By Aditi Roy
The United Nations was founded in 1945 at the end of WWII as a replacement for the failed League of Nations. Its purpose was to maintain international peace and security, establish international cooperation amongst member nations in order to promote equal rights and solve international problems, and be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations within it to achieve a common goal. Under the guise of “trying to maintain international peace,” the U.N. failed to prevent 100 million deaths from Communist regimes during the Cold War, which killed more people than WWI and WWII combined. It did nothing to intervene when we were on the brink of nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It has routinely ignored human rights violations of its member states since its creation.
The U.N. also failed to put an end to the more recent genocides at the end of the 20th century. When Pakistan murdered three million Bangladeshis and displaced eight to ten million Hindus during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, the U.N.’s international tribunal never bothered to investigate the matter. In 1988, while efforts to end the Iraq-Iran War took place, U.N. Security Council Resolution 598 was adopted unanimously and called for Iran and Iraq to end all combat operations. While both countries accepted the resolution, Iraq led a bloody campaign against the Kurds in Northern Iraq. The Kurdish genocide claimed two hundred thousand lives, which the U.N. recognized twenty five years too late. During the 1993 Bosnian war, the U.N. designated Srebrenica as a safe zone for the Muslim Bosniaks that were being targeted for ethnic cleansing by the Serbs. U.N. Security Council Resolution 819 was adopted to disarm the Bosniaks in Srebrenica in exchange for protection by the ill-equipped U.N. peacekeeping forces, afterwhich the Serbs would give up their heavy weapons within the demilitarized zones. Instead, the Bosniaks were left completely defenseless when the Serbs surrounded the safe zone. Despite the presence of U.N. peacekeeping forces, the camp was invaded while the Serbs murdered over 8,300 people. The Serb forces killed and tortured refugees. At the same time, they raped and murdered women. In addition to these brutal actions, they slaughtered children right in front of the U.N. peacekeepers who did nothing to end the violence.
The Rwandan genocide occurred after the Bosnian genocide. Before the genocide, the Hutu extremists in Rwanda tested the U.N. peacekeeping troops’ security responsibility by murdering 40 Tutsis, to which the U.N. did not respond. The U.N. was well aware that the extremist Hutus had taken over the government and had ordered Rwandans to murder their Tutsi and moderate Hutu neighbors, yet refused to send more soldiers and ammunition to the area. In 100 days, Hutu extremists had murdered over 800,000 people. As the Tutsi opposition forces were advancing in Rwanda, the extremists fled to the nearby town of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Instead of assisting the hundreds of thousands of Tutsis back in Rwanda who lost their homes and their loved ones, the outpour of these “refugees” flooding into Goma received massive media attention and became one of the best funded humanitarian operations in the world. Over $1.5 billion was raised to help the Hutu extremists flee Rwanda and set up camp in Goma. Over there, they were able to supplement their militias with stolen aid supplies from within the camp and increase their weapons supplies to the point where Hutu leaders were able to have weapons flown into Goma from abroad. Then, Congolese President Mobutu Sese Seko convinced the U.N. to allow his own guards to protect the camps. The U.N. agreed, and as a result the Congolese guards were able to supplement their U.N. salaries by theft and extortion from inhabitants within the camp. Africa’s first “World War” took place in 1998 between six countries and took over five million lives, for which a U.N. peace accord was signed in 2002. However, all parties involved continue to violate the contract.
On top of ignoring genocides or making them worse, the U.N. has a long history of sexual abuse of local women by its peacekeeping forces. According to U.N. officials and outside observers, peacekeeping forces have engaged in sexual misconduct in almost every U.N. mission. The scandals have overshadowed the U.N. since the 1990s. At the time, U.N. peacekeeping forces had engaged in sexually abusing girls in Cambodia and fathered an estimated 24,500 babies. In Liberia, girls as young as 12 were forced into prostitution by U.N. peacekeepers, who fathered an estimated 6,600 babies in exchange for commodities such as food. Sexual abuse of minors were reported in Namibia, Burundi, East Timor, South Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Bosnia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Haiti, U.N. peacekeepers sexually exploited hundreds of women and children in exchange for basic needs, food, or money. One-third of these victims were minors under 18. In cases where women would not get paid, they would keep the badges of the soldiers and threaten to expose their identity online via social media. In the Central African Republic, instead of protecting children, U.N. soldiers raped and sodomized starving homeless boys as young as nine years old. After the U.N. entered areas such as Cambodia, Bosnia, and Sudan, the amount of sex trafficking and sexual abuse cases skyrocketed. The U.N.’s response to all of the heinous crimes committed by their own workers was to deny, cover up, or ignore any such reports. Instead, the U.N. published a report in 2015 on cyber violence and claimed that cyber violence against women was equivalent to physical violence. Apparently trying to escape rape by a U.N. peacekeeping soldier is the exact same thing as turning off the computer to escape cyberbullying from internet trolls. If only the U.N. paid as much attention to “survivor of cyber violence” Anita Sarkeesian as the children fathered by its own forces.
