United Nations exists not as a static memorial to the aspirations of an earlier age but as a work in progress – imperfect as all human endeavors must be but capable of adaptation and improvement..
(Annan, 2002: 2)
If the United Nations did not exist, we would have to invent it. So why not to use our analytical tool kits to repair it? (Weiss, 2008: 16)
UN is an Inter-Governmental organization to promote international co-operation. A replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, the organization was established on 24 October 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The headquarters of the United Nations is in Manhattan, New York City, and experiences extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict.
During the Second World War, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated talks on a successor agency to the League of Nations, and the United Nations Charter was drafted at a conference in April–June 1945; this charter took effect 24 October 1945, and the UN began operation. The UN’s mission to preserve world peace was complicated in its early decades by the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union and their respective allies. The organization participated in major actions in Korea and the Congo, as well as approving the creation of the state of Israel in 1947. The organization’s membership grew significantly following widespread decolonization in the 1960s, and by the 1970s its budget for economic and social development programmes far outstripped its spending on peacekeeping. After the end of the Cold War, the UN took on major military and peacekeeping missions across the world with varying degrees of success.
The UN has six principal organs: the General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly); the Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) (for promoting international economic and social co-operation and development); the Secretariat (for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN); the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ); and the United Nations Trusteeship Council (inactive since 1994). UN System agencies include the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, UNESCO, and UNICEF. The UN’s most prominent officer is the Secretary-General, an office held by South Korean Ban Ki-moon since 2007. Non-governmental organizations may be granted consultative status with ECOSOC and other agencies to participate in the UN’s work.
The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, and a number of its officers and agencies have also been awarded the prize. Other evaluations of the UN’s effectiveness have been mixed. Some commentators believe the organization to be an important force for peace and human development, while others have called the organization ineffective, corrupt, or biased.(Wikipedia-The free encyclopedia)
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organisation established on 24 October 1945 to promote international cooperation. It replaced the League of Nations and the organisation was created following World War II to prevent another conflict. At the time it was founded, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. Most nations are members of the UN and send people to the headquarters to hold meetings and pass resolutions (make decisions) about global issues.
The United Nations headquarters building in New York
The goals of the United Nations are:
• to keep world peace
• to help countries get along
• to improve living conditions for people all over the world
• and to make the world a better place.
According to” Aiyappa N Devaiah Follower of Indian Politics in his article on Is the UN relevant in tooday’s world? Cites the following main reasons why even today UN is relevant-
First, and foremost: Health and Relief Aid.
The WHO remains the authority and most effective agency in the world in promoting health and nutrition related issues and finding solutions for them. It is largely due to their efforts that many dangerous diseases like polio, smallpox, and leprosy are nearly eliminated from the world.
The Red Cross Society and the WHO provide massive amounts of relief aid, in the form of food and medicine during natural disasters, famines and wars.
The World Food Programme provides food to many regions in want of it. They aim to bring food assistance to more than 80 million people spread out over 70 countries. The WHO aims to improve the general access to medical facilities in regions where they are poorly available
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund assist in the development of emerging nations and developing ones by proving them with financial assistance and expertise. They aim to end extreme poverty and promote growth of the bottom 40% of every country.
Peace and security.
The United Nations Peacekeeping force plays a very important role in attempting to end strife and conflict by deploying troops in strife-torn regions. They also endeavor to stop warring parties from resuming hostilities, by playing the role of an intermediate entity to chalk out peace treaties and agreements. As of 30 June 2013, they have 90,000+ active uniformed personnel
The UN also plays an important role in nuclear disarmament, mainly through the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The Security Council of the UN also takes important decisions on matters of sanctions, active interference in a conflict, resolving international disputes over territory etc.
Development and progress of basic human rights.
Criticism against UN:
The UN has been a champion of promoting human rights through various declarations and treaties, primary among which is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which has served as a primary standard for many countries in defining human rights. It also recognized the rights of LGBT people, and passed a resolution recognizing the same issue.
