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The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution creating a Joint Investigative Mechanism to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, New York, Aug. 7, 2015 (U.N. photo by Eskinder Debebe).

In Global Hot Spots, Mitigating Conflict May Be Best U.N. Can Do

Monday, Aug. 10, 2015

The United Nations was famously founded to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” It has a distinctly mixed track record on this front. Today, the U.N.’s goal often seems to be best described as making the scourge of war a little bit less dreadful.

The Security Council demonstrated this tendency last Friday, when it endorsed an American-backed resolution launching a new panel to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war. The panel, which will involve the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), is empowered to identify those responsible for dropping chlorine bombs on civilians. Yet as Security Council Report, a think tank that follows U.N. diplomacy closely, notes, the U.S. took four months to negotiate this agreement with Russia, and the text is “heavily focused on process.”* There is no suggestion that individuals accused of using chlorine as a weapon of war will end up in front of an international court anytime soon. ...

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