Guterres dawdles as Russia-Ukraine war impacts other UN members

March 21, 2022 by David Singer
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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ continuing failure to take any concrete action to help end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has now seen that conflict threatening to seriously impact many of the other 191 member States of the UN.

Guterres himself has warned of the problems faced by those member States:

“This war goes far beyond Ukraine.

It is also an assault on the world’s most vulnerable people and countries.

While war rains over Ukraine, a sword of Damocles hangs over the global economy – especially in the developing world.

Even before the conflict, developing countries were struggling to recover from the pandemic – with record inflation, rising interest rates and looming debt burdens.

Their ability to respond has been erased by exponential increases in the cost of financing.

Now their breadbasket is being bombed.

Russia and Ukraine represent more than half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and about 30 percent of the world’s wheat.

Ukraine alone provides more than half of the World Food Programme’s wheat supply.

Food, fuel and fertilizer prices are skyrocketing.  Supply chains are being disrupted.  And the costs and delays of transportation of imported goods – when available – are at record levels.

All of this is hitting the poorest the hardest and planting the seeds for political instability and unrest around the globe.

Grain prices have already exceeded those at the start of the Arab Spring and the food riots of 2007-2008.

The FAO’s [UN Food and Agriculture Organization] global food prices index is at its highest level ever.

Forty-five African and least developed countries import at least one-third of their wheat from Ukraine [or] Russia – 18 of those countries import at least 50 percent.

This includes countries like Burkina Faso, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

We must do everything possible to avert a hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system.”

Guterres’ pathetic response involves:

  • Establishing a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the UN Secretariat – more bureaucracy – and
  • Allocating $40 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to ramp up vital assistance to reach the most vulnerable as the UN waits for these nations to come begging.

The UNGA has the power to end the conflict under UNGA Resolution 377 (V) A (1) dated 3 November 1950 – the “Uniting for Peace Resolution” – which provides:

“That if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security…”

Use of armed force would be a last resort.

Calling for a ceasefire or diplomatic negotiations is totally inadequate.

Resolution 377 (V) also established a Peace Observation Commission of 14 member States – that could have been replicated  – to personally observe and report on the situation in Ukraine and pressure Russia to withdraw. Why hasn’t Guterres already activated such a Commission?

Alleviating distress and hardship in the aftermath of conflict – rather than acting to prevent or end conflict occurring – is an abdication of the UNGA’s primary responsibility under the UN Charter.

Guterres’ continuing inaction to try and end the Russia-Ukraine conflict is surely sowing the seeds of the UN’s and his own demise.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and a foundation member of the International Analysts Network

Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades.


One Response to “Guterres dawdles as Russia-Ukraine war impacts other UN members”
  1. Naomi B. says:

    Ref : Cartoon … > Make it real and Yes please do get rid of the UN.. also known as United Nazis! and. whilst we’re at it take the Amnesty ( also known as All Nazi International) with you!

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