“Britain is like a toothless bulldog, wagging its tail before Smith, and fearing him like hell.” In 1974, that statement, during the Internet pre-viral days, went globally “viral”.
It was said by the Zambian High Commissioner to Britain, Ali Simbule, castigating the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, for failing to reign in Rhodesia’s Ian Smith who had declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Southern Rhodesia (what was to become Zimbabwe) in 1965.
The genesis of the problem was that, despite Britain granting independence to Nyasaland (Zambia), it did not do the same for Southern Rhodesia, thus allowing White Supremacist Smith to take over control of the colony and denying the majority Blacks a vote. Instead, Wilson referred the matter to the United Nations, which imposed sanctions on the colony. This did not deter Smith from ruling for 15 years, thus attracting Simbule’s comment on Wilson.
In instances like these, some countries ignore the Security Council’s sanctions. This undermines the usefulness of the UN. It has happened before; and it is happening now in places like Crimea, Burma (Myanmar), North Korea, Russia, Syria and the like.
The US cruise missile strike on the Syrian air force base, has brought the issue more to the fore; but it has always been there, though in situations ignored by the UN. For the last six years of the Syrian crisis, the Bashar al Assad regime has been pulverizing its people using chemical weapons especially on the civilian population, in the guise that they are the ISIS rebels.
The UN went to obvert levels of sanctioning Syria and, even sending teams, to verify the presence of the chemical weapons. This has not had much effect. Its officials, like Kofi Annan, got so frustrated that, he resigned. Presently, Stefan Di Mistura, is talking off his head about the suffering of the civilian population in Syria, but little effect.
And so, comes in Donald Trump with his missile strike. The UN is still trying to mollify Trump with the new Secretary General, Antonio Gutierrez, making noises about taking the matters to the Security Council, and so on. In the meantime, Assad merely sits mug and tight with the help of his Russian and Iran allies. It makes one wonder about the usefulness of the UN, except where people like, Trump, take issues into their own hands and settle the matters unilaterally.
Even in some of its agencies, the UN is sorely lacking; and sometimes their actions are contradictory to the issues of human rights in the very countries they are applauding. And yet the agencies are in contact with the officials and politicians in those countries.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is currently tussling with the Hungarian government on the treatment of the Mediterranean boat asylum seekers in Europe. To a great extent, Hungary is instead creating concentration camps before the very eyes of IOM.
For a long time now, Uganda has been in the eyes of the UN Refugee Agency. This is because in the Great Lakes Region, there have been political upheavals that have made the ordinary people to run from one place to another. Uganda has become a bastion for refugees where they are very welcome.
Indeed, the UN has constantly congratulated Uganda for hosting the refugees, who have been streaming from its neighboring countries, depending on the conflict in the neighbourhoods. And so, Uganda has hosted and is continuing to host refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
While the UN is clapping its hands for Uganda’s graciousness, it does not take into account the plight of the people within the borders of the country. A recent case concerns the story, the Sunrise led with last week, “You Fed Refugees as We Die”. This was a complaint by the politicians in the Karamoja Region about the famine which has hit the region for now past two harvests.
Uganda politicians keep on making noises about food security (Insecurity) for their own people, while feeding the refugees streaming in from South Sudan. The UN is completely quiet about the plight of the Karimojong from hunger. In the Syrian conflict, at least Di Mistura is making some noises, but in Uganda’s, case the UN is behaving as if Karamoja Region is not on the global map.
Why this divergence in the UN thinking?
So, in Ugandas case, the UN is a whimpering puppy, anxicius to lap the milk of Uganda’s acceptance of refugees, and more refugees