JournalismPakistan.com December 21, 2014
The United Nations often reminds me of a once hopefully virile individual looking at a box of Viagra from the outside of a pharmacy window. The tragedy is that it is also sad because it is from the outside and the impotency shows.
The current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon receives the same sort of blue gilt respect and courtesy accorded his predecessors but does anyone take them seriously. Moon has called for “mobilising all resources and political will” to fight terrorism in the wake of the massacre of 132 school children in Pakistan and said he will consider measures to help that country combat extremism.
That is the harsh point. If the UN head had to now consider options and has no game-plan even though children have been increasingly placed on the firing line, their woes in this world stretching now from poverty, hunger and thirst to cordite and short fuses.
I don’t think either the Boko Haram or the Taliban are quaking in their boots. Even after the travesty that was the attack on the army school, the news has started slipping down the greasy slope of dubious human memory. Tomorrow is another day. Let the families grieve, life must go on till the next mind numbing catastrophe.
Ban just said that terrorism was a problem spreading to several countries and those affected by it needed help.
That kind of soft statement is made by a Grade 1 schoolteacher to her little charges as she explains why people kill children for no reason at all. Coming from the UN top floor it is utterly naïve and pointless and does not make the planet sleep well. We need more than bromides and banality. The world needs a timeline to stop the killings.
It was “most important” that “the international community must mobilise all resources and political will and help the capacity-building of those countries affected to address this extremism and terrorism”, he said.
What does this mean? Has the UN really become so invalid that all it can do is mumble off a template and literally mire itself in waffle.
“The international community has been troubled by all this spread [of] terrorism and extremism,” he said. “We have seen so many such things, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and Nigeria and Somalia and elsewhere.”
There we go again. Simply stating the obvious about the massacres of the innocent that have occurred in 2014, a litany of shame that we seem, to still take in our stride.
On Tuesday, Pakistan Taliban attacked a military-run civilian school in Peshawar killing a total of 141 people, which he said, his voice quivering, “I have condemned it in the strongest of possible terms.”
There is pile of condemnation in every capital and it counts for nothing.
They set up the UN 70 years ago to be a global watchdog and to bring together the nations of the world on one platform with the idea of avoiding WWIII and raising peace and prosperity while engaging in civilian good works. Gradually it was defanged and the weakness has come from the indifference of the superpowers to the UN and the lip service given to its non-executive authority. Ergo, it has become the equivalent of an ageing uncle whom nobody is afraid of, not even the domestic help.
In April, dozens of armed rebel youth attacked the UN Mission in South Sudan base in Bor, Jonglei State, where they indiscriminately shot at those seeking refuge there, leaving 58 dead and over 100 injured. Some of those killed and injured were children.
Condemning the attack, Leila Zerrougui, special representative of the UN Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, “children continue to be victims of the recent conflict in South Sudan and this must stop.”
Yes, but he never really said how? And what was done. It is a sobering thought that as many as 120,000 children under 18 years old, some as young as eight, were spending the day as child soldiers across the continent, reports Amnesty International. In a similar report five years ago, the organization said: 300,000 children below the minimum recruiting age of 15, recommended by the UN convention on the Rights of the Child, have been recruited as soldiers from 44 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, and were involved in raging wars.
Just in North Africa and the Middle East, children are engaged in fighting in Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan, Turkey and Yemen. They are also victims in Palestine, in Afghanistan and all the trouble-spots of the world.
Efforts to ban child soldiers have been made, to be fair, but how does one impose the rules? Till then, when you climb into your bed tonight remember over a million kids are loading the magazines of their weapons.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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