28 February 2012

United nations will flourish

There are two kinds of united nations, the first is the in-your-face institution that was birthed after World War II, where rivers of blood were produced in the mad rush by some to carve the world among themselves.  This ‘united nations’, or rather the ‘United Nations Organization’ has come far since it was formed.  It has come far from the founding principles and has ended up as a bullying tool for bully-nations.  This ‘united nations’ is a body that has spawned many bodies all in the name of seeking ‘the greater good’ and all in the end furthering the interests of the movers and shakers, effectively rubbishing the notion ‘one nation – one vote’.

Right now, in Geneva, there are moves to censure Sri Lanka over some allegations made by a group of people who are to remain anonymous for 20 years.  The veiled and not-so veiled threats include but are not restricted to ‘an independent investigation’ and sanctions.  Interestingly all this is being orchestrated by countries that had no sympathy whatsoever for the plight of ordinary Sri Lankan citizens when they were being terrorized on a daily basis by an outfit that makes Al Qaeda look like first graders playing cops and robbers. 
They probably have very good reasons but none of them are about some compassionate love for ordinary Sri Lankans.  The bottom line is that Sri Lanka refused to play ball, did its own thing in its own way and surprised everyone by achieving stated objectives albeit at great cost to security personnel and hardly any harm to civilians compared to the kinds of mass-scale killings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya conveniently labeled ‘collateral’ by the perpetrators. 

If the question is, whether or not Sri Lanka has the international clout to withstand these ill-tempered maneuvers, the answer is simply ‘no’.  On the other hand, if anything was learnt in the offensive against the LTTE, it is that the only way Sri Lanka can ‘do its own thing’ is to do it with the people and for the people. 
That’s the other ‘united nations’.  In other words nations that are united.  Unity is never easily obtained given the many lines along which societies are typically divided.   At the same time, nothing unites a people better than an outside threat.  The LTTE was not ‘Tamil’, but as alien as any ‘outsider’ has been in terms of what it did, how it was done and the reasons behind the doing.  At the critical juncture, the people stood together, barring of course a handful of spoilers who were duly made politically irrelevant. 

For all that is wrong with Sri Lanka and in Sri Lanka, few would argue that foreign interference in whatever form does more harm than good.  There would be even fewer takers if it was about embracing an intruder whose track record when it comes to violating human rights and committing crimes against humanity is second to none. 
For all the legitimate anger at the present regime and for all the petty party-lined objections, it would be hard to find a dozen people who would come out and want the political and military leadership of this country being hanged for crimes that were not committed. 

The danger, however, is that this state of affairs can be misread by the political leadership as regime-support.  They are two different things.  Just as an external threat can help forge unity, the sustaining of such togetherness depends on forging a sense of belonging.  It depends most importantly on the citizens being confident that their citizenship has a lot more meaning than a vote at an election and a contributing digit to a national census.  While it is not the case that there’s absolutely no sense of belonging to be had, insecurities still abound on account of economic hardship and disadvantaged location in structures of power and decision-making. 
On top of it all, the opulence of some at the top, an accompanying brashness in bandying privilege and a palpable perception that there is robbery and indulgence of thief and theft, can push those who feel marginalized into silence and apathy if at some point it is decided to execute threat, one way or another.  It robs the people of the will to fight, not the fight to defend regime but the one to defend nation. 

In short, the people will stand by the government without condition if they feel the government stands by the people.  It is simple.  Nations and regimes fall when there is no unity and when the felling is done by an outsider, nations, regimes and the people all fall.  If nations are to stand firm and remain standing, then people must stand by one another.  United nations do not fall.  It’s as simple as that. 
[The Nation Editorial, February 26, 2012]



Shaik Ahamath said...

The United Nations, if it sticks to its Charter, is a wonderful conception but unfortunately costly. It is inevitable "He who pays the piper, calls the tune", and the UN has to rely on USA, UK etc. for most of its costs. They wield undue influence on all UN policies and operations. They also have a say in who is hired or fired. So when you say the UN is biased, it is a gross understatement.