Quibble with Quiggin

In a recent post on Cyprus, celebrating the good things that are going on (a referendum on unification & normalizing the island's politics), John Quiggin takes a moment to indulge a little UN triumphalism:

Why should settlement of a long-running dispute on a Mediterranean island, with no recent flare-ups, be so important ? Let me count the ways.

First, this is another victory for the boring old UN processes so disdained by unilateralists.

Now, I agree with the post that what is going on is good, but "another victory for UN processes"? Come on, now.

The UN process is to facilitate discourse between 2 parties that want to talk to each other. If they don't want to get together- if they want to fight, then the UN process is useless (see Israel-Palestine, Bosnia pre-Dayton, etc). The UN doesn't make anyone do anything they don't want to do.

The Turkish and Greek Cypriots are in the process of settling their long differences now because both sides want to, not because they succumbed to some sort of UN radiation or an inevitable process.

Claiming that its a victory for UN processes is like claiming that Motel 6 is responsible for post-prom couples copulating.

But, tis only a quibble.

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People are succumbing to UN

People are succumbing to UN radiation? Egads!

Point of order: I propose an International Agreement Banning All UN Radiation (IABAUR).

To respond with a quibble of

To respond with a quibble of my own, could you correct the spelling of my name, please?

I agree with your observation that UN-style processes won't work unless both sides want them to work, but that doesn't mean that the process of "getting to yes" is trivial. There are plenty of occasions (even at the prom) when both sides want something to happen but disagreements over details get in the way.

To respond with a quibble of

To respond with a quibble of my own, could you correct the spelling of my name, please?

Fixed.

The real kudos belong, not

The real kudos belong, not to the UN for facilitating the process, although it does a decent job of that rather important task, but to the EU for making a resolution a critical interest of both parties. If not for Turkey's EU membership bid, the two sides would still be miles apart with no reason to compromise.

Diplomacy is about arring the world so as to put other people's interests and incentives in line with your desired outcomes. And the EU did that. The UN didn't do even a bit of that heavy lifting.

The process is important,

The process is important, but as Grant pointed out, anyone can provide the process or the medium by which two interested parties can start to talk and do well; there's nothing inherent in the UN that makes it either uniquely suited for the job or particularly good at it. The EU could have bypassed the UN altogether and been the "unilateral" mediator in Cyprus and the results may well have been the same, so I'm still not sure its a victory for UN processes, although it clearly is one for diplomacy.

The UN process is to

The UN process is to facilitate discourse between 2 parties that want to talk to each other. If they don't want to get together- if they want to fight, then the UN process is useless (see Israel-Palestine, Bosnia pre-Dayton, etc). The UN doesn't make anyone do anything they don't want to do.

You make it sound like the UN is a libertarianesque unanimous consent type organisation. :)

More correctly, the UN doesn't make any sovereign nation do anything they don't want to do. The UN through its member nations can impose some pretty nasty stuff on the serfs.