There are harsh claims from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), media and some sensitive political leaders blaming the United Nations Security Council and specifically those countries with veto power. These claims were the center of debate some weeks ago during a Security Council session, which discussed sanctions against Syria for using chemical weapons, yet again, on its civilians.
There was an agreement to punish the Assad regime, but Russia vetoed that resolution. Latin American countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba have repeatedly backed Assad, and Latin America as a whole has not been clear in its stand before the Syrian tragedy.
This time, Uruguay reacted slightly differently from other Latin American countries. Permanent Representative of Uruguay Ambassador Elbio Rosselli started his speech saying “keep calm and carry on,” an English motto from World War II.
Rosselli continued to say, “We have to keep calm in order to be able to keep doing our job as Security Council, because the Syrian war must be kept in a multilateral frame and the main responsibility for it lies in this Council.”
Immediately, Rosselli criticized the Russian veto by saying: “the members of this Council should understand the damage of the use of the veto when we face such horrible situations. Veto in these times means lack of efficiency of the Council and makes our job unbalanced.”
But on the other hand, Rosselli said that unilateral use of force is considered by Uruguay as “illegitimate.” This was a clear criticism of the United States bombing of Syria after Assad’s chemical attack on his own people.
And here we have the main point: the use of the word “balance.”
The use of chemical weapons by Assad is a war crime and must be judged as such. To veto any sanction of those who engage in acts of barbarity, shows the lack of any efficiency of the Security Council and the U.N. itself.
The U.S. bombing was not as unilateral as it was mentioned in the Security Council. The U.S. previously reported that China and other countries, which also have veto power, knew that the bombing would take place.
Is it necessary to criticize just for the record or to show impartiality? Absolutely not. All members of the Security Council were fully aware that the United States had spoken with China, United Kingdom and France before attacking Syria. So, the so called “impartiality” was out of the queston.
But this political way to use “balance” is unfortunately used all the time in U.N. agencies and in the Security Council as well.
And Israel is one of those issues. What is the “balance” of devoting one full Security Council session a month speaking against Israel, and doing nothing to find a path to peace, but instead, spread rhetoric full of lies and hatred?
Well, there is no balance whatsoever. And Latin American countries instead of helping to end dubious and useless “balances” which go nowhere should be instrumental to open the eyes to African, European countries in order to help altogether to do a serious work at the U.N.
Another question without a possible serious answer: Why introduce a motion to sanction Syria when everybody in the whole world knew that Russia would veto and the genocide would continue endlessly?
History remembers and honors those who put an end to evil and barbarism. However, history also remembers indifference and silence.
Eduardo Kohn, Ph.D., has been the B’nai B’rith executive vice president in Uruguay since 1981 and the B’nai B’rith International director of Latin American affairs since 1984. Before joining B'nai B'rith, he worked for the Israeli embassy in Uruguay, the Israel-Uruguay Chamber of Commerce and Hebrew College in Montevideo. He is a published author of “Zionism, 100 years of Theodor Herzl,” and writes op-eds for publications throughout Latin America. He graduated from the State University of Uruguay with a doctorate in diplomacy and international affairs. To view some of his additional content, Click Here.