May 5, 2022

The UN has become, as Volodymyr Zelensky on April 5, 2022, told the UN Security Council, a venue for “conversation,” not one for action to stop aggression by Russia, a country that “has turned the right of veto into a right to die.” The question can be raised of whether it has become a negative factor in the search for international justice and peace. The partiality of the UN was shown in the past by its disproportionate behavior. The UN General Assembly held a moment of silence to honor North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. It refused to honor Vaclav Havel, freedom fighter, who died the day after Kim in 2011. The UN has been more often prominent for its lack of efficiency in preventing conflicts and in being the venue for expressions of anti-Semitism and appeasement, than in championing international justice.

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The UN General Assembly has condemned Russia twice in non-binding resolutions over its aggression in Ukraine, and Russia has been suspended from membership of the UN Human Rights Council. But it is meaningful that only 93 members of the UNGA voted to condemn Russia. The reality is that a majority of the members of the UN did not vote for condemnation.

The Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, of Portugal, is obviously well meaning and emotionally disturbed by the horrific scenario and images of dead civilians in the streets of Bucha that he visited on April 28, 2022. He called Russian aggression, “an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil. There is no way a war can be acceptable in the 21st century.”

Guterres supported calling on the International Criminal Court and “appealed to the Russian Federation… to cooperate with the ICC, International Criminal Court.” Similarly, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, declared she had been horrified by the images of Bucha, but only commented that the “reports emerging from Ukraine raise serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes as well as grave breaches of international humanitarian law and serious violations of international human rights law.” 

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The prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Khan, who was chosen in February 2021, said on March 27, 2022 at the UN in New York, that he favored neither Russia nor Ukraine. In the search for truth, “the law is above us, and if the law is not above us, there’s nothing below is, except the abyss.” In a statement more appropriate coming from Groucho Marx, prosecutor Khan said “there were reasonable grounds” to believe that crimes had been committed in Ukraine., and the focus is on “alleged” crimes committed in Ukraine. The UN is ineffective and helpless, disregarding the admonition by Zelensky to the UN Security Council on April 6, 2022, “You need to act immediately.”

In contrast, British foreign secretary, Liz Truss, stated in a speech on April; 27, 2022, that the war in Ukraine is “our war, it is everyone’s war because Ukraine victory is strategically imperative for all of us. We will keep going further and faster to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine.”

The Russian response to Truss is that the UK should clear off from Europe and “eat their porridge, and stop stealing fish and chips from Russia.” More depraved is the communique of foreign minister Sergey Lavrov that Zelensky is a Nazi despite being Jewish, and that Hitler had Jewish blood. More defiant is the Russian pronouncement that strategic stability will only be possible after the “special operation” in Ukraine is finished.

However, the free world has recognized that “the special operation” against Ukraine is part of the struggle between the West and Russia. The struggle has been more uncertain for a variety of reasons. First there is the Western and indeed global dependence on Russian energy. The EU has paid more than 35 billion euros to Russia since the “special operation” began. Germany is still not willing to ban Russian gas, but may ban Russian oil. Hungary, under Viktor Orban, who has opposed economic sanctions on Russia, will not ban both Russian oil and gas.

Secondly, the difficulty for the UN is of understanding the true relationship between Russia and China. At the meeting of Putin and Xi Jinping in Beijing on February 4, 2022, this axis of autocracy stated the two countries were bound by “increasingly close partnership.” The countries called for NATO to abandon its “ideologized Cold War approaches,” and for all to respect the sovereignty, security, and interests of other countries. Though Ukraine was not mentioned in any joint statement, the countries pledged to counter interference by outside forces in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. 

Countries have refused to condemn Russian for various reasons. India obtains most of its arms from Russia and may, after clashes with China, need Russia as protector against advances by China in the Himalayas. Muslim majority countries have criticized the West, especially the U.S., for hypocrisy and double standards, for invading Iraq in 2003, for prolonging the civil war in Yemen, and for arming the Royal Saudi Air Force which conducts airstrikes in Yemen. African countries have benefited from supplies of Russian arms, which they do not recognize as a form of neo-colonialism.