- Post 27 July 2010
- Last Updated on 19 September 2010
- By Professor Ade Ojeniyi
AFRICA (Cradle of all Mankind), THE UNITED NATIONS   AND THE SECURITY COUNCIL
Professor Ade Ojeniyi, M.D., D. PHIL., D.V.M., Cert. Internatl. Health, D. Ac.
The concept of a peaceful community of nations goes back to 1795 when Immanuel Kant published “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch” outlining the idea of a league of nations that would control conflicts.
In many respects, predecessors of the League of Nations were the International Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. Walther Schücking, a Neo-Kantian pacifist called these predecessors the “Hague Confederation of States” which formed an alliance aiming at disarmament and the peaceful settlement of disputes through arbitration.
The precursor to the United Nations was the League Of Nations (L.O.N.). If I may ask ‘How united are the world’s nations?’ Anyway, this inter-governmental organization had its roots in the peace conference which took place at the Palace of Versailles in Paris on 18th January 1919 at the end of the First World War. The purpose of the conference was to achieve global peace amongst a society of nations. One of the most prominent members of this conference was the American President Woodrow Wilson who firmly believed that the creation of a League of Nations was absolutely essential for world peace to become a reality. He wanted to establish a global organization in which every country could voice their opinion with regards to international affairs. Most ironically, President Woodrow Wilson’s great idea was thwarted by his own very country’s Senate that refused to ratify the treaty, and thus the United States of America did not join the League of Nations ! Despite this, the Treaty of Versailles was signed on the 28th June 1919. The Treaty which came into existence on 10th January 1920 basically placed the entire blame on Germany and its allies for starting the First World War. In addition, the treaty which forced the
demilitarization and debt of war on Germany was presented by the Allied Powers to Germany for signature. For a start, Germany protested, but along with representatives- ves from 48 other countries, it eventually signed the League Covenant which was included in the Treaty of Versailles and the other peace treaties. The League of Nations consisted originally of 42 nations, and it enjoyed its greatest extent from 28th September 1934 to 23rd February 1935 when it had 58 members. The League’s primary goals were stated in its 26-article Covenant, including the following:
- 1. Preventing War through collective security, disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration
- 2. Labour conditions
- 3. Just treatment of native inhabitants
- 4. Trafficking in persons and drugs
- 5. Arms trade
- 6. Global health
- 7. Prisoners of War
- 8. Protection of minorities in Europe – that all minorities are fully human, and hold equal rights among all men.
The League lacked its own armed force, and so depended on the big powers to enforce its resolutions, to keep the economic sanctions which the League ordered, or provide an army when needed for the League to use, but they were often very unwilling to do so. It may be mentioned here as a curiosum that the situation is still the same today, ninety years on. Sanctions could also hurt the League members, so they were reluctant to comply with these sanctions – precisely as things are in today’s world of ours, and therefore the situation remains largely the same today.
A classic example of this dismal failure played out during the second Italian – Abyssinian (Ethiopian) War when the League accused the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini who gave orders to his soldiers to target Red Cross Medical Tents. Mussolini’s response demonstrated in no unclear terms the total disregard he had for AFRICANS who he did not recognize as, and accord the status of human beings when he stated that Ethiopians were sub-humans, and therefore the human rights law did not apply. And what did the League of Nations do? . . . . . . Exactly, you are quite right: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING !
Ultimately the League proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) in the 1930’s. The weakness of the League was clearly evident when in May 1933 it was powerless to convince the German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler that a Jew, Franz Bernheim was protected under the minority
Clauses established by the League of Nations in 1919. Hitler claimed that the human right clauses violated Germany’s sovereignty. Consequently, the aggressive Axis
Powers withdrew from the League – Germany and Japan withdrew in 1933, followed by Italy in 1937, and it was obvious that the onset of the Second World War showed clearly the League Of Nations had woefully failed its primary purpose which was to avoid any future world war.
Sequel to this dismal failure of the League of Nations to maintain peace and prevent aggression and wars, it was disbanded and it went into extinction on 18th April 1946 after the twenty-first and last session of the General Assembly was held in Geneva.
(Birth of the) UNITED NATIONS
When someone mentions the words “United Nations”, what readily comes to mind in some people may be world peace. For others, it may be camaraderie.
