De weg naar de invasie in Irak, leidend tot de Tweede Golfoorlog, was geplaveid met leugens en bedrog. Om Irak binnen te vallen, om deze actie tegen een andere mogendheid gelegitimeerd te krijgen, had de VS de instemming nodig van de Veiligheidsraad van de Verenigde Naties, en minstens unanimiteit bij de Permanente Leden van de Raad. Die was er niet. Ondanks dat wilde de VS het minimale dat er aan internationaal recht bestaat schenden en ten oorlog trekken tegen Irak. Dat zou een bedreiging vormen voor de wereldvrede – en dat was het ook, zo zou later blijken. De Veiligheidsraad was onmachtig om de VS te stoppen. De urgente vraag deed zich dus voor, welke internationale instantie zou wel het gezag en de macht hebben om de VS af te houden van haar onzalige voornemen? Tijdens mijn studie politicologie had ik bij het onderdeel internationale betrekkingen gehoord over de Resolutie Uniting for Peace van 3 november 1950. Zou die een uitkomst bieden voor de impasse die ontstaan was in de Veiligheidsraad en die de wereldvrede bedreigde? Daarover schreef ik onderstaand artikel.
The precedent for the proposal to use Uniting for Peace in the case of the threat of a war against Iraq lies fifty years back, at the time of the Korean War. The Security Council became paralysed by a veto. The question, then as now, was how to escape this deadlock. On the initiative of the United States the General Assembly adopted a Resolution, called Uniting for Peace. The exact date was November 3, 1950. The purpose of Uniting for Peace was to ensure that the impotence of the Security Council would not sabotage the international community in bearing its responsibility for maintaining peace in the world. The idea, rightly, was that there is still a second organ in the United Nations that can take over this responsibility: the General Assembly, the parliament of all nations.
It does not matter that this transfer of peace-keeping power to the representatives of all states independent at the time had an opportunistic character. In the 1950s, the United States preferred to get its policies internationally legitimised. From the beginning of the 1960s on, this superpower became less interested in involving the General Assembly in peace-keeping matters; there were now more independent states, too many of them not a priori on the side of the United States. As a consequence this country became wary of involving the parliament of all nations in security matters.
However, the mechanism of Uniting for Peace still exists, available for the use of the international community when world peace is clearly in danger through the Security Council’s inability to force a breakthrough in a major crisis situation. It goes without saying that this is the present situation. Professor Richard Falk recommends therefore, that ‘the UN General Assembly, relying on its residual authority to uphold world peace, could by resolution convene an emergency session to oppose recourse to war against Iraq, as well as to reaffirm the Charter rules governing the use of force.’ (The Nation, March 10, 2003)
The situation is now critical, and action cannot be postponed. Groups of countries and their leaders can and should take the initiative to convene the General Assembly. The first priority is to stop the war. After that, however, the General Assembly should consider that it has a much wider responsibility than simply to remove the attacks and bombings. Dangerous tensions will remain. For longer-term security, the powder keg must not merely be defused – its contents must be dispersed and dealt with. There are underlying regional and world security issues (packed into that keg) which can no longer be left largely in the hands of a small group of nations in the Council: Iraq’s intransigence and dictatorship in general, counterproductive sanctions, disarmament, energy economics, real and perceived injustice, growing polarisation along religious lines – all these issues cry out for increasingly active involvement from all the nations of the world.
Courage is needed, wise leadership ready to speak out, and the involvement of the civil society. All nations of the world should say, now it is our turn. It is very much in the economic, in the social, in the cultural interests of our populations that major problems in the world be solved in peaceful ways, and that sources of great tensions be quickly addressed and gradually cured.
The twenty first century has started with major catastrophes. Let it be a century of quick learners. What must be learned urgently is how to better mediate in really complex matters potentially capable of bringing the planet to the brink of a world war. Even more urgently, we must find ways to encourage or if necessary compel greater acceptance of mediation processes. The only organ we have in the world with the legitimacy to develop and initiate such processes is the General Assembly of the United Nations. Let the parliament of all nations re-introduce the principle of Uniting for Peace.