Karen Pierce: Charlatan

The Tory government’s ambassador to the United Nations, Karen Pierce, delivered a speech at the UN’s Security Council last week entitled ‘Maintaining peace in the Middle East and North Africa.’

The speech was full of waffle and it omitted key facts on purpose.  The theme was to obscure British culpability while dishonestly claiming that the UN was stopping the British government from making progress on attaining peace.

At the start Pierce said “I think we all agree that many of the conflicts in this region share root causes and complex linkages.”  Yes, we can agree about that.  The root causes include:

  • States created artificially by previous colonial empires, especially Britain
  • Massive arms sales from US and UK to brutal dictatorships that control many of the states
  • Direct military action on the people in the region by NATO and by Russia
  • Arbitrary economic sanctions imposed by European and north American countries
  • Theft of fossil fuel revenues by US and European businesses

Pierce didn’t agree that the above are the “root causes.”  She proposed military action and economic sanctions as solutions, not causes: “Sanctions are a vital part of the Security Council’s arsenal.”

Omissions were the most visible facets of her speech.  She noted that 22 million in need of assistance in Yemen [and] 1.9 million in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” but did not utter one word about Saudi Arabia’s carpet bombing of Yemen or its blockade of Yemeni ports preventing food and medical supplies, and there was no mention of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza and its control of vital food and medical supplies to Gaza. 

Bizarrely, Israel and Saudi Arabia were not mentioned at all by name anywhere in the speech.  “We continue to see examples of states restricting access to humanitarian agencies and we see attacks by armed groups on humanitarian workers” and “terrorist actors and state institutions in the region have been responsible for some of the worst persecutions in history,” noted Pierce.  Yes, Saudi Arabia and Israel routinely deny access to humanitarian agencies and target (and kill) members of those agencies, but Pierce never mentioned those countries by name.  Nor did she mention the direct military assistance that the Tory government gives to Saudi Arabia and to Israel.  In March this year, Saudi’s Crown Prince visited the UK to purchase more British military aircraft to continue the slaughter of Yemeni civilians; the deal was brokered by the Tories.


Without mentioning Israel, Pierce said “on the Middle East peace process we reiterate to our support for the two-state solution, and we look forward to the American proposals which we hope will be able to be issued soon.”  That was the only sentence in the speech that referred to the future of Palestine and Israel.  What American proposals?  The current US administration has no coherent policy on anything and is peopled by hawkish venal supporters of Israeli dominance.

Pierce said one of the “root causes” of conflict is “human rights persecutions in individual countries.”  Yes, there are gross, systematic violations of human rights in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, three non-democratic countries fully and directly supported by the UK, politically and militarily.  Pierce had to gall to quote sections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; that was shameless extreme hypocrisy.

Good governance from strong, stable state institutions is the best way to maintain peace and security.”  Given the Tories’ unconditional support for brutal dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa, Pierce’s desire for “strong, stable state institutions” was an endorsement of authoritarianism.  But, she also stated that “we agree we need to strengthen democratic institutions,” a statement that is entirely at odds with the UK government’s active support for anti-democratic regimes.

Pierce took a long time to say nothing.  She tried, clumsily, to imply that Britain wanted to take some positive actions that she claimed the UN was preventing, but it was just waffling criticisms of the UN as Pierce advocated behaviour that the Tories don’t practice, and the deliberate omissions were neon-lit. 

The Tory government is directly helping military action against civilians.  The Tory government unconditionally supports the brutality of Saudi Arabia, of Bahrain and of Israel.  The Tory government does all it is able to enhance the profits of the arms industry.  Karen Pierce’s speech was intended as a con.  It was the work of a charlatan. 

Tory ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce
Karen Pierce: Charlatan

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