- - Wednesday, June 1, 2016


The United Nations convened the first World Humanitarian Summit last month in Turkey, drawing 55 heads of state and 9,000 participants from 173 nations, and the delegates sounded a righteous alarm over a world aflame. There was much yah-yah and considerable argle-bargle. Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the U.N., set the uplifting tone.

“Civil strife and conflicts are driving suffering and humanitarian need to unprecedented levels and serious violations of international humanitarian law,” he said, “and abuses of international human rights law continue on an alarming scale with entire populations left without essential supplies they desperately need.” He said what the nations need to hear, but the nations that need to hear it most will pay no heed.

Participants were treated to “seven high-level roundtables, 15 special sessions, 132 side events, and two days of plenary.” Each was intended to raise awareness of human want, sustainable development, “disaster risk reduction” and finding a way to make the climate behave. The goals sound mostly to the good.

But the direct cause of much of the suffering is radical Islam, and the radicals’ struggle to erect an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. Nevertheless, blaming radical Islam and invoking the necessity to do something about it is an insight too far. Without a clear condemnation of the violence and a determination to stop it, the U.N. can hardly hope to contribute anything useful about the murder and mayhem.

Less than a day’s drive from the sessions, Syria and Iraq are torn by clashing armies, or “civil strife and conflicts,” as Mr. Ban called it. The Syrian civil war to oust President Bashar Assad has sent millions fleeing their homeland, inundating European nations with an unmanageable wave of refugees and triggering terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. The Islamic State is holding some 50,000 civilians as human shields to blunt the advance of Iraqi troops attempting to recapture Fallujah, a city lost to the terrorists in January 2014.

Collateral damage in both theaters of battle is lethal damage to Christians and to the priceless religious relics of ancient communities. The proportion of Christians in the population has fallen from 14 percent to 4 percent during the past century, and the widespread extermination of Christians at the hands of the Islamic State and al Qaeda raises the possibility that outside of Israel, few if any will survive.

It will take more than a single summit to solve man’s inhumanity to man; the U.N. Human Rights Council just marked the 10th anniversary of its futile efforts to do so. More than 6 in 10 of member nations are among the abusers of human rights, according to Freedom House, prominently among them Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” declares the United Nations‘ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Lofty rhetoric can stand as a beacon for human aspiration, but it’s no mastery of the devilish details that include murder and mass migration from turmoil in the Islamic world. The United Nations cannot expect to alleviate the suffering as long as it is too polite to confront its cause.

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