Tensions escalating into violent clashes:
Almost two weeks have passed since the tensions between Israel and Palestine yet again escalated into violent clashes. The death toll reports at least 192 in the Gaza strip, including 58 children and 34 women. In what seems to be a continuing intensification of the conflict, countries around the world have spoken out, condemning the recent violence and expressing the importance of finding a solution in a diplomatic manner.
With differing interests, some countries justify Israel’s approach, whereas others propagate action in solidarity with the Palestinians. Given the importance of approaching this conflict collectively rather than individually, countries rely on the United Nations to take appropriate measures aiming at condemnation of the conflict and its swift resolution.
The failure of the United Nations:
Unfortunately, it would seem that the UN has once again failed to make a change on any degree and it is not a surprise. The U.N. Security Council had a virtual meeting on Sunday with the purpose of addressing the conflict and finding an agreement over the best course of action. The U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his concerns by saying how violence will continue and spiral out of control if a cease-fire is not reached soon, appealing to all concerned parties to hear his call of armistice. Apart from a mutual agreement that violence has to end, Security Council members were unable to agree on anything more. Although the council did draft a statement according to which they denounced the killing of civilians and urged both sides to cease fire, the draft was never officially released. The United States, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, refused to support the statement given that it has power of veto alongside the rest of the permanent members (Russia, China, France, United Kingdom). US diplomats argued how UN intervention might have harmful repercussions to the United State’s “behind-the-scenes” efforts of ending the violence. Once again the U.N., which is responsible for preserving global peace and security, demonstrated its inability to take initiative.
A pattern of failure:
More than 3 years ago, the United Nations was dealing with three major issues which were not new, but had rather been on their agenda for a while. Firstly, tensions between the west and North Korea have been rising in the last several years and potential nuclear confrontation had to be promptly dealt with. Around the same time came an uprising in the Democratic Republic of Congo which has been a victim of constant internal crisis, even to this day. Lastly, the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital which contradicted the U.N. stance. To this day, all three issues remain unsolved, showing the U.N. inability to fulfill one of its essential duties. Consequently, Gowan describes the U.N.’s brilliance not as an organization which settles disputes and crises quickly, but rather as an entity which prolongs unresolvable issues in order to minimize overall political and human damage.
There is no denying that the structure and mechanism behind all supra-national bodies, including the U.N, is complex and thus impossible to point out a single issue, when in fact there are many of them. However, this does not justify their poor responsiveness to the situation. The United Nations is unique and powerful, yet it heavily relies on the traditional support from different governments.
Humans learn from experience and all international organisations were founded on a relatively similar premise – never to repeat the mistakes from the past. The United Nations came about after the atrocity that was the Second World War and it is perhaps the greatest social product in terms of maintaining peace and harmony. It is time, therefore, that it releases itself from the traditional slow-paced bureaucracy and prioritises human lives over political and economic interests of concerned parties.