Thursday, December 13, 2007

The UN has come to be seen as a tool of the West

By Adrian Hamilton
The Independent

"......In other parts of the world, however, the UN is no longer regarded in this benign light. Indeed, in a substantial part of the developing world it has come to seem an instrument of western oppression and US hegemony – a club of the big boys intent on bullying smaller countries in the interests of Washington and its European allies.

When al-Qa'ida blew up the UN offices in Iraq in 2003, killing its envoy, it was trying to drive the outside world away and make sure that nations hesitated to support the US and Britain in the occupation (in this it was, in fact, brutally successful). When al-Qa'ida North Africa, as the militant group now calls itself, blew up the UNHCR offices in Algiers, it was to show that it too had the power and determination to bring down a symbol of western presence.

Iraq has much to do with this change in perceptions. Of course, the UN had been attacked elsewhere before the invasion took place. But Washington's decision to press ahead with occupation regardless showed to much of the Muslim world both the UN's powerlessness and the extent to which it was regarded as a tool of the US, not an independent source of global governance. The rest of the world has been brought up to believe that the security role of the UN was to keep a peace already agreed. Now it saw that the UN was being pushed to impose a peace on terms dictated from outside.

The trouble with denying this and protesting the UN's innocence is that the Third World perception of it as an instrument of the West has some basis to it. If you take the Middle East, the succession of resolutions on Palestine, never implemented and almost universally ignored, the relent tless pinioning of Saddam Hussein through sanctions and then enforced regime-change, the current pursuit of Iran through sanctions and threat, are all seen expressions not of international concern but western self-interest. And the same is true of much of Africa, where the blue helmet has come to represent western ideas of order rather than local concerns for justice......"

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