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UNITED NATIONS AND THE CRISIS OF LEGITIMACY: The Anatomy of One of the Organs of Hegemonic Powers

By Mehdi S. Shariati

World Public opinions regarding the United Nations and all of its component parts vary from absolute ignorance of its history, structure and purpose to an outright dismissal of the entire organization as a dysfunctional international agency. Sandwiched between the two are the opinions of those who lament the "real" United Nations and its departure from what it could be, and then there are those who are operating within the context of realpolitik-the realist theory of international relations-- and see it as viable mechanism for conflict resolution provided that the governance and the decisions are left to the most powerful nations. The reality, however, is that since its inception the United Nations (including all of its affiliated agencies and programs) has tried to present itself as truly supranational, united and a legitimate international body attempting to serve the interests of humanity at large. Yet throughout its history when it began as the "League of Nations" it has acted as anything but a legitimate international organization. Big powers have repeatedly used the UN as the alleged voice of the so-called "the international community" when formulating and implementing hegemonic global policies (including war and invasion) just to serve the interests of their own dominant classes. In recent years, various events around the World have shed light on the most powerful components of the United Nations --the Security Council, and the two affiliated agencies --International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. United Nations' Security Council which has remained totalitarian since its inception and its undemocratic veto system has served the interests of hegemonic powers, thereby fomenting serious global crises. This paper examines the link between global hegemonic policies and the United Nations Security Council, the IMF and the World Bank.  

The Background:

Immediately following the first inter-imperialist war- World War I, Europe and North America decided that future wars, particularly those fought on a global scale could be averted by creating an international organization with all of the nation-states as signatories. To that end the "League of Nations" was created (1). The League of Nations was a supranational organization resulting from the Treaty of Versailles in 1919-1920. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was one of the principle architects of the league. While he was supported by most of the league members, he was opposed by the United States Congress which was vehemently against it on the ground that it could undermine state sovereignty.

The advent of the Second World War suggested that the League had failed in its primary purpose, which was to avoid any future world wars. The United Nations was created after the end of the war as a replacement for the league and equipped with a number of now powerful and influential agencies and organizations. The term "United Nations" was coined by the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt whose pragmatism and optimism encouraged him to see a World order resulting from the bloody conflict as one based on cooperation rather than permanent conflict. His successor, President Truman (2), however saw the World as a battleground of good and evil (capitalist and communist). To Truman, the Soviet Union was not to be trusted and if at all possible had to be isolated. Truman believed the ideology espoused by the Soviet Union was inherently "anti-democratic", anti-capitalist, anti-freedom and anti-free enterprise. The Cold War was descriptive of that mind set and the context in which the United States' economic, political and military decisions were made and implemented. Within a short period of time, the Communist bloc led by the Soviet Union became a challenging and formidable military power, and was perceived as a direct threat to Western democracies in general and the "national security" of the United States in particular. The divided world between the two antagonistic and competing camps of "Left" and "Right," drew the Third World as the center of proxy wars and competition for resources between the United States and the Soviet Union. In this context all of the nationalists and progressive movements in the Third world were labeled "communist" and therefore had to be contained or eliminated. Homegrown communist influences in Europe, Greece and Turkey (among other places) were viewed by the administration as an indication of Soviet expansionism. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had veto power on the UN Security Council and from the point of view of the Truman Administration, the Soviet veto power had to be circumvented so as to prevent communist expansion. As one of the mechanisms of preventing "communist expansion" as embedded in Truman's Four Point policy for containing communism, the U.S. began formulating policies toward implementing regional treaties.  But the problem was that the United Nations' charter did not allow such treaties and it had to be restructured. Regional treaties would have allowed the United States to override the Soviet veto power while simultaneously pursuing collective (regional) security outside of the United Nations.

