Thursday, April 1, 2010
Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance
The pursuit of human rights was a central reason for creating the UN. World War II atrocities and genocide led to a ready consensus that the new organization must work to prevent any similar tragedies in the future. An early objective was creating a legal framework for considering and acting on complaints about human rights violations. The UN Charter obliges all member nations to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights” and to take “joint and separate action” to that end. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though not legally binding, was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all. The Assembly regularly takes up human rights issues.
The UN and its agencies are central in upholding and implementing the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A case in point is support by the UN for countries in transition to democracy. Technical assistance in providing free and fair elections, improving judicial structures, drafting constitutions, training human rights officials, and transforming armed movements into political parties have contributed significantly to democratization worldwide. The UN has helped run elections in countries with little democratic history, including recently in
On 15 March 2006 the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to replace the United Nations Commission on Human Rights with the UN Human Rights Council, Its purpose is to address human rights violations. The UNCHR had repeatedly been criticized for the composition of its membership. IN particular, several of its member countries themselves had dubious human rights records, including states whose representatives had been elected to chair the commission. The new council has stricter rules for peacekeeping membership including a universal human rights review and a dramatic increase in the number of nations needed to elect a candidate to the body, from election-by-regional-slate on the 53-member Economic and Social Council to a majority of the 192 member General Assembly.
Inaction on Genocide and Human Rights
UN peacekeepers are sent to various regions where armed conflict has recently ceased, or temporarily frozen, in order to enforce the terms of peace agreements and to discourage the combatants from resuming hostilities, for example in East Timor until its independence in 2001. These forces are provided by member states of the UN, and participation in peace keeping operations in optional; at this point only 2 nations,
The UN Peace-Keeping Forces (called the Blue Helmets) received the 1988 Nobel Prize for Peace. In 2001, the UN and Secretary General Kofi Annanwon the Nobel Peace Prize “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world the UN maintains a series of United Nations Medals awarded to military service members who enforce UN accords. The first such decoration issued was the United Nations Service Medal, awarded to UN forces who participated in the Korean War The NATO Medal is designed on a similar concept and both are considered international decorations instead of military decorations.
A large share of UN expenditures addresses the core UN mission of peace and security. The peacekeeping budget for the 2005 – 2006 fiscal year is approximately $5 billion (compared to approximately $1.5 billion for the UN core budget over the same period), with some 70,000 troops deployed in 17 missions around the world. UN peace operations are funded by assessments, using a formula derived from the regular funding scale, but including a weighted surcharge for the five permanent Security Council members, who must approve all peacekeeping operations. This surcharge serves to offset discounted peacekeeping assessment rates for less developed countries. In December 2000, the UN revised the assessment rate scale for the regular budget and for peacekeeping. The peacekeeping scale is designed to be revised every six months and was projected to be near 27% in 2003. The
Success in security issues
The Human Security Report 2005 produced by the Human Security Centre at the
In the area of Peacekeeping, successes include: The US Government Accountability Office concluded that UN Peacekeeping is eight times less expensive than funding a
Failures in security issues
In many cases UN members have shown reluctance to achieve or enforce Security Council resolutions.
Peace and Security