Pubdate: Sat, 27 Aug 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Gwynne Dyer
Note: Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist whose articles are 
published in 45 countries
Page: E6


Rodrigo Duterte, the new president of the Philippines, gives good 
copy. Here's a quote from his final election rally:

"Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential 
palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up 
men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I'd kill you. I'll 
dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there."

Here's another, after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Office 
on Drugs and Crime condemned Duterte's "apparent endorsement of 
extrajudicial killings."

"I do not want to insult you," Duterte said. (He had called them 
"stupid".) "But maybe we'll just have to decide to separate from the 
United Nations. If you are that rude, we might as well leave. So take 
us out of your organization. You have done nothing. Except to criticize."

What upset Ban and the UNDOC is the fact Duterte is having people 
murdered. Since he took office three months ago, some 900 "suspected 
drug dealers" have been shot dead by police and civilian vigilantes 
acting in his name. None of the dead was found guilty by a court, and 
some, of course, were completely innocent.

Duterte is not denying it or apologizing. Before he leaves office, he 
says, he'll just give himself an amnesty: "Pardon given to Rodrigo 
Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte."

"The Punisher," as he was known when he was mayor of Davao, is very 
serious about his "war on drugs": he recently said he would kill his 
own children if they took drugs. But crime is not the Philippines' 
biggest problem, and it's not clear what else he is serious about.

He talks vaguely about making the Philippines a federal country, but 
no details of his policies and plans have emerged. In fact, he has 
spent most of the time since his election down south in his Davao 
stronghold, not in Manila.

But he does have a plan of sorts for what to do after he walks out of 
the United Nations. He says he may ask China and African countries to 
walk out too and form a rival organization. He doesn't know much 
about China or Africa, so maybe he thinks they would like to get 
together and defy the parts of the world where governments believe 
that killing people is wrong.

"Duterte Harry" (another nickname) is popular in the Philippines, but 
he is not really a threat to global order. The hundred million 
Filpinos will have to live with him for the next six years, but the 
UN is not doomed. In fact, it is doing better than most people give it credit

One proof of this is the fact that the secretary general now has the 
right to criticize a member government merely for killing its own 
citizens. That's not what it was designed for. When it was created in 
1945, as the catastrophe of the Second World War was ending, its main 
goal was to prevent any more wars like that.

The founders tried to give it the appearance of a broader moral force 
by signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, but 
that was mainly window dressing. The UN was created by the great 
powers to prevent any government from launching another war of 
international aggression, not to make governments treat their own 
citizens better.

In fact, each major power was effectively guaranteed the right to do 
whatever it wanted to its own citizens, so long as it did not attack 
the neighbours. In this, the new UN was just recognizing reality, for 
every great power was determined to preserve its own sovereignty. 
Even for smaller powers, the great powers could rarely agree on what 
kind of intervention was desirable, and who should do it.

The UN has done well in its original task: it shares the credit with 
nuclear weapons for the fact that no great power has fought any other 
for the past 71 years. It has gradually moved into other areas like 
peacekeeping and promoting the rule of law in the world, but it never 
interferes inside the territory of the great powers. Even in smaller 
countries it almost never intervenes without the invitation of the 
local government.

So when Duterte called the UN useless because "if you are really true 
to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killings," 
he was talking through his hat. Besides, he would never accept UN 
intervention in his own country to deal with an alleged crime wave. 
He's just talking tough because he hates being criticized.

It's very unlikely he will carry out his threat. The UN is the 
keystone in the structure of international law that, among other 
things, deters China from settling its territorial dispute with the 
Philippines by force. Duterte is just a problem for the Philippines, 
not for the UN or the world.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom