The Decline of International Institutions is Harmful to International Relations and Law

Image credits: An artist's impression of the International Court of Justice is a toothless tiger—cartoon by Joon W.

International institutions struggle to define their role in the 21st century. The United Nations (UN) is weighed down by an undemocratic and inadequate Security Council, a non-functioning International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Court of Justice (ICJ), and a big pharma-compromised World Health Organisation (WHO) that knows what is best for you. Their decline over the past decennia and incompetence are striking and harmful to international relations and, frankly, international law.

By Arthur Blok
The UN was created not to lead mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell”, Dag Hammarskjöld - the UN’s second Secretary-General, once said. The hell Hammarskjöld - who died in 1961 under mysterious circumstances in Zambia - described was not hard to imagine after World War II. Adolf Hitler’s extermination camps were fresh in peoples’ minds. On the international stage, the Cold War, with a nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, was developing.

In its 79 years of existence, the UN, once hailed as the great hope for mankind's future has been reduced to the bureaucratic den where dictatorships are offered an uncensored platform to share their views. The list of institutional corruption cover-ups is too long to summarize in just one article.

Then there is the undemocratic politics of the Security Council, where, in practice, all member states dance to the tune of the five permanent members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the US).

The veto right of the permanent members is an outdated and inappropriate privilege. The idea behind that right was that international peace and security were only possible if the great powers worked together. Apart from not reflecting the current geopolitical realities, it is undemocratic and constitutes inaction on war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Exercising a veto right prevents UN action against the permanent members and their allies in situations in which it is directly involved as a party to the conflict and its instigator. It was never meant to serve as a weapon of hatred and war. Failed resolutions on the Russia-Ukrainian war or the Israeli-Gaza are sad illustrations in that perspective.

There are numerous examples in modern history of the UN eager to go to war in the name of peace, resulting in a bystander role when confronted with genocide. Since its inception in 1945, the UN has spent almost a trillion dollars. While UN employees get mouthwatering tax-free salaries and allowances, prominent positions are reserved for mediocre politicians who failed on the domestic political stage. The appointment of Sigrid Kaag as coordinator for humanitarian aid to Gaza in late December 2023 is a good example.

Its subsidiary organs, like the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), are not without controversy, either. Suppose one looks at the UNHCR's work in economically collapsed Lebanon, pampering the Syrian refugees scattered all over the country.

The roughly 1,5 million refugees currently get a monthly allowance of over U$ 300,- per family, almost double the average Lebanese household income. Not to mention free healthcare and education for their children, while the majority of the Lebanese have difficulties putting food on the table. The aid work of UNHCR maintains the refugee status quo and discourages them from going back to Syria, where the civil war ended over a year ago.

The International Criminal Court
The Security Council is not the only nonfunctioning international institute. The same could be argued about the ICC, established in 2002 in The Hague. This ambitious international court seeks to investigate and prosecute those responsible for grave offenses such as genocide and war crimes. It can investigate, prosecute, and put individuals on trial, but only if the State concerned cannot or is unwilling to do so.  

On paper, it looks promising, but dozens of governments, including China, India, Russia, and the United States, are not ICC parties. The ICC also does not have an enforcement body. It relies on cooperation with countries to make arrests, transfer arrested persons to ICC’s detention center, and enforce sentences.

That is precisely where the shoe pinches.

Ironically, it needs the cooperation of countries unwilling or unable to prosecute individuals. That makes it a handy geopolitical tool for specific entities (opposition groups) to overthrow unfavorable regimes or leaders.

Despite its bold ambitions, the ICC tends to overrate itself and selectively implement its mandate. It seems obsessed with the African continent. The court has a weak record of prosecutions and suffers from discord among its judges. Moreover, the problematic relationship with the world's great powers - such as mentioned above -complicates matters further.

The International Court of Justice
Like the Security Council and the ICC, the IC - established by the UN in 1945 - has often malfunctioned in humanitarian emergencies. It suffers from the so-called victor’s justice syndrome (the principle of unfair judgment in which an entity gives preferential treatment to its forces over those of a defeated enemy). It has no fundamental tools to enforce its verdicts.

This was again demonstrated in the case South Africa filed in late December against Israel. The former Apartheid State argued before the court that Israel - not a member of the ICC - is breaching the UN convention on genocide by "killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction."

In January, the ICJ concluded it was necessary to indicate certain measures “to protect the rights claimed by South Africa that the Court has found to be plausible,” including “the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide.” The court's order also requires Israel to ensure that humanitarian aid to Gaza is increased.

But genocide? Is this about “genocide”? Genocide seems to require the explicit wish to destroy other people. Does Israel have the explicit goal to destroy or annihilate another people?

World Health Organisation
That brings me to the fourth and last institution I want to highlight. The WHO (established by the UN in 1948), created to handle global health problems, has been under fire since it mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of helping the world, it helped China cover up the pandemic in its early stages and made a series of wrong decisions that endangered global public health.

Since 2017, the WHO has been headed by director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian minister. While campaigning to win the WHO post, Ghebreyesus was accused by health professionals worldwide of covering up cholera epidemics in both Ethiopia and Sudan to avoid embarrassing the two African regimes. Another failure was the appointment of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador. The list of failures goes on and on.

Ghebreyesus's mismanagement of the ‘pandemic’ has angered people from all layers of the global society since the beginning. Scaring people in the early stage of the crisis with unfounded high Covid-mortality claims, advocating useless lockdowns, and pushing for a dangerous, untested experimental mRNA vaccine. That was, according to various independent sources, never an actual vaccine anyway and disproportionally benefitted big pharma and gravely endangered public health. That is evident by now.

As if they had not messed up enough, last year, it became clear that the WHO sought to further cement its control over global health through amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) and its pandemic treaty. These amendments gave the WHO more power to make decisions about diet, agriculture and livestock farming, environmental pollution, population movement, and much more.

No, thank you, as if we did not have enough. We have seen enough globalist institutes that dance to the tune of their main funders, who are executing their agendas. Their ambitions are not global health but controlling the masses.

The same could be said about international security and legal institutes. We need urgent reforms before the international cohesion collapses further. The system is no longer sustainable.


Arthur Blok

Veteran journalist, author, moderator and entrepreneur. The man with the unapologetic opinion who is always ready to help you understand and simplify the most complex (global) matters. Just ask.
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