If any doubt remained that the United Nations is in need of drastic reform, it has to have been evaporated by the Security Council’s “activities” since the beginning of Israel’s brutal offensive against the Gaza Strip on December 27. During this time, the council has failed utterly to act in a manner befitting the urgency due a civilian bloodbath, repeatedly delaying action aimed at ending the crisis and initially producing a weak “statement” when a firm resolution was obviously required. Representatives of various member states have alternately sulked and dithered, leaked nasty comments about one another to the media, threatened to walk out, and even sought additional delays. And after a decidedly watery resolution finally was arrived at late Thursday night in New York, both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas leadership dismissed it within hours.
For an organization whose resolutions are known to languish for decades awaiting implementation, wasting a couple of weeks might not have seemed extreme. For the parents of infants dying under Israeli bombs in Gaza, however, every second should have counted, if only to reassure the survivors that someone, somewhere, was working to end their ordeal. And in the end, all they got was a cease-fire call that sounded more like a suggestion than a demand, particularly since the United States – the council’s most powerful member and Israel’s most important ally – abstained on the matter, clearly signaling a green light for the carnage to continue.
The UN was not established so that the strong could oppress the weak at their leisure, safe in the knowledge that the community of nations would do nothing but wash its hands of the affair by issuing a hollow pronouncement made even emptier by the efforts of at least two permanent Security Council members – the US and France – to impose an Israel-friendly “solution” by working outside the body to blackmail the people of Gaza into giving in “or else.” The Security Council cannot do its job if it cannot or will not either take intelligent and ethical decisions or enforce them. As things stand, it has become little more than an official witness designated to count the bodies – and it can’t even do that because the Americans would surely veto anything that provided statistical documentation of the massacre that their allies are perpetrating in Gaza.
If the UN’s senior body cannot be comprehensively reformed, the entire organization will eventually lose all credibility and possibly go the way of its defunct predecessor, the League of Nations. All member states should ponder the aftermath of that episode – and ask who would want to repeat it.