2001-11-17 / Letters

A Thoughtful Answer

A Thoughtful Answer

Dear Editor;

In a recent letter to the Wave, Maureen McNelis asked, in her anguish over the World Trade Center disaster, "What the hell is a ‘Security Council’?" This is an important and thought-provoking question and deserves a thoughtful answer.

The U.N. has reunited families uprooted by wars and given emergency relief to millions devastated by famine. It has carried out vaccination campaigns saving almost three million lives a year. It has helped efforts to protect endangered species, combat drug trafficking and promote the rights of women and children in countries like South Africa, Armenia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Algeria. It has helped to organize and monitor democratic elections. It has sent its pathetically few "peace-keepers" to monitor cease-fires and to risk their lives as they stand between warring forces.

But the U.N. can play a role in preventive disarmament, preventive humanitarian action and preventive peace building only if the parties to a dispute agree that it should do so. It has no police force, no permanent international criminal court to try genocide or crimes against humanity (such as that of the WTC terrorists), no world law.

It’s time to think about and work for the kind of world we want after Bin Laden and anthrax –the kind of world we want for our children. The U.N. has done what it can do. It cannot do more without the funds, the authority and the structures needed to bring peace and hope to the world.


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