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Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world


Promote Freedom or Protect Oppressors: The Choice at the UN Review Summit

[Cover of Promote Freedom or Protect Oppressors: The Choice at the UN Review Summit]

John Bercow MP, Victoria Roberts

September 2005 Hard copy: £2.95, plus £1 p+p. Buy it on

Download Promote Freedom or Protect Oppressors (160 kilobyte PDF)

The UN Charter commits its signatories to promoting basic principles of human rights and to saving people from the scourge of war. At a time of unprecedented examination of how to improve the working of the UN, this pamphlet reminds us of the virtue of returning to basics. We can evaluate any reform proposal against a simple criterion: Does it promote freedom or does it protect oppressors? With the UN failures in Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur as evidence of systemic weakness in the UN system, John Bercow and Victoria Roberts make a compelling case for qualitatively new approaches. The authors stress that if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we will have to do better to meet the challenges posed by fragile states.  The Millennium Review Summit presents a real opportunity for reform of the UN. The authors recommend what amounts to a new 'security council' for people: a Human Rights Council. They support the proposal for the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission and advocate a ban on the use of the veto in cases of genocide.