Gaza and the UN : Questioning UN’s indispensable role and its effectiveness

James Traub once noted the United Nations’ role in his Book (The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American Power, 2006) that the UN’s inevitability, or indispensability, seemed to be a thing quite apart from its effectiveness. He also wrote that UN had no private stock of political will, any more than it had a private stock of soldiers; it could not act where its members did not wish to act.

It is almost three weeks since Israel launched its rockets to every little corner of the Gaza city and few days ago, I saw Al-Jazeera channel which portrayed how UN’s school in Gaza was targeted by Israelis rockets and by the alleged White-phosphorus – one of a deadly kind of prohibited materials under International law. There is also a scene where an old Palestinian man shouting at the camera, questioning several times, “UN, where are you?” ?

UN is composed of people that far from mere bureaucrats, they were, by and large, highly intelligent people who had seen a great many things and spoke a great many languages, people who believed deeply in the UN’s mission, no matter how acutely aware they were of its failures (Traub, 2006). When the first time I watched Israelis’ strikes over Gaza – the strikes that any state would take in order to protect its civilian, I thought it was their right of self-defense under article 51 of the United Nations’ charter, from the gradually and continuously Al-Qassam’s rockets bombardment over the southern part of Israel cities. But the conflict became widen and deepen, Israel ‘seemed’ had no considerations of what legitimate military objectives and what are not, and its attack also – in my opinion – excessive in relation with the civilian casualties and also were excessive in relation with the gained Israel’s military advantage from its attack – to gain a permanent cease-fire with the Palestine government. No matter how cruel the war is, the ration d etre of International Humanitarian Law is clear, to put at least, a dot of Humanity in a ‘gentle-war’, and every parties to an armed conflict (whether International or non-international in character; including Israel and the Hamas fighter) shall respect this.

Many thinkers and writers were fascinated by the UN’s indispensable role and works in the post-Cold war world of Warlords and collapsing states (Traub, 2006). In that era, UN was not only conducted the work of peacekeeping and nation-building through its organs, but as a parliament of states, it also succeed to balanced the interest of many different actors in many fields of political negotiations between states.

Now, while the world is waiting on the effectiveness of the recent Security Council resolution, where it calls all parties to a cease-fire and stop the fight, the world also looking how UN will play its role in the post-conflict diplomacy, the question as the outcome of the recent middle-east conflict still remain, still UN holds its indispensable role in maintaining world peace and security?

The answer on the indispensability of UN will still be affirmative, Yes, from the point of view, that UN is a forum/bridge to discuss the best interest for its member states, but when one asking about its effectiveness, specifically when it comes to face such kind of Darfur tragedy or the recent middle-east conflict, the answer could/would be vary. It still has its indispensable role, but how about its existence ? I would reserve it for another writing.

Finally, as it once warned by Soedjatmoko, one of bright Indonesian diplomats, intellectual, and the second rector of UN’s University, “the future of the world will be determined by the morality of our decision now

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