rob"o*rant, n. A roborant drug; a restorative or tonic.

More than just Kofi

People all over the place are starting to say it's time for Kofi Annan to go. I say, to hell with Kofi Anon, it's time for the whole UN to go.

First, it's the most ineptly constructed institution on the planet. All members are equal except for the permanent members of the Security Council: China, France, Russia, Britain and the US. Any action taken by the Security Council requires the unanimous consent of these five members. This nicely reflects the status of world power in the 1950's, but is completely arbitrary today. Even in the General Assembly, micro-powers such as Fiji, with its nearly one million inhabitants stand on par with China, representing thirteen hundred times as many people. Democracies are equivalent to dictatorships and benevolent countries are even with aggressive invaders.

Secondly, the organization has no formal power. If some entity, somewhere, does manage to simultaneously offend a majority of the Security Council and all five permanent members, then that entity just might get a scathing letter in the mail. Fingers may be shaken in the entities' general direction. Mr Annan just might make a speech. "Sanctions" may be imposed, but they may just represent a way for those under sanction to really engage in corruptiion. This powerlessness has completely undermined the UN's primary function of protecting weak nations (see Rwanda).

Lastly, due to its complete lack of any checks and balances, the UN has no ability to police itself and prevent corruption. The UN can't even subpoena it's own members when it does investigate corruption and it had to bring in an outside investigator, Paul Volcker, to give any legitimacy to the process.

Sure, Mr Annan was at the helm during what is probably the biggest scandal of all time (in terms of dollars). Yes, any sane organization would replace such a leader as quickly as possible. The problem is that the UN isn't a sane organization. It wasn't designed that way.

Do we really need a world government anyway? Sovereign nations are never going to truly give up their power to a world body. Any attempt at world government is going to wind up with something like the UN: a powerless, corrupt debating society. There are plenty of uses for world-wide humanitarian organizations and there are many instances where nations need a place to organize and plan (think SARS), but I just don't see any need for a world-wide governing body.

It's a platitude that the further removed a government is from the people it serves, the more poorly it will serve them. Nothing could be further removed from the regular people of the world than the United Nations.