Hello everyone! I am so happy to be doing something recreational on my laptop again after what has felt like the busiest two weeks of my life! It’s graduation season and before I get into the topic for today, I would like to send a huge Congratulations to everyone who is about to or has already graduated! This is an enormous achievement and I hope you savour the moment and bask in your own glory for a while.
Moving on to the topic of discussion today: The United Nations. When I was in high school, we learnt about all the great things that the United Nations has achieved and aims to achieve. We were taught naturally, to look up to the organisation and all that it does for ‘poor’ countries like us. We were reminded of its dedicated peacekeeping missions and selfless donations. It was just the absolute dream of (mine) to work for such a successful organisation such as this one and aid them in helping the peoples of the world.
I look back at my naivety now and find it somewhat hilarious how I had put the entire organisation on a pedestal for being the leaders in peacekeeping and aid. My scepticism for the entire organisation actually started in high school though. I thought back to all the years of torment Zimbabwe had endured and, granted, a lot of our problems are small compared to other countries – we have never had a civil war in my time. But regardless of that, we have people in the country starving at numbers close to what you would see in a civil war. Masses of people have been killed over the years (just not at the same time), by our government. So, I thought back on all of these instances, times where there were serious Human Right’s violations going on in the country and I wondered, why didn’t the United Nations care? I rationalised it by saying our problems were not that big. But our problems have been that big, there have been countless reports made by the UNICEF, WHO and the UN on the disheartening things happening in the country, but reports are really as far as it goes. Still, I thought I was just feeling this way because it was my own country and I desperately wanted all of the abuse to stop but it was not necessarily failure the UN itself.
However, I continued to observe the problems/conflicts that the UN gave more attention to and the ones that it seemed to ignore and unsurprisingly, a pattern developed. The conflicts in which the UN took a more involved role tended to be those in which the most dominant members of the UN had a vested interest in. The countries which have nothing to offer seem to get the “advice treatment.” Granted, it is a bit of a dangerous game to play to demand/expect the UN to get actively involved in conflicts around the world. Coming from a formerly colonised country, this idea is extremely contentious. Nonetheless, my problem here stems from the fact that they actually do get actively involved in some conflicts and the premises which they decided to get involved on seem to be extremely corrupt. Looking at how they view themselves, UN says they are:
“the one place on Earth where all the world’s nations can gather together, discuss common problems, and find shared solutions that benefit all of humanity.”
Without getting into the technicalities of misrepresentation of certain regions in the world in the UN, it is safe to say that this statement is grossly misleading. Still, if we take this slogan into account, that their main goal is to provide dialogue on problem solving, still the preferential treatment problem persists. The problems which make it to the main discussion, are those that are regarded as strategically important by an ‘important’ country in the UN. My suspicions continued to get re-affirmed incident after incident. Because even in the conflicts that the UN seemed to care about, the action taken was clearly very biased to people who have full knowledge on the problem at hand. It has been witnessed in Syria, in the refugee crises and in Palestine. Nonetheless, I must add that I do recognise that the UN has made great positive changes throughout the world: they have fed many mouths; facilitated peace negotiations; provided safe drinking water; provided medical treatment etc. But none of these changes negate the fact that the UN works on a preferential basis and sadly for the places in the world that strategically or economically have nothing to offer, we are not a significant topic on the agenda.
Looking at the conflicts they have heavily gotten involved in, there was some sort of political or economic interest at stake. Take Congo for example. The Congolese civil war is an extremely complicated one that I do not even understand myself but it is no secret that the UN (and other international involvement) have all been called out for only getting involved in Congo for the economic gain the country offered. The same can be said for the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, which the UN increasingly got involved in because of the political and economic implications of the regions. There are countless examples of where this has happened time and time again and examples on the other side where millions have died (in less important or more politically complicated regions), where the UN has decided to keep their aid at a distance.
Looking at the evidence, it is clear that preferential treatment is used when the UN decides on how they will act in a crisis. Looking now, at the devastation in Palestine, which ironically, is a problem that stems back to the UN’s decisions and actions. The UN again is dealing which an extremely troubling conflict by providing ‘advice.’ Advice that peace should be reached soon. The reason that the UN will not go any further than this (regardless of the millions of people dying) is because the Palestinian genocide is loaded with a lot of political implications. And while the entire purpose of the UN is to be a non-political peace keeping body, the truth of the matter is that they are political in all of the action they take or do not take. Now, this post is not just about highlighting the corruption within the UN and the problems certain regions of the world face because if it, it is also to address the people who see such international organisations as saviours. As I did in the past. When we have crises in Zimbabwe, when people are being killed, our internet is being turned off etc., I see people tagging or #UN on all the posts. And every time I see it, I wonder why are people even bothering to do that? If the UN was concerned about the problems Zimbabweans were facing, something would have been done about the genocide that took place in the 1990s, the thousands killed from 2002-2008 and the millions starving. My point is that we should open our eyes to the fact that they -the outside- simply do not care. While as Zimbabweans, we feel like we are out of choices and in that way are looking to the outside for help, we need to face the sad reality that they do not care. It is time for us to look within for change and help. We are also the same ones who would find in very problematic if outsiders came into our country and stared politically ‘fixing’ things so why do we call to them for ‘help’ in times of need? It truly does confuse me. Moreover, looking at instances such as the Rwandan genocide, outside interference seemed to just make the problem much worse, which could most likely be the case in a lot of instances.
Although I do realise the complexity of what I am saying, for me it seems very clear that these Western organisations we turn to for help have already written us off as a lost cause. However, I know many people will have different perspectives to me and I would love to hear these. Be it in on the UN itself or on the idea of seeking international aid, I would appreciate hearing what people think on this topic as it is quite a contentious one.