The United Nations at 70: World Citizens Call for a different League of Nations from its Leaders

The international gathering of hundreds of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellors, Premiers and Heads of Governments of the countries in the world for the annual United nations summit is always a momentous occasion; but more so, since this great institution is celebrating its 70th anniversary of existence.

Lest we forget, the UN was born out of the remnants of World War II under the auspices of the then League of Nations. This important organization was and is just as significant as it was then as it is now. It was established by the collective will of the Allied powers to navigate the post-war peace-process for the nations of the earth away from the bitter waters of another full-scale global war involving the use of atomic bombs by one nation against the other.

To its credit, the UN has stuck to its core mandate in preventing such a re-occurrence, but its mission’s success rate in defusing conflicts between warring factions within states has been limited over the period. The nimbleness in dealing with new global threats including but not limited to rogue nations, international terror groups, cyber and chemical warfare, conflict minerals, children ‘soldiers’, human trafficking, sex slaves, slavery, humanitarian aid to disaster affected regions and the mitigation of poverty among the world’s population-has suffered setbacks due to its “top bottom” bureaucratic structure.

The ability need to deploy and deliver on-the- go humanitarian assistance through genuine channels on the ground which would immediately alleviate those persons directly impacted by the adverse effects of war or natural disasters must be an area of reform for the UN.

Upon serious introspection, there needs to be also reforms in its methodologies, systems, mechanisms and governance to properly address the economic and political realities of some of the globes biggest challenges affecting the people of every nation, every tribe and every language.

Underachievement of stated goals cannot be the norm; but rather the exception. The passing of one baton of “Millennium goals” to Sustainable goals” must be accomplished with rigor. The 21st century global citizen demands a new level of transparency, accountability and integrity from such organizations to deliver its targets. To do what it says and standby what it does.

No longer is the global citizen disconnected from what happens on any of the 7 continents- but is now a social media activist- effecting the outcome and assessing the information at their fingertips anywhere- anytime, reacting and acting through tweets instagram, facebook and videos.

There no doubt there has to be a renewed energy in overcoming the obstacles facing nation states but connecting and solving in real time, the basic everyday problems of the peoples of the world. The UN role must be more all embracing rather than exclusive.

It must be made clear; there are never easy answers to hard problems of humanity, but there are always practical solutions which can help alleviate and avoid difficult circumstances. Time does not recognize human loss as a result of conflict, disease, famine, drought, poverty; man does. It is therefore, humanity’s duty to reform with the times in order to curtail the losses under its control.

The World, in recent times, has seen such avoidable losses of human life in conflicts raging in  Israel, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali, Ukraine  to name a few.

The role of the UN as the central peace-keeper in attempting to resolve some of these conflicts has also resulted in a much more expansive agenda- to help find answers to the European migration crisis vis-a vis the humanitarian aspect in providing continuous aid to the ‘refugees’, settling of border disputes with India and Pakistan, Colombia, Guyana and Venezuela, North and South Korea, Russia and Japan, China and its South sea neighbors.

High also on its agenda would be to solve the ‘power vacuum’ in Lebanon, the conclusion of the agreement for the unity government in Libya and the peaceful transition of power in Syria, the return of the legitimate government of Yemen and the full implementation of UN resolution 2216; the continued role of enforcing the peace and implementation of the peace agreements, namely in South Sudan, Ukraine and the assistance in the conclusion of numerous other peace agreements; namely between Colombia and the FARC rebels. The tackling of terrorist groups such as  ISIS, , Boko Haram, Al-shabab and others cannot be discounted in the crucial talks during the next few days between countries.

The UN has made its mark on global world affairs like no other global body-its corruption and impunity organization in Guatemala must be commended and has to be replicated in other jurisdictions, but technical and logistical efforts also have to be extended in countries who are grabbling under the scourge of violent murders such as El Salvador, Honduras and places such as Mexico.

The global international community has had its share of successes in key areas which have made a fundamental difference to the other member states. Indeed the USA together with the other contracting states (P5 +1) and Iran has sought to do exactly what the UN’s charter envisioned, to avoid a nuclear ‘event’ by reducing the ability of Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb.