At the San Francisco Conference, the United States successfully altered the UN Charter (Article 51) so as to facilitate the formation of legally binding regional treaties. The Rio Treaty was the first successful product. From the point of view of the American policy makers, the new threat had to be dealt with by regional military and economic (security) systems and organizations which could unify all members in a region against a common enemy-the international communism. Through the various security systems, the U.S. was able to utilize the resources of regional governments without appearing to be interventionists. In the post war period as in the pre war era, the U. S. was seeking an integrated world political and economic system which could prevent the growth of anti-capitalist groups everywhere. To that end it sponsored the creation of multilateral economic agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank. The State Department articulated its views on the new world system by warning that socialist victories would destroy the institutions of Free enterprise and free trade and would deny the United States access to the supply of strategic resources. (Foreign Relations, Department of State Bulletin, February 16, 1947:291). Regional security systems were essential because according to Dulles (1950:88), the United Nations Security Council was "hobbled by the veto" (3). And as long as the Soviet Union possessed this power, it could prevent the formation of regional treaties, veto necessary actions to protect vital United States interests and increase its sphere of influence. Therefore, the strategy called for an overhaul of the United Nations Charter (Dulles, 1950:88). Formal acceptance of Article 51 made the formation of a "collective self­ defense" a possibility. To Dulles and Vandenberg, this provision was the" most effective method of "containing the Soviet aggression". Alteration of the United Nations Charter enabled the United States to proceed with regional treaties, and it was according to Dulles (Dulles, 1950:93) "a blessing" for mankind, and to Vandenberg "a sunlight in a dark world." And Dulles (1950) as one of the architects of the Cold War argued and agreed that the United Nations was a "universal" and a "World" organization designed to maintain peace, but he disagreed that it should be the only organization in charge of world peace. The Truman Administration and indeed all of the U.S. Administration, since, have used regional treaties in implementing foreign policy. Regional treaties have allowed the powerful members to rule with the veto power when and where necessary and use military alliances and force when and where their interest warrants. Since the creation of the Security Council the permanent members have used their veto power in support of their own economic, political and military interest or those of their allies. China has used its veto 6 times; France 18 times; Russia/USSR 123 times; the United Kingdom 32 times; and the United States 82 times. The majority of Russian/Soviet vetoes were in the first ten years of the Council's existence. Since 1984, China has vetoed three resolutions; France three; Russia four; Britain ten; and the United States 43.

The concern regarding the oligarchic nature of the Security Council has raised the possibility of giving it an appearance of democracy. Currently, in addition to the permanent members, there are ten rotating seats which serve primarily as non-essential members. Japan, Germany and Brazil have been contenders for a permanent seat on the Security Council. The concern regarding the absence of a representative from the Moslem World and Latin America, India and Africa has been registered and in 2004 former UN Chief Kofi Anan proposed the expansion of the Security Council to 24 members. These suggestions have remained merely at the level of suggestion. Any change in the structure of the Council requires alteration of the UN charter and the benevolent cooperation from the reluctant permanent members and that will remain unlikely. Security Council Resolution #1674 of April 28, 2006, explicitly states that the aim ought to "protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity." Lo and behold that these very abhorrent and savage mistreatment of the weak and the defenseless have been traced to big powers or their proxies in the post-colonial world.

To understand the extent of the charges against those committing war crimes it is necessary to have an unadulterated definition of "war crime" and apply it when and where it takes place irrespective of the status of the perpetrator. History of this issue shows that when any of the powerful countries or individuals belonging to these countries are charged with war crime, the wheels of "justice" turn very slowly if at all. And the resolutions against them are often treated as formalities. However the reaction to charges against those belonging to the so-called "rogue" states is much stronger. Frequent disregard for the rules and regulations even for those internal to these organizations, has created crises of credibility and legitimacy.  This is also true of the discriminatory application of sanctions as suggested by the Security Council resolutions. Sanctions against a particular country or set of countries adversely influence global economic transactions, in terms of human suffering caused by shortages, high prices and lack of access to basic necessities, and overall have been counterproductive.  Even Security Council Resolutions that are made under Chapter VII (threats to peace and acts of aggression) which are legally binding, contain no specific mechanism for punishment or prevention. The consideration of  Chapter VII has been very selective such as the cases of Korea, Kuwait, and variety of Sanctions imposed under the regime of capital elsewhere.

