The UN has no function in governing the Philippines; unlike Duterte it has no mandate from the people. And right now it would be better employed looking into its own dysfunction.
We were given a cameo of that just last week when its peacekeepers in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, ignored repeated pleas for help from aid workers – supposedly under UN protection – as they were being beaten, raped and robbed less than a mile away. Nor was this an isolated incident: in July, dozens of women were raped in broad daylight close to the same UN Protection of Civilians base.
The contrast between the UN’s total dereliction of duty in South Sudan, leaving the people it was sworn to defend at the mercy of a crazed and drunken mob, and the dedication of Philippine law enforcement in confronting well-armed gangs to free its people from their grip, could not be starker. In the light of this alone, UN criticism of Duterte is mind-numbing.
The pronouncements by this overpaid mother-of-clubs, that Duterte is inciting violence and supporting vigilantism, are as breathtakingly banal as the views of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva are breathtakingly beautiful from the sprawling splendour of the UN’s European home at the Palace of Nations. But they are far more than “stupid,” the term Duterte ascribes to them; they are breathtakingly hypocritical. And, of course, like all things UN, they are agenda-driven.
We are told that they are the considered opinions of UN “experts”. But who are they? Well, the “intelligence” is gathered and analysed by special rapporteurs. These are the organisation’s appointees to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) – progressive university law professors, economists and NGO members; men and women who are in the beds of every civil-liberties group on the planet; academics and theorists who live in a vacuum somewhere. And they tell the UNHRC what it wants to hear – in this case, that a democratically elected president (whom the civil-liberties establishment dislikes for a number of reasons) is not playing by their rules.
This was no scholarly study, however. Before reaching their conclusions, they never actually consulted with the Philippine Government and, as far as we know, they didn’t carry out any meaningful survey on Philippine soil into the size of the drug problem today, nor did they make any growth projections for the future. The scale of the effects of the drugs trade on the Filipino population was also ignored by the “experts” who kept themselves well isolated from the sight of human detritus which this plague leaves in its wake. Apparently, none of this was relevant. In fact all they did, it seems, was to dig out the old UN human-rights boiler plate and make their case against Duterte and his law officers.
What gives the UNHRC moral authority is more difficult to understand, particularly when you look at the composition of its membership. Those who have sat around its table admonishing other nations for human-rights abuses and infringements have included such beacons of social justice as Pakistan whose government sanctions lapidation, the stoning to death of perceived adulteresses; Gabon, with its laissez-faire approach to people trafficking and child-sex slavery; Cote d’Ivoire with its near blemishless record of arbitrary arrest and detention and torture, and Venezuela where freedoms of the press, expression, assembly and protest have been virtually outlawed.
These, then, are the voices of moral authority; the ones that filter down from the Palace of Nations and from UN HQ in Turtle Bay, Manhattan or somewhere in Norway – the ones that would confiscate the desperate hopes of drug-damned families in the Philippines’ inner cities; the ones that would tell them that the man that they had chosen to free them from the daily terror of their lives is unfit to serve them; that they in Geneva and New York got it right and that he in Manila and Davao got it wrong.
But what the latte-drinking professors, such as human-rights law lecturer, Christof Heyns – one of those “experts” – and the rest of the UN’s fawning apparatchiks have failed to factor into their calculus is that their alternative has already been tried. In fact, the present situation – a multi-billion-dollar illegal-drugs industry feeding an estimated 3 million crystal-meth addicts countrywide – is the result. It was precisely their thinking that allowed this cancer to grow and metastasise across the archipelago throughout the terms of the country’s past three administrations. It was their call to inaction that wrote welcome on the mat for the drug lords to come in and open up shop; to build a black super-economy run by shabu salesmen; to create a lucrative market retailing misery and addiction.
Duterte, however, will not be bought off. Nor will he be railroaded into abandoning his people and their dreams of a safer homeland. And for the Philippines, its economy, its social development and its future, that the way forward is in his hands and not those of faceless UN experts is extremely good news.
Yes, the body count of drug offenders will continue to rise, but so too will the numbers of those who seek help to free themselves from addiction. Criticism from the gang of NGOs – Amnesty International, Human Right Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists and others – that do the UN’s bidding will not abate, but criminality across the country’s barangays will: in July, the Philippine National Police reported a 31% drop in index crimes (murder, homicide, physical assault, carnapping, robbery and theft) from July 2015.
In this fight, the UN has no legitimate dog; it is an irrelevance and a distraction and Duterte will continue to treat it as such. His loyalty is to his people, not to some vague notion in the UN’s Code of Conduct Compliance manual.
Had Duterte been in charge of the UN Protection of Civilians base in Juba, we have no doubt that he would have responded immediately to those cries for help – after all, that’s precisely what he’s doing in the Philippines right now. His people have asked him to make their streets and neighbourhoods safe. He is answering their call.