The ‘thaw’ in relations between Cuba and USA and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries has and will improve the economic livelihood of millions of ordinary Cubans. For the first time the African continent witnessed the democratic and peaceful transition of an elected leader in Nigeria, Six African leaders brought what would have been a descent into internal conflict in Burkina Faso to a peaceful and amicable resolution, the Special Court of the African Chambers tried for the first time a leader convicted of war crimes on their own soil.

The Nepal region adopted a Constitution for its people to bring that country into the realm of the rule of law; also Myanmar after many years is about to enter into their own elections. Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador successfully assisted in moving Colombia and Venezuela to re-opening its borders with each other and surely there are many more instances of good- will between neighboring states.

The maxim is true: “we don’t live in a perfect world”, but we can strive for perfection in solving the world’s problems, as we enter a new era of people-centered policies that benefit them, not personal and selfish ambitions because it is, also a true saying that the UN is “too big to fail”-literally!

 

 

 

 

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The General must stand Aside and Relinquish Power to the Transitional Authorities

It is difficult to argue that General Gilbert Diendere is negotiating from a position of strength.   Whatever his intentions and that of his followers however mis-placed in last week’s coup, he has now only one option and one option alone: to step aside and immediately hand over “power” to the current ruling interim President and his legitimate political officers of Burkina Faso.

It is the interest of the people and country of Burkina Faso; he must do this to avoid further loss of life and “bloodshed” with the now converging army from any fire-fights with the coup soldiers.

Despite well- intentioned mediation talks, the sovereignty of a nation rest first and foremost with its people, to therefore state, that he- the general will wait for the decision an external organizations to “ratify” the draft agreement only delays the inevitable.

It is doubted, whether the agreement would be able to stand-up in principle since, if all parties were not consulted and decisions were arrived at without key stake-holders; in spite of the honest beliefs involving the two esteemed Presidents from Senegal and Benin respectively in the discussions.

Notwithstanding their honorable efforts, General Diendere must understand the rule of law will and should prevail in the circumstances- a fact not lost on the army chiefs of Burkina Faso. So as position the country and its people back on track towards free and fair elections.

 

 

 

Russia is Either Part of the Problem or the Solution in Syria

The European Union is faced with a migrant crisis, which has brought in sharp view the deteriorating situation in Syria and also the inaction by the international community to bring the civil war to a halt. Seizing the opportunity, for what its worth, President Valdmir Putin’s of Russia recent military machinations in Syria has psychologically spooked the global landscape.

However, Mr. Putin must be reminded, the decision on whether President Assad will remain in power is not his or Russia to make or determine. The implied strategy therefore to extend the Presidential tenure of Assad in office will not succeed.

The fate of the 28 EU nation’s security and stability cannot and will not be sacrificed in favor of one man; who must be held accountable for crimes against humanity and for inflicting the untold death, suffering and persecution of his own people. Neither the Islamic State cannot be the scape-goat for his actions; nor the panacea for his problems.

It would be better suited if Russia facilitates its diplomatic strength at the negotiation table; within the next month; engaging in meaningful dialogue- to end the Syrian crisis instead of compounding it- with the UN, AU, EU and the US. So as to set in motion the political machinery to transition Syria into a National Unity Government; without Assad at the helm.

The people of Syria are not interested in the close relationship which existed between the Assad family and Russia for so many years. Tell that to the sole surviving parent of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi and the millions of refugee Syrians.

The people of Syria are not interested in how long Assad and his family ruled Syria and the symbolic meaning of the Assad legacy. Tell that to the families and the relatives of the over 300,000 Syrians who have been killed in this 4 1/2 year old civil war.

The governments of the EU are interested in solving the flow of migrants from Syria immediately- it is not a yesterday problem; it is a problem that requires immediate action.

Russia’s express show of support militarily and humanitarian aid does not legitimize the Assad regime; for its failures and atrocities it has committed and continue to inflict on the daily lives of the average Syrian.

Let it be made clear, the death of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and the millions of refugees who left and those who are en-route from Syria are more important than the continued reign of one man, in spite of the show of support by Russia.

Finally, Mr. Putin cannot take the place of Assad for his actions which has led to the systematic demise and destruction of Syria and its people. Assad will have to be held accountable for the responsibilities of his actions in Syria. Nor can Mr. Assad expect to vicariously rule Syria through Putin and the support of Russia and Iran.

