Ukraine Shows the UN Has Failed
“Where is the peace that the United Nations was created to guarantee?” asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a UN Security Council meeting last week.
It’s a good question. Around 1,200 civilian bodies have been found in towns around Kyiv—many of them not killed during fighting but deliberately murdered afterward. Some of them were tortured.
On April 8, a Russian missile hit a railway station as Ukrainian civilians tried to evacuate the region. At least 50 were killed.
Yet throughout the whole Ukraine conflict, the United Nations has been irrelevant.
“Are you ready for the dissolving of the UN?” asked Zelenskyy. “Do you think that the time of international law has passed?”
That was almost a week ago. And since then, the UN has done nothing. Why?
“I would like to remind you of the first article of the first chapter of the UN Charter,” said Zelenskyy. “What is the purpose of our organization? To maintain peace. And to force to peace. Now the UN Charter is being violated literally from the first article. And if so, what is the point of all other articles?”
This should be a concerning question. The UN is supposed to be man’s last, best hope for peace.
As world leaders met to set it up in 1945, British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden said, “The work on which we are making a start here may be the world’s last chance.” Many world leaders made similar statements. If the UN has comprehensively failed, in a world of nuclear weapons, what hope is there?
One man who would not be surprised to see this failure was Herbert W. Armstrong. He diagnosed the uselessness of the UN from day one. He attended the foundation of the UN in San Francisco in 1945 and said: “I do not see peace being germinated here, but the seeds of the next war!”
His diagnosis of this situation could, with just a little updating, describe the system today:
Success of the United Nations’ effort for world peace requires complete harmony between the Big Three. But if America and Britain are to achieve harmony with Russia, it is already apparent it will have to be at the cost of justice in the smaller Baltic and Balkan nations, and Poland. And if the rights of these helpless millions are to be trampled upon with impunity as the price of peace with Russia, then we still have no peace!
There can be no real peace until we have justice for all. To achieve that, Uncle Sam must stand up as the stern and determined champion of the rights of these helpless smaller peoples.
And to do that would sacrifice harmony with Russia and risk another war. Peace, it seems, can be achieved only if Russia can eat her cake and have it, too!
The world seems blissfully ignorant of the colossal crimes Russia is committing against these smaller nations she is occupying and annexing. But I have talked, here, with officials and representatives from these nations and learned, firsthand, with shocked indignation, the true and cruel facts.
We’re stuck at the same impasse. Bringing peace to Ukraine means confronting Russia, which would start an even bigger war.
Zelenskyy’s solution is a radical reform of the UN. “The UN system must be reformed immediately so that the right of veto is not a right to kill,” he said. The UN must remove Russia’s block or “show how you can reformat and really work for peace,” he said. “Or if your current format is unalterable and there is simply no way out, then the only option would be to dissolve yourself altogether.”
But there’s no way Russia would agree to be part of something like the UN without a veto. China would probably make the same decision. Even the U.S. would probably not join such an institution. What Zelenskyy is proposing would look more like the League of Nations—an organization that tried to be a global body but didn’t include many of the world’s strongest countries. It failed to stop Japan from invading China, Italy from invading Ethiopia, and became irrelevant before World War ii even started.
Tweaking some of the UN’s structure might make it work a bit better, but the fundamental problem is not voting procedure. It’s much more basic than that.
“We are dealing with a state that turns the right of veto in the UN Security Council into a right to kill,” said Zelenskyy. “Which allows evil to go unpunished and spread [around] the world, destroying everything that can work for peace and security. If this continues, the finale will be that each state will rely only on the power of arms to ensure its security, not on international law, not on international institutions. Then, the UN can simply be dissolved.”
This is the heart of the problem. Can international law bring peace? Or are we doomed to live in a world where “the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must,” as Thucydides wrote over 2,000 years ago?
It’s a question Mr. Armstrong wrote on extensively.
In 1973, the International Court of Justice held a banquet in Mr. Armstrong’s honor. In an article he wrote for the Plain Truth at the time, he shared some of what he discussed with the justices:
Leaders have tried to find a way to settle international disputes, designs and needs peaceably. There simply has to be a way! It’s a matter of survival!
So our advocates of international law reason this way: Within nations, laws have been created to preserve the social order in peace and stability. These laws establish norms of conduct for persons within the nations. Police enforce them, and courts interpret them and try violators.
Carry it further: When disputes (why not be honest and call them “conflicts of interest”?) arise between states or provinces within a nation, they normally take their controversy to a high national court for decision.
One step further: This has led many to ask, “Why couldn’t we create such a system in the international sphere to preserve world peace and stability? Why couldn’t laws be established setting norms of conduct for nations? Why couldn’t nations bring their controversies to a world court for resolution rather than going to war over them?”
It seemed a noble idea. Former Prime Minister Clement Attlee of Britain said: “Some rule of international law in the world is necessary if we are not to perish.”
