The United Nations' Role in Peace
by Denis Halliday
Global Research Public Lecture,
Montreal, Canada, December 1, 2009
Some times the New York Times does the
right thing. This morning the Editorial (December 1, 2009) condemned
the Swiss referendum vote to prohibit the construction of minarets
on Mosques throughout the country. And on the Op. Ed. Page Bob
Herbert quoted Eisenhower " I hate war, as only a soldier
who has lived it can, as one who has seen its brutality, it futility,
its stupidity." He added, and ":every gun that is made,
every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final
sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who
are cold and not clothed."
And especially thank you Professor Chossudovsky for this opportunity
to speak in Montreal. And to listen, and to learn from audience
reaction and comments.
As you may have guessed - this is not intended to be a 'feel good'
review of the UN. We are here to think, and consider something
different, something better. Something representative, something
respectful of international law: committed to equality of nations
and people. An organization that really believes in a single standard
of behaviour and treatment for all... and not double standards
as of now.
The New York Times Editorial of 21 November suggested that readers
should not be too critical of President Obama's recent visit to
China... as he still trying to restore America's moral authority!
My first thought was: Restore what moral authority?
_My second was: that the restoration concept
- should absolutely apply to the United Nations! And in particular
to the Security Council responsible for global Peace and Security.
It is to that Council we should look for secular moral authority,
global leadership, respect for international law and for management
of global peaceful co-existence. But we don't - do we?
Before diving into the business of restoration - let's look at
how the UN is viewed today:
First - there is the UN of people's unrealistic expectations -
how we want the UN to be: to act: to represent us caring people!
- a UN to bring good will, and wellbeing to people-kind everywhere.
We want it to be the UN of the Preamble - "We the peoples
of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations
from the scourge of war... to reaffirm faith in fundamental human
rights, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large
and small... to establish... justice and respect for the obligations
arising from treaties and other sources of international law...
to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger
freedom... and for these ends to practice tolerance and live
together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to
unite our strength to maintain international peace and security...
_I believe most of us want a UN set apart
and distinct from the ugly politics of the G-8, the EU, NATO,
US/UK and the wars illegally pursued by UN Member States such
as in the Congo, Chechnya, Gaza, Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan,
Afghanistan... as we meet tonight.
Ugly politics have undermined the Preamble
- in fact, they have neglected the entire word and spirit of
the UN Charter!
Sadly this perfect UN does not exist. Nor does its moral authority.
The Second perception is: the UN of the 'Masters of the Universe'!
The five veto powers and permanent members of the Security Council
- the so called victors of the Second World War. The old boys
club of 1945. The five States that have corrupted the UN Charter.
And corrupted the work of the UN. Applying double-standards, and
disregard for law - they have made the organisation primarily
serve their best interests rather than serve its mandate.
I refer to the five most dangerous Member States that together
manufacture and sell some 85% of military arms, including nuclear
weapons, and so called weapons of mass destruction. This is the
UN of the arms dealers - the most disreputable and yet profitable
business on earth.
And tragically and quite bizarrely - these arms dealers are the
same Member States that the UN Charter entrusts with maintaining
Peace and Security around the world! I trust you see the disconnect?
The incompatibility? - the mind boggling reality of nuclear
powers and weapons salesmen being responsible for peaceful co-existence?!
Perception number three: Is the UN of the Secretariat, the Secretary-General
- the servant of the member states. The Secretary-General is the
administrative leader of the UN family of Agencies, Programmes
and organizations. This is the so-called UN System that takes
instructions from the member states - the share holders - some
from the permanent five and some from the 191 member states of
the General Assembly who subsist under the shadow of the Permanent
Five. Politically driven orders come directly - such as my personal
experience in Iraq when I headed up[ the UN Humanitarian Programme
- or via Member State boards, councils, assemblies, committees
I can argue this is proper - the stake holders have rights! What
it does however is remind us that despite the words of the Preamble
to the Charter... "We the peoples" - the UN is an organization
of States, not people. Real people actually have limited input.
