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Wed May 23, 2012, 07:16 PM

UN Security Council 'tired and out of step', says Amnesty International

Source: The Guardian

The UN Security Council is suffering a failure of leadership which makes it seem "tired, out of step and increasingly unfit for purpose", the human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) says on Thursday as it chastises the "determination" of some permanent member states to shield the Syrian regime "at all cost".

In its 50th global human rights report, AI documents human rights abuses in countries across the globe, noting a worsening discrimination against gay people in Africa and an increase in xenophobic rhetoric by some European politicians.

But after what it describes as a "momentous" year for the region, it is on the Middle East and north Africa that much of the report focuses. Despite "compelling evidence" of crimes against humanity being committed by Bashar al-Assad's regime, it notes, the UN Security Council has not referred the Syrian leader to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even as the UN's own human rights chief spoke out against the violence, it adds, Russia and China "used their leverage at the Security Council to forestall effective action on Syria".

Failure to take action, it concludes, has left the Security Council looking "redundant". "There is a clear and compelling case for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation of crimes against humanity," said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International. "The determination of some UN Security Council members to shield Syria at any cost leaves accountability for these crimes elusive and is a betrayal of the Syrian people."

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/24/amnesty-un-syria

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Reply UN Security Council 'tired and out of step', says Amnesty International (Original post)
alp227 May 2012 OP
DRoseDARs May 2012 #1
4th law of robotics May 2012 #3
DRoseDARs May 2012 #6
Behind the Aegis May 2012 #2
EFerrari May 2012 #4
lunatica May 2012 #5
grantcart May 2012 #7

Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 02:56 AM

1. It's the power of veto. Giving that to any member of the UNSC was a high-minded mistake.

The Framers of the UN Charter had good, democratic intentions in mind, but sadly they completely neglected to take realpolitik into consideration. It should have been by simple majority vote, meaning even if all but 1 member abstain then the measure passes/fails by that 1 solitary vote. Would members have abided by the council under that format? No way to ever know, but we do know that granting veto power limits the potential effectiveness and relevance of the UNSC.

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Response to DRoseDARs (Reply #1)

Thu May 24, 2012, 11:03 AM

3. Also adding two permanent members that weren't exactly keen on human rights

 

They really should have started smaller and just admitted nations with a pretty decent (if imperfect) record in this regard.

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Response to 4th law of robotics (Reply #3)

Thu May 24, 2012, 06:38 PM

6. While I do see your point, I do not agree fully...

Perhaps having any permanent members in the first place was the bigger mistake, rather than just whom, but the Framers went with permanent members and the only way to ensure that A) one of the largest military powers coming out of WW2 and B) the largest country by population both participated at all with the fledgling UN (you know, trying to wash away bad memories of the neutered and completely useless League of Nations, sorry President Wilson) was to grant them both equal standing with Western powers on the UNSC. So perhaps they HAD taken realpolitik into at least a little consideration for that.

The veto power needs to be abolished and replaced with a simple majority of cast votes. Forget dealing with the General Assembly for actionable motions. As far as membership in the UNSC and how many seats get voting privileges, there really isn't any good way to reform that body beyond changing the veto. Adding more seats would ultimately be meaningless if they aren't granted veto power as well, which of course means more opportunities for a single veto to torpedo any actionable motions by the council. Removing permanent status might prompt the big countries withdraw in a huff.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 02:59 AM

2. This has been true for years!

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 12:17 PM

4. Bahrain, anyone? n/t

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 12:20 PM

5. They should probably do away with it altogether

And put something representing the entire planet in its place.

Time goes by. Countries change.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 06:55 PM

7. They don't understand the UN system


There are dozens of UN agencies all with different missions.

The mission of the UN Security Council is really very limited, it is to prevent a world war and when the powerful countries agree work together to stop an armed conflict.

In that sense it is extremely successful. The 50 years before the Security Council, close to 50 million people died in armed conflict. In the last 70 years conflicts have gotten smaller and less frequent. The Security Council doesn't have any inherent power, its purpose is to provide a mechanism for states with power to use when they are inclined to.

There maybe 20 other international agencies, some with the label UN and others without that work on issues that have some impact on human rights. Those agencies work on the causes and the effects of human rights abuses, and they all have separate governing bodies with absolutely no relationship to the Security Council.

Let's put Syria aside for a moment. What does Amnesty think should be done in North Korea, the worst of the worst of the worst.

If a powerful regime is willing to kill millions and doesn't care how cut off they are there is little that their neighbors can do.

Consistent patient multilateral diplomatic prodding by neighboring countries and different UN agencies has turned the situation in Burma around. That is the kind of situation that the UN system can have an impact, but in any case it has virtually nothing to do with the Security Council, and it is not the real mission of the SC.

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