Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Understanding the Math

Israel has fared poorly in the United Nations over the years. According to one analysis:
...of 175 total resolutions passed by the [Security] Council, 97 were directed against Israel, as contrasted with 4 against all Arab states combined....In the years 1947 to 1989, the General Assembly passed a total of 690 resolutions (full or partial). Of these, 429 were against the Israeli position while only 56 were against Arab positions. Of the 56 votes not to the Arabs’ liking, 49 concerned the establishment or financing of peace-keeping forces.
While some might quibble with the specific number of resolutions or votes in this analysis, it's hard to argue that the UN seems to vote against Israel far more often than it supports them.

So does this mean Israel is indeed a pariah state, worthy of such condemnation? Or are there other factors at play?

It helps if we understand the math. There are currently 192 countries who are member states of the United Nations.

Israel has one vote; and its strongest ally, the United States, has one vote. Total votes = 2.
The Muslim majority countries each have one vote. Total votes = 48. (If Palestine becomes a recognized country, the total will increase to 49.) The United States and Israel combined represent 1% of the total votes in the General Assembly. The Muslim majority countries represent 25% of the total votes...the single largest voting block of its kind in the UN.

Perhaps that's why so many of the UN's votes seem to favor the Palestinians and condemn the Israelis!

The numbers do get reversed...if one looks at financial contributions to the UN. (Link to the following Wikipedia article, especially footnote 58, for facts to support the following numbers.) The United States is contributing 22% of the UN budget for 2011, while the total for all 48 Muslim majority countries is just 2.9%. In fact, Israel's contribution, at .419%, is larger than the contribution of every Muslim majority country except Saudi Arabia.

Maybe it's time to restructure the UN. I would propose a model similar to the U.S. Congress, with two legislative branches. One would be set up similar to the Senate, with each country getting one vote regardless of its size. But the second would have proportional representation. The current system, which gives the Maldives (with a population of 350,000) equal voting weight as the U.S., makes no sense.

And perhaps the cost to run the entire operation could also be distributed more proportionally.

Right now the math doesn't make sense!

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