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A Sea Change at the United Nations

Thursday, January 12, 2017 16:43
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from Rogue Money:

While the U.S. and much of the world has been focused on the change-of-guard within the American presidency, another change-of-guard has taken place at the United Nations. Portugal’s António Guterres became the new Secretary-General on January 1st. In his first ten days of work, he has let it be known that the winds of change are blowing at the United Nations Security Council.

On this New Year’s Day, I ask all of you to join me in making one shared resolution:

Let us make 2017 a year for peace.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) January 1, 2017

Mr. Guterres has declared repeatedly that a priority of the UNSC this year will be to focus on the PREVENTION of war. Now, you may be rightfully thinking, “So what? How is that different from what the U.N. is already supposed to be doing?” The difference is with that word “prevention.” With that concept, I might encourage you to remember the plot of the movie “Minority Report” and the police state’s idea of “pre-crime.” Even Mr. Guterres notes the difference as we can see from his words posted at the U.N. official website [linked here].

“We spend far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. People are paying too high a price…. We need a whole new approach,” Mr. Guterres stressed at a Security Council debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.

He added, however, that it has also been difficult to persuade decision-makers at national and international levels that prevention must be their priority.

“Perhaps because successful prevention does not attract attention. The television cameras are not there when a crisis is avoided….”

“On the contrary, prevention is best served by strong sovereign States, acting for the good of their people.”

Mr. Guterres further underscored that prevention must consistently be seen as a value in itself.

The Secretary-General further noted that the U.N. doesn’t need any new tools to achieve this aim, but merely to follow tenets of Chapter VI of the UN Charter. I was curious to what exactly he might be referring, so I looked up the .charter, chapter 6 [linked here]. The words are brief and somewhat vague, but these points stood out to me:

Article 34
The Security Council may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.

Article 36
The Security Council may, at any stage of a dispute of the nature referred to in Article 33 or of a situation of like nature, recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment.

Article 37
Should the parties to a dispute of the nature referred to in Article 33 fail to settle it by the means indicated in that Article, they shall refer it to the Security Council.

If the Security Council deems that the continuance of the dispute is in fact likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, it shall decide whether to take action under Article 36 or to recommend such terms of settlement as it may consider appropriate.

I tried to imagine just what exactly is the Secretary-General conjuring out of these words as his magic wand for the establishment of global peace and security. My brain began to ruminate on these words:

The Security Council may … recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment.

Let those word simmer on the back burner for a couple of minutes while we take a peek at a letter that the U.N. Ambassador from Sweden sent to Mr. Guterres last week. [linked here]

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