With the onset of the Second World War, it was crystal clear that the League of Nations had totally failed in its primary goal of preventing any future war. During the war, neither the League’s Assembly nor its Council had been able or willing to meet, and its secretariat in Geneva had been reduced to a mere skeleton staff, with many offices having moved to North America.
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference was held from 4th February to 11th February 1945 by President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of England and General Secretary Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union to discuss the reorganization of post war Europe. The Conference was convened in the Livadia Palace near Yalta in the Crimea region. This Yalta Conference, which was actually preceded by the Teheran Conference
that took place in 1943, was followed by the POTSDAM CONFERENCE of July
to August 1945 which ended with the Potsdam Declaration regarding the surrender of Japan.
Key points of the Yalta Conference were:
- Unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany
- Germany should undergo Demilitarization and Denazification
- Germany should pay reparations, partly in form of forced labour to be used to repair part of the damage that Germany inflicted on its victims
- Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland.
The POTSDAM DECLARATION was drawn on the 26th July 1945, but negotiations on the Japanese surrender lingered on from 15th August till 2nd September 1945., However, sequel to the detonation of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - ‘Little Boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima on Monday 6th August, and ‘Fat Man’ came down on Nagasaki on Thursday 9th August 1945, the
Japanese were no longer under any illusion that it was all over for them. When Japan found out that there was no way out, they presented several drafts of a peace treaty, but these were rejected outright by the Allied Powers. In the end, emperor Hirohito who the Japanese regarded as a semi-god had no other choice than to broadcast a surrender address on radio middle August, but some diehard leaders in the Japanese military would simply not accept such a capitulation, and therefore vowed to continue the war and fight to the last man standing. After all said and done, the Japanese surrendered on the 15th August 1945, and their emperor signed the Instrument of Surrender on the 2nd September 1945.
CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS
This foundational treaty of the international organization was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Centre on the 26th June 1945 by 50 of the original 51 member countries. The Charter came into force on the 24th October 1945 after being ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of the other signatories. Today, the 06. 06. 2010, (D-Day) there are 192 countries that are members of the United Nations. It may be noted here that while other nations have all ratified the United Nations’ Charter, the Vatican with its tiny 0.44 square kilometer size, an equally tiny population of 826, and for one reason or another is considered as a separate state has chosen NOT to ratify the UN Charter !
The Charter can be summarized into 19 chapters thus:
Chapter I: Purposes & Principles of setting up the United Nations in the first place.
Chapter II: Membership of the organization
Chapter III: Organs of the organization
Chapter IV: The General Assembly
Chapter V: The Security Council
Chapter VI: The Pacific Settlement of Disputes
Chapter VII: Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace and
acts of Aggression
Chapter VIII: Regional Arrangements to maintain Peace & Security in their regions
Chapter IX: International Economic and Social Co-operation
Chapter X: The Economic and Social Council
Chapter XI: Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories
Chapter XII: International Trusteeship System
Chapter XIII: The Trusteeship System
- - Both Chapters XII & XIII describe the Trusteeship Council which oversaw
Chapter XIV : The International Court of Justice – established the powers of the ICJ
Chapter XV : The Secretariat – established the powers of the UN’s Secretariat
Chapter XVI : Miscellaneous Provisions
Chapter XVII: Transitional Security Arrangements related to World War II
- - Both Chapters XVI & XVII describe arrangements for integrating the UN with
established international law
Chapter XVIII: Amendments
Chapter XIX: Ratification and Signature.
ORGANS OF THE UNITED NATIONS are
Economic and Social Council
International Court of Justice
UNITED NATIONS’ SECURITY COUNCIL
As far as the maintenance of world peace and decorum is concerned, everyone reflects on the UN Charter, and expects the UN’s organs to deliver on this issue.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) is one of the principal organs of the United Nations, and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers outlined in the United Nations’ Charter include the establishment of
peacekeeping operations, establishment of international sanctions and the autho-
rization of military action. Its powers are exercised through UNSC Resolutions.
The Security Council held its first session on 17th January 1946 at Church House, London. Since then it has convened for meetings in various cities including Paris, Addis Ababa and New York which now serves as its permanent home in the United Nations’ building in New York City.
There are 15 members of the Security Council consisting of 5 Veto-wielding permanent members (China, France Russia, United Kingdom and USA) and
10 elected non-permanent members who sit on the council for 2 years.
