Monday, 21 February 2011

An amoral perspective on the UN

... Kofi Annan was the first secretary-general to rise from the ranks of the UN bureaucracy. Before he got the top job, he served as head of UN peacekeeping. As his Nobel Prize biography reports, “he was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping at a time when nearly 70,000 military and civilian personnel were deployed in UN operations around the world.”

The Nobel bio neglects to mention that while he was in that post, two of the most shocking episodes in UN history occurred: the Rwanda genocide and the massacre at Srebrenica. In both cases, UN peacekeeping forces were essentially eyewitnesses to genocide. The greatest portion of the blame, of course, goes to the Security Council member states that authorized weak peacekeeping forces incapable of defending civilians and that balked at bolstering them once the bloodletting started. But it is fair to say that Annan’s office did not cover itself in glory.

For all of Ban Ki-moon’s evident shortcomings, at least he doesn’t have that as part of his record...

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