Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cambodia/Thailand and the utility of the UN Security Council

I so often line up with China and Russia in arguing that this or that an issue is not a Security Council issue because it's not a threat to international peace and security (Zimbabwe, Myanmar, etc.) that some may question whether I think the Council has any use whatsoever.

But of course it has uses. And the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand that is escalating by the day is the perfect example. Mediating such disputes, and heading off unnecessary aggression and conflict, is precisely what the UN was made for. Granted, compared with Sudan or Somalia this should be a bit of a bunny, but the fact is, it's a true international incident and the Council, as the security organ of the world's global body, has the authority to help arbitrate the dispute, just as the Secretariat's political offices are uniquely able to mediate it. Reports are that the Council will take up the issue and I'm glad about it.

Meanwhile, I would laugh off the risk of actual warfare over a tiny patch of land adjacent to an 11th century temple, but when I read about the infamous Honduran-El Salvadoran soccer war, I remember that one should never underestimate the capacity of nations to engage in hostilities for the most juvenile of reasons.

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