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Uganda’s UN seat no cause for celebration

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd November 2008 03:00 AM

IT is a mistake to celebrate Uganda's election to the UN Security Council, as Madam Karooro Okurut has done in the New Vision of October 28. Indeed the Ibo proverb she cites should be adjusted to say: “only when a small country dirties its hands, may it sit with imperialists”.

IT is a mistake to celebrate Uganda's election to the UN Security Council, as Madam Karooro Okurut has done in the New Vision of October 28. Indeed the Ibo proverb she cites should be adjusted to say: “only when a small country dirties its hands, may it sit with imperialists”.

By Kalundi Serumaga

IT is a mistake to celebrate Uganda's election to the UN Security Council, as Madam Karooro Okurut has done in the New Vision of October 28. Indeed the Ibo proverb she cites should be adjusted to say: “only when a small country dirties its hands, may it sit with imperialists”.

The UN actually has a poor record in tackling the world’s most critical problems. Most recent was the Rwanda genocide, and the current crisis in Darfur. But before that, there has been the now 60-year-old Palestinian problem (where the majority of 138 UN resolutions about the Israeli-occupied West Bank, have been passed and not implemented); the massively intensified environmental destruction over the last 30 years; and the threat of nuclear proliferation.

The problem lies with the global power politics being played out historically among those members who gave themselves permanent seats on it when the UN was set-up just after the 1939-1945 Second “World” War (basically, those countries are on the winning side).

These real owners of the UN, simply use the “veto” powers they gave themselves to block implementation of any resolution that they feel hurts their interests, or those of the “allies”. So, for example, China will block proposed action against their oil supplier Sudan over Darfur, and the US will then do likewise over Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. If a normal (and therefore non-permanent) country tries to act independently, it may be bullied and even severely punished.

An example was when Yemen (one of the poorest countries in the world) was a member, and in rare case of defiance, voted against the 1990 US proposal to attack Iraq. Immediately after the Yemenis cast their vote, the head of the US delegation, was reported as turning to them and sneering: “that will be the most expensive ‘no’ vote you will ever cast”.
Three days later, the US cut its entire aid programme to Yemen. This is now known as the “Yemen Precedent” in UN circles. This is not new.

As Karooro points out, Uganda has been on the non-permanent “benches” before. What she could have added was that in the 1981 case, the UK was instrumental in lobbying to make sure Uganda was elected in a deal that was mutually beneficial to both governments at the time.

The UK went on to vigorously defend the UPC government by shielding it globally from charges of having stolen the 1980 election (thereby helping to keep the aid taps open), and the Uganda government delegation voted in the Security Council to support the UK’s demand to solve the Argentinian occupation of the Falkland islands militarily, instead of through international mediation (as some diplomats were urging).

The UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s 1981-2 Falklands war, lead to the wasteful loss of life.

So, being elevated to the Security Council is not necessarily an endorsement of one’s democratic and diplomatic credentials as Karooro believes; it is more a sign that the big powers have recognised that our government is complaint with — if not supportive of — their programme of continued global thuggery that has brought the world to a very dangerous point economically, environmentally and demographically.

Other problems are on their way to the UN: wars over fertile land and water; louder demands for indigenous native rights; and global mass migrations towards the richer countries. These will be fuelled by the continued thirst of the big powers for mineral resources (especially oil and Uranium) and for forcibly vacant areas of land and water to cheaply grow food and to fish for their big, idle populations, at a profit.

Under George W. Bush’s America, this was presented as the “war on terror”. It may take on other names with the changing balance of power currently taking place globally, but make no mistake; countries like Uganda only get to sit with the “big boys” because clearly, in their view, our hands have been suitably dirty for quite some time now. That, is the real “achievement” of our government.

The writer is a journalist

Uganda’s UN seat no cause for celebration

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