Made-for-TV UN Security Council is officially worthless
“It is obvious that the key institution of the world designed to combat aggression and ensure peace cannot work effectively … . Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to remind you of Article 1, Chapter 1 of the UN Charter. What is the purpose of our organization? Its purpose is to maintain and make sure that peace is adhered to. And now the UN charter is violated literally starting with Article 1. And so what is the point of all other Articles?”
That was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky making a very accurate observation and asking a crucial question regarding the United Nations’ Security Council, as Ukrainian towns and cities continued to be shelled. Zelensky said tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the city of Mariupol alone.
Russia somehow remains a permanent member of the Security Council. You know which country isn’t? Ukraine. Zelensky says Russia should be removed or the council might as well dissolve itself “altogether.” Amen.
Removing Russia from the Security Council can be done, if precedent means anything. Taiwan was expelled in 1971 in favor of admitting China.
The U.S., United Kingdom and France serve as the Security Council’s other three permanent members. The five countries who serve as permanent members represent just 29 percent of the world’s population. And giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a vote makes the Security Council effectively worthless.
Example: Russia vetoed a resolution shortly after its invasion in February that would have required the Kremlin to halt its attack immediately and withdraw all troops from the country. Since all it takes is one “no” vote by one of the five permanent members of the council, the resolution never saw the light of day.
Overall, 11 of the council’s 15 members voted in favor of it, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. Despite such a strong majority, it did not pass. Why? Because Russia alone had the power to shut it down.
Another example: In late March, the Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution that would have demanded civilian protection in Ukraine along with unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance. Why? Because Russia tabled the vote — while Ukrainian women and children were slaughtered and starved.
This past Sunday, Zelensky (the Winston Churchill of our day) took his frustration regarding bureaucratic talk-and-no-action to the highest-rated broadcast news magazine in the U.S., this time calling out NATO.
“When you are [working] at diplomacy, there are no results. All this is very bureaucratic. That’s why the way I’m talking to them is absolutely justifiable. I don’t have any more lives [to give]. I don’t have any more emotions,” he told CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
‘I’m no longer interested in their diplomacy that leads to the destruction of my country. A lot of countries have changed their mind about Ukraine and about our people. But I think we’ve paid too high price for that.”
Zelensky also called on the U.S. president to do more. “President Biden can enter history as the person who stood shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people who won and chose the right to have their own country,” Zelensky said.
But don’t expect Russia to voluntarily surrender its spot on the Security Council’s “Big Five,” because the Council is a huge platform to spread its propaganda, such as dismissing photos of civilian casualties as fakes and accusing Ukraine of fascism.
“I think the reason that Russia does this is precisely that, in a world of more and more splintered official media and fragmented social media, the Russians can use screen grabs from these council meetings and broadcast their versions of events at home,” Richard Gowan, U.N. director at the International Crisis Group, said in a recent interview.
In a move typical of the U.N.’s approach, its General Assembly voted last week to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council. That council, per its charter, is responsible for “the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.” Russia responded by using the “You can’t fire me. I quit!” gambit, and declared it was “withdrawing” of its own volition as it continues to slaughter civilians in Ukraine.
In other words, this vote does nothing to change conditions on the ground in the war, which is the only important thing in the end.
The United Nations has 193 members yet continues to allow Russia to remain as a powerful member that can veto any resolution launched against it. China, for its part, abstains from voting against Russia in a wink and a nod to the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, U.N. peacekeeping soldiers have been sidelined, thanks to Russia’s veto power.
“When something of this scale is happening and the U.N. is unable to take firm steps, then it is hopeless. They should find a way to send in blue helmets, that is, soldiers who would oversee respect for human rights and supplies. If the UN is incapable of doing that, then it is time to change it,” said Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova recently.
He’s right, of course. But don’t expect anything to change.
The U.N. is your made-for-TV body now — offering soaring speeches given by serious-looking leaders portraying themselves as collaborators seeking solutions through unity and strength.
But it’s all for show. Just ask anyone living the horror in Ukraine right now.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.