The Good Fight
When it can’t use troops, the UN’s last peacekeeping tool is its moral voice. What is that worth in the real world?
‘We will integrate human rights into the life cycle of all staff.’ This phrase, with its strange mix of bureaucratic and moral ambitions, might sound like a piece of Orwellian doublespeak. In fact it is a sincere statement from a policy paper circulated among senior United Nations staff this summer on the need to renew the organisation’s ‘vision’ in the face of massive human rights violations. UN officials have been despondent over their failure to halt the Syrian war and the organisation’s performance in persistent trouble-spots such as Darfur, so the soul-searching is timely. But will it make any difference?
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A soldier of the Indian battalion of the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, September 2008. Photo by UN Photo/Marie Frechon