Creating new perspectives since 2009

The UN promotes international law as well as those who treat it with contempt

June 9, 2016 at 12:33 pm

The Western European and Others Group (WEOG) has nominated Israel to assume chairmanship of the United Nations General Assembly’s Sixth Committee. According to the UN, this is considered to be “the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly.”

If one had to refute evidence of the UN as a prime instigator and collaborator of international law violations, the news would have indeed caused a furore. However, given the complacency of international institutions towards Israel, its nomination by WEOG is hardly surprising. After all, in 2013, the regional bloc lobbied for Israel’s inclusion on account of its alleged international isolation; that move was applauded by the US.

In 2014, Israel was also nominated by WEOG to chair the UN Fourth Committee on Decolonisation, a farce that mocked the UN’s assertions regarding the eradication of colonialism even as it endorsed a coloniser as an authority to end the curse. You really couldn’t make this up.

Dr Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO Executive Committee condemned the nomination of Israel and called upon WEOG to withdraw it. Quoted in Ma’an, Ashrawi declared: “It is ironic that Israel, a state that continues to breach international law and conventions, international humanitarian law and countless UN resolutions, is being nominated to head a legal committee that aims to promote international law and protect basic human rights and freedoms.”

Ashrawi listed a series of ongoing violations for which Israel should be held responsible and accountable. They include the extrajudicial killings of Palestinian civilians, which has been given prominence by Israel and, consequently, tacit approval by the international community, which has a penchant for selectivity when it comes to defining aggressors and victims.

Unfortunately, there is more correlation than irony in the recent news. The UN exists as an instrument of perpetual conflict while disseminating its duplicitous role as a peacekeeper. Hence, the acceptance of what seems ludicrous within a logical argument is, within UN parameters, void of any contradiction. Such dissonance is imparted regularly, resulting in a scenario where Israel’s early declarations about shunning international law have now been assimilated to a point where the UN accepts and advocates for Israel’s aberrant stance and validates its violations through endorsement and reward.

Clearly, the UN can afford to promote international law violators, in the same way that the EU is willing to provide fodder for Israel’s demolition of Euro-funded projects without so much as a reprimand. In both cases, non-binding resolutions and reports for informative purposes will continue to sate the collective conscience and mar its judgement, while Israel revels in its impunity and resultant global prominence at the expense of colonised Palestine. Expectations of any semblance of international law and human rights being upheld by international institutions exceed even the limits of fantasy.

The error lies in abiding by the definitions of their role imposed by the organisations themselves, instead of challenging the entire structure either by constructing an alternative discourse that exposes the reality of international law or abandoning the entire farce by unravelling the promulgated myths and determining a collective refusal to recognise the spectacle embodied by the UN. Palestine deserves that much, if only to combat the oblivion unleashed indirectly by offering temporary, prominent positions to colonial Israel which allow it to continue to treat international law with contempt and be rewarded in the process.