Sometimes via NGOs affiliated in a variety of ways. The bottom
line however - is the State - your State and my State. And mostly
States think not with heart or mind, or guided by any moral standard
(except for Canada of course!)... but with the sensitivity only
of self-interest, power, and ambition. This-self interest reaches
a high art form when it comes to the five veto powers of the Security
Council. And self-interest is not endorsed in the UN Charter!
As Bill Clinton and Madame Albright liked
to say - the United Nations is there to further the best interests
- of US foreign policy. However, to be fair, other States undoubtedly
see it much the same way, but are more discrete! And lack ambitions
and military capacity for global empire!
And now we have President Obama - who
wants to work with the United Nations and be a player rather than
to dominate and control. Sounds good - we await the reality as
he expands the war in Afghanistan, keeps Bagram airbase prison
full of the tortured and uncharged, finishes off the destruction
of Iraq, refuses to end the occupation of Okinawa, has the thick
skin to criticize China for human rights abuses when America itself
has a deplorable record, and now militarily threatens Iran! Not
exactly the sort of new player we had hoped for perhaps! But let's
keep our fingers crossed...
Let me add in the context of UN perception number three - that
the Programmes, Agencies, bodies of the UN do good work everyday
all over the world - WHEN not instructed by the Masters of the
Universe to do otherwise - such as:
the unwillingness of the World Health
Organisation to deal honestly with the appalling dangers of military
usage of Depleted Uranium. I am sure you have seen the latest
data from Fallujah? Where child mortality has sky rocketed and
birth deformities - two heads, no limbs - are increasingly common.
Women are now afraid to get pregnant. Believe me, the horrors
of Fallujah today will be faced by the rest of us tomorrow - if
we do not ban the use of Depleted Uranium. There is world movement
afoot; the website is www.bandepleteduranium.org
or the weak mandate and capacity provided
for the UN Environmental Programme to anticipate, manage environmental/climate
calamities world wide. We know about the disappointments of Kyoto,
and now Copenhagen looks very tough going. Although we now see
movement from China and the US, the UN - needs independent oversight
authority re climate change policies and implementation if Copenhagen
is to be different from Kyoto.__Or the IAEA - the Atomic Energy
Agency - whose objective expert advice is too often set aside
by the Security Council when military aggression is more politically
attractive, or simply ideal for empire building. Or in respect
of some nuclear states - such as Pakistan, Israel and India -
IAEA is allowed no role at all! __OR when the IMF/World Bank bullies
the poor and indebted countries to further diminish their expenditures
for education, social services, housing, health care - the very
basic human rights of us all. The critical expenditures if poor
countries are ever to strive to catch up, for human equality and
wellbeing. Who do the WB and IMF serve? - their limited share
holders - not those in most need. __Or lack of attendance at
the recent FAO meeting in Rome on "food" - in a world
where now over one billion face starvation and billions more face
constant hunger - something that should shame us all. It does
shame us all.
_From our OECD countries - the rich and
the richer - the only leader in attendance was - Mr Berlusconi,
Prime Minister of the host country! The Pope made the best statement.
Where was the leadership of the North?
_Where were the Big Five? Is food shortage
- not an issue of humanity, of peace and security? In an environment
of less fresh water, declining food production in the South, the
dangers of genetically altered seeds and new agro-imperialism
- why were we not represented at the highest levels? Is it because
we are busy looking after ourselves?
However, as I have said and despite this political interference
and negligence - good work happens everyday! These UN technical
organizations are staffed with good minds, good intentions although
limited budgets. They work with NGOs and civil society all over
the globe, particularly in the developing countries.
_Regarding UN humanitarian assistance
- UNRWA in Gaza feeds some 80% of the entire population as Palestinians
struggle, and often fail to survive under the genocidal blockade
of Israel. A blockade the US supports, and the EU and the Arab
states enable - as they stand by and watch life and expectations
come to an end.
_Despite UN Agencies - UNICEF, UNWRA
and others on the ground - the human catastrophe grows as Egypt
blocks the exit at Raffah as they did earlier this year when thousands
of refugees tried to escape civilian bombing with white phosphorus,
DU. And today they block Palestinian students going out and food
and other basic supplies coming in.
