I read an article on IRIN the other day about the dysfunctional UN mission in Myanmar, and felt an urge to write some spontaneous, but heartfelt comments.
Myanmar – A Case In Point
What is described in the article is unfortunately not unique. Quite the contrary:
- The absence of leadership. In Myanmar, through a UN representative who is apparently not suited for the job.
- Internal, detrimental strife between different agencies.
This is, unfortunately, the case with many UN missions around the world. As a result, the UN is not able to take a stand and focus on essential matters.
Such as the horrendous situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar.
Furthermore, this cowardice mixed with internal battles makes the UN look ridiculous, and more and more insignificant day by day.
When will they ever learn?
If you read my e-book on trust you know the dire consequences of this circus of incompetence: Distrust, leading to a vicious circle of more distrust from donors, governments and partners. The government of Myanmar would likely have respected, though not agreed, if the UN had taken a united and firm stand against Myanmar’s inaction on the Rohingya situation. Then they would probably also have listened.
Instead politicians and officials can lean back and watch a childish brawl between “human rights” and “development”, not having to lift a finger. Meanwhile Rohingyas are killed, tortured and raped. Human rights are very much part of a sustainable development. In fact, they are a prerequisite.
In my e-book I also wrote about Anders Kompass, a Swede who left the UN after more than 20 years, due to inaction on reported child abuse committed by UN soldiers in the Central African Republic.
Here is a quote from him:
[UN] Staff are afraid. This fear is based on widespread experience.
Many staff members have been the victims of retaliation or have witnessed retaliation against those who have taken unpopular ethical stances…
Besides the domestic wars played out, UN staff are also afraid of speaking up. When you constantly need to watch your back for fear of a stab or some unforeseen repercussions, you cannot expect much in terms of results.
On the Road to Insignificance
The UN has become a toxic pond of fear and strife, where people in high positions are being promoted far beyond their level of competence. And, hence, on a road to total insignificance.
Is the UN beyond rescue? I don’t know, and it is so sad. It is very much needed, putting pressure on and working with governments around the world to try and solve some of the planet´s most crucial challenges. And, yet, mostly through narrow self-interests, at individual or agency level, extremely incapable.
I am afraid this wasn´t a very positive article, and unfortunately not ending on high note. I just needed to speak up and write what I know plenty of good people agree with, but unfortunately do not dare to say.
Thanks for listening.