The 5 permanent members were drawn from the victorious powers of World War 2 which at the UN’s founding in 1946 consisted of France, Taiwan, United Kingdom USA and USSR. It was in 1971 that mainland China, i. e. The Peoples’ Republic of China replaced Taiwan. This was quite an extraordinary story – that the mammoth and most populous country on earth with an erstwhile population close to one thousand million, i. e. a billion people was not a member of the Security Council whereas the small Chinese island of Taiwan with less than twenty million people occupied a permanent seat on the Security Council, and invested with veto power !
Incidentally or perhaps more correctly by design, all five permanent Security Council members possess nuclear weapons, and it should be noted that three of
the five are European countries (France, England and Russia) while the USA has
its roots in Europe, which leaves only China as an outsider in the nuclear club.
Then the really intriguing aspect came onto the scene: the Nuclear Weapons’ possessing nations floated a scheme in order to maintain their hegemony and domination of the whole world. They initiated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation idea such that they alone could hold the rest of the world to ransom by keeping their own nuclear weapons while preventing others from acquiring the same weapons. They flexed their muscles, and either directly or indirectly arm-twisted other countries to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Although it was Finland and Ireland that originally proposed the NNPT, there was
no iota of doubt that it was the nuclear possessing nations that stood behind this hegemony preserving move.
The treaty came into force on 5th March 1970, and currently there are 189 states that are party to the treaty, five of which are recognized as nuclear weapon states – the United States of America, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. Countries that are known or believed to possess nuclear weapons include India, Israel and Pakistan.
While the Security Council was originally regarded as the guarantor of security, many people around the world quickly lost faith in it owing to its inability, and especially its lack of willingness to pass just resolutions and follow these through. In my humble opinion, the greatest disaster for the rest of the world was the inbuilt veto power invested in every single permanent member of the Security Council. This veto provides all five members the ultimate power to do and undo as they please, i. e. they invoke their veto power whenever it was expedient for them to protect and nurture their own narrow interests.
COMPOSITION OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
It is absolutely absurd that the vast majority of the world’s populace has no say in their own security as the ultimate power is being wielded by just five countries. An array of questions are screaming to be answered, the most important of which are :
Why is AFRICA – the origin of all humankind, and the custodian of humanity – not occupying a permanent seat in the Security Council ?
Why is NIGERIA – the most important and the most populous country in AFRICA not a permanent member of the Security Council ?
Why are other AFRICAN nations not permanent members of the Security Council ?
What is it that qualifies exactly these five countries to be permanent members, and what is it that disqualifies all the other countries ?
What gives them the right to retain and even expand their nuclear arsenal while they are busy orchestrating a campaign to hinder other countries from possessing the same weapons ?
What gave France the right to test its nuclear weapons of mass destruction on the African continent and not on the soil of France. First, it exploded nuclear bombs on Algerian soil in the late 1950’s and early sixties, and later in the following years, France tested its nuclear weapons once again on African soil, this time around in Bizerte in Tunisia. France displayed no regard for, or recognition of the peoples of other countries as human beings with human rights, and merely proceeded to Polynesia in the Southern Pacific Ocean. Here France chose Mururoa also known historically as Aopuni that is an Atoll which forms part of the Tuamotu Archipelago to test its nuclear weapons of mass destruction. In Mururoa Atoll with its ancestral name of Hiti-Tautau-Mai, France carried out test explosions of its nuclear weapons of mass destruction, but of course not in their own country of France.
As a matter of fact France exploded more than 200 nuclear weapons of mass destruction on the Atolls in the Southern Pacific Ocean for some 30 years from 1966 to 1996. How about that ?
If possession of nuclear weapons was the main criterion applied in constituting the Security Council with the five nuclear weapons’ possessing countries, why are the newly acclaimed nuclear weapons possessing nations of India and Pakistan, as well as those that are strongly suspected to possess same weapons, like Israel, Iran and North Korea not being co-opted as permanent members of the Security Council ?
Why is there so much hue and cry over North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear weapons’ ambitions, but there is no such howling over the nuclear arsenal of the present five permanent members of the Security Council or even over the relatively new nuclear weapons’ possessing nations like India and Pakistan ?
Why should anyone criticize Israel for possessing nuclear weapons, and by the way who has the right to determine who may or may not possess nuclear weapons?
Why aren’t some regions of the world permanent members of the Security Council?
Why is the Middle East not having a permanent seat in the Security Council?
Why is Central America not occupying a permanent seat in the Security Council?
