So one of the major challenges for the new UN Secretary General will be the relationship he manages to achieve with the Trump administration.
We have already heard from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham North Carolina before Christmas that unless the UN reverses its Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli settlements the US should refund the UN.
Let's just take a moment and think about this. This was the act of the UN Security Council a member led body not the UN as such but 15 member states, Below is the list of the countries all but one voted for United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. The only that did not was the US who abstained.
The resolution was drawn up by Egypt - one of the strongest US allies in the region and with the help if British legal and diplomatic figures working together.
The resolution itself says that the UN Security will not recognise any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines including in regard to Jerusalem. It reminded member states to distinguish between the territory of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. So what did the member states who voted for this say. (this is taken from Wikipedia)
Reactions by Security Council states
- China: The Chinese Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Wu Haitao, welcomed the resolution and said it reflects the common aspiration of the international community.
- France: The French Ambassador to the UN, François Delattre, said the resolution's adoption is "an important and historic event" and noted it was the first time that the Security Council had clearly stated the obvious, that settlement activities undermined a two-state solution.
- Malaysia: Prime Minister Najib Razak described the vote as "a victory to the people of Palestine".
- New Zealand: Foreign Minister Murray McCully stated that "we have been very open about our view that the [UN Security Council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long established policy on the Palestinian question" and that "the vote today should not come as a surprise to anyone and we look forward to continuing to engage constructively with all parties on this issue".
- Russia: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia issued a statement which said that "the Russian Federation voted for it because the resolution is based on tested formulas reflecting the general view of the international community, which have been reaffirmed many times, on the illegality of Israeli settlement plans in the Palestinian territory. (...) Our experience shows convincingly that a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only possible through direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis without any preconditions."
- Senegal: After several retribution measures were announced by Israel, Senegal Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that his country "steadily supported the research of a fair and equitable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
- Spain: The Spanish Ambassador to the UN and incumbent President of the UN Security Council, Román Oyarzun Marchesi, welcomed the resolution; he noted that Spain had always affirmed the illegality of the settlements and said the resolution was consistent with Spain's position.
- United Kingdom: The British Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, welcomed the resolution and said it was a "clear reinforcement" of international belief in a two-state solution, that Israel's settlement expansion was "corroding the possibility" of a lasting peace in the Middle East and that "the settlement expansion is illegal." In reaction to John Kerry's speech, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister rebuked Kerry for focusing on the single issue of Israeli settlements and not the whole conflict, and said: "We do not... believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case, the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex." The spokesperson continued, in reaction to Kerry's statement about the makeup of the Netanyahu government, that "...we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally."
- United States: United States Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States could not "stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace" and said the resolution "rightly condemns violence and incitement and settlement activity." In a later speech, he said that the Israeli Netanyahu government's agenda is driven by "extreme elements," that its policies are leading "towards one state" and that "if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or Democratic – it cannot be both. Kerry also said a peace agreement must be based on the 1967 lines, that all citizens must enjoy equal rights, that occupation must end, that the Palestinian refugee issue must be resolved, and that Jerusalem must be the capital of both states. He also said that the Security Council resolution "reiterates what has long been the overwhelming consensus international view on settlements" and that "if we had vetoed this resolution, the United States would have been giving license to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose." The United States House of Representatives, on the other hand, voted 342-80 to condemn the UN Resolution on January 5, 2017.
- Venezuela: The Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN called the resolution's passage historic.
- Ukraine:Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko compared Israel's settlement of the West Bank to the Russian occupation of Crimea.[The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that the Resolution's text was balanced: Israel was to desist from settlements, and Palestinians were to adopt measures to counter terrorism.
This was the response of the President-elect. I don't understand the criticism of the UN.... This was member state led by in many cases countries that are strong supports of the US.
This has today been followed up by conservative Congressman Walter Jones he and four others have co-sponsor a congressional bill that would remove the United States from the United Nations, and evict the "scandal-plagued" global body from the country.
In a period of increasing insecurity, the UN is needed more than ever not less.
These Senators and Congressman should perhaps consider what would happen without the UN being there.
Only last year the UN had to deal with the ebola virus - who would do the work without the UN?
Who would deal with the refugee crisis and the refugee camps without UNHCR?
What about conflicts? The UN has 16 current peacekeeping deployments. This includes Cyprus which goes back to 1964. A peacekeeping mission that at alst may be coming to an end soon.
What about disasters the last saw 750,000 people who needed assistance in Haiti and Cuba after Hurricane Matthew. Who would have dealt with the humanitarian crisis without UNICEF, World Food Programme, and other UN agencies?
What about issues like child labour? Who would do the work of the International Labour Organisation's work to stop child labour. W
Who would have come in and run the elections in Cambodia and Iraqi if the UN hadn't been there?
What about the AIDS epidemic. Who would have addressed it without the UN? Or infant and mother mortality without UNFPA or UNAIDS and WHO?
Who would have addressed the hole in the ozone layer? or climate change? or the loss of biodiversity? or the trade in endangered species?
What about war crimes. Who would have undertaken the prosecutions of Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic the Liberian and Serbian leaders for war crimes?
What about preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Without the UN how would that have happened? Who would have taken the role of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency in ending nuclear weapon research in some countries and submitting to inspection.
That's not to say the UN hasn't had failures for me the Rwanda Genocide, the rape and child sex abuse in the Congo are two examples of this.
There are so many more examples of success that I could give of the work of the UN and its amazing staff.
That an incoming President is yet unaware of some of this or doesn't hold it to be important to the stability and health of the planet should be of concern to all of us. I can only hope that changes after he takes office and he may want to consider Churchill's comments.