Monday, May 17, 2010

"Ultimately, this situation can only be resolved by negotiation"

You gotta love the UN.

As a fifth wheel, they serve a purpose. If not for the world, then at least for themselves. Bear in mind the following:

- There are over 22 specialist UN agencies.
- There are over 51,000 staff directly employed (not including the World Bank or long/short term consultants) by UN agencies.
- There are 46 Under-Secretary-Generals (or quivalent rank/seniority). USGs have diplomatic rank equivalent to that of a national cabinet minister. No other government anywhere in the world has that many cabinet ministers for its functioning. The figure of 46 is not exhaustive and there are more USGs or their equivalent - the UN just doesn't have a list of them all that is accessible in the public domain.

So, someone on behalf of the UN (which is 'One' anyway, except in the case of funding, in which case it's 22+ separate agencies) has urged a negotiated solution because "there is a high risk that the situation could spiral out of control".

It's like someone on a trolley in ICU being prepped for emergency cardiovascular surgery after a heart attack making a call on his mobile; "yeah, I'm having a heart attack, so things aren't looking too good".

UNHCR, always on the highest of steeds, offers the stern and wholly unsolicited advice, "Ultimately, this situation can only be resolved by negotiation".

Hmmm. Yes, the UN has spoken. As one. We should sit up and take notice. Because it's the UN.

What's not interesting about the Red Shirts' ten-week protest?

Military attempts to disperse the protesters on 10 April 2010 and more recently have failed; government figures (probably the most reliable in the circumstances) cite 66 people have died and more than 1,600 have been wounded since the Red Shirts began their protests in March.

The police appear to be defending the protesters against the army.

Diplomats and others have approached the Red Shirts to find out what they want; with no change to their pretty obvious demands; "Elections, NOW, NOW!"

The Red Shirts have even trotted out the oldest of negotiation chestnuts in fragile states where the government is self-appointed; UN mediated talks!

The vast majority of the protesters hail from the North and are amongst the rural poor of Thailand.

Let's just imagine, for a moment, what the UN could offer besides from legitimising the protests and turning them into an international incident (because it's not already, it's NOT!):

"We can help you like we've helped Timor Leste, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Aceh, and many other countries. Seriously."

"We have mediators that are taken seriously by all sides, people like Ibrahim Gambari."

The other thing that is so incorrigible about the Red Shirts' protest is the infernal paradox it raises; you can hardly hold an election when the Red Shirts' party affiliates will almost certainly win. Those damned poor farmers in Thailand are really getting in the way with their protesting shennanigans!

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