Reflections in the Security Council

CNN OPINION – The troubling issues that the Security Council considers requires dutiful introspection. However, when considering the humanitarian needs in Myanmar, the Security Council has been distracted by its own reflection. The 15 diplomats that the world task to deal with global crisis at the highest level have created an echo chamber: “China would like to mirror the words of the Russian Federation…”; “The United States echoes the sentiments…”; “The United Kingdom would like to echo somewhat…”; “France would like to echo the sentiments of the Member States that…”; “Japan agrees that…”. The language of consensus is typically a sign of a fruitful negotiation, but instead of deciding how to take action in Myanmar, the UN Security Council is stuck on deciding whether or not there should be another fact finding mission. The Council is spending its time talking to itself about itself, and like a beam of light trapped in a series of mirrors, the chance for decisive action grows dimmer with each iteration.

Despite this roundabout of mild self-obsession, the Security Council is feeling optimistic about its work; Ukraine is thankful, China is very excited, and Saudi Arabia doused the committee with commendation. What work, though? When the Council had a chance to confront Myanmar’s representative, they were unable to suss out any useful truth. It’s a common knowledge that Myanmar shamefully denies that there are any refugees, but the Security Council wasted it’s pretending that Myanmar was a reasonable partner on this issue, continuing to ask questions that a casual observer knows will be met with brazen denial. The Council’s inefficacy decayed into kowtowing when the delegate of China, after “slipping” by referring to the Rohingya as refugees, quickly defer and refer to them as “repatriated citizens of Bangladesh”. Damningly, the delegate of Ukraine appears more interested in investigating alleged Rohingya attacks against Myanmar than in protecting the suffering millions.

If the Security Council cannot work well enough to find the facts of the situation, they lack the capacity to work well enough to do what is necessary to end the suffering. Were they not too busy reflecting praiseful on their own supposed actions, they would see this fact for themselves. Unlike Narcissus who killed himself by admiring his reflection, it is the Rohingya, not the Council, who will suffer for this inaction.