ON 10 December 2023, the world celebrated 75 years of World Human Rights Day. This Universal Declaration was adopted by the UN in 1948 and is still considered relevant today as was in 1948. This year’s theme revolves around freedom, equality and justice for all. The purpose behind this landmark document declaration was to establish a global human rights system. But can we even say that the global human rights system exists today when humanity is challenged by Israel’s on-slough in Gaza?

This year many world leaders from across the world joined the Doha Forum and openly criticized the Israeli genocide in Gaza. They called for an immediate ceasefire which has become a test for international institutions, particularly the United Nations. This siege has exposed what many perceive as a global institutional failure to stop Israel’s relentless bombardment and the killing of women and children. But can the UN demand Israel and the US enough of the damage caused to Gaza? If not, can they ask other states like Russia to stop human rights violations in Ukraine?

If we look at the UN mandate carefully it is aimed to achieve the following key objectives. Promote and protect all human rights; protect the right to development; provide technical assistance to States for human rights activities; coordinate UN human rights education and public information programmes; work actively to remove obstacles to the realization of human rights and to prevent the continuation of human rights violations; engage in dialogue with governments to secure respect for all human rights; enhance international cooperation for the promotion and protection of all human rights; coordinate human rights promotion and protection activities throughout the UN system and rationalize, adapt, strengthen and streamline the UN human rights machinery. But here the question is are these above objectives achievable today or do they remain fancy terminology alone?

If we look at the world system and the role of the UN we can see there is a disconnect between rhetoric and practice. The UN Secretary-General himself said the situation in Gaza is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region. But the UN under the leadership of the current Secretary General seems to be unable to bring a ceasefire. According to various UN representatives, “norms and values of the UN mandate are not followed correctly. The UN General Assembly has been hijacked and become a talking show only. There is a lack of democracy in the UN where the powerful are misusing their privileged position. The UN leadership demanded the full implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that they had back in time because with the existing arrangement they cannot serve humanity nor can overcome the existing inequalities”.

One of the UN former employees stated “With utmost regret and sadness, I have to agree that even though I worked for one of the UN entities for more than two decades, today I’m sad and regret being affiliated with the UN. Because my institution has disappointed me and many other employees, unfortunately, it has failed to protect its people”.

The Qatar Prime Minister openly criticized the international institutions for showing double standards and failing to act. He told the Doha Forum that this crisis highlighted the great gap between the East and West, between various generations and double standards in the international community. Today the world is split between some calling for putting an end to this war and some who are hesitant to even call for a ceasefire. Though a top Arab delegation is in the US aiming to build consensus for a truth, that move is undermined by the US veto on the UN Security Council draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. The Palestinian PM said that the only way out is a comprehensive solution that would lead to the establishment of the Palestinian State but the US has no explanation for the Two-State solution formula. The UNRWA Chief Philippe Lazzarini said the refugee agency is on the verge of collapsing in Gaza. We need an immediate ceasefire to end ‘hell on earth’ in Gaza. But why is there international silence as Israel continues its attacks?

Despite key regional allies’ warnings, Israel is not moving an inch and persistently insists that it will not halt its bombardment. Currently in the hallmark of genocide in Gaza, the world is on one side while the US along with Israel is on the other side. The US had a pivotal role in establishing the UN and had the power to veto any decision. The US credibility is badly suffering among the Muslim and Arab world. The US’s current position in the UN is leading towards raising questions regarding the basic definitions of International Human Rights and the integrity of the UN. It also challenges the power and prestige of the International Criminal Court which is issuing an arrest warrants against Vladimir Putin for attacking/killing innocent Ukrainians but is helpless when openly genocide is taking place against the people in Gaza!

Unfortunately, the world is going through the darkest time of polarization. It’s a moment for action based on constructive measures rather than the destruction of the global order. The nature of the international system is challenged. In the new set of norms where might is right, is there any room for rule-based law? And lastly, if the UN cannot protect humanity, is there any need for the UN? Or like after the failure of the League of Nations when the UN was established now it’s time to establish a new global institution. Or let the UN maintain its status and enjoy three Ps ‘Pay, Perks and Privileges’ at the cost of ‘People’ and still demand states to establish democracies and maintain human rights as if people really matter! In a nutshell, it’s the peak time to reset the international order so those who feel abandoned have a say and the new global order provides equality and justice to all irrespective of religious and political affiliation!

Dr. Farah Naz is the author, Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Public Policy, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST).

Reference Link:- https://pakobserver.net/gaza-and-irrelevance-of-the-united-nations/

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