Cover Story

Why the UN is a problem

Issue: "Reining in the UN," Feb. 17, 2001

As the Second World War drew to a close, the victorious allies met in San Francisco to discuss how to keep a peace that they had won at such a cost in blood and treasure. They drew up a charter for a new international organization that the assembled national representatives, encouraged by the United States, approved on Oct. 24, 1945. The Preamble to the Charter of this new organization rang with purpose: "We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding nations from the scourge of war... reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." At the same time, the Charter was careful to emphasize the principle of national sovereignty and to explicitly promise, in Article 2, that "Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter." Over the ensuing decades, however, the UN has strayed from, even abandoned, these lofty principles. Instead of protecting existing human rights, for example, the UN twists the notion of human rights beyond recognition by attempting to define new rights, such as the "right" to an abortion. Instead of reaffirming the worth and dignity of the human person, the UN seeks to reduce the population of the planet. Instead of promoting freedom around the globe, the UN holds conferences and pushes for "consensus" documents that undermine family values and national sovereignty on a whole host of issues. The UN attack on national sovereignty takes many forms. At the June 1998 Rome Summit, the UN pushed for the authority to arrest and try any person in the world before its criminal court. The September 1999 UN Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms called for the global abolition of the right to keep and bear arms. The Declaration of the UN Millennium Summit, held in New York the week of Sept. 4, called for a central role for the UN in "managing worldwide economic and social development." The UN Environmental Programme, in its Human Development Report 1999, went even further, advocating the creation of a world central bank and the imposition of global taxes. It doesn't seem to bother UN officials that such attacks on national sovereignty are specifically forbidden by their own Charter. If the trial and punishment of criminals, the imposition of taxes, and the issuance and control of currencies is not a function of national governments, then what is? The UN and its affiliated agencies have also fallen prey to an environmentalist fancy that sees human beings in their numbers as a threat to the planet. Despite having a Charter that touts the "dignity and worth of the human person," the UN acts as though all people, born and unborn, are a burden and not a blessing. This comes through in various ways. The recent Millennium Summit Declaration, for example, exhorts us all to have "respect for nature," and to abide by something called the "precepts of sustainable development." Sustainable development is shorthand for centralized control of economic activity and restrictions on childbearing-both motivated by a fear of overpopulation. The UN speaks of economic and social development, but economic development has come to be virtually synonymous with lowering the birth rate. Former colonial powers demand that their one-time charges have population-control programs in place as a condition of receiving foreign aid. Though the UN touts its commitment to decolonization, its Population Fund is a new and deadly form of neocolonialism. The UN speaks of human rights, yet continues to pander to powerful countries like China that run roughshod over the rights of their citizens. The UN's defenders argue that China's permanent membership in the Security Council, which gives it a veto over UN operations, makes it impossible to effectively respond to China's misdeeds. But China's veto doesn't mean that the UN has to endorse China's oppression of Tibet, for example, or its coercive one-child policy. The UN Population Fund gives millions of dollars in aid each year to the State Family Planning Council, the Chinese government agency in overall command of the one-child policy. And a few years ago the UN chose to hold a conference on the status of women in Beijing. A country that dictates to women the number of children they may have and aborts them if they violate the rules is hardly a suitable location for such an event. Our next ambassador to the UN should seek to rein in those UN bureaucrats who are aggressively pursuing an agenda of global governance. The new ambassador also should publicly and forcefully reject the neo-Malthusian paranoia that is at the heart of the UN's attack on life and the family. For decades prophets of doom have been predicting disaster when the earth's limited resources are outrun by population growth. Their prophecies are wrong, the U.S. ambassador should say. The greatest resource on the planet is none other than humanity itself.

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