Oromo and Amhara regions recently, is a member. Cuba, a family-run dictatorship, is a member. Many other states with blemished human rights records such as Maldives, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are members. In fact rather than trying to find the human rights violators in the council, it’s easier to find the handful of states that are not among the worst violators.
Countries with the highest rate of executions, such as Indonesia or Saudi Arabia, are always there. Countries with unbelievable crackdowns on democracy protests, such as Bahrain, are of course well represented.
The excuse for this is, as the Brookings Institution notes, that its 47 members are drawn from geographical blocs and “vote trading and power politics are still the predominant criteria for election.” In fact it’s more like an old boys’ club where the serial rapists run the diocese and move pedophile priests from place to place. It’s convenient that “flagrant cases as North Korea, Sri Lanka, Iran, Central African Republic and South Sudan,” are monitored. These are the outsiders – a Buddhist nation, an Shi’ite nation, the one extreme communist nation. But the majority, the real violators, protect themselves, some committing genocide or apartheid, off the radar.
The reality is the UN has never prevented genocide and crimes against humanity, it has merely kept the spotlight off what the genocidal regimes are doing. Investigations, special rapporteurs and special envoys provide lip-service and a cordon sanitaire around mass murder.
Their high-level meetings with dictators such as Syria’s Bashar Assad get the news coverage, while people are being slaughtered off-camera.
Without the UN to “intervene” and implicitly allow crimes to continue, there would be more of a burden on sovereign governments to intervene. If the UN had existed during the Second World War perhaps Adolph Hitler could have “mediated” his way to London and Moscow.
UN missions not only do not accomplish their tasks, they are often unable as a mission to do almost anything of substance due to constraints – but they allow the world to think “something is being done” and foist the responsibility onto blubbery “international” efforts rather than take national responsibility. When South Sudanese soldiers were gang raping Western aid workers throughout the night on July 11 in Juba, UN peacekeepers who were a few minutes away in a massive compound did nothing, despite pleas for assistance. The Guardian noted that “the accounts highlight in raw detail the failure of the UN peacekeeping force to uphold its core mandate of protecting civilians.”
But this has been the norm for decades. In fact there is not one example of UN peacekeepers intervening to help anyone, ever. They are a blank check for terrorists, dictators and war criminals.
There may be a tiny ray of hope. When five candidates for the position of UN secretary general were asked if the UN should apologize for cholera killing 10,000 in Haiti, only one raised her hand. Costa Rican diplomat Christina Figueres was the lone voice of morality. She is unlikely to be elected.