If we look back at the origins of the United Nations, we will see that the beginnings of international law rose from the ashes of the Second World War and the Nuremberg trials in 1945. An organisation that defines itself as having a select few main purposes including maintaining worldwide peace and security, developing relations among nations as well as fostering cooperation between nations in order to solve economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian international problems most certainly has set high goals for itself in terms of monitoring global politics. If it did indeed operate by its eloquently worded Charter, I very much doubt we would find ourselves in the turmoil that engulfs so many countries today.
Unfortunately, it has been an undeniable trend that the UN is often used as a tool by Western powers, instead of an impartial monitoring body. The West gladly used the force of the UN and the Security Council when it requires moral legitimacy to go to war, yet it is prepared to ignore or circumvent the international body when votes don’t go its way.
Leaders often like to take the moral high ground when talking about human rights and how the wishes of the international community must be adhered to when the UN makes a decision; however, it has become increasingly apparent that these decisions only apply to certain countries, whilst others are exempt from them. Israel is proof of this as is the UN’s latest decision to elect Israel to chair its legal committee.
Israel has broken more UN resolutions than any other country in UN history. This is evident in the list of 80 United Nations Security Council resolutions directly critical of Israel for violations of UNSC resolutions, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, violations of international law and international terrorism. The fact that Danny Danon will now represent Israel as head of the committee that monitors international law is almost too ironic to digest. Getting the country that categorically abuses international law to head the global committee monitoring international law is like getting a man who regularly beats up his wife to head an anti-domestic violence committee – the logic behind such a choice is non-existent.
According to Professor Francis A. Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Chicago and a Defence Lawyer at the International Court of Justice, not only is Israel guilty of breaching international law, but it is also responsible for “crimes against humanity”. The UN Human Rights Commission came to the same conclusion.
If there was any doubt regarding the efficiency and worth of the United Nations, they have been laid to rest by this newest appointment. The double standards and hypocrisy behind such a decision is glaring and irrefutable, and there is little the UN can now do to salvage any authority it might have had. Appointing a country like Israel, a leader in international terrorism, to a position of power is a nail in the coffin for UN credibility.
Dr Aayesha J Soni is a medical doctor working in South Africa, as well as the vice-chairperson of the Media Review Network a Johannesburg based advocacy group committed to human rights and justice.