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Still building the world

Monday, April 2nd, 2007 at 8:14 pm Written by:

I wonder if what we’re up to counts as “civil society”. I’ve been working straight hours, sometimes till 4 in the morning, hacking my UN parser so that all speakers and debates are categorized. I created a category known as “disasters”, but I think I am going to change it to “Expressions of sympathy”. Some go on for a good length. For example at the start of the meeting on 1996-05-24:

The President

Before turning to the items on our agenda for this morning, may I, on behalf of all the members of the Assembly, extend our deepest sympathy to the Government and the people of Bangladesh for the tragic loss of life and extensive material damage which have resulted from the recent tornado.

I also express the hope that the international community will show its solidarity and respond promptly and generously to any request for help.

I now call on the representative of Bangladesh.

Mr. Ziauddin Bangladesh

On behalf of the people and the Government of Bangladesh, I wish to thank you most profusely, Mr. President, for your kind words of sympathy and condolence expressed at the death and destruction caused by a tornado that struck and wreaked havoc in northern Bangladesh on Monday, 13 May. I take this opportunity to express our profound gratitude to all the Member States of the United Nations that so spontaneously rose to the occasion and offered their support, both moral and material, at this time of national calamity. I also take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Secretary-General for his prompt response in offering aid and assistance to alleviate the hardship and suffering of the distressed people.

In a span of about half an hour, the tornado took an awesome toll of over 1,000 deaths and shattered the lives of some 80,000 people. Approximately 10,000 people with serious injuries are being treated in hospitals located in, or in close proximity to, the disaster area. It is also estimated that about 19,965 hectares of crop land have been decimated. Despite such devastation, I should humbly like to inform the Assembly that the Government of Bangladesh has been successful in mobilizing adequate manpower and resources to mitigate the sufferings of the affected people. The national agencies concerned are working round the clock, without rest or respite, to provide assistance and succour, and relief and rehabilitation activities are continuing in full swing.

I am pleased to inform the Assembly that the Government of Bangladesh has had the good fortune this time to successfully control, by itself, the overall situation resulting from the devastating tornado. The resilience of the people has added immensely to the Government’s ability to overcome the grave and grim tragedy.

I wish to express once again, on behalf of the people and the Government of Bangladesh, our deepest gratitude to you, Mr. President, to all the Member States of the United Nations, to the Secretary-General and to the related bodies of this esteemed Organization, for rallying round Bangladesh in generously extending all support at this time of our nation’s dire and difficult dilemma.

Obviously the Government, almost certainly composed of the sort of people who entirely escaped the devastation, is deserving of sympathy. Some expressions of sympathy are a little broader in nature, such as on 1995-09-14:

The President

I wish, on behalf of all the members of the Assembly, to extend our sympathy to the Governments and the peoples of Antigua and Barbuda, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Morocco and Pakistan for the tragic loss of human life and extensive material damage that have resulted from the recent floods and hurricanes in those countries.

May I also express the hope that the international community will show its solidarity and respond promptly and generously to any request for assistance.

Naturally, if you are a victim of aerial bombardment by cruise missiles or B52’s, you don’t get any sympathy. You just don’t count!!

When it comes to dealing with the main powers, particularly United States power, the United Nations is systematically blind to the issue. Maybe there are good diplomatic reasons for it, but it keeps the public — in what are supposed to be the democratic nations where we could have an influence — in the dark. The United Nations is silent, the news-media is silent, and the bombs keep falling on our fellow human beings with the sound turned off.

Just to prove my point, go see Document 1 for 2003, which is the annual Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization to find the bit where it glosses over the US invasion of Iraq.

Paragraph 15: By early March 2003 there were divisions in the Security Council as to how to proceed. I continued to urge united international action, as well as constant and persistent pressure on the leadership of Iraq, through daily exchanges with Council members, the League of Arab States, UNMOVIC and others both in New York and in capitals. By mid-March it was clear, however, that some Member States had taken the position that it was impossible to resolve the crisis without the use of force. On 17 March I informed the Council that I would suspend United Nations activities in Iraq and withdraw all remaining United Nations system personnel the following day.

Are you ready for the next paragraph?

The very next paragraph?

Are you sure…

Wait for it…

Paragraph 16: Following the end of major hostilities, which had resulted in the occupation of Iraq by a coalition headed by the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and after protracted deliberations, the Security Council adopted, on 22 May 2003, resolution 1483 (2003). In paragraph 8 of the resolution the Council requested me to appoint a Special Representative whose responsibilities would include coordinating United Nations activities in Iraq and, in coordination with the Coalition Provisional Authority, assisting the people of Iraq in such areas as humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and development, human rights, legal and judicial reform and the restoration of an internationally recognized, representative Government of Iraq. I proceeded to appoint a Special Representative for an initial period of four months.

The next section of the report was aptly entitled “Conflict prevention and peacemaking”, but it chose to concern itself with more minor situations entirely.

The following year the report waffled about some trivial (ie it didn’t result in mass death) mismanagement issues of the oil-for-food program, a program for mitigating some of the most lethal effects of the Iraqi sanctions regime which had cut off that country’s medical supplies immediately following a 1991 bombing campaign that had leveled much of its infrastructure.

A year later, Iraq appears under the “Conflict prevention and peacemaking section” of the report with some garbage about organizing elections. This has resulted in the type of sham democracy we are used to whereby an overwhelming public opinion saying that the US army should get out now, gets converted into a government who invites them to stay unconditionally, and furthermore goes ahead and signs away their oil rights for the next 40 years.

By the time we get to last September, the situation isn’t mentioned once, which is quite good for what appears as the most serious human massacre through violence going on in the world today.

But that’s okay, it’s only the Iraqi’s doing it to themselves, if you don’t mention George Bush’s re-election celebration in 2004 where he ordered napalm into the streets of the city of Falluja, and then our government lied about it. That’s okay. The Secretary-General sent a private complaint about it so it could get ignored. That’s why it had to be private. It’s purely to settle his conscience, while not upsetting anyone.

Ultimately, the United Nations can probably do a lot of good in Africa and parts of the Pacific, and perhaps coordinate some important interventions in terms of world health, so long as it doesn’t interfere with corporate profits.

But when it comes to the actions of a rogue superpower, we’re totally on our own. The UN might as well not exist. They cannot even mention the issue, let alone deal with it.

1 Comment

  • 1. Freesteel » Blog Ar&hellip replies at 3rd April 2007, 10:01 pm :

    […] Freesteel Two CAM programmers on the loose

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