Monday, August 13, 2012

Should Canada Leave The U.N.?

International Politics

This post is a follow-up to a post by Prof. Gad Saad (“The U.N. Is Morally Bankrupt”) on Friday, August 10, 2012.


In a previous post, “Universal Principles (November 15, 2010) I argued in defence of the United Nations as an international body doing some good; I was both naive and sentimental. In the last couple of years I have been following the U.N. more closely—and most notably its resolutions, or lack thereof in many cases, toward Syria, North Korea, Iran and Israel—and I have changed my mind. If I am unduly harsh in my criticism, it is with good reason and not without cause. I write this not with a happy heart but with sadness. 

The U.N., which came into existence as an international body with much promise after the end of the Second World War on October 24, 1945, has more than 65 years later lost its way and has been beset by the forces of inertia, making it an ineffective decision-making body; today, it rarely follows the principles laid down on its Charter and notably “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” which is still displayed prominently on my site. The document itself is a powerful, worthy and noble one. 

Human rights: has it become only a nice sentiment; a nice artificat of human civilization?; so it seems, as the U.N. has become powerless, devoid of any real ability or desire to promote change. Because of this, the  U.N. has become an organization run by cynical opportunists who use the international body and its various sub-bodies (e.g., UNESCO, UNHRC, UNRWA) as a platform to espouse hate. Human rights is hardly on the list of activities it truly cares about. It's not only about the U.N.’s recent failure in Syria, although that is reason enough and it has made many democratic nations take notice of the U.N.’s ineffectiveness.

Case in point: The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council makes a mockery of human rights; look at the list of its member states. Compare this with the list of nations on Freedom House’s “The World’s Most Repressive Societies.” It’s an affront to democracy and the principles of human rights. Look at the nations sitting on the human-rights council and ask yourself if they are remotely interested in human rights. “More than 40% of the Council’s own resolutions are devoted to the pathological Jew-baiting and anti-Zionism of radical Islam and its secular espousers,” Conrad Black writes in the National Post (June 30, 2012). [For those interested in facts, there are too many examples to cite, but you can read examples here, here, here and here.]

The UN's failures are legendary—Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Angola & Sierra Leone to name a few more recent examples. The U.N. has no ability to do anything about any conflict and has a general record of failure during its history. The root problem is the very way that the U.N. is structured; and one writer has succinctly captured its problems: “The liberal faith in the power of bureaucracy and flowcharts, of committees and reports is legend,” Charles Krauthammer writes in National Review Online (“While Syria Burns,” April 26, 2012) and reported in Israfax (June 12, 2012). I am a classical liberal democrat, but Krauthammer has indeed made a good point.

If it were a private business, it would have been bankrupt decades ago. It would have also been indicted for corruption and fraud [Oil for Food Programme Scandal; see here, here & here], but it seems that it and its officials have immunity from all of these things that define the average citizen's need to obey laws. Like a dictator that enacts laws for its citizens, the U.N acts in similar fashion, including being a body that stands, in practice, against anything remotely moral and good. Why should it act otherwise when it and its top officials are richly rewarded for their corruption and unethical practices? There is no benefit to change.

The U.N.'s core budget is about $5-billion a year; this does not include the $7-billion it takes each year to run peacekeeping operations; nor does it include the "voluntary contributions" the 17 agencies such as UNESCO and the World Bank  look to receive each year [see here]. The United States is the U.N.'s largest financial contributor (22%); Canada (3.2%)  ranks among the top seven donor nations. Yet, the U.N. never seems to have enough money, notably the humanitarian and aid agencies, So, the name of the game is to keep the money flowing in. Such explains why the U.N. spends an inordinate amount of time fundraising, much like those charitable organizations that raise money to help keep the administrators living the high life instead of ensuring that the lion's share of money goes to charitable causes [see here]. 

Solution to Problem: There is no real reason to fund an organization that has such an open and cynical disregard for its charter; yes, among its more than 63,000 employees, there are good, decent and moral persons working at and for the U.N., but not enough. That being the case,there are good reasons for Canada to seriously consider leaving it—the U.N.— stop funding it and only cooperate with it on a program by program basis. At the same time, it can form an international body with like-minded democracies such as the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Israel. I also think the U.S. ought to leave the U.N. and stop funding it. All democracies ought to do so, but for now as a Canadian I will chiefly talk about Canada. 

Leaving aside the political arguments, and forgetting about international diplomacy, can anyone give a practical argument on why Canada ought to remain a member of the United Nations, an institution rotted with corruption, ineffective policies and blundering bureaucrats? I doubt it. Conrad Black has written, like many other sensible persons, that the U.N. needs reform, an agreeable and rational statement. Black writes in the same cited National Post article of June 30, 2012:
What we should do instead is lead agitation for a massive transformation of the United Nations — back to the defence of Eleanor Roosevelt’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights (which is not subject to Shariah law or any other such barbarities), jettison the antiquated Security Council and propose a variable system of voting in the General Assembly, where votes are accorded to countries and groupings of countries according to a combination of their population, economic strength and objectively assessed respect for human rights.
It’s a sensible and admirable idea, which explains why it doesn’t have a likelihood of passage in the U.N. The U.N. has failed in its mandate of advancing universal human rights and in keeping the peace, chiefly because it can’t. It is more than likely that it will also resist reforming, with a great number of its 193 members committed to voting against the interests of liberal democracy. Yet, it should be given every chance or opportunity to reform, given what is at stake. If that proves unsuccessful, then, like the League of Nations before it, the United Nations ought to quietly retire and become a footnote in history. Canada, United States, Britain, France, Germany, & Israel and like-minded democracies can do better.