Great Failure of UN

The principles of the Charter of the United Nations cannot be applied selectively. The Member States have accepted them all and they must apply them all.

by Anwar A. Khan

Look at the following Brobdingnagian formal expression of meetings set about by the UN from the start of Russian war against Ukraine till 25 April last i.e. for the last two months. Anyone’s thought-process will be startled to have read such a bountiful words expressed for only words for words by so many UN’s divisions against the war, and look at the UN Secretary-General António Guterres who remains unmoved till two months of war, whereas he should have gone to both Russia and Ukraine a long time back to talk to Putin and Zelenskyy to stop this annihilative war which has been continuing on. He is such a callous guy indifference to indescribable torments of people!

On the night of 23 to 24 February 2022, Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine. The United Nations considers this attack to be a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. It is contrary to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The principles of the Charter of the United Nations cannot be applied selectively. The Member States have accepted them all and they must apply them all.

On Thursday 24 March, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly demanded civilian protection and humanitarian access in Ukraine, while also criticizing Russia for creating a “dire” humanitarian situation. During its 11th Emergency Special Session, 193 Member States adopted a resolution – drafted by Ukraine and 90 co-sponsors entitled Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine – with 140 votes in favour, five against and 38 others abstaining. 

The United Nations General Assembly adopted on Wednesday 2 March a resolution deploring the “aggression” committed by Russia against Ukraine (141 votes in favour, 5 against and 35 abstentions).

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The UN Human Rights Council decided on 5 March to urgently establish an independent international commission of inquiry following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on 4 March calling for the “swift and verifiable” withdrawal of Russian troops and Russian-backed armed groups from the entire territory of Ukraine.

On 16 March the International Court of Justice ordered Russia to immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine.

The UN Secretary-General announced on 28 March that he was instructing the UN Humanitarian Chief to immediately explore with the parties concerned possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine.

On 30 March the United Nations appointed three human rights experts to investigate possible violations of international law committed during the conflict in Ukraine.

In a statement on Monday, 4 April, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she was horrified by the images of people lying dead on the streets and in improvised graves in the town of Bucha. It is vital that all efforts are made to ensure independent and effective investigations into what happened in Bucha.

On 5 April, Secretary-General in his remarks at the UN Security Council Meeting on Ukraine, said that the war in Ukraine is one of the greatest challenges ever to the international order and the global peace architecture, founded on the United Nations Charter. He urged the Council to do everything in its power to end the war and to mitigate its impact, both on the suffering people of Ukraine, and on vulnerable people and developing countries around the world.

In an address to the Security Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described in stark detail what he said was the deliberate slaughter of civilians in Bucha by Russian forces, laying out an existential choice for its members, over the whole future of the world’s security architecture, founded in 1945. Ukraine’s President called on Security Council to act for peace, or ‘dissolve’ itself.

On 7 April, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council. The resolution received a two-thirds majority of those voting, minus abstentions, in the 193-member Assembly, with 93 nations voting in favour and 24 against.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres visited Moscow on 26 April. He said he came to Moscow as a “messenger of peace,” and had had “frank discussions” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Protection of civilians is a priority

The United Nations is making the protection of civilians its priority and will intensify its humanitarian operations in and around Ukraine. The United Nations needs safe and unhindered access to all areas affected by the Russian military offensive. There is an urgent need to establish a safe passage for life-saving medical supplies and health personnel.

Addressing the Security Council from Geneva, emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday (April 5th) that more than a quarter of Ukraine’s population had fled. “Perilous conditions are hampering our efforts to gain access to civilians – or for them to gain access to us,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has strongly condemned acts of violence against health centres, which are violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. WHO has authenticated 160 attacks on health care since the war began.

The UN’s head of political affairs warned the Security Council on Friday (11 March) that direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes.

On 11 March, UNICEF, UNFPA (the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency) and WHO called for an immediate halt to all attacks on health services in Ukraine.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has denounced the use in Ukraine of Russian cluster munitions that have killed civilians.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 5840 civilian casualties were recorded, including 2729 deaths. The actual figure could be significantly higher as reported victims are confirmed. Tens of millions of people are in “potential danger of death.”

On 1 March, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners launched coordinated emergency appeals totalling $1.7 billion to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to people in Ukraine and refugees in neighbouring countries. As of 25 April, this appeal was 70% funded.

Individual donations from 140 countries have raised more than $3 million to date.

On 25 February, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed Amin Awad of Sudan as Assistant Secretary-General to serve as United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine.

 Europe facing its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated that more than 5 million people have fled Ukraine and more than 7.7 million Ukrainians are internally displaced. This is the fastest forced population movement since the Second World War.

According to UNICEF, every second that passes, a Ukrainian child becomes a refugee.

It is important that solidarity with the victims of this war be extended without any discrimination. All people, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or culture, must enjoy the same treatment and protection.

As of 8 March, UN agencies were present in each of the country’s 24 oblasts and had provided life-saving humanitarian assistance to 2.1 million people in Ukraine.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 4 March welcomed the European Union’s “unprecedented decision” to offer temporary protection to refugees fleeing Ukraine.

UNICEF is stepping up its efforts to help the hundreds of thousands of children on both sides of the line of contact who suffer daily from the consequences of armed conflict.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up its operations to reach up to 3.1 million civilians through cash transfers and in-kind food distributions if needed. WFP staff in Kiev say food supplies are running out, with grocery store shelves almost empty. The agency plans to provide assistance in the form of in-kind food distributions, multi-purpose cash and food vouchers that can be used in select stores.

As of 7 April, WHO has delivered more than 185 tonnes of medical supplies to the hardest-hit areas of the country, providing half a million people with trauma, surgical and primary health care equipment. An additional 125 tonnes of basic necessities are also being delivered.

A conflict with disastrous humanitarian consequences

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has indicated that the fighting, which was already intense in several localities, particularly in eastern Ukraine, has intensified further in recent days, with disastrous humanitarian consequences in the most affected areas.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has warned that Ukraine could “freefall into poverty.”

OCHA has warned that the humanitarian situation has become appalling in the regions hardest hit by the conflict in Ukraine.

Nuclear facilities

Nuclear power plants should never be targeted by military operations. Military operations around nuclear sites and other critical civilian infrastructure are unacceptable, highly irresponsible and contrary to international humanitarian law.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is closely monitoring the situation.

“Military operations around nuclear sites and other critical civilian infrastructure are not only unacceptable but also highly irresponsible,” Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN’s chief of political affairs, told the fifteen-member Council.

Food security

According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the war in Ukraine is jeopardizing global grain supplies and food security.

FAO has warned that disruptions to production, supply and delivery chains for grains and oilseeds, and restrictions on Exports from Russia, will have a significant impact on food security. An additional 8 to 13 million people could suffer from undernutrition worldwide if food exports from Ukraine and Russia were permanently prevented by the war.

The UN Secretary-General has warned of a “hurricane of famine” and a “collapse of the global food system.”

In short, the U.N. Secretary-General today is best described as a sickly patient awaiting a blood transfusion. 

-The End –

The writer is an independent political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs

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