The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday rejected a Jordan sponsored Palestinian resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2018. The resolution needed 9 votes in favour, but it managed to receive only 8, while there were five abstentions. Even if it had got one more vote, it would still have failed, since the US had, not surprisingly, already vetoed the resolution. The rejection of even this, much watered-down, resolution further reiterates the glaring limitations of the UN and makes sure its most high-profile failure continues to blight its facade. An interest oriented, real-politick stance was always expected from the US – the UN was designed to counterbalance exactly this self-serving tendency of nations – so criticizing states, as we have done vociferously in the past, is a futile exercise. The decades of injustice perpetrated in Gaza and the West Bank seem to be finally morally compelling European states to change their policies; despite this the US still has its finger on the jugular and it is unwilling to budge.

The world’s attention must be drawn to the body itself, which, despite grand premises and lofty ideas, is ineffective where it matters the most. The UN has done brilliant work codifying an extensive catalogue of human rights and continues to monitor, mediate and rebuild in many conflict-struck areas. Yet, these are ancillary objectives; the UN has failed in fulfilling its main objective of preventing conflict and mitigating warfare. For many, the cause of this lies in the structure of the UN itself; the veto leads to deadlock whenever the veto powers feel their interests are threatened. The only times the UN has played an effective part, in Libya and Yugoslavia, is when global interests coincidently aligned. What is the use of a multi-lateral body that relies on coincidence to function? The old justification of the veto – since the five nations are global powers, any action not in accordance with their wishes would lead to global conflict – has become untenable now that we see it propagating conflict instead. It is time for a reassessment of the UN.