The U.N. Security Council (UNSC), the only international body empowered to declare war and peace, continues to remain a silent witness to the widespread devastation and killings worldwide, including in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.
A sharply divided UNSC has watched the slaughter of Palestinians by Israel, the genocide and war crimes in Syria, the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, the U.S. military attacks inside Iraq and now a virtual invasion of Syria – if U.S. President Barack Obama goes ahead with his threat to launch air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The United States has refused to go before the UNSC for authorization and legitimacy – even if it means suffering a veto by Russia or China or both.
Still, ironically, Obama is scheduled to preside over a UNSC meeting when he is in New York in late September since the United States holds the presidency under geographical rotation among the 15 members in the Council.
A head of state or a head of government chairing a meeting of the Security Council is a rare event, not a norm.
But it does happen when a UNSC member presides over the Council in the month of September during the opening of a new General Assembly session, with over 150 world leaders in tow.
In his address to the nation early this week, Obama said, “I will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further mobilise the international community around this effort” (“to degrade and destroy ISIS”, the rebel Islamic militant group inside Iraq and Syria).
Still, the proposed strike inside Syria is not part of the Council’s agenda – and certainly not under the U.S. presidency.
Obama also said intelligence agencies have not detected any specific ISIS plots against the United States.
ISIS is still a regional threat that could ultimately reach out to the United States, he said, justifying the impending attacks.
Norman Solomon, executive director of the Washington-based Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org, told IPS, “As an instrument for preventing or restraining war, the United Nations has devolved into a plaintive institution, with its Security Council dominated by superpowers — most of all by the United States in tandem with its permanent-member allies.”
He said it used to be that U.S. presidents at least went through the motions of seeking Security Council approval for going to war, but this is scarcely the case anymore.
“When it lacks the capacity to get what it wants by way of a non-vetoed Security Council resolution for its war aims, the U.S. government simply proceeds as though the United Nations has no significant existence,” said Solomon, author of ‘War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.’
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Internationally, he said, this is the case because there are no geopolitical leverage points or institutional U.N. frameworks sufficient to require the United States to actually take the Security Council seriously as anything much more than a platform for pontification.
A Russian official was quoted as saying the Obama administration would need to get a UNSC resolution before it launches air attacks inside Syria — which, of course, the Russians did not do either before they intervened in Ukraine.
Perhaps all this points only in one direction: the UNSC has time and again proved its unworthiness – and remains ineffective and politically impotent having outlived its usefulness, particularly in crisis situations.
Humanitarian aid? Yes. Collective international action? No.
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