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Here is a short article I wrote a while back that may be of interest to some of you. Cheers, Ken Hanly The Relevance of the United Nations A common argument for enforcing the UN resolution requiring Iraq to disarm is that if this resolution is not enforced the UN will be irrelevant and lose credibility. Critics often respond that dozens of UN resolutions go unheeded and unenforced. In particular, Israel regularly ignores UN resolutions with impunity but the US and its allies do not claim that this renders the UN irrelevant or lacking in credibility. It seems that only when the UN does not enforce resolutions favored by the US and allies that its credibility and relevancy come into question. In response to the above argument some commentators note that there are two types of UN security council resolutions, Chapter VI resolutions dealing primarily with resolution of disputes between parties and Chapter VII resolutions dealing with threats to the peace. The former resolutions typically involve reciprocal obligations without enforcement mechanisms. The latter on the other hand do set out enforcement mechanisms such as sanctions or force. While it is true that Israel has ignored numerous UN resolutions, and many other countries as well, these have been resolutions under Chapter VI. Unlike Chapter VII resolutions these do not authorise sanctions or use of force. The main resolutions that Iraq ignores however authorise both sanctions and the use of force. If Iraq does not disarm are the resolutions authorise sanctions, and require co-operation with UN inspectors,and serious consequences for non-compliance.But this argument is not at all persuasive upon analysis. The reason that there are no Chapter VII resolutions against Israel is that if any ever managed to have majority support the United States would in all likelihood veto them. In fact the United States vetoed resolutions that would have demanded that Israel accept that the fourth Geneva Convention governing the treatment of civilians applied to its behavior in the occupied territories. The US also vetoed resolutions demanding that Israel cease construction of further settlements in occupied territories. Given that the US has vetoed resolutions even under Chapter VI that merely require Israel to follow international law and recognise earlier UN resolutions,it is highly unlikely that they would ever pass any resolutions that actually imposed sanctions or used the threat of force to ensure Israel met obligations imposed by UN resolutions. The distinction between the two types of resolution is a red herriing If the UN acted relevantly and credibly there would be Chaper VII resolutions against Israel as well as Iraq. Instead the US vetoes even Chapter VI resolutions in many cases,and resolutions that are passed are routinely ignored when Israel considers them against its own interests. This disregard of international law and international opinion is of course characteristic of the US as well as Israel. The US ignored a World Court decision against its mining of Nicaraguan harbours. It also violated international law in invading Panama to sieze Noriega. Israelis often complain that their actions in trying to contain terrorism are ones of self-defence by a democratic state and are not to be compared to the acts of a dictator bent on creating weapons of mass destruction. Yet Israel in defiance of international opinion surreptitiously developed weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons. Israel duped US inspectors and certainly did not co-operate. Mordechai Vanunu a former nuclear technician who blew the whistle on Israel's nuclear program, was abucted from Rome, tried secretly in Israel, and placed in solitary confinement for over a decade. But the US and the UN did nothing. Israel is allowed to have weapons of mass destruction but no Arab state is allowed such weapons to defend itself against possible aggression by Israel or other states. If Iraq fires at US or British planes that overfly its territory this is regarded not as defence of sovereignty but violation of obligations under UN resolutions, even though nowhere does any UN resolution explicitly authorise these overflights As understood now,the relevance and credibility of the UN depends upon enforcing resolutions approved of by the US and its allies. The UN's relevance is to further the imperial aims of the US. However, if the UN is to have any credibility as an impartial arbiter and enforcer of international peace,often resolutions enforcing obligations against the will of the US and its allies must be forthcoming. But until the United States loses veto power this is impossible. The UN is and has been for some time to a considerable extent irrelevant and lacking in credibility, but this has absolutely nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with the use of the UN by the US and its allies as an instrument designed primarily to further its imperialist agenda. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk