Tuesday, September 16, 2008

an even-handed UN; hope for the World,

Even handed truly representative international institutions in the twenty first century?

an even-handed UN; hope for the World,

hope for peace and security in a dangerous age

International institutions create the image of an era of even-handed international justice in all fields- economic, political, cultural, military... etc. Sadly the reality is far removed from this noble dream.

We, the people, must never be complacent, we must continuously and patiently strive for the mechanisms that create and protect impartiality ingrained in the charters of these fundamentally important international institutions.

Are these all important international institutions truly representative. Do they have the mechanism to receive balanced multi-sided input about problems and crises and would-be problems and crises ? Do they have mechanisms to listen to the deprived, underprivileged and dispossessed ? Do they have mechanisms to listen to the case of those isolated by disempowerment and/or by politica, economic, technological and/or cultural barriers or a priori prejudices, that impede their expression and communication of their case and their cause ?

Are international bodies, in common with the new universal human plight, enclosed in unitary, and inevitably distorted, input via information systems, mass media and news agencies shaping and disseminating information in a selective way according to some obvious and some not so obvious inherent bias and clandestine dynamics ?

Superficially it seems as though we have a pluralistic world supervised by international mechanisms for ensuring justice, peace and non-violent conflict resolution. We can not afford to be complacent. We strive perpetually to get nearer and nearer to that ideal. Why then the eruptions, the explosions, the rising tide of violence, counter-violence and national and international terrorism if all forces have legitimate platforms to communicate and air their grievances on a national and international platform?

We all now pay lip service to the concept of representative government.

Are the international bodies that will more and more be called upon to act as international arbitrators, and international legitimacy protectors, are these bodies truly representative? Are the world institutions and is the machinery we are building to keep the peace, representative, balanced, even-handed and fair? Are they through representation and impartiality generating the necessary moral authority and moral pressure towards the emergence of representative governments within all nations and for all cultures ?

On deep scrutiny the question arises: is the process of international government becoming a sort of club of the powerful, whose interests matter first and foremost regardless ? A club ignoring the legitimate aspirations, needs and reality of those who are different, weaker or voiceless. What is the place of the “other” in that World Order? Someone eloquently summarised attitude of the great powers as:

"our behaviour is exemplary we respect human rights we play by the rules as long as we are winning!!".

The great powers have been the first to break the rules and to trample on the United Nations and ignore security council resolutions when their interests are threatened anywhere. The powerful unabashedly operate a hidden agenda that makes nonsense of the fine and noble in dreams that humanity had entertained after the incredible tragedy and massacres of the 20th century and the hope for the qualitatively different 21st century.

Some claim that since the US and its Western allies hold the greatest shares in the corporate company "the world" then it is natural that they should be the decision makers and that the decisions should reflect their interests before any other.

The important question is whether this view is in the best interests of the rich and powerful ? Sadly the dynamics of in the modern world has no place for long-term strategic visionaries. Political decision-making is totally imprisoned in the dynamics of power and in the dynamics of winning the next election regardless of the long-term interests of the society which will perform the particular elections. The brand of new modern politicians are inherently shortsighted and unable to make "unpopular" decisions even if that is in the long-term interests of their own country and of humanity at large. Modern-day politicians have cottoned on another a wonderful power and dynamic which had been discovered since the mid-30s in Europe namely working up of public panic which is a process that has proved itself a reliable and consistently successful process to allow politicians more power and a freer hand and to terrify the population from forcing change or from insisting on their rights even when change is badly needed.

Do these dynamics generating and maintaining short sighted views and the remedies that never go beyond the palliative or the cosmetic, not contradict profoundly with the long term interests of these powers ?

I believe more and more strategists in the US and the West will see that it is in their long term interest to work together towards interactive pluralism rather than unitary dominance. The attraction of the "American century" is very great but there is no doubt that a multilateral world is much safer and in the long-term much more prosperous or everybody than a world dominated by a unilateral power drunk with its own supremacy.

That the hegemony of the dominant supreme power posture has generated a long list of de-stabilising double standards does not seem to worry holders of that corporate company view. The euphoria of supreme hegemony as is obvious to everybody has created much more problems than it has solved. The cost in human and in canonic terms has been enormous to say nothing of the back ground level of violence that has increased almost universally.

That the confidence of millions of frustrated "other" world members, in international bodies and international justice, should become progressively thinned and eroded does not seem to be linked with the progressive violence that threatens all and in the end is deeply counter to the interest of the major share holders in ‘corporate company world’ as the proponents of the hypothesis call it.

In recent times inconsistent standards of the UN and parallel international bodies under direct or indirect control of the great powers have caused great disappointment in the hearts of millions of “other” members of the world community aspiring for justice and equity and for effective international mechanisms to help them move towards these worthy goals.

Examples come to mind like :

Ignoring the atrocities of regimes against their own people for decades and awakening suddenly to make an international issue of the atrocities -and human rights- when it is expedient to do so as in the case of Kuwait, Iraq and the Kurds. A blind eye is then cast anew on old, current and new atrocities. Some come to the inescapable conclusion that the determining factor/s, have less to do with justice and/or human rights of the "other", and more to do with a hidden agenda involving the interests of the “powerful”.

