Wed Apr 12 01:45:11 CEST 2006

The United Nations


Back when I was a kid, maybe around ten years old or so, I
remember watching the evening news with my mother and father
and seeing the misery in the world. It was quite sobering to
see the images of the human tragedy brought about by the
starvation/drought in Ethiopia. Pictures of a kid my age, on
the verge of death, staring with empty eyes into the lens of
the camera. 

In school, we learned about the Cold War, and how this
relationship between NATO and the Warsaw Pact could at any
time take that lethal step to a Hot War. That which happened
at Hiroshima back in the Summer of 1945, some six hundred
kilometers west of my house in Tokyo, could happen on such a
vast scale that all humanity, and the world as we know it,
could be vaporated, followed by a long nuclear winter.

Cheerful thoughts for a ten-year-old.

One day, I remember I was at school when my teacher
(Mrs. Damplo? Ms. Ferigner?) mentioned the United Nations. She
explained the purpose of this organization to us. I don't
remember exactly what she said, but I do remember the
elation I felt. There was a global organization which punished
ill-doings! That put things straight. That fed that innocent
kid in Ethiopia, and told the tight-assed leaders of the
Superpowers to relax, have some fun.

It was a wonderful feeling.

Of course, the euphoria evaporated over time. When I
attended junior high, and above all highschool and the
University, I learned about the Permanent members of the
Security Council, and their favourite little weapon- the
VETO. Just the threat of the veto was (and is!) enough to
still justice. The Cold War waged on, and that little kid had
died long ago, together with his entire family.

The fact is, no nation wants to give up their
sovereignty. The example we all think of when hearing this is,
of course, the United States of America. Rules which the UN
make which conflict with interests of USA are happily ignored
at best. At worst, they're shot down.

The only areas where the UN has been positively active and
quite successful are in areas where no nations feel that their
sovereignty is being threatened. Like UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF,
and UNHCR.

But wait. The UN's members aren't all democracies. There's
quite a few countries with dubious leaderships. Some are at
least good enough to torture their citizens quietly, away from
the ramp light of the media. Others don't really care, they
execute their citizens in broad daylight. Yes, I know, the USA
does this as well, but just for a second, lets look at these
other countries. Each of these nations can influence the UN.

Quite scary.

Now we have the runner-ups aspirants who're begging to
join the Security Council as Permanent Members: Germany,
Brazil, India, and of course Japan. Four more Veto holding
powers, making a total of Nine. (Nine for Mortal Men doomed to

The UN has enough problems as it is without these four new
members. Example: Child labour in War. Children
soldiers. A most despicable thing. The ILO made a proposal to
forbid the use of children in armed conflicts. The USA,
supported by the UK and the Netherlands (and endorsed by many
nations, including (surprise!) Sweden) did its best to block
this proposal. (Source: Amnesty
International. What the heck?

What kind of organization will the UN become with four new
veto holders? It's already pretty much deadlocked, it can
hardly do anything. What we need is not four more Veto
members, but five less.

PS: I'm not against the UN. That elation I had when I was a
kid still holds, as a dream. An impossible one, but still.