_The Security Council? It has fiddled
as Gaza and its people literally burned. And still is unwilling
to demand that Gaza be opened to world-wide assistance, freedom,
democracy, hope, opportunities. A glaring failure to act. A glaring
failure of corruption of its mandate - a Council held hostage
by a few.
_Let us hope that the Free Gaza Movement ships can soon break
the Israeli stranglehold, and allow Palestinians to breathe, work,
live and grow.
_And soon let's hope the UN Security Council
reads the Goldstone Report, and has the courage to act upon it,
and accepts its responsibilities for protecting the Palestinians
of Gaza - the victims of what has been described as a "perfect"
Whether it is Gaza, or the work of the World Food Programme which
now feeds countless millions every day - the self-serving UN of
the Security Council is always a political danger. The danger
of resorting to Sanctions, or military aggression, before peaceful
resolution, proper dialogue, is sincerely attempted. Politically
driven R2P is mockery of humanitarian needs. The politics of the
Council makes a mockery of the Charter.
_How very good it was recently to see
China refuse Obama's request for war on Iran and suggest instead
non-violent resolution - via dialogue and negotiation. Sadly,
on Friday last, the news indicated that Russia and China were
coming around to the idea of imposing UN sanctions. I trust they
would not support the "crippling sanctions" that Sec.
of State Clinton wishes to have imposed - having have learned
nothing from the deadly UN sanctions on Iraq, it appears.
_Crippling or otherwise - UN Sanctions
on Iran and the people of Iran would constitute "collective
punishment". And collective punishment is in violation of
international law. Sanctions are a form of warfare - that can
kill communities - that kill children - slowly as those of you
familiar with Iraq are aware. There is no justification - there
never can be justification for killing the people of Iran.
_Maybe your perceptions are not the same
as mine. But that is my experience and perception of the UN at
work today. Good, very good, and very bad; very dangerous and
absolutely unacceptable. A Charter corrupted; self-interest dominant.
The very few in control. UN failure in peace and security only
too common. International Law in the service of some, not all.
_We all remember the day the UN Security
Council under US/UK leadership refused to allow the Arms Inspector
Hans Blix finish his work in Iraq, because the opportunities for
war, the very smell of profits, was too much for Bush and Blair
to resist. Such is leadership in democracies which are manipulated
by capitalism. Often led it seems by the Christian born-again
who have forgotten their man - was a socialist who spoke of love,
_To enable the Iraq invasion - the Charter
was abused and misinterpreted. No one bought the Bush/Blair nonsense
about defense. Forty-five minutes from London! Article 51 which
allows for rightful defense to imminent threat - clearly did not
And now the UN Security Council is faced with expansion by Britain
and the US, and maybe the reluctant NATO - of the war on the people
of Afghanistan. I expect no action by the Council, but expanded
war raises a question: when the majority of citizens in a democracy
are opposed to war or expanded warfare, is it legitimate?
_And who is responsible? How can the citizens be held responsible
- as they must be - when democracies determine to undertake a
war of aggression? Many would say there are no non-combatants
in a democracy pursuing aggressive warfare. Otherwise what is
the shared responsibility of democracy all about?
As war expands again, how did we reach this state of weakness,
failure in the Security Council. When did the rot start? We could
begin in 1945, but allow me to take you back to the 1920s, when
Churchill and his man Harris set about frustrating Kurdish dreams
of independence. Using bi-planes they decided to employ "terrorism"
(you know - as in "Shock and Awe" on Baghdad in early
2003). They decided to bomb civilians in the Kurdish towns and
villages of northern Iraq. As you well know, Churchill and Bomber
Harris continued these infamous tactics when they killed hundreds
of thousands of civilians by firebombing Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden
_Since then, the UN Security Coucil has
watched passively as matters have further deteriorated. Now we
see military regimes kill civilians with sophisticated aircraft,
or Predator drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gaza - using massive
bunker busters, cluster munitions, white phosphorous or depleted
uranium on children, women and men. They bomb the media - such
as Al Jazeera offices in Baghdad and Kabul. Professor Chossudovsky
and I met with an Al Jazeera cameraman - Sami Al Haj - recently
in Malaysia as he described 7 years of abuse and torture in the
Guantanimo cages - to a "peoples" war crimes Commission.
