Foreign Policy

Meet the New U.N. Security Council


There are times when it seems like the United Nations is just begging the world not to take it seriously. Last week, South Africa, India, Portugal, Germany, and Colombia were elected to the U.N. Security Council, which is by far the organization's most important decision-making body. Within hours of its election, South Africa pledged to "synchronize" its agenda on the council with the African Union's—which apparently means lobbying for the deferral of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir's International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) arrest warrant. Bashir, whose regime has supported and even coordinated genocide in both Darfur and the South Sudan, was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2008. The indictment means he could theoretically be arrested if he ever sets foot in another I.C.C. member state. But it also means that those states could torpedo the entire international legal system by refusing to arrest him, or by convincing other states or international bodies to simply ignore the I.C.C. indictment.

Regardless of what one thinks of the U.N. or the I.C.C., it's undeniable that South Africa's position could have horrible real-world consequences. The South Sudan independence referendum—and the war that could come as a result of it—is an issue that the Security Council will likely deal with during South Africa's term. Bashir now has an apparent ally on the Security Council, and it's one that has little respect for the U.N.'s main vehicle for prosecuting war crimes: namely, the council's ability to refer certain extreme cases to the I.C.C. That leaves him free to crush the South Sudanese independence movement, a movement which has the potential to free millions of people from a brutal dictatorship, with total impunity.

But South Africa's pro-Bashir activism wasn't the week's prime example of the U.N.'s ambivalence towards itself. That distinction goes to Canada's failed candidacy for the Security Council. Canada has a long and proud tradition at the U.N. Indeed, Canadians both conceived and commanded the first-ever U.N. peacekeeping force after the Suez crisis in 1956, and Canadians were some of the last peacekeepers on the ground during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. They're a troop-contributing nation in Afghanistan, and they haven't recently offered political or diplomatic cover for some of the world's worst regimes (which is more than can be said of both India and South Africa).

Yet Canada was basically eliminated in the first round of voting, offering further evidence of the U.N.'s tragic lack of seriousness towards some of the biggest problems on Earth. U.S. taxpayers are currently picking up almost a quarter of the tab for an organization that seems increasingly committed to its own irrelevance.

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  1. “Hey, why does it smell like dog farts in here?”

  2. That picture would be even better with asses instead of dogs.

    Oh, I don’t mean donkeys. Human buttocks, just sitting around passing resolutions.

  3. And the left says John Birchers are whackos for wanting the US out of the UN.

    1. Rosen would probably say that too. After all, he’s fretting over the UN’s “irrelevance,” i.e., its unwillingness or inability to meddle in Sudan. He doesn’t want the U.S. out of the UN; he wants the UN in more places.

  4. Really, what more could be expected of an organization run on democratic lines that is made up mostly (still) of kleptocratic mass murderers?

    1. Wait, a quorum of kleptocrats will vote for their interets? Does this have any bearing on other deliberative bodies?

  5. Really, what’s the purpose of the UN again? It seems to act principally to vastly inflate the influence of not-very-nice countries.

    1. Catering UN parties.

      Why? Are they supposed to be doing something else?

      1. I have heard that the principal reason for continued U.S. and European involvement is for the junkets.

        1. You’d think Fred Sanford would be all over their junkets.

          “Ya big dummies! If that were me on the ground over there, I’d be puttin’ their tutsies all up in their hutus, instead of runnin’ away like a bunch of fancy little girls.”

          1. He’d make a great ambassador to the U.N. However, since he is fictional, and Foxx is dead, I suggest employing someone who says only things that Fred Sanford said on the show.

              1. I don’t care who it is so long as everything he says comes straight from the mouth of Fred Sanford.

                Biden would be nice, since that would mean someone else as VP.

                1. Here he is, addressing the General Assembly (this is the entire speech): “I’m calling you ugly. I could push your face in some dough and make gorilla cookies.”

        2. I read an article years back (1980s, I think) that described the life of UN staffers in the UN bureaucracies in Geneva. If it was accurate then the purpose of the UN is to provide cushy sinecures for US and western European college graduates. The article described high salaries, short hours – and even shorter observance of those, little work and no accountability.

          For some reason the alphabet soup agencies of the UN are headquartered in Geneva, except for the the FAO which is in Rome.

          1. Back in my academic days, I worked with some people who’d had UN gigs. This is exactly what they told me.

    2. Really, what’s the purpose of the UN again?

      Trading humanitarian aid for sex in disaster areas.

    3. That, and promoting global tyranny, illiberalism, and violence.

  6. Perhaps it should be noted that South Africa just has one of the fifteen votes, and it does not have veto power?

    While the stuff in this article isn’t the best of news, I must say that the article itself seems rather overblown.

    1. Stop bringing facts to a rant. Next you will be pointing out that Germans did not attack Pearl Harbor.

      1. No but last weekend I overheard a Univ. of Delaware student explaining to some tourists that the watchtowers along the Atlantic Coast and Delaware Bay were gun emplacements in case the Japanese tried an invasion.

