The U. N. is charged with protecting Human Rights. It even originated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . Yet is had been accursed of ignoring the misery and suffering of people around the world. There is especially apathy in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The most recent example, of the U. N. ’s non-fulfillment of its role it its inaction against the Sudanese government in light of the humanitarian disaster in Darfur .
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, born in 1946 and died on 2006, was the recipient of heavy criticism because it allowed countries with long histories of human-rights abuses such as Cuba and Sudan membership in its executive committee. The United Nations Human Rights Council, the UNCHR’s immediate successor, has also been criticized for focusing most of its criticism on Israel to the exclusion of any other State. The Human right’s councils critics include former Secretary General Kofi Annan , Current Secretary General Ban Ki and U.
S. President George Bush Still another heavily criticized U. N. institution was the Oil for Food programme established in 1996. The programme aimed to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market to obtain food, medicine and other humanitarian products. This in turn would alleviate the plight of ordinary citizens who were suffering from the effects of the international economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Persian Gulf War. The programme was designed so as not to allow Iraq to rebuild its military but at the same helping innocent civilians.
Over $65 billion in oil was sold by Iraq to the world market. Officially, around $46 billion was used for humanitarian requirements. The additional revenues were ploughed towards paying for the Persian Gulf War reparations via a Compensation Fund. UN administrative costs for the program claimed 2. 2% while the weapons inspection program consumed an additional 0. 8%. The programme was halted in 2003 because of allegations of abuse and corruption. Former Director Benon Sevan was suspended and then resigned from the UN.
A UN sponsored investigation concluded that Sevan had accepted bribes from the Iraqi regimes, and found that his UN immunity be stripped to allow for criminal investigation. Kojo Annan, former Secretary General Annan’s son, was also implicated for his involvement. Allegedly, it was he who negotiated illegal Oil-for-Food contacts on behalf of Cotecna. Natwar Signh, India’s Foreign Minister was also relived because of his involvement. The Australian Wheat Board also came under fire for possible violation in relation to its contracts with Iraq
With its organs under fire and accused of irrelevance, the question begs itself. Is the UN charter now obsolete? Has the United Nations “United for a better world” been reduced to no more than an idealistic plea? Claiming that the United Nations Charter based system has failed is harsh . Those who claim that it is do so out of sheer realism, sweeping aside in favor of a new American international order, one that our skeptical European allies have branded as “legalized hegemony ” According to Thomas M. Franck leaders of the nation and some leading theoreticians have concluded that international law.
Even when codified under treaties, amounts to no more than evidence of state’s temporary coincidence of self interest. It would thus be illusory to expect law’s strictures to be obeyed by powerful sovereign states when it does not serve their interest . A bitter example, of this self-interest is the situation of the United States Today. Over fifty-years ago it went to the U. N. requesting a broad coalition of troops to help South Korea fight off a communist threat led by Kim Il-Sung. The U. N. granted this request and sent soldiers from as remote as Thailand and Philippines to defend liberty and Democracy in South Korea.
Five Years ago, The US demanded to invade the Iraq on accusations of harboring terrorists and hoarding weapons of mass destruction. This time the U. N. pleaded with the U. S. not to invade. The Security Council was powerless to act against them because the of the U. S. veto. However, this position is not adopted by even the most contemporary American exponents of this “realism” are reluctant to adopt the position, so brashly flaunted by leaders and academics in Hitler’s Germany, where it can be remembered that the Molotov-Ribbentop treaty was signed merely to prevent Russia from attacking Germany.
It is the unequal distribution of power, itself that makes classical international law. Classical international law in itself is heavily intoxicated with concern for the sovereignty of states and sovereign equality and has become unrealistic and toothless when the choice boils down to national-interest maximization or the rule of international law . Instead the realists adopt a position that it is the weakness of the antiquated rules of international law are what makes American adherence to it irrational.