Every country that spoke at the emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council late last night registered an objection and spoke a few words. But it was the Kenyan ambassador, Martin Kimani, who unapologetically shamed Russia while laying out the ramifications to all if the world allows Russia to proceed in this manner circa 2022.
First, Kimani laid out that the move simply made a mockery of everything the UN Charter stands for and is in direct contradiction to the rules to which the nations chose to bind themselves. Kimani’s words also referenced the fact that the very same rich nations have been lecturing poorer ones about the importance of the rules going back to the establishment of the charter and the breathtaking hypocrisy:
“The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine stands breached. The Charter of the United Nations continues to wilt under the relentless assault. In one moment it is invoked in reverence by the very same countries who then turned their backs on it in pursuit of objectives diametrically opposed to peace and security. In the last two meetings and the buildup of forces in Ukraine, they urged diplomacy be given a chance. Our cry was not heated and more importantly, the charter’s demand to settle the dispute by peaceful means in such a manner are not in danger has been profoundly undermined.
Exactly. And this is not American politics. This is top-tier international diplomacy, and the above constitutes unusually strong language in such a setting.
The strength of the message implies that if Russia continues to simply ignore the charter that it has used to its advantage all too often, then it should be kicked off the security council as a permanent member. This is not 1919, nor is it even 1980.
But it was Kimani’s words regarding borders and ethnic overlap that constituted, by far, the most powerful argument. No area of the world has a stronger argument regarding arbitrarily drawn borders that leave various natural cultures and ethnicities on opposite sides of borders. And yet the African nations have in large part respected those borders, in part because of the UN Charter and the rule of law wealthier nations used to reinforce the importance of the boundaries that the wealthier nations drew:
We rejected expansionism on any basis, including racial, ethnic, or cultural. We rejected again today. Kenya registers strong concern and opposition to recognition in the independent states. We further strongly condemned the trend in the last few decades of powerful states, including members of the security council, reaching international law with little regard. ”
One hears an implied condemnation of the United States and its invasion of Iraq (though not for expansionist purposes) in the statement. But given the fact that Putin has used the “true ethnicity” and “culture” as the sole justification for his expansionism and, again, the sub-Saharan African nations, whose borders are arbitrarily drawn along colonial lines, have – by far, the greatest moral authority to call out the dangerousness of this justification.
The world might do well to listen. Sub-Saharan African nations are rich in natural resources that for decades were stolen, either by wealthier colonial powers, or corrupt leadership within. During the Cold War, the US and the Soviets backed various brutal regimes in an attempt to enforce loyalty to one side or the other.
But in the 21st Century, it has been China that has aggressively moved to establish joint ventures that function far more like a traditional investment rather than the rampant corrupt payoffs traditionally employed by the world’s wealthier nations. Sub-Saharan Africa is rising in wealth and power and is now borrowing upon some of it to aggressively assert its objection. One can see it in the moral authority it leaned upon in lecturing Russia late last night.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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