 One of the most striking instances of disregard for the Security Council Resolution is the case of resolution number 242 by which Israel was to give up the land it had conquered during the 1967 war. Lack of compliance on the part of Israel, gave rise to another resolution (#338) following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war-and the problem is escalating. Citing various UN sources, Mearsheimer (2006), argues that "since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. It also blocks Arab states' efforts to put Israel's nuclear arsenal on the International Atomic Energy Agency's agenda." Yet, Hilary Clinton, as the new Secretary of State has repeatedly ignored the resolutions against Israel while coercing and publicizing various resolutions against Iran and its peaceful pursuit of nuclear technology (as have most of her predecessors).  Resolutions number 242, 338, 1397, 1402, and 1515 regarding Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories have been dismissed as hot air and no sanction, restriction or military action has been proposed or applied. Moreover, the absence of any credible interests in resolving the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict is evident in the sideshows in the form of conferences, meetings, negotiations, "Roadmaps" and "Quartet."  The Middle East Quartet was formed in 2002 shortly after the start of the so-called "war on terror."  Its members are the United States, the European Union, the United Nations (!) and the Russian Federation. It is interesting that not only the exclusive club of hegemonic powers have formed it, its first envoy was a well known financier in the Anglo-American orbit, former World Bank President Paul Wolfenson who as expected decided that Hamas was the problem and as long as it did not go along with the rules set by the powerful members of the Quarter, no peace was possible. In September 22, 2004, statement made by the Quartet contained some degree of integrity (as compared to that of 2002) by the acknowledgement of and explicit use of the terms such contentious issues such as "occupation" and "illegal settlements."  In June, 2007 the Quartet named former British Prime Minister Tony Blair whose hands were drenched in Iraqi blood was named the special envoy. In its 2008 statement, as again and again dictated by the timing of the events in the region and elsewhere however the blame was squarely placed on Hamas and advised Hamas to stop its "violence" against Israel. It demanded an answer regarding the fate of missing Israeli serviceman Gilad Shalit without any references to tens of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons (whose release ironically has been a demand of Israeli peace activists) and it  reiterated the necessity of maintaining "law and order" in the occupied and battered cities of Hebron and Jenin. It did mention the United Nations' resolutions number 242, 338, 1397, 1402, and 1515 and it asked the "benevolent" Israel to allow basic necessities into Gaza. Blair proposed "the Valley of Peace Initiative" or "Peace Valley Plan", based on free enterprise development in the Palestinian Authority territory of the West Bank along the Jordan/Israel border in the Arava Valley region. As in the past the idea that one could dissolve the aspirations of a people in the quagmire of Western style free enterprise system and insisting that all is needed is the transformation of people and their habitat rather than addressing their legitimate grievances.

Security Council has the power to adjudicate and take action on the basis of its own judgment and often without the presence of the presumed guilty. Iran's nuclear program is a case in point. Iranians have repeatedly stated that their intention is peaceful, yet in this case Iran is assumed to be "guilty" until proven "innocent."  Indications are that even if countries like Iran discover the cure for all cancers and AIDS, increases its space exploration, and supports the victims of militarism and expansionist policies of certain member states, it would be twisted and presented as a threat. The U.S State Department's annual list of most serious threats to the World (reads American interests), is no longer topped by Al Qaeda. Rather now the most serious threats are the ailing U.S. economy and Iran. Why Iran? It is very obvious that the launching of the first "homemade" satellite by Iran via a homemade delivery system whereby Iran is now ranked the tenth country in the World with that capability and allowing Iran to break into the exclusive club for this technology, and of course the Israeli bombardment of the "biggest prison on the planet"-Gaza and the Iranian support for the Palestinian people, and the relentless anti-Iran activities of Israel Lobby in the United States are the primary reasons. Granted that the appearance of neutrality and integrity must be kept and the United Nations' Security Council is desperately trying to find that badly needed image. In the past peacekeeping initiatives and efforts have been the only source of providing for that appearance of neutrality and integrity. But a close examination of the very recent events around the world points to the contrary.

As one of the most influential components of the United Nations, Security Council has caused immense damage to the point that the pronouncement of "collective security" and the claim of "peacekeeping" efforts are suspect.  It has dispatched close to 100,000 "peacekeeping" force to about twenty spots around the World and investigative reports show that the misconduct of the force is not limited to straight jacketing those nation-states the security council deems unfriendly, but bribery and rape of young girls in some of the areas (such as Congo) where they are deployed. As it stands the five permanent members of the Security Council are five of the top ten largest arms merchants in the World as others are vilified as threats to the security of the planet. And they are the top nuclear arm countries which are using the IAEA to keep their exclusive club intact. The most extensively used formal mechanism for the purpose of military action, is the Military Staff Committee. Its members are military officers from the permanent member countries. Security Council operates under the pretense of "collective security" and that has invariably caused the "humanitarian" militarism and legitimate interventions when the permanent members desire. The criticism of Security Council is increasing as the hegemonic elite- the five permanent members meet privately and decide what to do with other peoples' lives. It is ironic that the very Security Council that authorizes military action against a state under the guise of a threat to the so-called "civilized world," has a junta style structure. There is no guarantee that cautious China and Russia as two of the five veto wielding powers, will continue to maintain independence and integrity on key international issues. The pressure from more advanced members, and their own global interests are more likely to force changes in their future priorities. As it stands the junta style power of the Security Council will adversely affect everyone including those not in the developing world. Even some western governments in the Anglo-Saxon orbit have called for the elimination of the structure of the council. Paul Martin of Canada advocated abolishing permanency at the council, while others such as the governments of Iran and Venezuela have advocated the broadening of the Security Council.

