Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The International Community Cannot Continue to Abdicate Its Responsibility

As events in North Africa and the Middle East unfold in quick succession, it is becoming increasingly apparent that it is time for the international community to step up to the plate and assume responsibilities that it has abdicated for too long.

When the UN Security Council was created in the aftermath of the Second World War, it was accorded the distinction of being the principal organ of the new United Nations and was given the responsibility for maintaining and restoring peace in the world: its mandate was to act to ensure peace if it found that one of three events had occurred: that there had been a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace or an act of aggression. In any of these circumstances, the Security Council was empowered to act using a variety of tools including economic sanctions and even the use of force.

As we witness the outbreaks of government-endorsed violence in countries such as Libya, and hear the outcry of peoples around the world railing at such injustice, is it not time for the international institutions to which we have entrusted the very responsibility for maintaining peace to step in and act? Do not the circumstances that we are witnessing amount at the very least to a 'threat to the peace' or a 'breach of the peace?' If not under these circumstances, then when should we act? Words alone, will not suffice. Action is required.

And if we find that what is standing in the way of timely, decisive and effective Security Council action to restore the peace is the absence of a standing international force that is truly representative of the community of nations and that acts in accordance with clearly delineated rules agreed to in advance by all nations, then is it not time to set about finally creating such a force? Surely in a world that is advanced in so many ways, we can succeed if we bend our minds to crafting an international system of collective security that is effective.

The time has come to put away our excuses for inaction and get on with the job of re-vamping our global institutions to ensure that they adequately meet the needs of our time.

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