By Geofrey MbuiApr 7, 2022

New York, NY, U.S.A. - Headquarters of the United Nations: United Nations is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security.

On 6th April 2022, ABC News aired a report on Ukraine where the mayor of Bucha city stated that over 5,000 civilians' bodies were found after the city was recaptured. India Today News outlet reported that Kremlin denied reports of civilian deaths, dismissing them as fake, but satellite images show the mass murders and bodies lying in the streets.  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized the United Nations during an address with Japan parliament, saying that an international body failed over the conflict in his country and called for reforms.

Ukraine's President stated that neither UN nor the UN Security Council has functioned and that reforms are needed to hold Russian accountable. Currently, existing international organizations are not working and have watched while Russia continues the unprovoked assault in Ukraine. U.N and other global institutions have only condemned the autocracies being committed against Ukrainians. Japan has stood with the western allies in imposing tough sanctions on the Russian financial officials and institutions, including sanctions on Moscow ally Belarus.

UN Position

A world observed that the well-observed well-developed Russian military model and strategy have destabilizing consequences and wide-ranging implications for global security, mainly Europe, and global stability. Most European countries and NATO concluded that Russian military strategy, policy, and military practice in the Ukraine crisis challenged European security. The United Nations Security Council has met several times to discuss tensions between Ukraine and Russia that may or may not end with the former further invading the latter. U.S Ambassador to U.N Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted that there is less condemnation of Russia with most of the speakers arguing diplomacy over conflict though not loudly as expected. Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated the U.S will always stand for diplomacy but will remain prepared for any escalation.

Russians objected previous UNSC meeting to discuss the Ukraine war forcing the 15 members to vote on whether to discuss Ukraine at all, with only Russian and China voting against the meeting[1]. Stephen Rapp, a former United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues at the Office of Global Criminal Justice, urged the International Criminal Law (ICC) to open investigations on war crimes and crimes against humanity and prosecute the Russian military and government leaders. Rapp noted that hunger as a weapon in Ukraine cities by Russian soldiers amounts to crimes against humanity. U.S General Mark Milley, the 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation's highest-ranking military officer, told congress Ukraine crisis is likely to last for years.

UN Conflicted Positions and Ineffectiveness

The Russian position in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is helping them commit war crimes and get away with it. It is not a good sign for the already slim chance of the U.N intervening in any potential invasion. Initially, United Nations were willing to wage war against the neighbors. A classic example is the UNSC authorization of force against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait in the early 1990s[2]. However, there is no chance in U.N authorized action to turn back any Russian aggression or U.N sponsored multilateral economic sanctions like those levied against Iran's nuclear programs last decade.

U.N Charter does not say that the countries that are party to the dispute, like Russian have to abstain from any UNSC resolutions regarding the peaceful settlement. Richard Gowan, a U.N analyst, states that it is a loophole that the five permanent council members are likely to use. Ironically, last week, Russia assumed the rotating presidency of the Security Council. The position means that no escalation or intensified attacks will result in an emergency meeting of the council.  U.N General Assembly, where all member countries can vote and condemn any Russian invasion of Ukraine. Any solutions offered are non-binding and have no impact on Russia.

Last month, the United Nations court, International Court of Justice (ICJ), ordered Russia to cease military actions in Ukraine, immediately saying it is deeply concerned about the Kremlin's use of power[3]. A 13-2 decision by the court required the Russian Federation to suspend all military operations that concerned the territory of Ukraine. Though the decision is binding, the ICJ has no means of enforcing them, and Russia has launched more strikes after the decision.  Professor David Bosco from Indiana State University argued that the U.N is not entirely useless and an element of public diplomacy involved in the open security council meetings.

President Zelenskyy stated that the presence of Russia had compromised the effectiveness of the United Nations as a permanent member in the UNSC. Ukrainian President urged the UN to kick Russia out of the UNSC due to the constant violations of international law and war crimes. Article 27 of the UN Charter states a ‘'a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting,'' and since the UNSC's current issues pertaining to Russian contact, Article 27 should be invoked. Bruce Notts, a UN policy expert, notes that no permanent member of the UNSC is willing to invoke Article 27 and bar Russia. The reasoning is that other members want to leave the possibility of using the veto power in the future.

Way Forward

From the analysis, it is clear that the veto power awarded to the U.N Security Council members is being misused and used to serve self-interests. The United Nations needs serious reform to safeguard world peace and protect humanity. ICJ court rulings and UN General assembly resolutions have no means of enforcement, making them useless, especially for a vicious country like Russia. Despite condemnations from member countries, Russia remains undeterred in its invasion of Ukraine, and the peace talks have not reached ceasefire agreements.

U.S Secretary of state Antony J. Blinken reiterated the U.S commitment to help Ukrainians. Speaking to NBC News, the Secretary of State stated that Washington would give Ukraine ten anti-tank missiles for every Russian tank on Ukraine soil, and the same applies to Russian jet fighters.  However, China and India have been ‘'supporting'' the Russian war by buying Russian oil and abstaining or voting with Russia in the U.N. U.S, NATO, and other allies should consider fighting the sanctions on the two nations aiding war crimes in Ukraine.

Geofrey Robert is an experienced freelance researcher and writer with over five years of experience. He holds a Bachelor of law. His research interests are: International law, Peace & Security, Conflict, humanitarian issues, and climate change. He worked as a peace and security news writer for and also contributed to their periodic PEACE MONITOR MAGAZINE as a peace researcher and writer focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict.




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