How do changing ideas about sovereignty–from sovereignty viewed as a “right” to sovereignty viewed as a “responsibilty”–affect the nature of how states act and the functioning of organizations such as the United Nations? Just before spring break we viewed the documentary The Peacekeepers, where you were able to witness the deliberations that take place behind the scenes at the United Nations and the Security Council specifically. For Wednesday, we’ll read Erik Voeten’s article on “The Political Origins of the UN Security Council’s Ability to Legitimize the Use of Force”, the main point of which is obvious given the title. Today, the Guardian reports that the Security Council remains silent on the current situation in Tibet.
UNITED NATIONS, March 17 (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council will likely keep silent about China’s crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet, mostly due to belief that provoking Beijing would accomplish nothing, diplomats said on Monday.
China, which has sent in troops to enforce control in the regional capital Lhasa, said earlier that the violent protests by Tibetans were organized by followers of the Dalai Lama seeking to derail the Beijing Olympics in August. Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader has denied this charge.
“The issue did not come up in the council,” China’s Deputy permanent U.N. representative Liu Zhenmin told Reuters after a meeting of the council on unrelated issues. “This has nothing to do with peace and security,” he said. “It is local violence, … a domestic issue.”
China, like the United States, Britain, France and Russia, is a permanent veto-wielding member of the council and would be able to block any attempts by the council to act on Tibet.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, currently president of the council, told reporters without elaborating that he did not expect the 15-nation Security Council to discuss Tibet. Several other ambassadors confirmed this view.
In PLSC250–intro to IR–this week we viewed a documentary made by the National Film Board of Canada, which addresses the UN’s peacekeeping role in Congo. After reading Chapter 7 of Mingst, you should now be aware that the UN in the world’s most important and powerful IGO, and the UN Security Council plays the most prominent global role in the area of international security. Here are a couple of screen shots from the film and the film’s description:
With unprecedented access to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping, The Peacekeepers provides an intimate and dramatic portrait of the struggle to save “a failed state.” The film follows the determined and often desperate manoeuvres to avert another Rwandan disaster, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC).
Focusing on the UN mission, the film cuts back and forth between the United Nations headquarters in New York and events on the ground in the DRC. We are with the peacekeepers in the ‘Crisis Room’ as they balance the risk of loss of life on the ground with the enormous sums of money required from uncertain donor countries. We are with UN troops as the northeast Congo erupts and the future of the DRC, if not all of central Africa, hangs in the balance.
In the background, but often impinging on peacekeeping decisions, are the painful memory of Rwanda, the worsening crisis in Iraq, global terrorism and American hegemony in world affairs. As Secretary General Kofi Annan tells the General Assembly at the conclusion of The Peacekeepers: “History is a harsh judge. The world will not forgive us if we do nothing.” Whether the world’s peacekeeper did enough remains to be seen.
In intro to IR, we’ll analyze the role of IGOs, NGOs, and international law in international politics. Arguably the most important IGO is the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Today, the UNSC voted (14-0) to impose tougher sanctions against Iran as a result of that country’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons. From the New York Times:
UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council on Monday adopted its third resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its refusal to cease enriching uranium, an activity that the West suspects Iran may be using to create fuel for a nuclear weapon.
The previous two measures gained the unanimous support of the 15-member panel, but in balloting on Monday Indonesia abstained, saying it “remained to be convinced of the efficacy of adopting additional sanctions at this juncture.” Fourteen countries voted in favor.
The resolution authorizes inspections of cargo to and from Iran that is suspected of carrying prohibited equipment, tightens the monitoring of Iranian financial institutions and extends travel bans and asset freezes against persons and companies involved in the nuclear program.
It adds 13 names to the existing list of 5 individuals and 12 companies subject to travel and asset restrictions. The new names include people with direct responsibility for building fast-spinning centrifuges that enrich uranium ore and a brigadier general engaged in “efforts to get around the sanctions” in the two earlier resolutions.
Notice two things: first, the use of “targeted sanctions.” Second, the story byline reads “United Nations”, not New York. I wonder if this is standard practice for stories originating from the United Nations headquarters in New York. Does anyone know?