But as Justice Singh has stressed in addressing our student bodies, law without force is impotent, and force without law is anarchy. In the World Court we have law but without force. …
After thousands of years of human efforts to stop wars—to usher in world peace—we have a United Nations—as helpless and lacking in “teeth” as its predecessor, the League of Nations. And we have its judiciary arm, the International Court of Justice—the World Court.
Mankind has advanced to the point of having judiciary machinery to settle disputes. In spite of its limitations and lack of power, the World Court has made definite contributions to the maintenance of world peace. The submission of differences to the Court for decision has, at times, taken the heat out of disputes which might otherwise have erupted into something much bigger. Also, some long-standing disputes have been resolved through negotiation, after one party threatened to take the case to the Court. And the decisions of the Court have served to clarify and strengthen existing international law.
Surely a beginning has been made. But from this beginning, will the World Court ever grow into a full-fledged supreme court of the world, as many suggest? Some say that as the body of international law grows, nations will gain experiences in being governed by it and allow it to grow even further and expand into more critical areas. Even so, that would take time—a long time. And with nuclear weapons threatening human survival, we don’t have that kind of time. …
What it all boils down to is this: The United Nations and the World Court can be only as powerful and effective as the nations of the world allow them to be. Sovereignty and nationalism are still potent.
Every nation on Earth, in general, puts itself first. If it did not, it would quickly be overtaken or destroyed by some other more ruthless power. Creating a world court, or a United Nations, with real force would require giving up power to a central body. The major powers of the world created the United Nations and even gave it some teeth. But the only way they would ever agree to that is if they created a mechanism to ensure those teeth weren’t used against them. The whole UN is designed in such a way than any one of the permanent five members of the Security Council can stop it from taking any meaningful action.
It is in this world’s selfishness where the true problem behind war and peace lies. Nations will not allow international law to rule over them until that is solved. Mr. Armstrong continued:
There are, as I have said repeatedly and expect to continue saying as long as God allows me to draw breath, just two broad, general ways of life—two divergent philosophies of living. One is the self-centered way. This world is geared to that way. It has been for 6,000 years. It is the way of human nature—the way of vanity, self-exaltation, selfishness, greed, envy, jealousy, resentment. It is the way of self-concern, but with no concern for the good or welfare of others. It is the way of resentment of authority. It is a way of competition, strife and war.
There is one other and opposite way of life. That way constitutes a law, set in motion as surely and relentlessly as the laws of physics, of gravity or inertia. You can’t see those laws, but they work, and you see the effect they produce. This is the way of love. And love is ongoing—an outgoing concern.
Toward other humans, it is the way of giving, not getting or taking, the way of cooperating, serving, helping, sharing. It is the God-centered way—the way of humility, obedience, to authority, the way of believing our Creator, the source of all truth and right knowledge.
But humanity rejected that way 6,000 years ago. That way is in itself an existing spiritual law—a law of physical actions, but of spiritual intent, attitude and principle. Like the laws of gravity and inertia, it is invisible—but it works, and you see the effect.
The effect you see for disobedience—going the way of human nature (breaking that law)—is the mountain of evils humanity has piled on itself—the strife, violence and war, the poverty, illiteracy, disease, filth and squalor, the crime, immorality and degradation, the fears, worries and frustrations.
Everything is a matter of cause and effect. Violation of this active, spiritual law has produced the evil effect we see about us. Obedience to that law would produce the effect of peace, happiness, joy, prosperity universally, security, assurance and abundant well-being!
It’s time we quit kidding ourselves. The nations are not going to act contrary to human nature. As long as we have human nature, the ussr is not going to turn its sovereignty over to the United Nations or the World Court. …
World-renowned scientists say the world’s only hope, now, is for a world government—One superpower—one single military force—to rule all nations. In the same breath they say that’s impossible!
I say, at the same time, the world’s only hope of survival is to change human nature! And man is just as powerless to do that!
Without a world government to back it and enforce its decisions, the World Court will be ineffective in preventing war and bringing world peace. Winston Churchill warned: “Unless some effective world super-government can be brought quickly into action, the proposals for peace and human progress are dark and doubtful.”
The urgent necessity for what is prophesied is not the irresponsible shoutings of some religious zealot—but a stern fact, recognized by great scientists and able statesmen.
The Holy Bible—the down-to-Earth source of the missing dimension in knowledge—reveals just such a world super-government is soon going to be established! And that not by man—but in spite of him!
I quote: “And he [Christ] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).
International law will bring peace! But man is too selfish to voluntarily give it power over their nations. Mr. Armstrong concluded with a warning that should be all the more powerful after events in Ukraine:
So let’s quit kidding ourselves! Unless there does exist the supreme Creator God of love and total power who is about to step in and intervene in world affairs, who has power to, and will change human nature, who will by supernatural divine power reveal Himself to a doubting, disbelieving and deceived world and set up the prophesied Kingdom of God on Earth—with supernatural divine power and force ruling all nations—then the whole world has had it!
You are betting your life and your eternity on that only possible solution! And time is running out on us.