Did the UN Fail Peoples in the Middle East?
Since its founding, the United Nations has been spreading messages of realizing peace and security for all peoples, by stressing its principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of member states, urging states not to intervene in the affairs of other member states. Yet, since the outbreak of popular uprisings in the Middle East in 2011, the world has seen unprecedented attempts by some member states to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, with the UN watching what is going on without any intervention in most of the cases.
The only active intervention the UN made was passing a resolution in Libya calling for imposing a no-fly zone over the country in 2011 following the airstrikes carried against civilians in the country by forces led by the former ousted president of Libya Mummar Al-Qadafi. In fact, it was the balance of power at the time in the Middle East that allowed countries such as Russia and China not to use the veto against the resolution and it was one of the very few cases where the UN intervened in the Middle East under the Responsibility to Protect Principle (R2P). The UN allowed member states such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to supply weapons to militias that are accused of committing human rights violations against civilians, prolonging the conflict in the once-oil-rich country.
Following this, the UN has failed to impose a no-fly zone in Syria, which resulted in horrific massacres against civilians. The War in Syria became a strike example of how international institutions such as the UN failed people in the Middle East, allowing the regime in Syria to carry out crimes against humanity without being able to intervene due to the paralysis of the UN bodies due to the use of the veto by Russia and China to protect their economic and political interests in the country. Peoples in the Middle East watched in shock as the death toll in Syria hit hundreds of thousands and millions of Syrians were displaced, both inside and outside the country. Weapons and fighters continued to make it to Syria for years, yet again, the UN was unable to move to stop the unfolding tragedy.
The failure of the UN was not limited to these Middle Eastern countries, but it extended to Yemen, which is seeing today kids dying of Cholera and civilians starved to death. Yemenis was not lucky enough to have no-fly zone to protect them from airstrikes carried out by the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and UAE, which resulted in serious human rights violations such as targeting houses, hospitals, prisons, markets, and even weddings, sending messages to Yemenis that their country that once was called the Happy Yemen can no longer be happy. The UN once again failed to prevent these member states from committing these violations against Yemen, a member of the UN and the Arab League.
Let alone continuing violations against people of the Middle East, where people have been thrown in prisons for expressing their opinions and where other people have been sentenced to death in mockery trials, where the UN failed even to express its concern over these human rights violations. In the past, people used to ask the well-known question: Where is the UN? But today, they even don’t dare to ask this question as they came to the realization that the UN even stopped expressing its concern. Is the UN still relevant? It is a pressing question that should be directed at officials of the international organization which was once created to promote international peace and security.
Peoples today in the Middle East lack both peace and security, the very major two founding principles of the UN. This leads to a very logical and serious question. Is the UN still relevant anymore? If the UN can’t protect people in the Middle East, and if the UN can’t go beyond more than statements of concern, what is the relevance of the UN? Why would member states pay for the budget and salaries of an organization whose officials are too weak to take actions? This question in fact is to the point as there is no point behind allowing this to happen over and over again while the organization that should be able to prevent such violations from occurring is the one unable to address them.
The UN should give peoples in the Middle East a reason for hope. Peoples in the Middle East expect much more from the UN which should actively engage in promoting their peace and security. Peoples in the Middle East have suffered long enough, and they can’t accept such a behavior by the UN anymore. The UN can do much more than what it is doing now. It could pressure member states violating human rights in the Middle East to stop doing so. Peoples in Libya and Yemen deserve a better future and the UN should be part of this future.