UN has been captured by enemies of democracy

The worst autocracies tend to hate Israel the most. Unfortunately, they are in the majority


A picture taken on November 27, 2023 shows a heavily damaged UNWRA school after Israeli strikes in the village of Khuzaa, near Abasan east of Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP) (Photo by SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images)

March 05, 2024 15:18

There’s not much that UN secretary-general António Guterres has said since October 7 that is worth paying attention to. This is the man who could not bring himself to use the words Jew or antisemitism in his message for Holocaust Memorial Day in January.

But last week he made a rather profound point — albeit unintentionally. Speaking in Geneva, Guterres said that the UN Security Council’s deadlock over Gaza and Ukraine risked “fatally” undermining its authority. The impasse meant it had been “unable to act” and so needs “serious reform to its composition and working methods”.

Well, yes. His reference to the Security Council being “unable to act” over Gaza was about the US’s veto meaning that the council was prevented from demanding that Israel stop its military action against Hamas. Thanks to Russia’s veto, however, the UN has also been stymied over Ukraine. A classic example, one might say, of two wrongs definitely not making a right.

When he speaks of “serious reform”, Guterres means that the Security Council’s “working methods” need to be changed to give it the freedom to do what he and many other UN members always want to do: give Israel a good kicking with the imprimatur of a Security Council resolution. That the veto prevents them from doing so is unconscionable to them.

Strip away his intention in expressing his frustration with the veto, however, and his point is actually important: the UN’s mechanisms are indeed fundamentally flawed as an arbiter of right and wrong. Anyone who considers the UN such a body is either a fool or part of the edifice itself.

But far worse than that, as we have seen with devastating clarity since October 7 (but which was no less clear before) is the actual practice of how the UN’s various bodies and representatives go about their business.

Most obviously, this means Unrwa (formally the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). For some years the heroic Hillel Neuer of UN Watch has been documenting Unrwa’s links and complicity with Hamas, but the evidence has been largely brushed aside as Unrwa has been considered a “humanitarian organisation” and thus somehow sacred. Since October 7 that evidence has been impossible to ignore, such is the gravity of the organisation’s depravity. It is now established, for example, that between 1,200 to 1,500 employees of Unrwa are members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

In January UN Watch exposed a Telegram chat group of 3,000 Unrwa teachers celebrating October 7. Last month Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant revealed the identities of 12 Unrwa staff who “actively participated” in October 7, along with a further 30 who assisted them. A video shows the dead body of 21-year-old Yonatan Samerano, murdered on October 7, being taken away by an Unrwa social worker driving a SUV with Unrwa licence plates. Two weeks ago the IDF uncovered a network of hundreds of yards of tunnels underneath Unrwa’s Gaza headquarters. Ludicrously, Unrwa said it had no knowledge of them.

The world — or those parts of it not suffused with Jew hate — has woken up to this aspect of the Unrwa’s role and its main funders have now suspended donations, aware at last that their millions have been effectively supporting terror. But Unrwa is merely one part of the UN.

The UN General Assembly regularly passes more resolutions against Israel than against all other countries combined. The UN Human Rights Council has become one of the main vehicles for the promotion of antisemitism, with its standing orders committing it to attacking Israel in every session.

Then there are individuals such as the UN’s special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Francesca Albanese, who has habit of coming out with antisemitic statements such as “America is subjugated by the Jewish lobby” and who reportedly told a Hamas conference last year: “You have a right to resist.”

There are two main issues here. Most immediately, Unrwa has been exposed as institutionally beyond the pale. Its links with Hamas are too substantial and deep to be cleansed. It must be disbanded. Crucially, this does not mean aid to Palestinians must end; quite the opposite. Unrwa’s “hear no evil, see no evil” approach to aid being diverted to Hamas from the Palestinians for whom it was intended has helped cause the current crisis. Bodies such as UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and the World Food Programme, a UN organisation that provides food assistance worldwide, are untainted by links to terrorism and should take over provision.

But there is a deeper problem with the UN itself. Many of its constituent parts have been captured by opponents of liberal democracy itself, and the Security Council is, as Guterres himself has acknowledged, effectively irrelevant. The architecture of the international order needs rebuilding.

March 05, 2024 15:18

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