Why is South America not having a permanent seat in the Security Council?
Why is Asia not occupying a permanent seat in the Security Council?
Why is the Pacific not having a permanent seat in the Security Council?
Why is India not a permanent member of the Security Council?
Why is Pakistan not a permanent member of the Security Council?
Why is Brazil not a permanent member of the Security Council?
Why is Israel not a permanent member of the Security Council?
HOW EFFECTIVE HAS THE SECURITY COUNCIL BEEN?
Seen through the lenses of billions of people around the world, the Security Council has been a colossal failure since its inception. In fact millions of people have posed questions around its relevance, and looked upon it as a barking, toothless bulldog owing to its complete lack of effectiveness. Experience has proved to the world how prestigious but equally ineffective the Security Council turned out to be, as it has woefully failed to live up to its outlined functions as the “guardian of peace and
security, and thereby the law enforcer”. People have questioned its usefulness since its resolutions have oftentimes been diluted so severely in order to satisfy the self centered interests of individual permanent members who would otherwise have thrown the entire case to the wind by invoking the monstrous and paralyzing veto power. This has many a time left the world frustrated, and therefore people have posed a perfectly legitimate question on what useful purpose the Security Council serves, apart from protecting the narrow interests of its permanent members. More disheartening is the fact that many of its resolutions have been completely ignored by one or more implicated parties in an issue, even if and when the council for once stood on the side of a glaringly just cause. Disappointingly, the Security Council has time without number balked in its sacred task as clearly spelt out in the United Nations’ Charter.
WHERE DOES AFRICA STAND RELATIVE TO THE U.N. AND THE SECURITY COUNCIL?
Going by AFRICA’s history as the origin of the human species itself, no continent on the surface of our planet Earth has a greater claim to playing THE leading role in every aspect of the United Nations than AFRICA - humans’ ancestral home.
Wandering through memory lane, particularly the inhumanity that AFRICA and the humane AFRICANS have endured through centuries, no other peoples on earth are more entitled to every weapon available to man, since they had been defenseless for so long. Had AFRICANS been in possession of weapons, they would never have been dehumanized as they were, first by Arabs and then by Europeans who never recognized AFRICANS as human beings in the first place. To these imperialists of Europe and the Arabian Peninsula, AFRICANS were, at best nothing more than animals, and based on what they had subjected AFRICANS to, there was hardly any doubt that in fact they not only looked upon AFRICANS as being sub-humans, but even worse, considered them as something less worth than animals.
Certain contentious themes that keep surfacing include those regarding the possession of nuclear weapons, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.
One of the questions that really bother millions, yes billions around the world today is the lopsided and extremely aggressive stance being taken by the permanent members of the Security Council to muffle other nations seeking to achieve the same nuclear status that these permanent members have.
After all, where is the credibility that these permanent nuclear weapons’ possessing members have displayed to convince the rest of the world that their call for other nations not to produce or possess nuclear weapons is not designed to maintain their hegemony of power over the rest of the world ? In order to be credible and dispel any notion that they are merely seeking to bully other nations, the first thing they should do is to dismantle their own nuclear weapons of mass destruction, then their call on others not to develop or possess these weapons will be justified, and win support throughout the world. How can they demand that others should not acquire the same weapons that they already possess in huge numbers ? People are also asking why so much fuss is being made about some countries that are being specifically targeted as violators of the Security Council resolutions prohibiting development and possession of nuclear weapons. People also ask why these resolutions do not apply to permanent members of the Security Council, because as the saying goes ‘What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander’. Many people also assert the fact that after all said and done, none of the countries being threatened with all kinds of reprisals on account of their nuclear programmes has ever threatened with, or indeed ever used a nuclear weapon against any other nation on earth.
My own pertinent questions sound thus:
Why has AFRICAN nations been so subjugated and so coerced to more or less sign their own annihilation certificate rescinding their indisputable and non-negotiable human rights to defend themselves against the inhumanity to which they had been subjected for centuries on end?
Why in the name of goodness did they willingly or unwillingly accede to a nuclear non-proliferation treaty while other nations who possessed nuclear weapons of mass destruction all kept theirs, and even expanded their nuclear arsenal?
I am neither a war monger nor a naive pacifist, but a WORLD CITIZEN that has spent his entire life fighting against injustice, and has vowed to continue this sacred fight as long as I am alive, I am well and I am sane ! ! !