UN and its Affiliated Agencies:

Throughout its existence, the United Nations system has grown in scope and function. For the most part the cover of legitimacy for various international and supranational organizations demands their association with an organization which is perceived as legitimate and international. In the same manner that the Security Council has been for the most part trying to present itself as a democratic and legitimate component of the United Nations, several of the affiliated agencies have been struggling with the crisis of legitimacy. Two of the most widely criticized UN affiliated agencies are the IMF and the World Bank and all of their subunits. To understand the functioning of the World Bank and the IMF one must understand the philosophy undergirding their being as it is the case for all other institutions. Once there is an understanding of the philosophy and the ontological dimensions, one can readily see the behavior and predict the outcome. The philosophy undergirding the functioning and the structure of the IMF and the World Bank is rooted in the market fundamentalism, private sector dominance, and the ruthless and discredited neoliberalism of the past three decades. It is with an understanding of this philosophy that one pursues truth behind the rhetoric's, slogans and false models and promises.  These two institutions and affiliated agencies work together. Their structure is similar to any private corporation and the voting power determined by the amount of resources put in by a member state. Thus wealthy nations have veto power and therefore in control of these agencies. Historically, wealthy Western countries (particularly the United States) have dominated these two institutions (as it is the case for the rest of United Nations) and will continue to do so. To Volker Rittberger (1973:223) the Bank and the IMF represent "...supranational-bureaucratic peak of the Western controlled international capitalist iceberg which extends across most underdeveloped countries..."

THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF): The Epitome of Monetary Terrorism

In April of 1944, the Bretton Woods Conference produced an organization that was to bring "stability" to the chaotic prevailing global monetary system. The previous international monetary system (the Gold Standard) was blamed for all of the economic problem and the two World Wars. The new system designated the United States Dollar as the key currency whose value was determined by gold. Once the value of the US dollar was determined based on gold, then all other currencies were pegged against the dollar. Thus US dollar became the universal currency acceptable in most of the world as means of international payment. But this was the basis of formulating policies at the service of global capitalism. As a United Nations agency, the IMF has been the key global financial institution is empowered to facilitate capital accumulation through economic growth. To that end it dictates policies to member nations particularly those that are not part of the core capitalist states. At first glance, the promotion of capital accumulation and economic growth may not be such a bad policy since they are perceived as positive development. What could be wrong with capital accumulation and economic growth if the benefits reach ordinary people? This is precisely the problem and throughout most of its history, the IMF as indeed it sister organization the World Bank have not had the interests of everyone in mind. Capital accumulation has winners and losers and indeed for the most part it is a zero sum process.

As a United Nations agency, the IMF has the power to monitor and dictate the economic policy of the member states. Its representative in the member country has access to vital national statistics of the country and on that basis it decides the extent of its policy involvement. One very critical factor that the IMF uses to decide the policy is the degree of indebtedness of the member country to international banks mostly located on the core capitalist countries. IMF refers to the policy package it imposes on the member nation as "structural adjustments."  The label of "Structural adjustments" creates an impression that the IMF indeed is looking after the interests of the member nation and all of its inhabitants. The reality, however suggest anything other than the stated intent. If we were to call the IMF policies "austerity measures", we will perceive of the world in an entirely different form. Austerity simply means hardship and in particular belt tightening for the working class and the poor of the former colonial territories. Austerity measures are imposed when a country in indebt and in order to enable the country to service its debt. Most of the previously colonized territories after independence were left with devastating economic and social infrastructure by the very colonial empires which robbed these territories of their resources (often with the aid of comprador groups and modernizing agents) and after decolonization, they were encouraged to borrow so as to build the needed infrastructure (i.e, roads, schools, hospitals, and other necessary infrastructures). The persistent question is how are they going to service the debt? It is not possible for the debtor to write a check in their own currency to pay the interests on the debt they must obtain hard currency (U.S dollar, the currencies of the pre-Euro and now Euro). To obtain these currencies, they must earn it. Here where the IMF attempt to help the creditors in the collection process. These countries are then asked to 1) increase their exports which often include food as cash crop in the midst of hunger, 2) lower the wage rate, 3) eliminate or reduce expenditures on social programs, and if necessary borrow just to pay the interests on the existing debt, and 4) privatization which often ends up in the theft of public resources by a very few parasitic and well connected individuals.  These are the components of the austerity program. Calling it structural adjustments will not change the reality on the ground and a great number of the countries around the world are suffering from the debilitating "debt trap." Debt trap (title of a great book on IMF by Cheryl Payer) simply means borrowing just to pay the interest on an existing debt. That is, even increasing exports which include food leading to more hunger, and the other components of austerity measures are not sufficient to pay for the interests on the debt.  Some countries have resorted to the production of illicit drugs (opium, marijuana, cocaine and heroine) in order to obtain the necessary hard currency to pay their creditors. If there is to be any relief, they must be capitalist friendly and that would be good for a limited time.

