UNITED NATIONS, Feb 20 (IPS) – Paralyzed by its charter and structure, the world body responsible for preventing wars faces an existential challenge from Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
When Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, sent its troops to its smaller neighbor a year ago next Friday, in violation of the UN Charter and all norms of international relations, Antonio Guterres, “This is the saddest moment of my tenure as UN Secretary General.” : .
Beyond the sadness of the betrayal and the pain inflicted on the peoples of the world, especially the poorest, the war goes to the very foundation of the United Nations, which was built some 78 years ago.
Guterres warned this month. “I’m afraid the world isn’t sleepily going into a wider war, I’m afraid it’s doing it with eyes wide open.”
And the invasion has raised questions about the UN’s resolve to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” as the first sentence of its Charter states.
However, the Charter itself has paralyzed the UN by giving veto rights in the Security Council to permanent members who can act alone. Russia’s vetoes have stuck the Council in a fog of inaction, renewing its calls for reform.
Describing the situation, the President of the General Assembly Tsaba Korosi said. “The Security Council, the main guarantor of international peace and security, remains blocked, unable to fully implement its mandate.”
“Growing numbers are now calling for its reform,” he said, noting that during the Assembly’s High-Level Week in September, “a third of world leaders highlighted the urgent need for Council reform, more than twice as many as in 2021.”
While the reform process, in which India has a special interest as a contender for a permanent seat that has itself been stalled for nearly two decades, has moved forward, it is not likely to happen anytime soon.
But the General Assembly, which lacks the Council’s enforcement powers, has used the stunner to set a precedent that forces permanent members, when they exercise their veto, to counter it and explain their actions.
Russia appeared before the Assembly to answer for its veto, facing a barrage of criticism.
The Assembly also revived a rarely used action under the 1950 United Nations Peace Resolution, which calls for an emergency special session when the Council fails in its primary duty to maintain peace and security.
It adopted a resolution in March demanding that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from the territory of Ukraine along its internationally recognized borders.”
It received 141 votes, more than two-thirds of the required 193 votes, while India was among the 35 countries that abstained. This, as well as the next three held last year, were ultimately an exercise in moral authority without the means to enforce it.
A proposal made by Mexico and France in 2015 calling on permanent members to refrain from exercising their veto on issues related to them was also rebroadcast, but to no avail.
India, a member of the Council last year, has found itself polarized in the UN, both in the Council and the Assembly, over its dependence on Russian arms and its support at crucial Security Times. Council from its predecessor, the Soviet Union.
India has abstained at least 11 times from substantive resolutions related to Ukraine in both chambers of the UN, including Moscow-sponsored resolutions in the Council.
India faced enormous pressure from the West to join the vote on anti-Russian resolutions and to take a strong stance openly condemning Moscow.
Minister of Foreign Affairs S. Jaishankar told the Security Council in September. “As the conflict in Ukraine continues to rage, we are often asked whose side we are on. And our answer, every time, is direct and honest. India is in favor. peace and will remain there.”
And despite maintaining the appearance of neutrality during the vote, India came closest to taking a stand in support of Ukraine, and in defiance of Russia, when it said: “We are the side that respects the UN Charter and its founding principles.” .
Now, outside the Council, New Delhi’s profile has been lowered, and it too does not have to publicly demonstrate its tightrope walk, although it has yet to do so again this week, when the assembly is likely to decide on it. the anniversary of the invasion.
The pain of the invasion is felt far beyond the borders of Ukraine.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing untold suffering to the Ukrainian people with profound global consequences.”
The effects of the war have set back the United Nations’ comprehensive development goals.
Immediately, several countries found themselves on the brink of famine, and the specter of famine still haunts the world due to lack of agricultural output, while many countries, including many developed countries, face serious energy and financial problems.
The war halted food grain exports from Ukraine and limited exports from Russia, two countries that have become the world’s food baskets.
In addition to depriving many countries of food grains, the deficit raised world prices.
The UN’s only victory was the Black Sea agreement signed in July with Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, which will allow safe passage for ships carrying food from Ukrainian ports.
Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that so far some 1,500 ship trips “have moved more than 21.3 million tons of grain and food products during the initiative, helping to reduce global food prices and stabilize markets.”
The UN arm, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also made an impact during the war, working to protect nuclear facilities in Ukraine that Russian forces seized while shelling around them.
It says it has managed to deploy teams of safety and security experts to nuclear power plants in Ukraine and Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 disaster, “to help reduce the risk of a major nuclear accident during the country’s ongoing conflict”.
Arul Louis He is a New York-based non-resident senior fellow for the Society for Policy Studies, a New Delhi-based think tank.
IPS UN Bureau
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