Will the UN assume responsibility for failing to protect civilians as governments waged war and plunder?
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day which was marked on December 10, the UN pledged to accelerate the implementation of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), without taking into consideration the various global inequalities which make generic implementation impossible.
The UN’s “Common Agenda Framework” which was published in September 2021 is one example of how the UN glosses over the international law violations emanating from within its institutions to portray a deceptively humanitarian agenda. Indeed, Covid19 has provided the UN with the opportune background from which it can cast itself as devoted to humanitarian causes.
“In our biggest shared test since the Second World War, humanity faces a stark and urgent choice: a breakdown or a breakthrough,” the report summary commences. Was the UN really unaware of the systematic discrimination and inequalities rampant in the world as a result of its imperialist policies, and did it really need Covid19 to notice the discrepancies between the exploiter countries and the exploited populations?
Recovery from the pandemic, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “must be an opportunity to expand human rights and freedoms, and to rebuild trust.” Has Guterres started considering how restrictions upon free movement since Covid19 have ushered in new levels of discrimination, thus encroaching upon human rights and freedoms. Not to mention withholding of scientific information from the public, even as Guterres emphasises the importance of supporting science.
A recent Reuters report provided much needed insight on how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as it stipulated that the full disclosure on Pfizer vaccines for the general public would take until the year 2097, by which time most people who took the vaccine, as well as doctors and scientists involved, would have passed away, thus eliminating any possibility of justice while cultivating perpetual impunity. Has Guterres considered such a breach of fundamental rights? Prioritising science must also be supplemented by prioritizing the public’s right to scientific information.
Covid-19 has exposed different forms of oblivion, which the UN is well versed in. Now that the international organisation has a framework from which to promote its generic SDGs, it stands to reason that the UN can cultivate further oblivion and impunity for itself. The Common Agenda Framework, in the same manner as the SDGs, places no context to what the UN purportedly seeks to achieve. Which means that the UN will continue to neglect tackling the root of the problem, which is that the organization is founded upon protecting the supremacy of former colonial powers, and it can do so without risk despite a reputation in tatters, for what can hold the UN accountable for maintaining the cycle of human rights violations?
Will the UN assume responsibility for failing to protect civilians as governments waged war and plunder? How about the UN troops involved in human rights violations, including sexual violence, while supposedly on a mandate to protect civilians? Not to mention the politics the UN involved itself in, such as the UN Oil for Food program in Iraq which further impoverished Iraqi people, or the resolution which paved the way for NATO’s invasion of Libya in 2011. Or how about the UN’s approval of the Zionist colonial project in Palestine, which it protects at all costs because it is too intrinsically involved in the human rights violations against the Palestinian people? Democratic values, indeed.
If one departs from the premise that the UN safeguards human rights, it can be said that the institution has definitely failed its mandate. However, human rights are merely a veneer for the UN. On International Human Rights Day, the UN should have pondered its role in aiding and abetting human rights violators instead of promoting its unsustainable development goals. After all, sustainability requires accountability, and the UN has set itself above the consequences of scrutiny.