Across the world millions of people long for a life that is different from the misery that weighs them down. In Syria, and the Yemen, we need to deliver an end to the war that has wasted the lives of so many, too many of the young and old. It has ruined livelihoods and forced people to pay any price, risking their lives in an unseaworthy boat in the Mediterranean, dodging the Navy to get, at best, to a detainment centre. People do anything they can, to seek safe and secure life; more than they can ever expect in the land of their birth. They are the Refugees seeking asylum, some settled in Shropshire, but many may know no home of their own, ever again. Globally there are more displaced people now, than after the two world wars.
People cry out for justice; a voice in the governing of their own country; change in favour of fairness, instead of for the rich elite; an end to the corruption and bad governance that has brought them poverty, exclusion, fear and terror. Such is so in Lebanon, Israel, Iran and too many other places.
I would like to say that for those populist dictators, their time is up. But in Syria Assad retains power by Russian and Iranian will. In Brazil Bolsonaro, denies both the pandemic and climate change, driving people into absolute poverty. In Hungary Viktor Orban retains popularity by bringing in a conservative moral and social agenda that bears down hard on all minorities. In Belarus, at the time of writing, the popular revolt against the President Lukashenko has been sustained. Repression beckons, the tired old response of those who refuse to recognise their time is up. People may have the vote but democracy can be stolen from them. These are only a few of a number of oppressive leaders who are intent on holding dictatorial power, at any price they can exact from their populations. As such, these scenarios pose a threat to global peace, security and prosperity for millions across regions and potentially the world.
These are among the huge challenges, facing us all, and to which is added climate change. All of them at some point, wherever we live, affect the quality of our lives, even our health and well-being. It is part of the background discordant music, whether we turn off the news or not.
After the second world-war a consensus developed through the UN Charter to ensure that future generations would never have to encounter such devastation again. This consensus is threatened by too many regimes in conflict with their peoples and by the increasingly fractious relations between the superpowers of USA, China and Russia.
The United Nations came into being in 1945 with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish. These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective. The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. The General Assembly and the Secretary-General play major, important, and complementary roles, along with other UN offices and bodies.
However, when the super powers themselves are intent on acting without any reference to the body that 193 nations have signed up to, then we cannot be assured of peace and security anywhere.
The world keeps changing and we are in one of those periods when as citizens we could throw our hands up in despair. Or, we can believe that the UN, as the only global vehicle we have of international co-operation, can re-invent itself. In the spirit of Robert Kennedy"s words, adapted for our age:
"Some people see things as they are and ask why. We dream of things that never were and ask - why not?"
THE RESPOSIBILITY TO PREVENT
The UN is developing the Responsibility to Protect, and has also - the Responsibility to Prevent. Intervention and engagement with nations need to start so much earlier and the super-powers and dictatorial regimes can and need to be confronted by the strength of the whole membership of the UN.
The UN, huge as it is, after 75 years is set on reform that must meet the expectations of the civil populations around the world. Those who brokered the UN in 1945, following on the failings of the League of Nations believed then, driven by the catastrophic impact of the two world wars, that humanity had no other option but to learn to work and live together in peace. The consequences of those wars are still present in the unfinished business of the settlement. All our nations have failed their own peoples by ignoring the simple lesson that if we really want peace and prosperity for humanity, it can only come through co-operation, openness, trust and solidarity of all. Our survival on this planet depends on this.
There is so much more to the UN than the Security Council, that is working day-to-day through its many agencies, treaties, offices and conventions, some of which you may recognise, thirty-five at my last count. For example: WHO (World Health Organisation), very relevant now; UNHCR (High Commission for Refugees); FAO (Food and Agriculture). There are also the humanitarian organisations, the feeding programme and other relief bodies like UNICEF (International Children"s Fund). There is also the UN Declaration of Human Rights that is enshrined in national law in all but a few countries, which under-pins our civil life every day, a sample of some of the 30 Rights below:
- The right to equality and freedom from discrimination.
- The right to life, liberty, and personal security.
- Freedom from torture and degrading treatment.
- The right to equality before the law.
- Freedom from modern slavery.
- The right to a fair trial.
- The right to privacy.
- Freedom of belief and religion.
- Freedom of opinion.
- The right to gender equality, sexual orientation, and respect for minority interests.
Some governments withhold these from their populations but they can be brought to account by the international court.
For our future progress there are the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015 – 2030 - that operate with many other agencies to help countries change the life prospects for people, lifting them out of poverty; raising the educational provision; enabling all forms of human equality, decent work, good governance and finding peace and security and not least responding effectively to climate change. All of these have likely been badly affected by the pandemic. But they are the priorities of the UN for another ten years.
We hope you will choose to engage with us and support us in our efforts to deliver peace and security. Contact: John Crowe 01588 680338 or Noel Beattie 01694 725530
A peace-making body, our UN, cannot work when it is America First, or Britain alone, or Russian or China's expansionism. Nations have to share their sovereignty with other nations for the common good. Otherwise, there is no body that can make this planet safe and secure for all. TOGETHER HAS TO BE FIRST.
DURING ONE WORLD WEEK
United Nations Day 24th October 2020
We are asking you to help children and families around the world who continue in the most desperate state imaginable.
This year none of us have been able to make street collections as in former years.
PLEASE DEDICATE THIS WEEK TO PEACE AND SECURITY BY A DONATION TO UNICEF
- Please Donate on UNICEF UK website
To contact the Shropshire UNA please use the Contact link on the top menu