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The needs of Nepal overshadowed by the UN’s guise for peace and security.

posted by dru Geography: South Asia Nepal

May 9, 2007

The needs of Nepal overshadowed by the UN’s guise for peace and security.


By Amy Miller [1] and Mahmood ALI [2]

The world hasn’t been paying attention to Nepal lately. Why would they? As the plan of action seems to go for the Goliath International Institution, the UN comfortably settled into the poor South Asian country last year ready to play its usual role of peace broker, supplier and judge and the global gaze moved on to newer, more exciting stories. The few stories that we can read are often published from New Delhi, and follow the UN line.

The Voice of America (VOA) recently published an on-line articled by Steve Herman ‘UN Frustrated by Nepal’s Maoist Former Rebels’, in which “U.N. officials in Nepal had hoped to begin verifying the identities of thousands of people in U.N-supervised camps who claim to be members of the Peoples' Liberation Army.” But as Steve Herman reports from New Delhi, the former insurgents have “set conditions for the registration process, delaying the effort.”

The article goes on to quote UN spokesman Kierna Dwyer who said personnel have been ready for weeks to begin verifying whether there are any children in the camps or if the Maoists recruited any residents since last May.

The article, amongst others, attempts to paint a picture that those pesky Maoists and the Nepalese people (as if the two were separate) are just being demanding, and not understanding all the good that the UN is trying to do. It reeks of a patronizing ‘If they just stopped being difficult, the UN could do its job and give them the prize of peace.’

How the UN credibility and confidence has been lost by the Nepalese, is overlooked and remains trivial questions by the mainstream policy analysts and media. There are many reasons for this lose, as there always are, such as the weak leadership in Nepal, but one obvious aspect is the flaws in the UN’s operation management in Nepal.

Scanning the few reports where reporters talk to the people, the general sentiment of the local residents does not favor the UN’s presence in their country. Regardless the UN Spokesperson and the UN delegates, while dealing with the Senior Officials in Nepal, have been able to dictate certain conditions onto the people and the government, using the corporate and institutional media friendly guise of maintaining peace and stability. This is otherwise known as manipulating and implementing a national and foreign policy for the gains of other global actors, such as everyone’s concerned brother, the United States.

Whether it be East Timor, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Somalia, Sudan, Sierra Leon, Liberia or any other UN peacekeeping Mission, the modus operandi remains the same. The UN and US interests and policies are identical.

One need only remember the UN intervention in Timor Lorosae. With the UN blessing to the Australian led military intervention in 1999, the suffering of the people was the justification and what came after was irrelevant-the UN was coming to bring peace. The fact that Canberra, close and cozy with the Indonesian junta, was willing to recognize the annexation of East Timor in order to enable Australia to have easy access to the Timor Sea oil was a simple need to reconfigure its relationship to the island once Suharto fell in 1998. It was a very smooth move by Howard to send troops to Timor Leste in 1999; heading off Portugal’s attempts to reestablish itself on the former colony and continues to do so. All of this was done with the stamp and emblem of the UN, and the guarantee of those precious three words: peace and security.

Now the most salutary lesson of late has been the UN in Iraq. In 2003, the US and its allies, including Australia and Canada, launched a war of aggression to topple Saddam Hussein and the country's vast reserves of oil. The devastating conditions of the people in Iraq weren’t and continue to be portrayed as secondary impacts that come along with war and just not that important. Colonialism has a way of trivializing the horrors that people live under occupation. The war continues to be a flagrant breach of international law. How planning and conducting a war of aggression was the principal crime for which the Nazi leaders were tried and convicted after World War II, is by and large ignored by the International Community is startling. If there was ever an opportunity for the UN to prove it stood for peace and justice, this was it. But it failed miserably, bestowing its approval for the ongoing US occupation of the country in May 2003 and providing much support in the last 4 long years.

This is not to suggest that there are no well-intentioned individuals who work for the mammoth institution called the United Nations. But their intentions do not, unfortunately, alter one iota, objective role or function of the organization

Since the world doesn’t want to contemplate and organize around any solid alternative to the UN, we seem to accept that somehow the organization must muddle on. We seem to have great difficulty accepting that the organization has failed us precisely in those areas where we need it the most. Meanwhile, while the Maoists in Nepal ask for basics such as clean drinking water and more tents for the refugee camps that thousands of people are confined to, before continuing on with the registration process, the UN can bully and present them as unreasonable uncivilized nuisances the delegates must deal with. Because we all know, the UN is interested in one goal and only one: peace and security.

[1] Amy Miller is an organizer based in Montréal, Canada who can be reached at amy@resist.ca

[2] Mahmood ALI (based in Islamabad/Pakistan) is a former UN official. He can be reached at mahmood@scu-dili.org

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