            The social, economic, political and environmental damages caused by indebtedness are enormous. Hunger, deforestation, pollution, soil depletion, spread of diseases, lack of investments in sanitation, education, transportation, health and medicine and overall degradation and repression have been increasing at an alarming rate. Hunger exists because countries are forced to sell food as a cash crop, and if the international market demands a commodity for several years and the framers are encouraged to produce the same crop on the same land (abandon the ancient method of crop rotation), the soil loses its nutrients and that would lead to desertification; deforestation occurs because there is demand for limited food that can be had once the trees are removed and the forest products are dictated from the advanced countries;  the separated population from the land now rendered useless moves to the cities and cities are not built to house so many people, hence the spread of diseases; pollution and the spread of diseases are often ignored as long as they remain within the confines of the peripheral countries. But the moment theses diseases (such as AIDS)  begin appearing in the center, then there is an outcry accompanied by racist labels, and pill pushers sales representatives and catalogues; Current diseases could have been prevented had the world community worked in concert to check the spread of these diseases. But as long as the ongoing brutal, ugly and subtle imperialism on a global scale is not challenged, these problems will multiply. What is the United Nations doing about these kinds of threats to the "peace and security" of the world (Article 27) caused by the policies of non other than one of its own agencies? The association between the rise of epidemics and worsening endemic diseases with the economic policies dictated by the IMF is becoming much more frequent. The Journal of Public Library of Science reported on the possible link between the role of the IMF in a country and the rise in tuberculoses (TB). "The researchers concluded that "IMF economic reform programs are strongly associated with rises in tuberculoses mortality rates in post-communist Eastern European and FSU [former Soviet Union] countries....." (Multinational Monitor, 2008:8). TB kills 1.7 million people every year and based on the study when countries submitted to the IMF program, they experienced an increase of 13.9 percent in TB incidents and an increase of 16.6 percent in mortality rates.

The IMF has been pushing for privatization and deregulation of everything capable of producing any amount of profit since its inception. There are too many cases of the IMF dictating economic policies to that end and there are too many victims. Just to illustrate, here are a few cases; Ghana's rain water in the country side is fenced and sold. In 2000, the IMF approved a $300 million loan to Ecuador with an existing debt of $15 billion. The preconditions imposed an "Economic Transformation Law" primarily concerned with the interests of international financial institutions (Finer and Huta, 2005).  Perhaps the most sweeping economic policy based on the free-market", globalization, and neoliberalism is the IMF's removal of any kind of barriers to capital inflow and outflow. The elimination of restrictions, regulations and requirements introduced in 1995, were according to the IMF reduced the ability of countries to effectively compete in the international economy. Following the removal of "capital control" mechanisms, several Asian economies such as Thailand, the Philippines South Korea and Indonesia experienced a devastating crash in 1997-1998. In a matter of a few weeks some one million people in Thailand and 21 million people in Indonesia found themselves in the ranks of poor (Bello and Guttal, 2005). Only those countries such as Malaysia which closed the capital markets, --effectively cutting the hands of speculators, remained outside of the failed economies of the 1990s.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development-- The World Bank:

The World Bank Group, which is composed of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the international Finance Corporation (IFC) and the International Development Association (IDA), is one of the most controversial organizations affiliated with the United Nations. The plan for the IBRD was drafted by the meeting of the head of ten industrial countries at Breton Woods in April of 1945 and implemented in 1946 and the other two components were added later. The International Finance Corporation was primarily concerned with investing in the private sector of the developing world; and the International Development Association which has been for the most part making soft loans (insignificant amount) to the very poorest of all the countries if they qualify.  In its formative years, the Bank concentrated on the Western European recovery and once that task was completed, it turned its attention although for a different purpose to the Third World. A review of the World Bank practices, suggest that its lending practices for specific projects have been primarily at the service of the dominant global private sector led by multinational corporations allied with local capital. Often the practice of granting a project to a corporation is a based on bidding and that as documented is replete with corruption such as kickbacks, bribery among others. The fundamental aim of the World Bank is to promote foreign investments and to enhance the profitability of these investments by multinational corporations, while make some money for itself. Like the IMF, the World Bank works closely with the US Treasury, powerful financial institutions as well as multinational corporations. Citing a U.S. Treasury Department study, Carol Stitt an advisor to the World Bank said  ".... for every $1 invested by the government in the World Bank, $2.50 returned to the U.S. economy through U.S. corporations, which obtain contracts for bank-sponsored projects" (Lernoux, 1980).   

