Al-Assad will keep the UN talking, all the while killing his own people until and unless he faces military opposition
by Simon Kent
One day the United Nations and its attendant minions will learn a basic truth: Other people are worth fighting for.
Yes, of course, ideals and principles are important. So too are tenets of belief, lofty ambitions, standards, ethics, doctrines and codes of conduct.
Goodness knows the UN is ripe with all of the above — and then some.
It’s just that people matter. Real people, not just those who stroll the corridors of 760 United Nations Plaza, New York, New York attending terribly important meetings and top level conferences.
If ever we needed confirmation of just how little real people — like those being slaughtered on a daily basis in Syria — figure in the provenance of the United Nations, and June 25 provides a stellar example.
The entire UN will pause to congratulate itself and its members on excellence in public administration.
In recognition of something called the United Nations Public Service Day, bureaucrats representing 44 public organizations from 29 countries will receive international recognition for excellence in civil affairs.
No less a venue than the General Assembly Hall will be devoted to handing out these honours in recognition of the United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA), which celebrates a 10th anniversary in 2012 (who knew?).
A total of 471 nominations from more than 80 United Nations member states were received in 2012.
The winners are: First place — Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, India, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the United States.
In second place — Australia, Canada, Egypt, Georgia, Grenada, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and Turkey.
No doubt it will be a gala event as the UN turns over its main meeting hall for bureaucrats from all over the world to gather and high five each other on, well, being bureaucrats.
All while the utter human carnage in Syria continues unabated.
Still, noble words have been a favoured tool of the UN since its inception.
It’s just that these days they seem far easier to ignore.
Former secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan knows this only too well.
Back in February he launched a six-point plan to end the violence in Syria once and for all. Really, he did.
Lots of shuttle diplomacy followed with Annan flying to Damascus for talks with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. There were shots of Annan and al-Assad having talks and then more talks about further talks on talks to end the violence.
February turned to March, which turned to May, and then to, well, you get the picture. Nothing but nothing has changed except the scale and the nature of the killing across Syria.
Just as the UN failed in its mandate to protect the people of Rwanda and Bosnia from genocide in the 1990s, so too it is failing Syrians in 2012.
The inescapable reality is that al-Assad will keep the UN’s Kofi Annan talking and talking, all the while killing his own people until he faces military opposition.
That is why the shortest way to end the Syrian crisis is the one US President Barack Obama in full election mode steadfastly resists: military support for the opposition followed by direct NATO intervention.
Anything less than that is just talk… with bloody consequences.
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