 

Opening Borders is the Objective-Not Closing Them

Attention seeking antics by Venezuela’s President will only go so far. If he is serious about talks with his Colombian counterpart he would not be closing other borders but opening the ones he shut in good faith.

In any event, at least try to solve the economic woes of his ordinary Venezuelans besieged by a dire shortage of basic food commodities, high unemployment, poor human rights record, the indiscriminate jailing of the leader of the opposition and others, the silencing of freedom of expression including the press,  amongst other things – the crackdown of corruption, the ability to hold “free and fair elections” must  be the President’s priority- instead of creating regional border situations without due cause.

Surely, the flair for the dramatic and the energy can be channeled elsewhere into finding solutions to Venezuela’s myriad of problems. People’s lives and their livelihood deserve much more than “high antics games”.

Perhaps the President is enjoying his moment on stage, but he should be re-assured they are many who are in the audience watching to see how this one plays out.

Human Dignity is Inviolable. It Must be Respected and Protected.

TITLE 1

DIGNITY

ARTICLE 1

HUMAN DIGNITY

Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected. (Charter of Fundamental Rights of European Union)

 “Conscious of its spiritual and moral heritage, the [European] Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law”. The question is whether there is an absence or a real presence of these “universal values” existing in the state of play in the on-going refugee crisis through-out Europe?

In accessing the honesty of its answers, the Member States of the Union will surely recognized that this “emergency situation” is not a drill. This is about real people, real lives and real families leaving all but their earthly possessions, careers, jobs, friends and relatives, save their clothes , fleeing from conflict zones and sacrificing their very lives for a better way of life and future in Europe.

Is it just that after ‘asylum seekers’ efforts  in  travelling on the dangerous Mediterranean  Sea, and trekking thousands of miles, to be denied entry by  EU states, is against the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the EU ? It is enunciated in Article 18- Right to Asylum that:

“The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU”

 Both these questions above are inter-related and are predicated on the same answer. Yes, there is an absence of universal values by the EU in dealing with the “migrant crisis” and yes- there is an assumed express right of asylum to refugees seeking such status. The problem is compounded by the closure of “external borders” of Member States, who do have the Sovereign right to exercise such right.

But, human dignity and compassion must over-ride the compulsive necessity to enforce the law in exceptional circumstances, especially when such laws are suspended in emergency situations, as is in this refugee’s crisis. How can one seek to legitimatize criminal behavior on the ‘innocent’ who are fleeing war and have no-where to go? How can one close the door of life against those who are running away from death?

Accordingly, Article 19 of the said Charter obligates States to protect persons from “being removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subject to death penalty, torture or other inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment”.

The Article is silent on those nations who have unilaterally closed their borders and prevent “asylum seekers” to cross over unto their desired country of choice. This is a lacuna; but can be equally solved by establishing, border check points and protocols governing the movement of refugees until their country of destination.

The refugee crisis has stress tested, both procedural and practically, the nimbleness of the EU system’s rapid response mechanism ability to adequately deal with the current migrant ‘emergency’ situation. The results have also shown that the system is structurally flawed and needs strengthening in key areas. Legally it is not. The EU regulation No.1051/2013 has set out the “common rules on the temporary re-introduction of border control at internal borders in exceptional circumstances”.

Germany’s decision and other member States who followed instituting temporary border controls do so based on the emergency situation and are well within the legal framework to do such. However, such actions “should remain an exception and should only be effected as a measure of last resort, for a strictly limited scope and period of time” in accordance with the EU regulations.

This crisis is manageable. It hardly, however, has been a public relations and communication success in the media, since EU is not speaking with one voice as it should; even though EU leaders have acknowledged it is as a “migrant crisis”- the problem is not being approached collectively as a European crisis-but a crisis within individual Member States.

The principle of subsidiarity and proportionality dictates when certain fundamentals cannot be achieved by Member States it is more effectively implemented by the Union- there can be no better circumstance in which this principle can now be invoked.

At the same time; the situation is indeed an exceptional one and in emergency circumstances hard and fast rules must yield to the spirit of compromise: whether, it is voluntary, mandatory or exempt vis-à-vis mandatory quotas- all options must be equally considered. It is the Union and the smooth day to day running of the Union which should utmost be preserved- not open confrontation.

