Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael

An Inside View of the UN and Sanctions w/ Hans-Christof Von Sponeck

May 24, 2021

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On this edition of Parallax Views, former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Hans Von Sponeck joins us to discuss the nature of the United Nations as well as to provide his thoughts on the negative impacts of sanctions.

Hans begins by explaining how he became involved in the United Nations as a German in 1968. From there we delve into his insider's perspective of the United Nations and the difference between what he calls the "two UNs": the political UN (represented by the UN Security Council, General Assembly, and International Court of Justice) and the operational UN which is development-oriented and humanitarian. We then delve into the issues of and between developing nations and Western nations like the United States. In this regard we talk about the UN as a multinational body or "People's Organization" dealing with international law and its potentialities for global cooperation in a world facing global crises like climate change. In this regard Hans argues that an international body for the benefit of civil society, whether the UN or another organization, is necessary for our collective survival. In addition to all of this we delve into the issue of disinformation about the UN, the budget of the UN and lack of resources allocated to the organization, and related matters.

Late in the program we delve into Hans work in the UN as it related to Iraq and sanctions. Like Dennis Halliday, Von Sponeck would leave an important post at the UN in relation to Iraq in protest of the sanctions against Iraq. Hans respond to a study by the London School of Economics claiming that the UN, specifically UNICEF, was fooled by the Saddam Hussein regime on the issue of the sanctions (the claim being Hussein's regime "cooked the books" to make the impacts of sanctions look worse than they were). Hans also goes into details about the negative impacts of sanctions on Iraq that he bore witness to while in the UN.

During the course of our conversation Kofi Annan, John Bolton, and other figures makes appearances and Hans offers insider details about how the UN works and how it can be more effective as an institution in the future. The subject of sanctions seem particularly relevant given debates about the negative impacts of sanctions on countries like Iran, Syria, and Venezuela today as discussed by previous Parallax Views guests like UN Special Rapporteur on Sanction Prof. Alena Douhan and Brian McGlinchey of the The Stark Realities newsletter. We also discuss war and sanctions, foreign policy, political forces inside the UN, clashes on the 38th floor of the UN, the resignation of Dennis Halliday and himself from their positions, securing a better future for our children and grandchildren in our increasingly complex world, the shifting view of sanctions as an instrument, the importance of communication and dialogue, civil society and global policy issues, zero sums games vs. creating win-win situations, the integrated world we live in, and much, much more.

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