The conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, not to mention the war in Syria, have presented diplomats with emotional testimonies of civilian suffering, even alleged crimes against humanity. Yet the 15-member Council has been unable to end these conflicts. The problem is not that the major world powers don’t care. It is that they care too much.
In the aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash over eastern Ukraine, few people have been able to take charge of what has been, by all accounts, a chaotic and tragic scene. But one group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has been able to send international observers to the site of the disaster.
Russia seemed ready to mount a full-scale incursion into eastern Ukraine as early as April, it avoided such an open challenge to the West. The U.S. and Europe reciprocated by limiting sanctions against Moscow in the second quarter of this year. But these signs of restraint have given way to chaos.
Is Ukraine a promising model for the management of future international crises? At first glance, it looks like nothing of the sort. Kiev is in the middle of a bloody military campaign to regain control of towns and cities in the east of the country from pro-Russian rebels. More and more civilians have been caught in the crossfire.
The UN security council has voted unanimously to authorise deliveries of humanitarian aid to rebel-held areas of Syria, without the approval of the Damascus regime, in a rare show of international unity that diplomats say will help get food to 1.3 million people trapped behind the lines.
The Syrian war, currently overshadowed by its offshoot in Iraq, remains a ruinous blight on international diplomacy. Nearly half a year after the furiously hyped but fundamentally hopeless peace talks between the government and moderate rebels in Geneva, no end to the fighting is in sight.