The main criticism of the Security Council involves the veto power of the five permanent members. As it stands, a veto from any of the permanent members can halt any possible action the Council may take. One country’s objection, rather than the opinions of a majority of countries, may cripple any possible UN armed or diplomatic response to a crisis. For instance, John J. Mearsheimer claimed that “since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.” Since candidates for the Security Council are proposed by regional blocs, the Arab League and its allies are usually included but Israel, which joined the UN in 1949, has never been elected to the Security Council. The Council has repeatedly condemned Israel. On the other hand, critics contend that, while Israel has the United States to rely on to veto any pertinent legislation against it, the Palestinians lack any such power. Apart from the US, several resolutions have been vetoed by Russia, notably attempts to impose sanctions on Syria during the Syrian Civil War and to condemn Russia’s own annexation of Crimea in 2014. In the case of the latter, Russia’s lone veto overruled the thirteen other votes in favor of the condemnation. As part of the Soviet Union, Russia also vetoed a UN resolution condemning the USSR’s shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983. The veto has been singled out as a threat to human rights, with Amnesty International claiming that the five permanent members had used their veto to “promote their political self interest or geopolitical interest above the interest of protecting civilians.” As of 2014, Amnesty International has suggested that a solution would involve the five permanent members surrendering their veto on issues of genocide. Some see the fact that veto power is exclusive to the permanent five as being anachronistic and unjust, given that the United Nations is meant to equally represent all its member states. Journalist Kourosh Ziabari has stated that the veto is “a discriminatory and biased privilege given to five countries to dictate their own will to some 200 countries as they wish.” and has called it “the most unfair and inequitable law of the world which enables a powerful and authoritative minority to determine the fate of an indispensable and subjugated majority”. Aside from criticism directed towards its biased nature, others have pointed out that the veto makes it difficult for the Security Council to solve issues. Whilst addressing the UN General Assembly on the Russian annexation of Crimea, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the following regarding the inefficiency of the veto “In every democratic country, if someone has stolen your property, an independent court will restore justice, in order to protect your rights, and punish the offender. However, we must recognize that in the 21st century our organization lacks an effective instrument to bring to justice an aggressor country that has stolen the territory of another sovereign state.”
The practice of the permanent members meeting privately and then presenting their resolutions to the full council as a fait accompli has also drawn fire; according to Erskine Barton Childers, “the vast majority of members – North as well as South – have made very clear…their distaste for the way three Western powers behave in the Council, like a private club of hereditary elite-members who secretly come to decisions and then emerge to tell the grubby elected members that they may now rubber-stamp those decisions.”
Democratic character of the UN.
Other critics object to the idea that the UN is a democratic organization, saying that it represents the interests of the governments of the countries who form it and not necessarily the individuals within those countries. World federalist Dieter Heinrich points out that the powerful Security Council system does not have distinctions between the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches: the United Nations Charter gives all three powers to the Security Council.
Another concern is that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are five of the top seven largest arms exporting countries in the world.
Some have questioned whether the UN might be relevant in the 21st century. While the UN’s first and second Charter mandates require the UN: “To maintain international peace and security…. (and if necessary to enforce the peace by) taking preventive or enforcement action,” due to its restrictive administrative structure, the permanent members of the Security Council themselves have sometimes prevented the UN from fully carrying out its first two mandates. Without the unanimous approval, support (or minimally abstention) of all 5 of the permanent members of the UN’s Security Council, the UN’s charter only enables it to “observe”, report on, and make recommendations regarding international conflicts. Such unanimity on the Security Council regarding the authorization of armed UN enforcement actions has not always been reached in time to prevent the outbreak of international wars.[
My Conclusion Whatever maybe the drawbacks IO strongly feel the UN is still relevant in today’s world as alleviated hunger for millions of people across the world in case of famine, earth quakes and other natural disasters. It ‘food programme offered through Red cross to alleviate hunger and improve nutrition etc among the poor and affected people in wartorn and natural calamities satisfied the hunger of millions.
The working of the UN has been severely criticized by some nations on several grounds. But the fact cannot be denied that the world body has so far achieved its basic objective of preventing a large war involving more than two nations. It has stopped many skirmishes and mediated peaceful dialogue.
Its agencies and organs have played a major role in maintaining a world order besides helping in alleviating poverty, preventing diseases from becoming epidemics, helping the cause of children and women in poor countries providing loans through financial institutions like IMF and ADB. The UN provides a platform to world leaders to be united and fight world problems in cooperation with one another. Though its organs like Security Council need structural reforms,
My other recommendations for the reforms would include:The permanent members of the security Council should be raised to at least 50 or 70 in terms of their growing economies , Geographical areas along with vetoes. And the sole veto of current permanent members thwarting other four permanent members ‘positive action regarding a key war issue or a territorial dispute etc must be done away with. Thus the majority vetoed Security Council resolutions or abstentions should be binding on all the members of the UN and the warring countries.. The Security Council also must be made more democratic with at least majority members using their vetoes as suggested by me make a key decision such as war or sanctions, compensation etc Neither US as in the case Arab Israeli conflict nor Russia as in the case of Syria(2014) should be the sole veto exercising authority thereby preventing other permanent members from deciding on key issues on important International security and peace matters. .UN should be more democratic, transparent and accountable.
In view of the above UN is very much relevant even today to live up to all the objectives for which it was established,.. Let us soon bring about structural reforms in UN so that in the near future and certainly we can usher in an era of egalitarian and peaceful society with more democracy equity, equality.justice and fair play.