Zimbabwe has hailed yesterday’s failure by the United Nations to agree the very limited sanctions against that had been sought by Britain and America.  China and Russia used their Security Council vetoes to stop the arms embargo and travel ban that had seemed the minimum necessary response to the crimes of Mugabe.  The UK Ambassador to the UN charged the institution with failing the people of Zimbabwe.

William Hague has reacted strongly:

"The failure to agree even limited sanctions on the Mugabe regime at the UN is deeply disappointing to all who believe the world has responsibilities towards the people of Zimbabwe. The excuse given by Russia and China, that the issue is no threat to world stability, does not hold water when millions of Zimbabwean refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.  It is becoming ever clearer that the ‘responsibility to protect’ which all nations agreed to at the last UN summit is a totally meaningless concept to some of them.

The disappointment is even worse for the fact that Gordon Brown told the Commons on Thursday that there had been a ‘major breakthrough’ at the G8 and that Russia would support action by the UN. This statement was clearly over-confident.  With the UN paralysed, the need for more serious and properly enforced EU sanctions is all the greater. These should involve wider travel bans and financial measures. And the British Government should now look at whether a grouping of EU, Commonwealth and southern African nations could co-ordinate their own version of the pressure the UN has failed to apply."

This is a very encouraging response from the Shadow Foreign Secretary.  Before more peoples and nations join the list of Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Darfur, Srebencia, Congo and Burma – we need to join with John McCain in seeking alternatives to the UN if terms like the "international community" and "responsibility to protect" are to mean anything at all.

Mr Hague’s willingness to explore a new grouping outside of the UN – if, only, on this one issue at this stage – is a sign that the Conservative Party isn’t going to hide behind UN inaction when serious crises arise.  John McCain’s League of Democracies isn’t the only policy idea that UK Conservatives should be seriously exploring.  He has called for Russia to be expelled from the G8 so long as they continue to act irresponsibly.

The Conservative Party needs to be at least as sceptical about the UN as it is about the EU.  Today Mr Hague signalled that he is ready to act on that scepticism.

Related link: The case against the United Nations by Joe Loconte

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