Trump’s UN Speech Got Us Thinking…

This inscription opposite the UN Headquarters shows the principles of the United Nations. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
This inscription from the Book of Isaiah opposite the U.N. Headquarters shows the principles of the United Nations. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

 

U.S. President Donald Trump sharply criticized the United Nations in his maiden speech to the international body. Trump told the UN to “Focus more on people, less on bureaucracy.

“It has not reached its potential because of the bureaucracy and mismanagement,” Trump said, calling on the body not to “be beholden to ways of the past which are not working.”

Is Trump right? Clarion investigated. Here we present just five of the many instances where the United Nations did not live up to its potential in fighting radical Islam:

 

1.Appointing Saudi Arabia to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

Saudi Arabia is a country in which women are not allowed to drive or leave the house unless accompanied, yet it was appointed to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It even gained a seat on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in April, which is  “dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

In 2015, the desert kingdom was appointed head of a panel responsible for selecting experts to serve in 77 different positions worldwide for the UNHRC.

 

2.Failing to Act in Syria

The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing since 2011. Despite repeated attempts at negotiating a diplomatic solution, the UN’s efforts have come to little more than hand-wringing. Russian and Chinese vetoes at the U.N. Security Council prevented sanctions from being imposed by the UN. in 2012.

Former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan resigned from his post as the UN Special Envoy for the Syria Crisis in 2012 in frustration at the lack of progress. His successor, Lakhdar Brahimi, followed suit in 2014, resigning for the same reason.

International failure to act over President Bashar al-Assad’s abuses has greatly exacerbated Islamic extremism.

 

3.Funding of the Counter Terrorism Center by Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia first proposed the U.N. Counter Terrorism Center in 2005 at the Counter Terrorism International Conference in Riyadh, in which 55 countries participated. The Center was launched in 2008. In 2014, the Saudis donated $100 million to fund the center.

Funding and launching the center gives Saudi Arabia influence over the direction of the UN’s counter-terrorism initiatives. It also act as good public relations the kingdom, as accusations increasingly fall on Saudi Arabia for funding global extremism.

Despite its claims to counter-extremism at the UN, Saudi Arabia has spent an estimated $100 billion over the last 30 years exporting its hardline brand of Islam around the world.

 

4.The Srebrenica Massacre

The Bosnian Civil war saw the worst massacre in Europe since World War II, right under the noses of a UN peacekeeping force.

In 1993, the UN designated the town of Srebrenica as a safe zone and allowed shelter there for Muslims fleeing from other parts of Bosnia. The UN disarmed Muslim militants who had been defending the enclave, which was surrounded by Christian-Serb territory.

Then, in 1995, Bosnian Serb militants took the town from the UN peacekeeping force, almost without resistance. At the time of the assault, Srebrenica was defended by only around 600 lightly-armed Dutch peacekeepers, instead of the 6,000 troops which had been requested. Serbs also kidnapped 30 Dutch peacekeepers and held them hostage. Western countries prevaricated and did not act to protect Srebrenica, even reportedly calling off planned airstrikes.

The victorious Serb militants fanned out and massacred some 8,000 men and boys. There were also widespread reports of rape.

In addition to the human cost of the massacre, Srebrenica was also an enormous blow to the prestige of the UN and to the notion of peacekeeping in general. The Srebrenica massacre was also used by a generation of jihadi recruiters as evidence that the West is waging war against Muslims. Muslim fighters from around the world traveled to Bosnia to fight the Serbs, building early links for what is now the global jihadist movement, encouraged by a lack of international action to prevent atrocities.

 

5.Allowing Hamas to Store Rockets in UN Schools

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency For Palestine (UNWRA) is the UN body which deals specifically with development in the Palestinian territories. In theory, they distribute international aid and run schools and other vital infrastructure services.

However, Hamas, the terrorist group which doubles as the governing body in the Gaza Strip, used UNWRA schools to store rockets for their war against Israel. This happened not once, but repeatedly and was admitted to by the UN. The rockets were discovered during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, in which Israel briefly invaded the Gaza Strip to stop rocket attacks and dismantle the Hamas tunnel network.

Allowing Hamas to store rockets in UN SChools underscored the previous failures of UN peacekeeping forces on the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Lebanon borders to prevent wars between those countries.

 

These five examples show that, on issues of challenging radical Islam and promoting human rights, the United Nations is a long way from reaching its potential.

 

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Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.