Noble of Nobel live in Disney world, not our world

UN Troops

UN awarded for creating “…a better organised and more peaceful world”

The United Nations and its leader, Kofi Annan, on 12 October, 2001 won the Nobel Peace Prize for "their work for a better organised and more peaceful world". The Norwegian Nobel committee said that the United Nations and Mr Annan would share the $943,000 prize. It praised the UN for being at the forefront of efforts to achieve peace and security in the world. However the prize was awarded with a fanfare in the same week that the bombing and killing of innocent civilians started in Afghanistan. The committee selected this year's winner on 28 September two weeks after the events of 11 September.

Mr Annan became UN secretary-general in 1997. He was the head of UN peacekeeping operations when the United States lobbied against Boutros Boutros-Ghali winning a second term. In an unprecedented vote of confidence, Mr Annan was unanimously re-elected to a second term by the 189 UN member states in June 2001. Thus this year he was doubly rewarded for doing as he is told, taking home a gigantic salary and bottomless expense account.

It is paradoxical that Kofi Annan was awarded an award for peace at such a time of turmoil. This should not come as a surprise. The whole concept of Nobel prizes is riddled with irony from the onset. The Nobel prizes were created by the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in his will and are presented on the anniversary of his death in 1896.

It was not just the ghost of Alfred Noble that praised Annan. President Bush said that the UN should take on the job of rebuilding Afghanistan when the military attacks are over, which might include supervising elections. He said: "I think when you look around, the UN is the only organisation that in the past has done the kind of work that will be necessary in Afghanistan." So, exactly what kind of work does GW define as “good work”? Perhaps Mr Annan can do what is “necessary” to suit President Bush. His past performance has proved it.
Many of us remember Kofi Annan for his “good work”, such as his attempt to negotiate with Saddam Hussein and his failures in Sierra Leone. He is actually indirectly guilty of precipitating and prolonging the blood shed in Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Somalia. As head of the UN peacekeeping department Annan failed to prevent the killings in Srebrenica.

One thing is for sure, the Muslims weren’t at the party in Stockholm. I’m also sure the noble Nobel will understand if the survivors of the genocide in both Rwanda in 1994 and the massacre of Muslim men and boys in Bosnia a year later refuse to join the chorus of praise for Mr Annan and the UN. Both of these groups could quite rightly accuse him and the UN of failing to prevent the death of their relatives and neighbours. We as Muslims have come not to expect too much from this organisation. However it is in their job description to prevent such genocide. Events like the Nobel awards ceremony just demonstrate to the world how they had no intention of creating world peace. They are even prepared to congratulate themselves for doing such an antitheses of peacemakers. The Nobel awards ceremony was merely a session of dancing on the graves of the Muslims of Srebrenica.

Annan’s tract record at the Dept of peacekeeping exhibited his credentials for his job as secretary general. He shows how he is able to interpret the UN charter as generously as possible to allow the attack on Afghanistan to go ahead. Article 51 permits states to defend themselves against attack. It says nothing about subsequent retaliation. It offers no licence to attack people who might be harbouring a nation's enemies. The bombing of Afghanistan, which began before the UN security council gave its approval, is legally contentious. That is according to their own “international law”. Yet the man and the organisation who overlooked this obstacle to facilitate war are honoured for their contribution to peace.

There are many critisims of the UN that we could roll off. However, for the moment let us just look at that other bastion of western civilisation, Nobel. The organisation that honour butchers murderers and terrorists. Probably the farce, of recent years, starts with the day Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize and continued year on year up until last week.
Henry Kessinger was later joined in the rogues gallery by many other shady figures. These include David Trimble in 1998; and in 1994 Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. Before that in 1993 Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk. Prior to this both Arafat and Mandela were considered terrorists by the British government. And also in 1990 Mikhail Gorbachev won the same prize.

So have the Nobel committee over the years brought a bad name to a good upstanding organisation? Perhaps contradictions and farce are just part and parcel of all these pillars of western civilisation. Alfred Nobel himself was a figure of paradoxes and contradictions. He invented the most powerful explosives of his day. These are still being used in modern warfare. Nobel's contribution to humanity was the invention of dynamite (1867). Prior to this he invented specialised “blasting caps” to make nitro-glycerine easier to handle by the users. His logic was that if he designed explosives that could be so devastating to human life no one would dare use them in war, as they were just too awful. War would be a thing of the past because these weapons would wipe out the whole of human kind. He left the bulk of his fortune in trust to establish what came to be the most highly regarded of international awards, the Nobel Prizes. So from the start to present day the nobility of the Nobel are irony personified.

20 October, 2001