The United Nations was founded as an international institution intended to promote peace and global unity while fighting fascism. Yet, today it has become a forum for Arab nations to vent their political frustrations towards the state of Israel. In the process, they abuse the UN Charter to single out Israel with unfair criticism, while hypocritically turning a blind eye to violence perpetrated by nations of the 23-member League of Arab States and terrorist networks.
The proceedings of the UN Security Council are clear evidence of this double standard. Since only five member states are permanent, elections take place every two years to determine the 10 non-permanent members. Seeing how there are 13 members of the League of Arab States in Asia and 10 in Africa, it is virtually assured that there will always be a few League states in the Council – one for Africa’s regional seat and two for the Asian region. This being the case, they manipulate the Council by choosing to overlook the crimes of Arab nations, including Libya’s 1979 invasion of Chad, Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, and the ongoing genocide of black Christians and animists in Sudan by Arab militias. Even blatant acts of terrorism are disregarded, such as the hijacking of almost two dozen airplanes by Palestinian terrorists in the 1980s and suicide bombings targeting schoolchildren.
Not only does this duplicity take place in the Security Council, but also in the General Assembly, which is abused as a global forum for the League of Arab States to slander Israel. A lobby of Arab countries – Muslim and non-Arab nations such as Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and former Communist satellites – leads General Assembly resolutions, whose purpose is to vilify Israel. Out of all the resolutions ever passed by the General Assembly, roughly a third are anti-Israel – while almost none censure Arab nations. Even if some of the resolutions are justifiable, the disproportionate ratio of resolutions condemning Israel lessens the gravity of transgressions committed by League members worldwide. Singling out Israel and turning a blind eye to the Arab world trivializes the severity of 30,000 killed in Sudan, the countless Kurds killed by Hussein, Egypt’s gassing of Yemen, and the murder of thousands of innocent Israeli civilians throughout history by Palestinian terrorists.
Perhaps the greatest manifestation of the manipulation of UN institutions at the hands of the League of Arab States is Libya’s election to head the Human Rights Committee in August of 2002. The fact that a regime notorious for torture, oppression of women and non-Muslims, execution of political prisoners, mutilation, domestic and international terrorism, and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, is not only an insult to the victims of Libya’s crimes but also to anyone who values the sanctity of human life. Then again, not much else can be expected from an institution in which Syria, a brutal dictatorship directly involved in the finance, proliferation, and exercise of global terrorism, chaired the Security Council twice in three years. A necessary step in reforming the UN is to never allow a nation with a horrific human rights record to chair the Human Rights Committee.
In theory, the UN is a wonderful institution. However, the presence of an extremely powerful League of Arab States that is dishonest and hypocritical in systematically singling out Israel alone for human rights violations, while refusing to condemn violence committed by Arab nations and terrorist organizations, is a major obstacle. We must ask ourselves in this important election year whether or not there is hope that the UN can become an effective organization that prevents genocide, condemns violence fairly, and cooperates to ensure peace, or whether it is destined to fail due to the apparent lack of a common international moral code. In the meantime, the UN has become, in the words of Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute, “…the tool of those who would make Israel the archetypal human rights violator in the world today … a sanctuary for moral relativists.”
Neer Lerner is a junior political science and history major.