By Javad Heirannia

Great power rivalry have made UN ineffective: academic 

September 26, 2016

TEHRAN - Head of the anthropology department at the State University of Minnesota believes that the rivalries between great powers, especially those between the United States and Russia, have made the United Nations unable to be an influential player in ending bloody conflicts like the one in Syria.

“For example, Russian and the United States both have different interests in Syria, and so a UN Peacekeeping force would have to have the agreement of both Russia and the United States, since both have veto power in the Security Council,” Prof. William O. Beeman tells the Tehran Times.
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Do you agree that the United Nations has not been very successful in managing or resolving major global crises? If so, why?

A: The United Nations has been successful in the past in achieving cease-fires and maintaining them in several conflicts. The most important was in the long conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However recent crises have had more limited success. The fact is that the United Nations has not initiated a peacekeeping operation in the last few years, the most recent operations have been in Africa--in Mali and in the Central African Republic. (Until next year), the current mission in the South Sudan has been marred by misconduct on the part of the UN Troops. 
United Nations peacekeeping missions have to be authorized by the UN, and are almost always post-conflict deployments involving the monitoring of cease-fire agreements. What this means is that UN troops are not proactive. They only come in after the fighting is over. Occasionally they are deployed when there is a threat to civilian life. Because they must be authorized by the Security Council, they are also caught up in political conflicts between Security Council members. For example, Russian and the United States both have different interests in Syria, and so a UN Peacekeeping force would have to have the agreement of both Russia and the United States, since both have veto power in the Security Council. Since 2012 it has not been possible to get that agreement. http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/unsmis/

“It is true that there have been fewer military initiatives under Ban-ki moon. He has been criticized for being too solicitous of the Security Council core members, and not being willing to get involved when there are conflicts between them.”  Q: Why hasn’t the UN been successful in resolving conflicts in countries such as Syria and Yemen?

A: There are no new active peace missions in the Middle East, and have not been since 2012. The conditions for continuation of the mission in Syria were not met, and the operation there ceased. There is a continuous UN presence in the Golan Heights and in Lebanon, but this is only to monitor relations between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. The oldest active mission dates from 1948 and is charged with monitoring and maintaining a cease-fire between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. No UN forces are currently involved in the Syrian conflict.

Q: Some argue that Ban ki-moon has been the least active secretary general in the history of the United Nations? Do you agree with this argument? 

A: It is true that there have been fewer military initiatives under Ban-ki moon. He has been criticized for being too solicitous of the Security Council core members, and not being willing to get involved when there are conflicts between them.  He did initiate the Syrian peace talks in Geneva, but in the past few years has not been willing to work actively in the Middle East. Many criticize him for being too bureaucratic, and not being willing to exercise dynamic leadership. However, one should note that the UN is not just a military operation. It carries out many functions. Among those in which Ban-ki moon has taken an active role is global warming. 

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