What exactly is the “powerless” UN doing to secure peace talks, asks ERBIL GUNASTI

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, heading into a freezing winter and trench warfare, China still threatens to invade Taiwan. Meanwhile, bloody conflicts are raging in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

So where are the signs of concerted international action to stem this global wave of death and destruction?

What on earth is going on at the New York headquarters of the glass and steel United Nations, the organization charged with ensuring world peace and security since its inception amid the rubble of World War II?

Despite its apparent aggression in Ukraine, Russia remains a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the body primarily responsible for maintaining world peace.

China is also a permanent member, despite its saber-rattling over Taiwan and ongoing border skirmishes with India. As did the United States, Britain and France, all of whom armed Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Can the UN really claim to be a guardian of world peace?

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, heading into freezing winter and trench warfare, Erbil Gunasti asks: Where are the signs of concerted international action to halt this global wave of death and destruction?

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, heading into freezing winter and trench warfare, Erbil Gunasti asks: Where are the signs of concerted international action to halt this global wave of death and destruction?

In truth, the organization is stuck in 1945 and since its inception has been run very strongly in the interest of the five permanent members of the Security Council – the five allies who defeated Nazi Germany almost 80 years ago.

Given that all are nuclear powers and all five have veto power over the Council’s work, it’s no surprise that you won’t find any resolutions on Taiwan or Ukraine in the last 12 months.

It certainly wasn’t a surprise to me.

Having worked for the UN in New York for 15 years, I can attest that it is a bloated, impotent, multi-billion pound editorial board. Nothing I’ve seen since leaving in 2008 has convinced me to change my mind.

When I worked there, it was clearly a gravy train for those on the payroll and their employees. The dining rooms of the United Nations were places to see the world’s elite enjoying three martini lunches. Every evening there were receptions where the diplomatic corps, invited guests – often celebrities – and hordes of journalists were fed hors d’oeuvres while the free drinks kept flowing.

I had first arrived in New York in December 1992 as an idealistic young press secretary for Turkey’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations.

I had expected a forum for if not honest, but at least informed, geopolitical debate.

But I soon realized that only two nations, the United States and the USSR, had a real voice. In fact, the world press only took notice when the American or Russian ambassadors came to the microphone.

Their comments were all handled by the UN-based correspondent of the New York Times on the third floor, followed by the three news outlets UPI, Reuters and Associated Press. All the remaining 300 or so accredited journalists would essentially copy and paste their reports – perhaps understandable given that the UN still functioned very much as a Cold War institution where only these two rival superpowers really mattered.

But when I left in January 2008, the UN was little more than a Cold War relic – undeniably symbolic, but as useless as a disembodied chunk of the Berlin Wall.

Members of the Ukrainian military drive through the streets in an armored vehicle amid the ongoing conflict

Members of the Ukrainian military drive through the streets in an armored vehicle amid the ongoing conflict

As its usefulness has waned, the UN’s massive bureaucracy has grown and grown. Even accounting for inflation, annual UN spending today is 40 times what it was in the early 1950s.

The organization now comprises 17 specialized agencies, 14 funds and a secretariat with 17 departments employing 41,000 people. Its annual management budget, agreed every two years, has more than doubled over the past two decades to $5.4 billion.

But the entire organization is paralyzed by enormous bureaucracy and institutional corruption.

It has spent more than half a trillion dollars in 70 years, although the vast majority of member states – 193 most recently – who once felt privileged to be members of this international club have now found it undemocratic and dominating wealthy states that do so that they can make the world the way they want it – not to mention the consequences for smaller nations.

But since the end of the Cold War binary certainty, the UN has become less useful and less important to almost everyone involved.

It is clear that the world has changed, but the UN has not changed with it.

The organization is still controlled by Russia, the United States, and a newly assertive China, none of whom hesitate to veto it to ban discussion of anything it deems not in its own national interest.

But beyond that, the organization has clearly failed to appreciate the growing importance of regional rulers such as Turkey, India, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

All of these countries are denied an effective voice in the Security Council, as are any small countries that wish to raise a grievance or assert their legitimate interests.

The indictment against the UN has grown so long that I sometimes wonder why the smaller or less powerful countries even bother showing up.

During my tenure there, I witnessed the absurd deadlock in UN-sponsored negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots – there has been a UN peacekeeping force on the island since 1964, but talks have not progressed an inch.

I watched in 1994 when the UN did nothing when nearly two million Rwandans were massacred. The following year, Dutch troops acting as UN peacekeepers stood by when hundreds of Bosnian Muslims were murdered near Srebrenica during the bloody civil war that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia.

And in 2003, President Bush used the UN as a tool of American foreign policy to induce an international army to invade Iraq on the fabricated premise of weapons of mass destruction.

Observing the work of the Security Council up close, I realized that it was not able to solve any major problem at all. This has almost always been due to a geopolitical tug of war between the five permanent members – although it usually only involved three, the US, Russia and China.

But despite calls for modernization, the five nuclear powers show no willingness to give up the power they so often use in their own political interests.

Since 1982, the US has used its veto in the Security Council to block resolutions critical of Israel 35 times. More recently, Russia and China have used their vetoes to block a UN intervention in Syria.

Meanwhile, the UN has ignored the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan and missed at least three opportunities to prevent major human tragedies in Somalia.

The fundamental problem at the heart of the UN was summed up by Turkish President Reycip Erdogan in 2014 when he lamented that “the world is bigger than five”.

It should be a rallying cry for any country that is not a permanent member of the Security Council.

For the only significant recent achievements of the UN have been the use of small peacekeeping forces, provided by member states, to end local conflicts that do not affect US, Russian or Chinese political goals.

Take these away and the United Nations is exposed for what it is: an essentially frivolous, wasteful organization that accomplishes almost nothing at all.

Struggling for one America by Erbil Gunasti and Daphne Barak is published by Simon and Schuster

Erbil Gunasti’s weekly analysis of Turkish and American foreign policy

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11549235/What-exactly-impotent-doing-secure-peace-talks-asks-ERBIL-GUNASTI.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 What exactly is the “powerless” UN doing to secure peace talks, asks ERBIL GUNASTI

Emma Colton

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