In August 2016, the U.N. admitted to its role in spreading the cholera epidemic to Haiti that killed nearly 10,000 people. After the 2010 Haitian earthquake left over 220,000 people dead, a cholera outbreak was introduced to the island by U.N. peacekeepers. Over 800,000 have been infected with cholera, making it the worst cholera epidemic in recent history. After the U.N. received a petition for compensation from over 5,000 victims of the disease, it responded by invoking its immunity from lawsuits under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
Perhaps the worst financial scandal in the history of the U.N. occurred during the 1995 Oil for Food Programme, which was established under U.N. Security Council Resolution 986. It was a $60 billion project that was supposed to help Iraq sell its oil in exchange for food and basic necessities through the U.N. without breaking the conditions of its sanctions by Kuwait. A list of top U.N. officials were exposed by an Iraqi newspaper for making a profit off of illegally selling Iraqi oil. Large amounts of funds were pocketed by private parties, some of which were being used to buy influence from within the U.N. United States investigators found that $13.6 billion worth of oil had been sold by Saddam Hussein to neighboring states and breached the terms of the sanctions.
Given the world’s current political climate, it is safe to say that the U.N. is failing at every single purpose that it was created to resolve. The United States currently provides $8B to the U.N. annually, which is more than the next 185 countries combined. We bankroll 22% of its entire budget, but according to the U.N. it’s still not enough because we don’t pay our fair share of the world economy. In 2012, the world’s richest country per capita, Qatar, was considered a “developing nation” by the U.N. yet contributed $3.5 million to the U.N. budget that year. Meanwhile, Qatar had no problem bankrolling bin Laden or sending millions of dollars per month to fund jihadists in Al-Qaeda, Syria, Iraq, and more recently ISIS. The U.N. has been incredibly successful in combating Qatar’s state sponsored terrorism and modern day slave labor of migrant workers with its grand total of zero security resolutions condemning Qatar. Instead of trying to end state sponsored terrorism or preventing Kim Jong Un from launching nuclear weapons and terrorizing his own people, the U.N. Security Council has adopted at least 130 resolutions against Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East. According to Alan Dershowitz, the U.N. has turned a blind eye to the state-sponsored terrorism within the Palestinian refugee camps, which are funded by the U.N.
Given all of the failures of the U.N. to uphold its mission statement and ineffectiveness in accomplishing peace and stability in many parts of the world, the logical mode of action would be for the U.S. to defund the United Nations. After all, it costs many greenbacks for the U.S. to keep funding the U.N. We were duped into joining the U.N. in the first place in 1945 by U.S. Secretary General and convicted Soviet spy Alger Hiss. Now, the majority of U.N. member states are not even free democracies and participate in flagrant human rights violations. However, they still get to lecture free nations on how to improve human rights. The U.S. has no reason to keep pouring billions of dollars into such a failed organization. According to the latest Gallup poll, 54% of Americans believed that the U.N. was doing a poor job in problem solving, whereas 38% responded that the U.N. was doing a good job and 8% had no opinion.
Seventy one years and half a trillion dollars later, the U.N. has failed to put an end to murderous regimes, genocides, sexual abuse scandals and corruption within its ranks and state-sponsored terrorism. At least the U.N. will still host pompous Hollywood celebrities to provide their expertise in telling world leaders how to fight terrorism!
International Commission Of Jurists, The Events In Pakistan: A Legal Study By The Secretariat Of The International Commission Of Jurists 9 (1972), p. 56–57., cited in S. Linton, ‘Completing the circle: accountability for the crimes of the 1971 Bangladesh war of liberation’, Criminal Law Forum (2010) 21:191–311, p. 243.
Black, George (July 1993). Genocide in Iraq: the Anfal campaign against the Kurds (PDF). New York: Human Rights Watch. ISBN 1-56432-108-8. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
Crisis Caravan by Linda Pollman