Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The UN is over-reaching its mandate

Last November, the UN passed a resolution against the defamation of religion. While it might appear on the surface that this would create tolerance, many fear that it will encroach on free speech. The resolution, led by Pakistan supported by Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia, but opposed by the UK, US, and Israel, could become binding on all UN member states if passed later this year.

What this will mean is that the states will have to pass legislation outlawing anything that could be classified as ‘religious defamation’. Many fear that this legislation will principally apply to Islam, who have a higher track record of taking offence at criticism than most. As put by CNN, this will make “any mention of terrorism linked to Islam a criminal offence.”

Christopher Hitchens, well known for his contempt of all religions, called the measure “totalitarianism defined” and “a rape and butchery of our [America’s] First Amendment.” His argument runs that, if they feel insulted by anything, Muslims will go straight to violence. On the other hand, you can’t call them violent, because that will hurt their feelings. While this is obviously a little bit of a one sided-analysis from a close friend of Salman Rushdie, it holds some alarming truths within it.

This appears to be the UN reaching well outside of its mandate on an issue over which it has already made a stance – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which just happens to include freedom of both expression and religion). What it is doing now would run the risk of fundamentally contravening these values, whether or not the countries signed up to the Declaration – I’m looking at you, Saudi Arabia.

What would actually happen if this passed and the UK was bound to create such legislation? The desired outcome – tolerance and peacefulness, would be completely reversed. Intolerance and suspicion would be nurtured under the surface, and it wouldn’t take a very large event to spark off race riots, hate campaigns, and anti-Islamic protests, which would sink to the levels of the radical Islamists of ­­­­today.

The UN should back off, and keep to restoring member border disputes by peaceful means – that’s why it was created.


  1. "The council, which last year replaced the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission, has no power beyond drawing international attention to rights issues and scrutiny of abuses in certain countries."

    This is from your first source.

    You have nothing to fear...

  2. True, but it is the possibility that the measure will become part of a binding resolution that is the fear expressed in the (albeit very one-sided) video that is my fourth source.

    Thanks for your comment.



  3. Interesting comment. Have you read Melanie Phillipps 'Night closes In' in the spectator on a similar theme?
    The West really needs to wake up!

  4. No resolutions are binding. There is no such thing as a resolution that creates a commitment for states to enact certain legislation. This is rubbish. The UN can ideed draw attention to rights issues, etc. but cannot, and will never be able to pass resolutions that bind countries to enact any domestic legislation. The UN can only take action through the Security Council when one country endangers international peace by threatening the territorial integrity of another. Even then, there must be consensus between the P5 and a majority overall. This has nothing to do with international peace and security, and so I don't see what your fuss is about.

  5. That is my point exactly - this does have nothing to do with international peace and security, which is why the UN has no right to dictate either way on it.

    The UN Security Council can pass binding resolutions in Chpater VII of the UN SC Charter ('Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression'). Given the reasons for wanting to pass the resolution, the resolution would fall into that catagory of peace breaching, not between, but within countries.

    According to Lou Dobbs on CNN, “The United Nations now wants to make that resolution binding on all member states, including our own.”

    Now how far outside of their mandate is that? My point exactly.

  6. Lou Dobbs is having a laugh.

    “The United Nations now wants to make that resolution binding on all member states, including our own.”

    Who is/are the "United Nations"? Pakistan? A couple of member states? All member states? Members of the UN bureaucracy?

    These "United Nations" are also having a laugh

    - the UN has never, and will never act on anything as long as it does not impinge upon INTERnational peace and security. Any INTRAnational matter has never been and never will be the concern of the UN (unless the government in that country has specifically requested assistance).

    - The Security Council can throw out any rubbish that Pakistan or Lou Dobbs throws at it - especially if the P5 countries (with a VETO) aren't in favour of humouring them.

    So what? It is outside of the mandate. Lots of things are outside of the mandate.

  7. Let the UN try to enforce its mandate.

    This is why it's handy to have your own military-industrial complex.