I was originally going to make this two different posts on two different issues. The first part is from a post on The Volokh Conspiracy entitled "The UN and Anti-Semitism." I respect Eugene Volokh, and I believe that he is an intelligent man. After I read the speech that the post points to, however, I was dismayed by his comments.

I don't know the facts well enough to vouch for the accuracy of her remarks, but they seem accurate based on what little I do know -- and if they are accurate, then they're a powerful indictment of the U.N.'s double standards on this.

The speech was made during a UN seminar-conference on anti-semitism by Anne Bayefsky, a law professor at Columbia. She is also a "contributing expert" at the Ariel Center for Policy Research, which describes itself as a "non-partisan organization" while simultaneously claiming that "a peace which will force Israel to its pre-1967 borders, i.e. losing those territorial assets critically needed for the very existence of the Jewish State will not be but a recipe for war."

But about the speech. Bayefsky's thesis seems to be that the United Nations, through its member nations, commit anti-semitic actions. I am willing to accept this as truth. Bayefsky, however, goes even further, condemning the Secretary General:
Listen, however, to the words of the secretary-general in response to two suicide bombings which took place in Jerusalem this year, killing 19 and wounding 110: "Once again, violence and terror have claimed innocent lives in the Middle East. Once again, I condemn those who resort to such methods." "The Secretary General condemns the suicide bombing Sunday in Jerusalem. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a heinous crime and cannot be justified by any cause." Refusing to name the perpetrators, Mr. Secretary-General, Teflon terrorism, is a green light to strike again.

I was not aware that Secretary-General Annan had the power to stop terrorism simply by naming the terrorists in a press release. I wonder if the IDF is aware of this simple method of stopping Palestinian terrorism.

The other part of this story comes from ChechenPress.info, describing the bombing of a Chechen village. The article's writer, an A. Melkhiev, blames the United Nations, as seen by the article's title, " U.N. â?? Direct murderer of the Chechen children":

It may well be that U.N. member-countries who rejected the recent resolution condemning violations of human rights in Chechnya, can see these photos and rejoice at the result of their doings. Why, they are direct accomplices in the murder of those children, aren't they?

This belief that UN resolutions can stop the Russian army makes it sound as if Melkhiev has been talking with Bayefsky. If the United Nations were a sovereign entity (with its own economy and armed forces), this criticism of it would be justified. However, the UN is a NGO (albeit a very large one), and has many restrictions. Due to its composition by "member-states," its primary service outside of the humanitarian arena is as a reflection of global opinion. The democratic nature of the General Assembly (and the inclusion of anti-semitic countries) makes it inevitable that resolutions critical of Israel will surface, especially as Israel attempts to stop terrorist acts against its citizens (many of the actions it takes are misguided, which only aggravates the problem). Although I think democracy is a good structure of governmental organization, this part of the structure of the UN hinders its goals. Even the Security Council, with its limited membership, is rarely able to agree to use military force, even when it is clearly necessary. While the Security Council is a good idea, it needs the combination of a stronger United Nations and a embracing of a weakened concept of national sovereignty to be effective.

I believe that the world will have to choose whether it wishes to have a stronger United Nations that can actually protect the rights of the oppressed, or a NGO that makes ineffective resolutions about humanitarian issues. Non-constructive criticism, on the other hand, is not needed, and only serves to strengthen the arguments of those who claim that the United Nations is not needed. Unless we seek to see increased unilateral action by those nations most willing to risk war - oppressive and authoritarian states - a strong UN is a necessary part of the global future.