The Guardian February 23, 2000


Editorial:
Defend the UN Charter

With Koffi Annan, the UN Secretary-General in town, much will be made of 
his thanks to Australia for the role played by Australian forces in East 
Timor. But the main purpose of his visit is to win support for the far-
reaching plans to restructure the United Nations itself that he is 
promoting.

Koffi Annan wants to impose on the UN the concept of a "qualified 
sovereignty", rather than the right to national sovereignty that is 
inscribed in the UN Charter. The present Charter is based on the  
"sovereign equality of all nations" and says that "nothing authorises 
the UN to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic 
jurisdiction of any state". This does not suit the America's rulers who 
are aiming to sweep aside the right of nations to national sovereignty.

"Qualified sovereignty" would open the door for the most powerful nations 
to impose their political, economic and military might on weaker nations.

Annan has been going down this path for some time. A very revealing article 
written by Tony Kevin, Australia's former Ambassador to Cambodia (Sydney 
Morning Herald 17/2/00), gives some insight into the role of the UN in 
that country.

Tony Kevin records that the UN Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) played a 
foremost part in stirring up and even leading anti-government 
demonstrations in Cambodia in the 1990s. Tony Kevin writes: "The UNHCR 
office in Cambodia became a powerful interventionist agency. It sponsored 
the development of numerous indigenous human rights organisations, some of 
which grew into powerful anti-government lobbies whose leaders effectively 
enjoy the status of internationally protected persons.

"After the brief but decisive civil war in July 1997, the UNCHR's reporting 
became increasingly hostile to Hun Sen's government ... In August-September 
1998, after an internationally endorsed national election, UNCHR staff 
openly sided with an opposition-led campaign of continuous street 
demonstrations aimed at destabilising the elected government ... a UNCHR-
flagged car containing expatriate UNCHR staff members drove at the head of 
a demonstration march ... UNCHR staff recently helped smuggle out of 
Cambodia a Cambodian citizen wanted by police on a charge of having 
attempted to assassinate Hun Sen in September 1998. [The man] is now in 
Thai custody after hiding for nearly a year in a `safe house' in Thailand 
arranged by the local office of the UNCHR  without that office telling 
the Thai Government."

This is what a UN agency is doing already, in violation of the UN Charter, 
under the protective umbrella of Koffi Annan. He now wants to regularise 
his own illegal activities by changing the UN Charter.

The campaign to inscribe the concept of "qualified sovereignty" in the 
Charter is being hyped up under the slogan of "human rights". This is a 
"made in the US" cause. Of course, those governments backing this aim are 
not concerned about the human rights of the many millions living in poverty 
in the US and the rights of Black Americans or the rights of the Aboriginal 
people in Australia. It is a very selective human rights, used to attack 
and justify military intervention by NATO or even by the US acting on its 
own in those countries which elect progressive governments or governments 
not prepared to bend the knee to American demands.

Tony Kevin writes that the Australian Government should oppose this 
tendency of the UN "to impose its will on weaker nations".

Koffi Annan should put his own house in order. As Secretary-General, he has 
attempted to "corporatise" the UN, with himself as the CEO. Like others in 
the corporate world, he has been cutting staff numbers and introducing 
individual work contracts. As a result there is job insecurity, overwork, 
stress and incompetence. The Guardian Weekly reports that the UN 
staff in Geneva have never had a genuine trade union, nor does the UN apply 
its own conventions concerning the right of workers to collective 
bargaining.

Koffi Annan is clearly a stooge of the US and his proposed amendments to 
the UN Charter serve his master's interests. Although some alterations to 
the UN are called for as a result of the many changes in the world since 
the UN was formed in 1945, the basic principles of the UN Charter, 
particularly the sovereign rights of all countries, must be preserved.
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