Literary Festival 2016: United Nations on Trial

source: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) 2016年3月2日
Date: Friday 26 February 2016
Time: 6-8.30pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Judge: The Hon. Mr Justice Jay
Prosecution including: Gráinne Mellon, Professor Gerry Simpson
Defence including: Paul Clark, Natalie Samarasinghe
Expert witnesses including: Dr Nazila Ghanea, Professor Francoise Hampson, Antony Loewenstein, Carne Ross
Chair: Dr Emmanuel Melissaris

The Charter of the United Nations, drafted in 1945, pledged in the name of the peoples of the United Nations to save us from the scourge of war; to reaffirm faith in human rights and the dignity and worth of all; to promote social progress and better standards of life in conditions of freedom. One does not have to take a very long look at the world around us to realise that this utopia of cosmopolitan peace and prosperity has not been achieved. Wars still wage, new and old global political divisions still run deep, the disparities in the global distribution of wealth are staggering. Is this conclusive proof that the UN has failed? Is it politically toothless and manipulated by the world’s most powerful states, as some believe? Has it become a bureaucratic, inflexible, cumbersome mega- structure prone to inertia and even corruption? Might it even be the case that the UN has in fact actively contributed to disasters, which it should have prevented according to its remit?

A little over 70 years since the Charter was signed by the founding 51 members states, we will be putting the United Nations on trial. It will be a tough call for the prosecution. How does one bring charges against an institution, which many criticise but in which so many people around the world have placed so much faith? Nevertheless, this is not to say that it will be a walk in the park for the defence. The United Nations set the bar very high and they must be able to prove that there are good reasons for having disappointed the expectations that they created.
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