Then there are the challenges caused by de majeure forces, such as famine if the climate decides to get dry and rough, plus the afflictions of floods and landslides if the same climate decides to be too wet in lands with shaky parts, or even earthquakes.
In each case the humanitarian crises – deaths, damage to human settlements, those rendered homeless and damage to infrastructure – can equally be deep and take years to restore, i.e., if natural disasters do not make it all worse yet again in the following year(s).
That gloomy state of affairs on earth and the dire circumstances it sets up is exacerbated by the devious and disingenuous open foreign policy stance and interventions of powerful countries such as the United States and Russia. The foreign policy moves of Britain and France are more covert yet no less dangerous or less devious. Thus they cause or encourage wars in different parts of the world if that will enhance their foreign policy objectives. Where a powerful leader rises in certain country and that leader cares about his or her people more than the interests of those rich countries, those (the latter) countries use all sorts of covert means, including even a coup d’état, to remove him or her.
Against such background, Annan’s term was or is not any different from that of any other Secretary-Generals, i.e., those before and after him. As a global leader, therefore, what makes the difference is a Secretary-General’s vision for the welfare of humankind, and his strength of character and stance against countries that are bullies in the global arena. In terms of vision the global leader is free to lead the UN to set goals to fight general and particular problems in all parts of the world. Thus Annan led the United Nations to set the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of policies and programmes designed with the aim of addressing common problems that plague human societies irrespective of location on earth.
Yet, the still greater challenge was or is the insistence by the rich countries on a means of one policy-programme fits all; i.e., even though observant world leaders and analysts of global affairs have spoken for the more effective same policy but different programme to suit local conditions in each country. The long and short of it all is that it is the same rich countries that pay for the UN programmes used to work to attain the goals (MDGs or SDGs) who insist on the less effective way to solving the problems.
In a nutshell, a UN Secretary-General is a leader who can take all decisions except the ones that really matter. Because generally even where an issue is brought before the General Assembly of all nations and the Assembly votes for and issues a resolution for a course of action, all it takes to nullify that decision and ground the entire UN Organisation is for one of the five countries that control the Security Council – France, US, China, Russia and Britain – to veto the resolution.
Two classic cases will show the situation perfectly. One is the protracted ineffectiveness of the UN to stop the current state of Israel from carrying out mass human rights violations and crimes against humanity against the state (or people) of Palestine; simply because Britain, US and France back the former. Then when Russia invaded and took Crimea all the other rich countries did was to simply complain; as the others also only talk about Israel’s violations.
Thus by the time Annan retired, the UN had generally made modest gains at attaining the MDGs, all kinds of wars were raging in different parts of the world and humanitarian crises were pervasive. For the MDGs, there were very vast differences among countries in terms of the attainment of each goal and in specific countries some goals were attained way ahead of others. (Here, of course, some conditions in specific countries were also instrumental in the way things turned out.)
Dealing with a Bully
One of the cases used by Western countries, particularly the US and media in that country, to mark Annan zero or even negative percent is the Rwanda genocide. Over a period of three months in 1994, over half a million to a million Tutsis were reportedly slaughtered in a horrific system of ethnic cleansing by Hutus.
According to information available on Wikipedia, “In 2003, retired Canadian General, Roméo Dallaire, who was force commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, claimed that Annan was overly passive in his response to the imminent genocide. In his book Shake Hands (2003), Dallaire asserted that Annan held back UN troops from intervening to settle the conflict, and from providing more logistical and material support. Dallaire claimed that Annan failed to provide responses to his repeated faxes asking for access to a weapons depository; such weapons could have helped Dallaire defend the endangered Tutsis.”
The information continues thus: “In 2004, ten years after the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed, Annan said, ‘I could and should have done more to sound the alarm and rally support.’ In his book Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, Annan again argued that the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations could have made better use of the media to raise awareness of the violence in Rwanda and put pressure on governments to provide the troops necessary for an intervention. Annan explained that the events in Somalia and the collapse of the UNOSOM II mission fostered a hesitation amongst UN Member states to approve robust peacekeeping operations. As a result, when the UNAMIR mission was approved just days after the battle, the resulting force lacked the troop levels, resources and mandate to operate effectively”.
In saying he could and should have done more and that the UN could have used the media to raise awareness are indications of a man who is taking responsibility for what happened, since he is the leader of the United Nations. Yet one does not need to read in between the lines – even from Annan’s statement quoted above – to see that the very tight control rich countries maintain on the United Nations was actually responsible for the UN’s hesitation that allowed the killings to happen. The question then is: Is General Dallaire saying he did not know how the global political-economy worked (or works) and how the UN, in terms of effectiveness, is situated in that context?
(To be cont’d next Monday)
“…What makes the difference is a Secretary-General’s vision for the welfare of humankind, and his strength of character and stance against countries that are bullies in the global arena.”
“…It is the same rich countries that pay for the UN programmes used to work to attain the goals (MDGs or SDGs) who insist on the less effective way to solving the problems.”
“Is General Dallaire saying he did not know how the global political-economy worked (or works) and how the UN, in terms of effectiveness, is situated in that context?”
By: Ti-Kelenkelen YirenkyiLamptey