The Union, no doubt, is fighting for the same common goal, to strike a balance while remaining calm in its approach in the face of adversity; speaking in one accord-by voicing viable solutions and avoiding counter-productive rhetoric.

Serious Deficiencies

The EU has to realize it has serious deficiencies in dealing with the present situation “where a serious threat to public policy or internal security require action”  the Union can in accordance with the law implement certain measures.

Stemming the flow of migrants at one border will not stem the influx of migrants at another. Coordinated action needs to be taken. There has to be the realization that Europe will be the place of first choice for potential asylum seekers and their final choice destination.

Again, the EU will have to as a Union deploy European border guard teams, streamline the external borders- by establishing new single entry and exit border points, or closing other specific border crossing to ensure a seamless arrival to destination and more importantly, provide financial funds to establishing border establishment centre’s, employees, volunteers, humanitarian camps, transportation facilities and the like in order to properly managed this crisis so as to return the Union back to a sense of “normalcy”.

 

 

 

 

Leaders Serve their People- Even in Crisis

“Responsibility” –
1.the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management.
2.an instance of being responsible:
3.a particular burden of obligation upon one who is responsible:                                                                                                                                                    (dictionary.com)

The suffering of the many must not be to the advantage of the few. Even if the few are the leaders. “A leader can delegate anything except responsibility. Leaders cannot simply give it away”.

European leaders are indeed taking responsibility for the migrant crisis; a debilitating situation which can be laid at the front door of the war-torn countries of Syria,Libya,Iraq, Afghanistan and some African countries.

What has not been said by these leaders and more specifically President Assad of Syria is that he will take ownership of the current migrant crisis engulfing the European States. It is not good enough to just say that Syrians belong in Syria and that it is their country- to do so over-simplifies the genesis of the problem.

Syria has burdened European governments in a way not imaginable, foreseen or envisioned: economically, socially and politically for the last 4 years, at no direct cost to Syria.

Assad and his Libyan counterparts et al must take ownership for this migrant crisis and seek to  immediately transition Syria and Libya towards a national unity government in order to “heal” the land of its divisions; thereby deliberately ending the civil war within their countries respectively.

There is no doubt, failure for Assad to find a common political solution; whether it is the Geneva Communique, Russian or Iranian plan or UN draft; one will be found for him- since the political reality is that the migration into Europe by millions of people is unsustainable in the long term for European Parliaments.

Syria is “a negative example of a positive truth; leaders are to add value not take away. Leaders must not forget that they must serve their people and their purpose”. “Leaders are not given authority to better themselves , to enlarge their income or social status or to improve their standard of living” at the expense of the people. They are first and always servants of others”.

The democratically elected governments and its leaders of Europe cannot therefore, be held political hostage by a self-serving regime, whose actions have resulted in a back-lash of mass migration away from its shores.

Equally, the governments of Europe cannot idly stand by and allow its established political Eco-system to be threaten and impacted by external factors which can be resolved internally by these conflict zones. On the contrary, the European governments’ stability, can ill-afford to descend into dis-array by circumstances which are also well within its control, in spite of one man’s selfish ambitions.

The Geo-political future and unity of the European Union must not be undermined and determined by one man’s sole action, who without cause continues a civil war at all cost but pays nothing to the EU and for the loss lives of the Syrian people.

Our Border’s Keeper

When relations between neighboring countries deteriorate to such an extent that one side unilaterally closes its border to the other for whatever reason, regional diplomacy has to take over in order to solve and resolve the dispute.

In the case of President Santos of Columbia and President Maduro of Venezuela, any proposed meeting between the parties will and can move both parties towards a positive path in amicably re-solving their current disagreement(s) regarding the borders.

It is clear that nation- states must become their ‘border’s keeper’ to ensure not only the security but the legal -free flow of capital and goods between nations.  It is extremely difficult economically and socially for Colombians and Venezuelans to adapt, especially children, the vulnerable and disadvantaged when their smooth day to day operations has been severly hampered.

The starting point of ending this dispute cannot be one of blame, who is responsible and why the crossing was closed. It has to be how both countries can re-open the border so as to alleviate any real and perceived hardships being endured by the people.

It is desired, aside from Columbia, that President Maduro seek to use the opportunity in also making good on claims between Venezuela and Guyana in determining a more re-conciliation approach with his other neighbour, President David Granger.