U.N. in jeopardy

Reeling from recent battlefield losses, the regime of President Bashar Assad responded this weekend by killing dozens of Syrian civilians with airstrikes. The aircraft targeted territory held by rebels as well as places held by ISIS jihadis, but the common denominator appears to be that civilians form the overwhelming majority of the victims.

The strikes earned the condemnation of the U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who cited evidence that civilians were nearly always the ones paying the price of such totally indiscriminate acts.

But the U.N.’s own track record is as easy to criticize as the regime’s. Civilian areas have been targeted by missiles, artillery shells and barrel bombs for several years now, but the only thing that de Mistura and others can come up with are statements of condemnation.

The U.N.’s efforts on Syria can be summed up as follows: empty words, false hopes, a bit of work for a handful of bureaucrats, and some media events. After a security resolution was passed warning against the use of chemical weapons, chlorine has been used in several-dozen instances. There have been recent reports about regime forces receiving humanitarian aid that was supposed to go to the needy. And U.N. officials have stated openly that Assad is systematically engaged in indiscriminately bombing civilian populations.

The U.N. charter defines its tasks as, among other things, taking measures to remove threats to peace and stopping aggression. The U.N. should decide whether it’s an NGO that is commenting on current events as a representative of the civil society sector, or whether it represents the collective will of the international community and a mechanism for implementing international law. It’s that simple.

Editorial from Daily Star (Lebanon): http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Editorial/2015/Jun-01/299982-un-in-j...