The transformation of a workers protest movement in Gdansk into an international issue adopted by all powers including the pope, while ignoring -or acting in a disbalanced and selective way- similar and parallel movements protesting human rights violations in many other countries in the middle east, Africa, North and South America, Asia and in the former colonies.

The double standards in relation to human rights in Poland, China and former Eastern block countries as compared to human rights in countries whose dictators and abusers aligned themselves in service of the great-power camp, in certain parts of Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia.

One area engenders extreme "concern" another is responded to with indifference and disregard.

It is as though the "human rights" issue is transformed into a political weapon to be used ad lib according to the interest of the dominant Western powers. That of course undermines credibility and undermines the much needed sense of belonging which we need to engender in the new world-citizens all over the globe.

The arms trade and the condoning or casting a blind eye on billions of dollars worth of national or aid money in developing countries channeled directly or indirectly to buy modern and hyper-modern weapons for these non-modern countries under the totalitarian control of non-representative minorities whose illegitimate hold on power becomes deeper and more permanent thanks to these arms that are out of synch with their country’s socio-political development.

The casting of a blind eye on human rights abuses arising from inhuman economic transformations taking place without transparency or accountability etc. in parallel with the human rights abuses by friendly dictators and "strong men", who control their peoples, protect them from communism and deliver the goods.

The very revealing stance of the Western powers towards nuclear non-proliferation in the first instance there is the amazing assumptions that the West is the one and only reference point so that it alone has the right to feel threatened about so-called rogue states possessing nuclear weapons. In the egocentric stance that does not carry the slightest indication of awareness that other countries indeed the whole of humanity should and could and does feel threatened by the enormous sellers of life extinction weapons that the great powers possess in overkill abundance!

There is in the middle of this double standards dilemma complete blindness as to how Middle Eastern countries feel towards the fact that Israel has an enormous arsenal of atomic weapons and means to deliver them anywhere. An Israeli leader recently threatened in public to turn Iran into a radioactive desert. Why was this very substantiated threat not seen as a legitimate cause for anxiety and reaction in ‘other’ countries that have every right to be worried and concerned? Why did the mass media and information media gloss over this very real and serious threat when they made such capital of Nagad’s typical hot air threat of wiping out Israel and Israel in the biliary and none hot air! threat of wiping out Iran. Nagad’s Eastern type threat! was made capital of over days and weeks and months all over the mass media and information networks. The statement was taken up by the American president by Senators by everybody with any weight in Washington and in the West. The counter statement and threats, which, experience and understanding of cultures, make it much more credible and threatening was and is still being ignored. In fact the ground is being prepared for some strike against Iran. The public is being slowly modulated (the manufacture of consent) in such a way that a public opinion should start seeing as desirable and necessary the initiation of yet another war in the Middle East, thinking quite erroneously, that this is the best way to ensure the safety of Israel.

Why are countries in the Middle East denied their rights to feel threatened by an atomic arsenal at their doorstep? While the West threatens to plunge the whole area into a hot and deadly war with no holds barred and with tactical and strategic ‘atomic weapons’ threats, all because Iran is working on uranium enrichment? Is this the evenhandedness that will bring us security and peace? Remembering that Iran when treated with due respect and sensitivity did show full readiness to co-operate with international bodies to ensure the peaceful direction of her nuclear programme. A shortcut across these terrible and dangerous cobwebs is for the U. N. backed by the great powers to declare the Middle East a nuclear free zone and to have the courage, vision and determination to implement that declaration on everybody.

When after the tragedy of 9/11 the US president warns that the UN could become another League of Nations failing to keep the peace, any neutral observer will be aware that the US administration is really threatening to push the UN into the same abyss that the League of Nations slid into, the warning reflects a frightening determination to flout and to over-rule the UN. The moral authority of the UN is of vital importance and it does not stem from arms or guns alone or from the ability to deploy troops. The weight of the U. N. as a world authority stems from adherence to a single standard and to the noble idea of justice and human rights for all. I keep remembering the wise words of Kofi Enan "if globalisation does not work for everyone in the end it shall work for no one". If US. and great power unilateralism should push the United Nations into becoming an ineffectual bystander in world affairs and in rampant injustices everywhere, history -if there would be any history left!- will diagnose the culprits in the tragedy, as the leaders of the great powers failing to adopt truly neutral stances and to consistently adopt the balanced, just and non-doublestandards policies worthy of that great international body and worthy of these great lead nations being the most powerful and most prosperous and technologically advanced nations of the 21st century. The UN is a body that can, needs and must survive not through selfish ego-centrism but through the unstoppable moral authority of justice and non-selective respect for the human rights of all. Robbed by great power-short-sightedness of that moral authority The UN our last hope is likely to be flouted by a mounting number of nations heading for the fate of the failed League of Nations and for unpredictable but fully preventable disasters and catastrophe and conflagration.

Tarek Ali Hassan

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doctor, teacher at university and musician, composer dramatist committed all my life to health and resolution through expression/communication and the marriage of art and science in the service of that miracle LIFE and that even rarer miracle the conscious HUMAN BEING. DO VISIT MY WEBSITE: www.tarekalihassan.org