The United Nations was founded to promote peace among nations and has used the platform to try to eliminate the underlying causes of war which often include prejudice. It has recently begun to narrow its focus on certain types of hatred.
Since the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the global body started to focus on terrorism. It listed two particular groups, ISIS and al-Qaeda, which it considered a more global nature than many more localized terrorist groups like Boko Haram but sought to quell terrorism and violent extremism everywhere. It launched various committees to address the scourge.
On December 14, 2021, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, addressed the group focused on counter-terrorism with a message that broke from historical norms:
“As we scan the global horizon, the terror threat is more diverse, spreading offline and online amidst growing mistrust, polarization, weak governance, organized crime and conflict. We see a resurgence of terrorist and violent extremist groups motivated by xenophobia, white supremacy and other forms of racism and intolerance, including misogyny.“
The UN has long discussed the evils of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, general forms of hatred. Now, the head of the UN called out specific forms of hatred – white supremacy and misogyny – in a discussion about counter-terrorism. While these are undoubtedly important matters to call out, why were other forms of hatred ignored? Antisemitism is the most far-reaching hatred in the world. Islamic fundamentalism has killed millions but the UN declared “that selective application of the term “violent extremism” only to Muslim believers reinforces intolerance and discrimination.“
Seemingly, while Islamic fundamentalism is a term frowned upon, the UN is now comfortable calling out white supremacy.
The death of George Floyd, the January 6 Capital riot and the dearth of COVID vaccines to poor countries are coalescing at the UN as an indictment of the western world as the current noxious source of violent extremism in the world. Will this distract the global body from the terrorists backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and elsewhere as the leading state sponsor of terrorism pursues nuclear weapons?