Contradictions regarding human rights and the exploitation of oppression emanating from the United Nations have culminated in Ban Ki-moon’s statement regarding the death of Ariel Sharon. Mingling sadness and glorification, the UN Secretary-General stuck to the imperialist strategy of obliterating the effects of Sharon’s policies endured by Palestinians. Pain is instead attributed to “the historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip”, treating the strategy as a definite epilogue and failing to bring into consideration the repercussions faced by Palestinians in Gaza due to the subsequent Israel blockade. Furthermore, the statement reiterates the UN’s “commitment to work alongside the Government and the people of Israel for peace and security”.
A hypothetical state of Palestine is also included within the statement, albeit divesting Palestinians of any decision-making in the process. Ban calls upon the colonising power to work towards the establishment of “an independent and viable Palestinian state”, ensuring Israel’s supremacy in deciding the improbable bequest of a right to the people it has oppressed for decades.
Through Ban’s statement as a recent expression of willingly capitulating to imperialist propaganda, the emblematic human rights organisation may be viewed within two contrasting frameworks which aid in shaping the contradiction between its alleged adherence to human rights and the sanctioning of human rights violations. Commonly cited is the UN’s ineffectiveness in influencing political outcomes as most of its functions and powers are based upon issuing recommendations and resolutions which are generally non-binding. Hence, the organisation can attempt a simulation of protecting human rights while absolving itself of blame due to its limitations in enforcing its decisions.
Conversely, the same ineffectiveness may be viewed as complicity in endorsing human rights violations, due to the manipulation of the organisation by imperialist powers. Utilising the endorsement of ambiguities such as impartiality, equality and peace in order to divert attention from the systematic violations endured by the oppressed, and the acquiescence to imperialist demands of permanent subjugation of opponents, the UN retains a prominent position in articulating oppressive demands under the guise of concern for human rights. The perceived indifference to oppression is not feigned, but intertwined systematically with human rights discourse to project a biased impression of concern aligned with that of oppressive nations.
Viewing the UN as an impartial mediator signifies a disregard for the influence which imperialism has upon the organisation. Its bias has been established and, in the case of Israel and Palestine, affirmed by the international recognition and impunity awarded to the Zionist settler-colonial state.
Within the context of Ban Ki Moon’s brief eulogy for Sharon, the obliteration of Palestinians occurred against the established backdrop of inadequate concessions. Palestinians have been deprived consistently of opportunities to articulate their narratives by the opportune granting of compromising agreements. While the inconsistency can be gleaned by comparing the numerous declarations which the international organisation is fond of quoting, with its track record of appeasing Israel, the compatibility with imperialism is evident, even as the UN strives to assert concern over accountability within the symbolism that is destined to prevail for the rest of this year.
The UN-designated International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People will be launched this week during the opening session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. According to the United Nations, the objectives throughout 2014 will be the promotion of solidarity and “contributing to international awareness of core themes regarding the question of Palestine, as prioritised by the Committee”. Obstacles have also been defined, notably the question of settlements, Jerusalem, the Gaza blockade and humanitarian issues in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The brief statement concludes with the intention to mobilise “towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine” according to international law and relevant UN resolutions.
An analysis of the statement illustrates the fact that, despite the year having been acknowledged as one of international solidarity with Palestinians, the definition of “international” does not include Palestinians as participants, but rather as “a central theme” which contributes to a discussion of the “core themes”. The concept of Palestinians as a theme rather than a population with vastly different narratives due to the impact of Israel’s settler-colonial process is not inclusive. While the structure of the UN-planned solidarity marginalises Palestinians by annihilating their identity as a population, it commits a greater error in failing to mention the existence of the imperialist-supported Zionist state as the central obstacle to Palestinian reclamation of land, nationhood, the right to return and self-determination. As happened in other circumstances, including the acknowledgement of human rights violations against Palestinians which are a matter to be deplored, the UN disassociates the existence of the Zionist state from the oppression it created in order to consolidate the distortion of Palestinian legitimacy.
The failure to acknowledge Israel’s settler colonialism is exacerbated by another important omission in the statement – that of the Palestinian right of return. There is no recognition of the forced displacement endured by Palestinians, which was justified by Israel as essential for its state-building. Instead, the alleged solidarity fragments the Palestinian collective to eliminate discussion of their legitimate return, which Israel has been denying vehemently because it would create a demographic imbalance in favour of Palestinians within the settler-colonial state. Furthermore, the themes outlined in the statement are a mere recapitulation of all that the UN has expressed concern about yet failed to address in a manner which holds Israel and its allies accountable.
So far, the international year of solidarity with the Palestinian people seems destined to be a systematic and perfunctory exercise in international diplomacy to silence Palestinians into further submission, granting Israel an additional year of international oblivion for its implementation and expansion of the settler-colonial state. Creating awareness within the international community through an imperialist organisation is tantamount to an exercise in cultivating indifference. While diplomacy continues to ponder innovative ways of pardoning settler-colonialism within its restricted parameters, Palestinians need to persist in active resistance to reclaim their rights prior to the termination of imperialist solidarity resulting in a barrage of transient apologies.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.