The bank monitors member countries in the same manner that the IMF does and it is guided by the same philosophy -free market capitalism and survival of the fittest. The bank facilitates private investments in the developing world and it provides helpful information about the country to foreign investments. In fact it is consistent with the IMF policies of ranking countries in terms of risk and profitability of investment. If either of these two institutions does not have a favorable view of the country or the country refuses their dictates, investors are alarmed and loan applications are denied. The World Bank compiles an annual report called the Doing Business. The report ranks countries based on their policy on labor unions, wages and working conditions. If a country raises the wage rate above the already low minimum wage and imposes regulations regarding working conditions and bargaining efforts, and it makes it difficult to fire workers, it will receive a low ranking from the bank. On the other hand countries that regularly violate labor standards and maintain brutal working conditions receive high ranks (Bakvis, 2006).

The Bank has in the past attempted to deal with massive global indebtedness as has been the IMF. What is striking is that both the IMF and the World Bank are the police of the global financial transactions and from time to time as the crisis reaches a boiling point that threatens the entire system, they suggest new strategies. For example the bank in collaboration with the United States Treasury came up with the "Brady Plan" in order to ease the debt burden by the developing world in the 1980s. As a "counter-insurgency" measure the plan reviewed the balance sheet of a total of 42 countries out of 165 developing countries which were determined to be "Highly Indebted Poor Countries" and in need of help. Finally it was decided that the creditors should work with theses countries in the restructuring of their debt if they undertake structural reform-free up money through reduction in social services to pay the creditor. However in 2002, only 20 of the eligible 42 were able to initiate the necessary reform (see Bello and Guttal, 2005 for an excellent indictment of these two institutions in many ways similar to an earlier work by Teresa Hayter 1980, Cheryl Payer 1984, and Penny Lernoux 1980). The presidents of the World Bank since its inception have been interesting. From prior to McNamara to the architect of Iraq Invasion Paul Wolfowitz who resigned after an scandal to Robert Zelleck who is the 11th President of the Bank and like his predecessors comes either from the ranks and file of CEOs of the private sector or Military Industrial Complex appointed by the President of the United States. there is a long history which confirms the belief that the World Bank group, although affiliated with the United Nations, primarily represents the interest of the dominant few in the global economy.

The promotion of the private sector as a matter of policy for the World Bank has been relentless since its appearance. Step by step guidelines of global capitalist strategy either in the form of World trade through removal of barriers, globalization and project financing have been implemented by the Bank. In 2000, the Bank drafted a new "Private Sector Development Strategy" (PSDS) and was adopted in 2002. In it, the bank reaffirms its commitment to the sanctity of the private sector and to improving the "investment climate" (Tannenbaum, 2002). In 2005, a report by the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) "found that the World Bank still attached privatization, market opening and deregulation requirements to more than 70 percent of its IDA loans and grants." And the economic condition policies viewed by many as devastating have "remained virtually unchanged...." (Multinational Monitor, 2007:7). The World Bank has been actively promoting carbon trading for profit which financing projects that are detrimental to the ecosystem. A report prepared by Janet Redman found that the World Bank promotes the use of fossil fuel by way of carbon trading and found that the Bank charges 13 percent commission on its $2 billion in carbon trading (cited in Wysham, 2008:25). 

The push for privatization for the sole purpose of capital accumulation has caused major social, economic and political dislocation around the world. There is no country in the global south hat has not been adversely affected by their policies. The mounting problems around the world from hunger to cholera, to AIDS, to violence against children (in the form of child labor, and the use of children for body parts among others), to soil erosion and deforestation, to persistent Malaria, environmental degradation, chronic malnutrition, to rising illiteracy (estimated to reach 700 million in a few years) to an estimated 1.4 billion people in poverty and as compared to previous years the number is on the rise and so many other problems are addressed among others by other well known United Nations agencies.