_In Gaza, civilians and UN staff members
have been attacked and killed. Along with UN food warehouses,
schools and health clinics. I learned last week from a UN colleague
in Jerusalem that - having completely destroyed the American International
School from the air - the Israeli army found it necessary to bulldoze
the playground - swings and slides - of the Primary School. Is
that not incomprehensible violence and punishment of children?
Extraordinary! And equally extraordinarily, the UN Permanent Members
of the Security Council made sure nothing was done... nothing...
to stop the killings. Genocide can be astonishing in its thoroughness!
And its continuation - as we meet here in warm and safe Montreal
- as winter arrives in Gaza crushing the children of Gaza.
_Why did I mention Churchill? Because
he - together with Stalin and Roosevelt - were the authors of
the UN Charter. It was they who demanded the stranglehold, the
control that the Five Permanent seats-with-veto-power - provide.
_Do I need to tell you about Stalin? No
- let's not go into his human rights record - you are all familiar
with his brutal and deadly ethnic cleansing practices. After some
twenty million lost in the war itself, many millions more killed
in the Soviet Union. A human catastrophe that is difficult to
_As for Roosevelt, it now appears to many that he so wanted to
join Churchill in the war that the attack on Pearl Harbour was
"facilitated" in order to trigger American entry into
the war in Europe.
_Despite the reservations and finally the resignation of the Admiral
of the Pacific Fleet, US warships remained vulnerable out in the
middle of the Pacific. The Admiral begged Roosevelt to withdraw
the fleet to California. Intelligence was available on the impending
attack. Churchill celebrated when Pearl Harbour was hit.
In short, we had these three very hard men in 1944-45 to which
we can add Chiang Kai Chek and Charles de Gaulle - to make 5.
They led the same 5 countries that created and hold to this day
- some 65 years later - veto power, and permanent seats, that
control the UN Security Council.
_Let's look at the consequences of having midwives of this questionable
_The damage to the credibility of the
UN; how it functions, or fails to function has been huge. How
it is perceived around the globe, particularly by those not represented
in any way by the Magic Five is often negative. And often confused
- UN or US? - unclear!
_I refer primarily to the South, the poor
and the poorest. The majority. And I refer to some sovereign states
unlucky to sit on oil, mineral wealth and perhaps water and other
resources that are required by the rich, and the militarily powerful.
Some of us are ruthless in the manner we gobble up the natural
finite resources of other sovereign states. The "somewhat"
or theoretical democracies seem able to justify to themselves
wars of aggression, plus exploitation, rape, and pillage - of
course they may prefer to use words like development, investment
The UN Security Council delays, compromises, and ultimately acquiesces
to Big Five wishes. As happened during the lead in to the totally
illegal invasion of Iraq by American and British forces in early
_The Government examination that has recently
started in London - while better than nothing - has no authority.
_And the UN? - compromised and further
diminished. Those States which could have vetoed that invasion
did not make the gesture of rejection as required by the Charter.
The Charter was ravaged, but the US and UK got away with it. No
censure. No suspension from the Security Council. No compensation
to be paid, or reparations? ... nyet!
_What about the application of double
standards? Iraq illegally invades Kuwait and all hell breaks lose,
although Baghdad was ready to negotiate a peaceful retreat. Capitalist
greed for Iraqi oil, and opportunity for war, the desire for strategic
presence in the Region - set that peaceful possibility aside real
quickly. And like the UN Gulf War of 1991, state terrorism again,
atrocities committed and the terror of military occupation and
killing began, and continues.
_Meanwhile, Iraqi reparations to Kuwait
so far has reached some 60 billion dollars and continues. Meanwhile
Viet Nam waits for its first penny! Reparation payments to Iraq?