        1. Obviously he was government-schooled before attending Univ. of Delaware…

          1. Probably just playing a prank or scamming their asses.

  7. Don’t blame me, I voted for the dachshund.

    His plan to piss on Bashir’s carpet is a measure better than whatever the U.N. will do.

    1. They peed on my fucking rug, Walter.

      1. Who peed on your rug, dude?

  8. Within hours of its election, South Africa pledged to “synchronize” its agenda on the council with the African Union’s ? which apparently means lobbying for the deferral of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir’s International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) arrest warrant.

    Birds of a feather . . .

    If only the Boer had won the war . . .

    1. Dare I say it?


      1. Re: Sloopyinca,

        Let me tell you that, as far as “racists” go, the Boers were much better behaved with the natives than the British. The British were more brutal.

        (Of course, nobody beats the Belgians for brutality against an African population.)

        1. I know. I know. I was just getting the “racist” thing out of the way before mng, tony or one of the other leftist ideologues showed up and threw it out there and you had to waste time defending your position. I see that plan has failed most spectacularly.

          Hell, I wish the Rhodesians had won (see my link in next comment). I’d probably be living in the breadbasket of Africa if they had.

        2. That’s not exactly true. The British were not subject to the “Mark of Cain” doctrine that the Afrikaaners have due to the particular wing of the Dutch Reformed Church they subscribe to.

          With Apartheid the Afrikaaners installed a brutally permanent and unequivocal system of racial superiority and separation.

          In fairness to the Rhodesians it should be noted that there regime was not a strict regime of racial supremacy. Ian Smith was quite clear that he believed that with proper education and acculturation blacks could become the equals of whites and eventually participate fully in a western style democracy. In that sense the Rhodesians tended to be more like the South Africans of British extraction who tended to the more paternalist view of race relations.

          1. I might add that given the fact that Afrikaaners held complete control of the government of South Africa (that is all the ministries with a handful of tokens going to britishers plus all the executive positions in the security services) for over eighty years it would not be entirely inaccurate to say that in a very real sense the Boers did win that war.

    2. Actually, it would have been better if these guys had won their war down there.

  9. Well, I think….


    1. You’ve gone from trying to be our mascot to commenting on a Reason article… how the mighty have fallen.

      1. Shut up, cracka-ass cracka!

  10. Is a U.S. appointment to the United Nations a career death sentence? You obviously can’t think of it as a good promotion.

  11. Yo, fuck the UN. How much more of a laughingstock does it have to be before we can get out?

    1. If the UN is a democracy of kleptocrats then we fit right in.

  12. Leader of Senate: All fellow members of the Roman senate hear me. Shall we continue to build palace after palace for the rich? Or shall we aspire to a more noble purpose and build decent housing for the poor? How does the senate vote?
    Entire Senate: FUCK THE POOR!

  13. Regardless of what one thinks of the U.N. or the I.C.C., it’s undeniable that South Africa’s position could have horrible real-world consequences.

    If one thinks that the UN is a toothless laughingstock with delusions of world government grandeur, and that the ICC is a potentially dangerous tool in the hands of liberal bureaucrats whose claims to authority are illegitimate and absurd…then I suspect you can deny that.

    Anyone like that around here?

    1. I can deny that anything will play out differently because of this. Bashir won’t leave the Sudan, he’ll never get arrested, and the Sudanese will keep slaughtering each other. What actions some South African (or Canadian) does or doesn’t take in New York is not going to affect this in any event.

  14. Never again, until the next time.

  15. The most pragmatic uses of the UN were completely ignored by the Bush Administration, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be useful.

    One use was sending the UN in to do nation-building after we want to pull out of somewhere. Wouldn’t it have been nice to hand Iraq over to somebody else after 2005?

    But nooooOOOOoooo.

    Anyway, just because the Bush Administration was too dumb to use it for the one purpose for which it was most advantageous for the United States, doesn’t mean it can’t ever be used for that purpose ever again.

    Just because the Bush Administration didn’t know how to use something strategically, really isn’t a good reason to change anything.

    1. Right, much better that those poor bastards get bombed flat and then have their kids raped by blue helmets. Where were you in the 90s when this failed repeatedly in Africa? In fact, GWB ran on NOT doing that style of nation building in 2000.

      You may also recall that the UN bailed on Iraq after their administrator was killed in a bombing in ’04.

      But other than that, you’re spot on.

      1. “Where were you in the 90s when this failed repeatedly in Africa?”

        That’s the point.

        We didn’t stick around in Africa. If the UN can’t do it, then why should we?

        Why should we have squandered American treasure and American lives on nation-building in Africa? Especially if they didn’t want a nation there.

        Time to go back to the ’90s. The UN could have made a difference in Rwanda, but chose not to. After that, it was up to the Rwandans to build their own nation anyway.’

