Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 21.09.2017
The United Nations is the world’s last chance for peace. Winthrop and Frances Neilson gave their book published in 1975 that title: “The United Nations: The World’s Last Chance for Peace” (A Mentor Book, The New American Library). The UN has had moments of triumph, such as when it confronted North Korea’s aggression against South Korea in 1950, when Trygvy Lie was Secretary-General. The UN has had moments of abject failure, such as when it failed to confront Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014, when Ban Ki-Moon (ironically a South Korean) was Secretary-General. If the United Nations is to survive as the world’s last chance for peace, it must expel Russia for as long as it is invading UN Charter Member Ukraine. If it does not, the UN will go the way of the League of Nations, into the dustbin of history.
The United Nations is at a very low point because international war has returned to Europe, with Putin’s War. The first words of the preamble of the UN Charter says the peoples of the United Nations are “determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.” The scourge of war has returned to Europe. The cause of it, Russia, prevents the United Nations from saving Europeans in Ukraine from that scourge.
To put things right again at the UN, start by calling out Russia for its aggression. On September 19, President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, said in her speech to the General Assembly that “we must stop being passive observers and start calling things by their own names.” She ‘called a spade a spade’ and talked about the greatest threat to world peace, which is Russia. President Grybauskaitė said: “Despite Russia's special responsibility to protect international peace as permanent member of the Security Council, it violated the UN Charter by attacking Georgia, illegally annexing Crimea, and directly participating in the war in Eastern Ukraine. [The] Kremlin's arsenal does not stop at conventional weapons. Russia continues to meddle in elections, conducts cyber-attacks and uses its ‘sputniks’ to spread fake news and destabilizing propaganda.” Lithuania is a front line state to aggressor Russia. A small country like Lithuania will do everything in its power to defend itself, but it will only find true security in international organizations that are effective instruments of peace. The United Nations should be such an effective instrument, but it is not.
On September 20, in his speech to the General Assembly, President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, also ‘called a spade a spade.’ He told the delegates things they all knew very well but were not saying. He reminded the delegates that Russia had invaded Ukraine, was committing gross violations of human rights, was responsible for the deaths on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, had killed over 10,000 Ukrainians, had destroyed about 20% of the Ukrainian economy, and was persecuting the Crimean Tatars to the extent of ethnic cleansing. President Poroshenko zeroed in on how the United Nations had become a sick perversion of itself because it had allowed Russia to become and to remain a permanent member of the Security Council. He said: “Just think about it. Stealing other nations’ land… kidnapping people… conducting a hidden war…downing a civilian aircraft… spreading lies globally – is this the kind of behaviour we expect from a permanent Security Council member? Russia is not a contributor to international security, but its biggest threat. Today Russia is, perhaps, the only country in the world that has conflicts – hot, frozen or potential – with almost all its neighbours.” The General Assembly is not as fundamentally corrupt as the Security Council, because Russia has just one vote out of 193 there. The General Assembly resoundingly condemned Russia’s so-called ‘annexation’ of Crimea on 27 March 2014. The UN will never give invader Russia the words it wants to hear about its aggression in Europe. President Poroshenko warned the General Assembly not to be deceived by Putin’s latest attempt to consolidate his conquests, which took the form of his ‘UN peacekeeping’ proposal. President Poroshenko said: “Russia tries to exchange peace in Ukraine for Ukraine’s freedom. Ukraine will never accept that kind of a deal, nor will the international community.”
Ukraine is subject to unlawful and unjustified aggression by Russia, and it is entitled to protection from the United Nations in the same way South Korea was protected 1950. It doesn’t get it because the invader of Ukraine, Russia, wrongly holds a veto in the United Nations Security Council.
The Russian Federation is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council because a tragic mistake was made by the other four permanent members in 1991: they let Muscovy call itself “Russia” and they uncritically accepted its claim to be the successor state of the Soviet Union. Only this one republic out of the 15 former constituent republics was considered for the permanent seat that rightfully belonged only to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. As the USSR was defunct, the permanent seat that was established in 1945 should have been abolished in 1991. Another mistake that was made in the early 1990s is that only the Russian Federation was allowed to keep nuclear weapons; Ukraine and Kazakhstan were disarmed. The result of these two mistakes is that Russia became a country that was no longer a Great Power in any other respect other than that it had a lot of nuclear weapons. Neighbours of Russia who who lost their status as nuclear powers were bullied by Russia and called by the Kremlin the ‘near abroad.’ When Russia invaded and occupied its neighbours (Georgia and Ukraine so far, under the Putin regime) it used its illegitimately held veto power in the UN Security Council to stop the United Nations from doing anything to restore peace or the territorial integrity of these United Nations member states.
A new session of the United Nations General Assembly has begun. On the agenda is reform of the Security Council. Taking away the Security Council permanent seat from Russia, and the veto power that goes with it, is absolutely essential if the United Nations is to survive in any way as an international organization for peace. The UN Security Council has been reformed twice before: the People’s Republic of China replaced Taiwan in China’s seat in 1971 – this was the right move, because the People’s Republic of China is a Great Power and Taiwan is not; Muscovy as “the Russian Federation” usurped the USSR’s seat in 1991 – this was a disastrous move, because Muscovy is not Russia or the USSR, and it will never be a Great Power. The UN Security Council must accurately reflect the actual power structure of the world if it is to be an effective instrument of world peace. The world changes, and so must the Security Council. When Russia is kicked out, then the United Nations will once again be effective as the world’s last chance for peace.