Melanie Phillips

4 February 2012

Time to delegitimise the UN

Published in: Daily Mail

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Upwards of 200 people are reported to have been massacred in Syria in the latest in a series of atrocities in that country which have left thousands of people dead as President Bashar al-Assad ruthlessly clings to power. Yet the UN has failed to act:

‘A United Nations Security Council effort to end the violence in Syria collapsed in acrimony and a veto by Russia and China on Saturday, hours after the Syrian military attacked the ravaged city of Homs in what opposition leaders described as the bloodiest government assault in the nearly 11-month-old uprising.

‘The Security Council voted 13 to 2 in favor of a resolution backing an Arab League peace plan for Syria, but the measure was blocked by Russia and China, which opposed what they saw as a potential violation of Syria’s sovereignty.’

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, according to his spokesman, ‘deeply regrets’ this failure:

‘The spokesman called the resolution’s failure a “disappointment,” adding that “it undermines the role of the United Nations and the international community”.’

‘Undermines the UN’s role’? No. What this veto does is instead to demonstrate in the starkest way the utter intrinsic bankruptcy of the UN. For Russia is actually propping up the Assad regime, and has supplied it with the weapons being used to massacre Syria’s population. Yet through its membership of the UN Security Council, Russia is able to block a move to end that bloodshed.

This is tantamount to the fox being given control of the hen-house. But this is not an aberration. The idea that the UN purports to be an honest broker in trying to bring peace and justice to the world when so many of its members are tyrannies, or that it is entitled to sit in judgment over human rights abuses when countries such as China, Cuba or Saudi Arabia are on its Human Rights Council, is a sick joke. And yet the UN is considered to be so authoritative that no country can now go to war without its imprimatur.

The result is that tyranny and mass murder get a free pass, because the atrocities the UN is supposedly in existence to prevent are being perpetrated by regimes that have clout within or veto power over the UN itself. The apparent shock over and condemnation of the Russian/Chinese veto by the US and other western countries are deeply hypocritical. The UN has long shown itself to be a grotesque and Orwellian parody of a dispassionate arbiter of global peace, international law and human rights. Yet the US, Britain and the rest continue to invest it with a legitimacy it does not possess, thus ensuring that through the UN wicked regimes not only go unpunished but continue to subvert the protection of the victims of tyranny.

The debacle over the Syria resolution demonstrates that it is time to delegitimise the UN -- a noble idea which long ago blew up in the face of the civilised world it is supposed to protect.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography


  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • Londonistan
  • The Ascent of Woman
  • America's Social Revolution

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Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
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Contact Melanie