Don't think so! - again that is double standards at work.
_I lived and worked for the UN in Baghdad
under UN Sanctions in 1997-98 - and it was a safe city. Today
following massive bombing, occupation and a puppet Government
- assassination and ethnic cleansing is a daily event! And some
100,000 American mercenaries run wild - killing outside of both
domestic or international law. Has the Council spoken? ... no.
_So if the Security Council is "fixed",
where is the UN International Criminal Court? - it is hog-tied
like prisoners en route to Guantanimo Bay. The Prosecutor has
little power. Otherwise he would be knocking on 10 Downing Street!
The US failed to ratify ICC and Blair still awaits domestic prosecution.
The Old Boys of the Big Five are protected. So ICC works on Taylor
and Vladovic, and other small war criminals. Again that is a
double standard at play - the familiar Achilles heel of the United
The list of Security Council failures
is long, and I do not intend to drag you through it. I have already
- from the start tonight - touched in passing on the consequences
of self-interest, inequality amongst member states, and the profits
of war, and consumption of natural resources.
_I take it that we all remember, how in
Srebrenicia, UN peacekeepers stood by as the massacre of some
7,000 Muslim men and boys took place. The Council failed to prevent
_In Rwanda, none of us can forget the
massacres that took place as a few thousand UN troops were in
the country forbidden by the Council to lift a finger. Although
some did assist under a courageous Canadian General who has described
it in detail. Who set off the genocide? Still an open question.
Meantime, I understand Rwanda has become English speaking! Strangely
the same outcome that war had in Cambodia and Viet Nam!
In Afghanistan, we have witnessed an invasion and occupation,
with endless civilian loss of life - grow out of hysteria in the
days after 9/11. The UN Security Council endorsed revenge on the
people of Afghanistan. But were they involved? I don't think
so. I do not recall that the money, the pilots, the brains behind
this terrible act of defense - came from Afghanistan. Were Afghans
flown out of the US by Bush within hours of 9/11? Not that I recall.
Unfortunate Afghanistan - just another opportunity for war?
_The country of Iraq has been destroyed,
as in Fallujah that I mentioned already - in terms of cultural,
social, economic and infrastructural integrity and wellbeing.
What more can I say? The Council kept quiet.
_In Gaza this very year we have witnessed
similar total destruction. Again the UN Security Council has failed
to halt violence.
_We cannot pass without expressing concern
over the rise of NATO as a new and dangerous aggressive force
outside its region. And we have to regret the UN role in expanding
NATO capacity and reach.
_And we cannot neglect the threats to
Iran of attack. Without solid evidence of military intentions
for nuclear power, Iran is under threat of military attack from
Israel and the USA. The Security Council is being bulldozed yet
again into acquiescence. The similarity to the lead up to the
invasion of Iraq is frighteningly familiar.
_The pre-emptive concept is again in play
and there is no provision for that 'game' under international
_Iran regardless of its internal struggles
is a sovereign state with the right to defend itself. It is currently
surrounded by American and Israeli nuclear war heads. Were Iran
to seek nuclear defensive weapons, a case could be made, as per
a deterrent. But not by me.
_To expect a sovereign state of such vulnerability
and dignity to accept the UN/EU demands that its nuclear fuel
be processed overseas by the very countries now threatening its
security and sovereignty - is of course unreal.
_The Security Council must recognize Iran's
perfect right to nuclear power and to ensure via the IAEA that
such power is only for peaceful purposes. Of course you could
ask why should Iran be inspected when the US refuses to be inspected?
And Israel denies any knowledge of its nuclear arsenal? ... could
that be double standards again!
_The Council needs to demand and make
conditional for Iran's inspection compliance that the Americans
and Israelis stand down, and that Israel gives up its nuclear
weapons. And demand that all nuclear powers disarm - including
the Five Permanent Members - another crime of omission by the
Big Boys - well, of course - they are the one and the same! A
little conflict of interest - you might say!