        Same with the Somalis. Why should the US have taken responsibility for that?

        1. So you don’t want to talk about systemic child prostitution overseen by the blue helmets in Rwanda and the Congo? Yeah. I can see why not.

          1. I’m not sure I understand your point here.

            But if you’re suggesting that we shouldn’t hand nation-building like projects over to the UN, and just suffer the American casualties and loss of American treasure ourselves…

            …rather than hand those responsibilities over to the UN–because of child abuse in Rwanda?

            I’m gonna say that’s ridiculous.

      2. “You may also recall that the UN bailed on Iraq after their administrator was killed in a bombing in ’04.”

        You may recall that the UN didn’t support us in Iraq. You may recall that France in particular thought our mobile WMD lab photos were bogus. You may recall that we had to give Hans Blix and Co. time to get out of Iraq before we invaded.

        That was the whole point. Iraq was not a UN operation. They may have been there to support refugees or whatever, but it wasn’t a UN operation.

        And again, I’m not here for the good of the people of Iraq. The question for me is about American interests, not Iraqi interests. Not African interests.

        Could the UN have been exploited for American interests in Iraq?


  16. Meet the New U.N. Security Council

    Same as the Old U.N. Security Council

    Here’s the original

  17. I keep thinking what a shame it is that the UN continues to function and occupy that very cool building of theirs, as it would make the most awesome ISIS headquarters.

    1. You know they could tear that complex down and build a football stadium, hockey arena and NASCAR track all on the same property. IOW, some useful shit. And even money says they could get it done without public funding.

    2. That “cool” building of theirs is in horrific shape and they’re asking the US for billions of dollars to completely and totally renovate it and modernize it.

      Also, I hated having the UN on the same side of the island as me, because I had to drive past and see those thieving parasites goofing around the grounds, pretending to be doing something other than living it up in Manhattan.

      1. All the more reason to sell it to a productive organization.

        C’mon, you *know* Google will want to use it as their World HQ when they flip the switch that activates the global domination sub-routine.

        1. Are you implying that Google is SkyNet?

          My god, it all makes sense now. They’ll decide our fates in a millisecond.

          1. “Kill all humans”: About 6,060,000,734 results (0.28 seconds)

      2. All the tax dollars paid to build it, and they didn’t want Alfred Hitchcock filming it for an establishing shot in North by Northwest.

    3. I took a shit in the UN building once.

  18. I thought the purpose of the UN was to promote Angelina Jolie movies and U2 albums. Oh, and make-work projects for relatives of those on the larger panels.

  19. “That leaves him free to crush the South Sudanese independence movement, a movement which has the potential to free millions of people from a brutal dictatorship, with total impunity.”

    I don’t know, he probably realizes it’s in his own interest to let the rogue south go, as this will leave give him a firmer grip on the rest of the country, where opposition is less strong.

  20. And even money says they could get it done without public funding.

    A stadium, without public funding? I suppose you’d bet they could build a stadium without abusing eminent domain too?

    1. ah crap, stupid threaded comments

    2. It got me wondering who owned it and if someone could buy it. In my search, I found this map and site that is the place to go if you want to get your blood boiling about how much land the govt controls.

  21. If the US were to resign from the failed organization and evict the UN diplomats from the tower in New York, it would not only be a de facto end of the organization, it would also have an overall positive effect on world peace and justice.

    The United Nation’s efficacy makes the US Department of Education look like a shining story of success.

    1. PJ O’Rourke on the UN:

      The dumb slab of the UN Secretariat and the skateboard park shape of the General Assembly are matched with what might be the worst collection of art on earth: a huge pistol with its barrel tied in a knot, symbolic of, I guess, the UN’s botched peacekeeping missions; […]

  22. Fuck the U.N.

  23. Yet Canada was basically eliminated in the first round of voting, offering further evidence of the U.N.’s tragic lack of seriousness towards some of the biggest problems on Earth.

    It’s about consensus, not about results.

    1. We thought everyone liked us ;(

  24. My understanding is that the UN Security Council seats are voted on on a regional basis, with seats for Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Asia, one for Eastern Europe (a holdover from the Cold War) and one for the western world (ie. Western Europe, Canada, and Australia/New Zealand).

    Canada was only up against Germany and Portugal.

  25. Armin, you’re gonna use that picture and NOT use alt-text? Come on!

  26. If the US leaves the UN, how is it supposed to veto Secutiry Council Resolutions it doesn’t like.

    1. * Security Council

  27. whats the purpose of the UN ?
    Sex.. good one to the earlier comment. The UN national sport is sex just check out the recent stories on the ictr. They are now paying young tour guides to prostitute themselves to trap ictr staff????
    As for the security council nothing is ever achieved its become a knitting club and every un mission in africa has failed.Monuc is a great example and at what cost to the taxpayers of the world. The un has effectively become a league of nations and its destined to fail. Perhaps we should all be supporting a Bill Clinton innitative?? The new UN !

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