Myanmar unrest and Tibetan crisis: Instances to prove failed UNO

By NS Venkataraman*

It is now around    seven decades since UNO  was founded   after  the Second   World War with much expectations   and  with declaration of lofty goals to establish  a peaceful world.  Ever since then, there have been many criticisms  about the functioning style of UNO  and it’s  counter productive internal structure, that have disappointed a  cross section of discerning thinkers around the world. Many people are of the view that it is necessary to restructure   the UNO and redefine it’s powers to make it a powerful and meaningful entity. But, it appears that such changes for the better with regard to  structure and powers  of UNO  to make it a more purposeful and meaningful organization  is unlikely  in the foreseeable future, considering the ground realities.

Of course,  one has to take a holistic view of the overall performance of UNO during the last several decades.

There  are several functioning divisions in UNO such as UNICEF, UNIDO, FAO, WHO, UNHRC,  etc., which have all turned out reasonably good performance over the years.  However, it should be noted that these divisions  essentially  have the role  of functioning as “administrative bodies” and perhaps as  divisions bringing out well researched reports and recommendations from time to time on various issues . These divisions have also been involved in distribution of funds to needy nations  and  providing them technical  and educational  support in implementing  social welfare programmes.  This is good as far as it goes.

Suspected partisan role of WHO

Amongst these divisions, WHO has recently got into avoidable controversies  by giving an impression of dealing with the COVID 19 crisis not in an objective manner  but with what some people term as “political angle  showing undue favour, to one nation  namely China”.   By allowing such a  view to prevail, WH Ohas tarnished it’s image to some extent.  It would take a long time for  WHO to redeem it’s image as a fair and neutral body.

Sadly, UNO as a body has expressed no view on this damaged image of WHO.

Controversial role of UNHRC

In the same way, the UNHRC has also been often criticized for  commenting about human rights violations in some regions and ignoring human rights violations in some other regions and  not taking a holistic view of the issues  involved  .

Again, UNO as a body has not taken any note of such criticism against UNHRC.

Failure to achieve primary objective

While several divisions have been created in UNO for various  proactive purposes , the primary objective  of forming UNO  is to ensure  that the conflicts in the world would be resolved peacefully and by avoiding war between the nations and preventing aggression on weak nations by militarily powerful ones.  The judgement on the performance of UNO has to be ultimately made on this count of successfully ensuring world peace.

There are many instances when serious  unrest and violence have taken place in the world within nations  and between nations. In most of such cases,  the UNO could do nothing other than  watching the scene like a distant and detached observer,  which has created an impression that UNO is only capable of issuing paper condemnation and lengthy cosmetic statements.

Is the U N Secretary General responsible for ineffectiveness of UNO ?

Who is responsible for this situation  is the question that needs  to be analysed carefully.

While making such an assessment , the first functionary that comes to one’s mind is  the U N Secretary General.

U N Secretary General could have played  an effective role to significant extent , if he has the required stature as a statesman and administrator with international reputation.  Unfortunately, this has not happened. The most charitable description of the UN Secretary Generals who occupied the positions in the  last several decades is that  they  have functioned as glorified Chief Executives.  The most uncharitable description could be that  the UN Secretary Generals have been functioning as  impotent functionaries , more comfortable with being an observer   rather than acting as a moral force and he being heard as a moral voice.

What is conspicuous is the failure of the UN Secretary Generals to act as the conscience keeper of the world by speaking boldly and strongly against the wrong doers and war mongers.  On the other hand, U N Secretary Generals have been simply following the routines and   simply allowing the member nations to have their way.

Certainly, the world needs a UN Secretary General who would be a world figure  commanding respect as having the voice of wisdom.

What is the  responsibility of the” powerful nations”?

Apart from the  voiceless role of UN Secretary General ,certainly the five “top powerful nations”  who are permanent members of the Security Council are responsible for  treating the UN Secretary General as a non entity and then playing their  role in the Security council with self interest  as priority and with  partisan  and narrow  objectives rather than with the world goodness in view. These five nations have arrogated to themselves the powers to do or undo the peace process in the world and  they deserve to be condemned for  being largely responsible for failure of UNO to function as a  peace  keeping organization. 

Today, UNO  has been reduced to the level of a mere discussion forum  and as a venue for meeting between the heads of the nations once in a while.  

Unrest in Myanmar

While  several instances can be readily pointed with regard to the failure of UNO to ensure  world peace, the most recent one is the unrest in Myanmar, where a military junta has over thrown a democratically elected government and have used repressive force to silence the protestors who  object to the  enforcement of military rule. Hundreds of people have been killed and many people have been injured and many more  have been imprisoned.

The military junta in Myanmar care a hoot about the condemnation by UNO and goes on merrily with it’s own  militant plans. Perhaps, it has the  silent support of one big nation  namely China which is it’s neighbor .

It appears that Myanmar would continue to be under military rule for several years to come , which will constantly remind the world about the failure of UNO.

Tibetan crisis

This article will not be complete without  mentioning   the plight of  the people of Tibet,  which nation has been  aggressively occupied by China for the last several decades using repressive force and not allowing anyone in the world to visit Tibet to see the conditions for themselves. It is sad that UNO has not even taken note of this issue so far in any meaningful way and has not voiced it’s concern.

What has the UNO done to protect the freedom of people in Tibet ?. It is nothing for all practical purposes.  UNO has remained irresponsibly silent about the  blatant occupation of Tibet by China, as if  it is a matter of no  concern to UNO

Obviously, China  would care a hoot, even if UNO would condemn the aggressive acts of China in Tibet.  There is no greater evidence required to prove the ineffectiveness of UNO.

Crisis facing world conscience

Myanmar unrest  and suppression of freedom in Tibet by China and consequent  human rights crisis in  Myanmar and  Tibet  and UNO  simply watching from the gallery, has created  the biggest black marks on the   overall image of UNO, making peace loving people lose confidence in UNO itself.

Obviously,   acts of  violence , terrorism and suppression of  freedom remain unchallenged  in the world  and  all members of UNO have to hang their head in shame for reducing UNO to such disturbingly low status. As a result, there is a crisis of conscience amongst a cross section of people in the world.

What is shocking is that not even one member nation of the UNO has boldly expressed  it’s misgivings about the rapidly increasing irrelevance of UNO .  What is urgently needed now is the world movement to reform the UNO.

*Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, Chennai

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