“Are you ready to close the U.N.?”
Some might be, sure. Especially now. But that’s probably every bit as likely as “reform” at Turtle Bay, and Volodymyr Zelensky knows it.
The embattled president of Ukraine challenged the United Nations Security Council this morning to either act against Russia in defense of its own mission or “dissolve yourself altogether,” a stinging rebuke over the lack of action from the UN. If they cannot enforce their principles with one of its founding members, Zelensky argued, then perhaps the UN should stop wasting everyone’s time:
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Tuesday described horrific war crimes he said Russian troops had committed as he gave a virtual speech to the United Nations Security Council, which he said had proved to be powerless to stop the war and needed to be reformed.
“Are you ready to close the U.N.?” Mr. Zelensky asked. “Do you think that the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.” …
“Now the world can see what the Russian military did in Bucha, but the world has yet to see what it has done in other parts of our country,” Mr. Zelensky said.
“Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee?” he asked. “It’s not there.”
Zelensky wants the Security Council to expel Russia from its founding-member seat on the UNSC. Failing that, and with Russian imperial expansion and genocidal ambitions clear, what’s the point of having a “security” council, Zelensky wondered:
Zelenskyy urged the Security Council to remove Russia, which is a permanent member of the council, “as an aggressor and a source of war so it cannot block decisions about its own aggression.”
Or, he said, the UN’s security body can “dissolve” and reform entirely.
“If there is no alternative and no option, then the next option would be dissolve yourself altogether,” Zelenskyy said.
It’s easy to dismiss this as righteous indignation from a wronged party, but the argument itself stands on its own. What purpose does the “Security” Council fill if its permanent members can start destabilizing wars, especially those of genocidal ambition and filled with deliberate war crimes against non-combatants? This isn’t the only context in which that question could have been asked, either, although the wars in Iraq don’t fall under that category; in both cases, the US and its allies acted to enforce existing UN and UNSC demands, even if one can argue that we did so foolishly and/or without proper support. The US-UK attack on Moammar Qaddafi’s government would be a better example, predicated on a “responsibility to protect” that hadn’t even been addressed by the UN, and which set off a refugee crisis that arguably resulted in Brexit and definitely resulted in a failed terror state where Libya once stood. And that was after Qaddafi had cooperated with Western demands for compliance with UN-based non-proliferation demands and given up its nascent nuclear weapons program, too.
In fact, so did Ukraine for that matter. Do you think Iran might take a couple of lessons from that track record?
Zelensky might have intended this as a gut check for the UN, but they’ve had plenty of gut checks in the past and didn’t do anything except pass gas. That’s almost certainly going to be the result here as well. Even if the UNSC put together a proposal to strip Russia of the old Soviet Union’s permanent seat and veto power, China would ensure that it goes nowhere. For one thing, Xi Jinping is aligning with Vladimir Putin in an attempt to get an Asian economic counterweight to the West that Beijing would clearly control. For another, Xi is also conducting a flat-out genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and would hardly allow this precedent to be set at the UN Security Council.
The only way this works would be if the UNSC and the UN dissolved itself. Then perhaps we could form a “league of democracies,” perhaps an enhanced version of NATO in terms of global security, and make the divisions clear rather than maintain the fantasy of a “United” nations. However, since the UN suits the tastes of the Western elite, don’t expect any sort of move in that direction or any reform that has any meaning at all.
Here’s Zelensky laying it on the line with the UN Security Council. Earlier, I wrote that Zelensky’s appearance here would humiliate Putin, but it reality it’s humiliating every member of the UNSC.