OK what can we do about changing the UN, and the Security Council
For a number of years I have been proposing
at University and public meetings reform of the SC. Discussion
to this end in the GA has been ongoing for some 15 years. Changes
made have been miniscule and growth of real power has been limited
to proposing Germany, Italy and Japan be promoted to Big Boy status.
That is ridiculous. Why? Because the Council is already dominated
by the North, and I include China in the North. What the Council
needs is balance - that is, balance between the North and South.
We need the majority of the world's people to be represented.
Is that rocket science? Don't think so but quelle horreur! I can
hear that old colonialist Churchill spinning ... at the very thought!
_And is it appropriate for the Permanent
Five to select the States they fancy? Don't think so. My view
is that Council representation should be Regional, not country
and that each Region should select its representative State to
sit - five years before turnover to another. And the selected
country would speak for, on behalf of the whole - the Region
itself. This would seem to require within-region consultation
before major decisions - and why not? Consultation might prevent
the errors of haste - as in the Council's approval three days
after 9/11 to endorse invading Afghanistan.
_Thus you can visualise for Central and
Latin America, Costa Rica might be selected - small with no military
power - but when small Costa Rica speaks on the Security Council
- the world would know that Latin America and the Caribbean is
speaking. Now would have clout. That would mean something. That
would be the voice of the South.
_Or closer to home, lets consider North
America - Canada, United States and Mexico. One permanent seat
- rotating membership. Do you think that Canada could represent
the US and Mexico - why not? We would be ahead, unless of course
Canada now has plans to take over the world! Might not be a comfortable
seat for Canada, but it would force DC to talk to Ottawa before
_The same model would work for Sub-Sahara
Africa; North Africa and the Middle East; South East Asia and
Australia/NZ; South Asia and so on. Europe - the EU -now with
two Old Boys would drop to one rotating permanent seat.
_With this globally representative system,
with the loss or at least reduction of Nuclear Powers and the
inclusion of the majority - the countries of the South - I believe
we would see different decisions. Do you think South Asia and
North Africa and Middle East permanent seats would have endorsed
the invasion of Afghanistan? or the destruction of Iraq. I do
not think so!
_With this Reform, do you agree that pressure
to disarm and destroy Nuclear Weapons might be greater? Do you
agree that pressure to address climate change, rising waters,
would also be greater? With poverty represented around the table
would you not hope that the rights of the poor and poorest would
be properly addressed for the first time.
_Do you think that Food, Food Security,
Human security would be better considered and solutions found?
Do you think that influence over the World Bank, IMF would not
be more people-friendly? More developmental and less punitive?
_The possibilities for enhanced decision
making are endless. There would be new ownership of the United
Nations, and hope and perhaps a new beginning. Less self-serving
control, less presence of the military powerful and less corruption
of international law and the UN Charter?
I know, you think I am some crazy aging optimist! Am I sincerely
hopeful? Yes, because we have seen a change recently. And our
potential friend and player President Obama has recognized that
the G-20 format must stay in place. That means the South has been
acknowledged properly for the first time. To see Argentina, Brazil,
Nigeria and South Africa, India and Indonesia and other represented
- all formerly colonial subjects - that is something revolutionary.
_Now some of you are unhappy because the
G-20 is the rich G-8 all over again... just bigger. Yes... it
does have the rich countries of the South on board. But I reckon
the additions to the G-8 bring in more than 4 billion human beings.
Now that is positive change!
_My interest is to use the G-20 breakthrough
for the purposes of UN Security Council reform. And why would
the Five Old Boys accept this kind of dilution of power in the
UN Security Council? Because it is their interest to do so. They
are beginning to recognize power in the South, and they know the
UN is becoming irrelevant, and to sustain the Security Council
- the same South must be seated.
