At Der Spiegel, "War and Peace: Disunity and Impotence at the United Nations":
The mandate of the United Nations is to preserve peace in the world, but when it comes to the Syrian crisis, the global body has failed badly. Will the UN's new secretary-general be able to finally introduce necessary reforms?More.
The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.
- Dag Hammarskjöld, UN secretary-general, during a May 1954 speech.
The man who, by simply raising his hand, prevented all efforts to end the war in Syria is sitting in a bunker-like room on 67th Street in Manhattan. Chandeliers are hanging above his head, a pendulum clock is keeping the time behind him and the furniture recalls Soviet-era filmography. "We have had this problem with Syria, of course, and ... I (have) thought a lot about it," says Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations. An ironic expression on his face, the white-haired diplomat leans back in his leather chair.
Churkin is one of the men charged with saving the world. As absurd as it might sound, that is his job. The 15 members of the UN Security Council, in particular the five permanent members -- China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States -- bear "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security," according to Article 24 of the Charter of the United Nations.
It is a heroic task, an idealistic notion that was born out of the ruins of World War II: The peoples of the Earth joining together to protect the only planet we have. Uniting their strength, the world's countries hoped to create a better world, a place where all people can live in dignity. And the prerequisite for doing so is peace.
In 2001, the United Nations and its then-secretary-general, Kofi Annan, received the Nobel Peace Prize "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world." It is also thanks to the UN that nuclear war has thus far been prevented, that war criminals from former Yugoslavia were forced to stand trial and that we now have a Paris Climate Agreement, which is aimed at preventing the destruction of the world.
But what has been happening in Syria for the last five years is the opposite of peace: a proxy world war being fought on Syrian territory. It has called everything into question for which the UN stands. The images and the calls for help that innocent men, women and children have been sending out to the world via Facebook and Twitter are unbearable. And yet the world stands by, watching as though it were all merely part of a particularly long horror movie...