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It's time to think of an alternative to the UN
Paul Lin
4/1/2003



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War is never a good thing because it causes extreme privation and damages material and spiritual civilization. Yet there are times when war is unavoidable. The Iraq problem didn't develop overnight but has dragged on since 1991 because Iraq has frequently violated UN resolutions and has secretly developed weapons of mass destruction.

Every time a problem arises, the UN depends on the US to act as a "global policeman" before Iraq will begin to toe the line. But Iraq always reverts to its former behavior. This time they were cooperating with UN weapons inspectors only because they had been squeezed like a tube of toothpaste by intense US military pressure.

Without completely disarming the country and changing President Saddam Hussein's regime, there will be no solution to the problem. The UN has been powerless to solve the problem for over a decade. Now, is it not turning a blind eye on Saddam's evil-doing by hindering US actions? Moreover, the US declared war on terrorism after Sept. 11. Naturally, rogue states that fail to turn over a new leaf will become targets. Iraq is just one of these states.

The powerlessness of the UN is hardly limited to its performance on the Iraq problem. Does the UN really love peace so much? When China fired missiles into the Taiwan Strait, threatening to first destroy Taiwan and then rebuild it, did the UN step up and make any statements? Why didn't they urge Beijing to patiently use political means to solve the problem? What has the UN done to safeguard the rights of Taiwan's 23 million people or esnure that they are free of the terror stemming from China's military threat?

The UN has drafted two international human rights treaties, but what measures has it ever taken against those signatories that subsequently violated the treaties? China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has long trampled on human rights. What can the UN do? In recent years, China has intensified its efforts to suppress religion, especially by brutally handling Falun Gong practitioners, yet after a visit to Beijing, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he understood Beijing's actions. Is the UN not thus aiding a tyrant?

Even more strangely, the US, a country founded on principles of human rights, was once expelled from the UN Commission on Human Rights, while Libya, a country with an abysmal human rights record and numerous ties to terrorists, is the current chairman of the commission.

Confronted with Slobodan Milosevic's genocidal atrocities in Kosovo, the UN was also unable to act. In the end, it was necessary to depend on NATO, and NATO depended on the US, to apply military force to stop Milosevic and send him to the war crimes tribunal at the Hague.

The UN's indifference toward and even suppression of Taiwan is a well-known fact. Annan must bear some of the responsibility for this. Refusing to allow Taiwanese media organizations to report from within the UN completely disregards the principle of press freedom. If there is any representative of the Taiwanese media at all, it is only the World Journal, which is registered in the US. These restrictions weren't just imposed after the DPP came to power. It was like this early on in the KMT era and it stems from China's animosity toward Taiwan.

Since the UN is so impotent, its functions grow less relevant by the day. It is going the way of the League of Nations. Countries that uphold the universal values of freedom and human rights should step forward to form a new international organization to replace the UN and create a new world order. The US should lead this movement. Of course, at the beginning, the UN need not be discarded completely. It can be replaced gradually.

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.


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