With new seating in the Council, I believe double standards as
of now will be much less likely. I see the provisions of the Charter
and international law being respected. Because second class countries,
and second class peoples would be no more. There would be full
representation on matters of Peace and Security - for the first
_The little countries that the Big Boys
like to bully, even invade and to sell the rubbish of weapons...
will now be around the table. That may constrain the arms dealers,
the empire builders and those who feel able to steal the sovereign
rights and natural resources of those not militarized. That is
_But again, let me ask why would the five
Veto Powers agree to reform? Because they understand that Geo-political
power has already moved away from the Council to the G-8. Now
they have seen the G-20 enhance that geo-political power and
further diminish the role of the Council. They fear that critical
global initiatives in the coming years will not come from the
UN but from the G-20 where the world is represented - both geographically
and in terms of North/South balance.
_Meantime, the Council is becoming largely
reactive - dealing with individual country issues rather than
global concerns which are intimately linked to Peace and Security.
Their very mandate is in danger!
_Fearing redundancy and irrelevance, old Europe has become the
new EU which has grown into the largest economic block on earth.
More important, despite the dangers of NATO, Europe with a history
of war has become a Europe at peace. Meantime, the SC has been
stagnant and is in danger of being set aside unless it becomes
representative, and dare I suggest it : democratic - no more veto
power - but a new sense of responsibility, supported by the goals
but within the constraints of the Charter and international law.
No more double standards of approach.
_To complete this revolution we would
need to have real people represented more in the UN dialogue and
halls of consideration, and participation. Full NGO and civil
society representation must be integrated. We would need to see
greater respect for international law, human rights, rights of
the child amongst other legal provisions.
For war crimes of the kind we have seen in recent years - I refer
to the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza. And the internal
crimes being committed in Sudan and the Congo - the UN needs to
make the ICC work. Prosecution of domestic leadership war crimes,
crimes against humanity should be pursued by domestic laws and
courts. However, failing that the machinery of the International
Criminal Court must be used.
_The War Crimes Commissions and Tribunals
in which Michel Chossudovsky and I participate would be redundant
if the double standards protecting those in the US and UK were
found to be unacceptable and if the ICC had teeth. Dictators or
democrats, leaders must understand and accept that they must govern
within the provisions of domestic and international law. The
Peoples Courts - the Tribunals of Russell, Brussels, Dublin and
Kuala Lumpur - are the only substitute we have to show the criminology
of leadership. Until the ICC functions properly, leadership will
feel above the law and that is unacceptable.
I know I am pushing my luck and testing your patience, but in
closing I want to mention Perdana - the Criminalisation of War,
and everything to do with warfare.
_Without taking away the right of defense,
which Gandhi and Perdana respect - this philosophy calls for the
achievement of peace through promoting peace and not glorifying
* by declaring that killing in war is
the same as in peace and deserves prosecution, including leaders
who take nations to war;
* by establishing that all commercial,
financial, industrial and scientific activities that support war
should be considered criminal;
* by fully accepting the principles of
the UN Charter for peaceful termination of disputes;
* by ensuring that public servants and
those in the medical, legal, scientific, and educational fields
promote peace and campaign against war;
* by demanding that the media oppose war,
its glorification and promote the ethos of non violence;
* by requiring all religious leaders to
condemn warfare and promote peaceful solutions.
That is Perdana.
The reformed and restored Security Council must be bound by the
same philosophy. Any decision to use sanctions or other kinds
of military force compatible with the Charter should be firstly
recognised as failure to apply Articles 1 and 2. Secondly, the
decision must be forwarded by the Security Council to the GA,
and approved by two-thirds of the General Assembly before implementation.
Even the new expanded Council would need the constraint of majority
approval by a revitalised General Assembly, well stocked with
civil society representation.
If we can reform the Security Council as described above, there
will be progress and change. But if the UN member states cannot
accept the Perdana philosophy to promote peaceful coexistence,
the UN is doomed. If the UN is there to benefit only the few
- it is not a valid entity. The United Nations must change quickly
to serve the best interests of all.
Denis Halliday spent most of his career
with the United Nations in development and humanitarian assistance-related
posts both in New York and overseas. In 1997, he was appointed
United Nations Assistant Secretary General and head of the Humanitarian
Program in Iraq. One year later, after a 34-year career with the
UN, Halliday announced his resignation from the United Nations
over the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, characterizing them
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