Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

United Nations Day

With the promise of rain in the forecast and a list of errands to do in Stokesley, a swift blast up Roseberry was the imperative for the day.

“How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?”

In 1962, so Bob Dylan sang, and, during my formative years, I couldn’t be bothered with the deeper significance of his verses. The song, to me, felt like a never-ending barrage of cryptic questions. Good tune though. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve come to grasp that Dylan aimed to provoke contemplation about the myriad ways in which mankind has fallen short of its potential.

The last question of the last verse holds a particular poignancy in this present day:

“How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?”

78 years ago today, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the United Nations came into being with a lofty goal in mind: to ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war1Nations, United. 2023. ‘Preamble | United Nations’, United Nations (United Nations) <https://www.un.org/en/about-us/un-charter/preamble> [accessed 24 October 2023]. Its mission encompassed several vital commitments, including maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights and delivering humanitarian aid.

All laudable aims.

But we still have wars.

We now find ourselves in an era where there are clear standards dictating when a conflict can be deemed legitimate and well-defined regulations on the conduct and resolution of such conflicts. There’s also an international court capable of enforcing accountability for war crimes and international peacekeeping forces ready to maintain a separation between the belligerent parties.

Yet we still have wars.

The UN, it’s far from perfect, let’s be honest here. It’s seen its fair share of failures, and yes, it’s faltering even as we speak. Seemingly powerless. But, instead of wallowing in despair, let’s not forget those moments when the UN actually managed to get it right in past disputes. We need to channel our efforts into finding solutions for the mess we’re in now.

Our Government seems to be turning a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In the media, there’s a lot of news about the terrible things happening there, and about the atrocities committed by Hamas. It’s quite tempting to succumb to despair, and let that despair turn into a bitter cynicism. It feels like we’re in an era where loud voices insist you choose a side, and you’re heavily criticised if you choose the wrong one. This conflict, in particular, intensifies that stark division.

To rectify this humanitarian catastrophe, we must urgently establish a ceasefire and put an end to collective punishment. The United Nations needs to live up its charter.

We don’t know when the answer will be found; it remains as elusive as the capricious wind.

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”






One response to “United Nations Day”

  1. JOHN joseph JEFFERS avatar
    JOHN joseph JEFFERS

    Yes indeed- More ‘JAW-JAW’ and less war-war.

    Media would have us make a binary choice, support the Palestinians (and therefore murdering Hamas) or support the ultra-right-wing Israeli government.

    There is a 3rd way.
    Our Government, spared the strong Jewish lobby which controls the US Senate & Congress should call for an immediate ceasefire and restore basic elements to survival – water, etc.
    Perhaps the answer, rather than blowing in the wind is not for an ineffective UN but indeed an Arab peacekeeping force (Saudi-UAE, etc)
    The Saudis are experts in internal intelligence/control of the masses and are no friends of Iran. So, after many years of living amongst the arab tribes, this would be my peace solution. Israel deserves to live in peace and most certainly so do the innocents of Gaza.

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