Now what is that world at large hears and sees as United Nations' efforts in dealing with the massive socio-economic and environmental problems? The World is familiar with United Nations through the worldwide presence of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which ostensibly promotes the arts, education and cultural training; International Labor Organization (ILO) primarily concerned with labor issues and interests including the widespread problem of child labor. It is ironic that the very policies of the World Bank and the IMF specifically tailored for indebted countries are the causes of child labor and exploitation of labor; United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UNFAO) often at the service of agribusiness and their control of food production and distribution; United Nations Refugee, United Nations International Children's Emergency Funds (UNICEF) concerned with the welfare of children around the world. Yet millions are hungry, abandoned, abused, murdered and sent to work on a daily basis;  United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), concerned with the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation, but controlled by the very nuclear club (and their allies) that controls the security Council; World Health Organization (WHO) and its annual data on the worsening global health conditions and what it assumes to be the causes; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that promotes a world sans borders when it comes to trade through lower tariffs and quotas and standardization  in the same manner  that the most reviled and recently created World Trade Organization (WTO), and a few lesser know agencies. For the most part these agencies are assigned the tasks of alleviating the symptoms of the structural damage caused by the most powerful agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank. No one ought to assume that all of the contemporary problems experienced by the developing World are caused by these multilateral agencies. But what one can say with certainty is the fact that the policies of the IMF and the World Bank along with the dictatorial power of the United Nations Security Council are responsible for a great number of these problems and as long as the contemporary hegemonic structure is in place, the illness will persist and more agencies will be needed to treat some of the symptoms.  


The world is desperately in need of a solution to the crises of socio-economic and political violence, lack of direction, and utter disregard for the declining moral and ethical standards. The reality points to a very frightening prospect and to a world that is not governed by any moral codes, ethical values, international law and the absence of credible enforcing institutions. As the behavior of certain permanent members even in the formative years of the United Nations reveals, the current dysfunctionality of the UN is neither a recent problem nor it is a matter of bureaucratic inefficiency. Rather it is built into the hegemonic structure itself and the need for an alternative system with a philosophy and mission statement suitable for a sustainable global social, political and economic system is becoming increasingly urgent. As long as the world is managed by those very few so called "fit" who pursue their own selfish interest at the expense of the great majority, they are given the right to codify rules, regulations, morality and ethics and to write history. Are we to assume that the world is ruled by the fittest of the human species? If so then the results suggest that there is a cancer on the body of humanity and unless the world reverses its course and changes the culture of violence, the cancer will destroy it. Recently at Davos we heard calls for more deregulation, more free market, more capital inflow/outflow, more speculations, more free trade and much more free this and free that. Angela Merkel of Germany and Gordon Brown of Britain suggested the creation of a Security Council Economic Commission for more policing of the World economy. This however is not in opposition to the neoliberalism that Davos has been promoting. It simply means for control of the World economy by a few-a few that control Security Council itself. There is a hopeful sign that there is a growing awareness regarding the very oligarchic structure of global institutions and the various mechanisms of transfer of wealth from the poorest to richest. The developing world is displaying an advanced degree of awareness that often dwarfs that of their counterparts in the advanced industrial and capitalist countries. As their awareness advances inexorably, the hope for a better world must be sustained. It is not the hoarding and the wasteful consumption of resources --the foundation of uni-polar and bi-polar hegemonic system that has ruled the world. It is a world free of hegemonic tendencies, respect for the rules that everyone can live by. As long as hegemonic powers control the structure and set policies, the structure will remain detrimental to the health of the "real" international community. No one should believe that United Nations ought to solve the World's pressing problems, but no one expects the United Nations to be one of the causes of the problems. It is time for the United Nations and all of its agencies to renounce past practices on the part of some of its agencies, adopt a new paradigm, and join the voices speaking on behalf of the under-privilege at the World Social forum rather than as a cheer leader on the sideline for the voices of greed and failure at the World Economic Forum at Davos.


  1. In the nineteenth century, the quest for peace began with the "Concert of Europe," the "Geneva Convention," and the "Hague Convention,"  "Inter-parliamentary Union and culminated in the "league of Nations.".
  2. The Administration made sure that the existing and future treaties and organizations (United Nations Charters in particular) were structured and restructured in a manner which reflected the economic, political and military security considerations of the United States and its allies. The critical issue for the Truman Administration was the prohibition of regional treaties by the existing united Nations Charter agreed upon at Yalta. To Truman, the Yalta Agreement was a give away and a diplomatic tragedy. Despite his reverence for President Roosevelt, Truman thought Yalta was a mistake. The San Francisco Conference was an attempt to correct what had gone wrong at Yalta. The participants at this Conference attempted a reorganization of the United Nations Charter and a reduction in Soviet Veto power.
  3. As a member of Security Council, the Soviet agreement to the charter was a must. It had to be obtained regardless of the tactics. To do so, the United States delegates thought it was necessary "to proceed rather drastically and to depart from what might be called the best diplomatic manners." To Dulles (1950), in order to "force" the soviet hand, United States threatened to cut off financial aid to the soviets should they refuse to go along with its request. These maneuvers followed by a press statement which publically committed the United States to the equivalent of Article 51. As the first step toward the formulation of a permanent regional military the Conference Succeeded in neutralizing the Soviet's impact and thus paved the way for the formation of a regional security system. John Foster Dulles as a delegate to the Conference joined Truman, Vandenberg and Harriman in denouncing the Soviet Union by stating that the Communists must never be trusted. Dulles and Senator Vandenberg argued on behalf of the administration that there was a need for provisions allowing regional treaties and organizations which could foster peace. Dulles recognized that under the United Nations charter it was very difficult to prevent the communist domination of various countries in the region. Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg the influential supporter of Truman's foreign policy in the Senate, along with other delegation members convened the Conference by declaring that "FDR's appeasement of Russia is over..."(Vandenberg, 1953:176).


Bakvis Peter, (2006), "Giving Workers the Business: World Bank Support for Labor Deregulation," Multinational Monitor, July/ August. Volume 28. No.3. 

Bello, Walden and Shalmali Guttal (2005), "Crisis of Credibility: The Declining Power of the International Monetary Fund," Multinational Monitor, July/August. Volume. 26, Nos 7&8.

_________ (2005), "Programmed to Fail: The World Bank Cling to a Bankrupt Development Model,"  Multinational Monitor. July/August, Volume. 26, Nos 7&8.    

Department of State Bulletin, February 16, 1947, "Stimson to Secretary Hull, FR, 1944-46; Stimson and Forrestal Correspondences with the Secretary of State," Vols. VII, VIII).

Dulles, Foster John (1950) "War and Peace", New York: MacMillan.

Eagleton Clyde, (1945) "Dumbarton Oaks Proposals: Agenda for San Francisco," Department of State Bulletin, January-June.                                                                                                          

 Finer, Matt and Leda Huta (2005), "Yasuni Blues: The IMF, Ecuador and Coerced Oil      Exploitation," Multinational Monitor, May/June. Volume. 26. Nos 5&6.

Gardner, Lloyd C  (1972),  "Architects of illusion: Men and Ideas in America Foreign Policy, 1941-1949," Chicago: Quadrangle.

Hayter Teresa (1980) "Aid as Imperialism," London, Pelican Books.

Kane, William, (1972) "Civil Strife In Latin America: A Legal History of U.S. Involvement".  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lenroux, Penny (1980), "World Banking at the Brink," National Catholic Reporter. KCMO.

Mearsheimer John L, and Stephen M. Walt (2006), "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," London Review of Books Vol. 28, No.6 (March 23).

Multinational Monitor (2008), "The IMF-TB Connection", September/October Volume, 29/2.

­­­­­­­______(2008), "The Political Economy of False Solutions," September/October Volume, 29/2.

_________ (2007), "Norway Nixes World Bank," November/December. Volume. 28. No.5.

Payer, Cheryl, (1982), "The Bretton Woods Twins," Counterspy, Vol. 7. No 1. September/November.

_____________ (1982), "The Debt Trap," New York, Monthly Review.

Rittberger, Volker (1973), "International Organizations and Violence," Journal of Peace Research, 3(1973): 217-226.

Stimson to Secretary Hull, FR, 1944-46; Stimson and Forrestal Correspondences with the Secretary of State, Vols. VII, VIII.

Tannenbaum, David (2002), "Obsessed: The Latest Chapter in the World Bank's Privatization Plans," Multinational Monitor, September. Volume 23, No. 9.

Vandenberg, Jr, Arthur (1953)  "The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg"  Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Weissman, Robert (2002), "Anatomy of a Deal: A Close Look at the World Bank's Plans to Privatize Ghana's Water System," Multinational Monitor, September, Volume. 23. No.9.

Wysham, Daphne (2008), "Carbon Market Fundamentalism," Multinational Monitor, November/December, Volume, 19. No. 3.

... Payvand News - 02/23/09 ... --

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