As defined by the Merriam-Webster English Dictionary, the United Nations (UN) is a “global, supranational peace-seeking organization.” In a lay mans terms the UN is supposedly the answer to all our worries and shortcomings. People turn to it and its governors for help in times of need desperation; however, they are soon turning into a minority as the world is realizing the ineffectiveness of this body to maintain peace and conduct control over the world in today’s 21st century. I believe there are a number of reasons why the UN has FAILED and would like to highlight these.
The UN perhaps has been too diplomatic, too eager and too ‘nice’ when dealing with major world crisis such as the Iraq War, the Israeli-Hezobollah skirmish, the invasion of Afghanistan and the ongoing Darfur crisis in Sudan. The UN has not been bullish and commanding, instead it’s been naïve and timorous, and that too is being lenient. The failure to stop three fully fledged wars in the past 5 years, no matter what the UN has to say in its defense, shows blatant inability on its part to control member countries, and thus showing inability to act as a ‘peace-seeking organization’. The United States should have received punishments in the form of economic sanctions and cutting of diplomatic ties from other member countries, however, this has been far from done. It is all very nice to say that we condemn so-and-so attacks and would like to see an end to violence, but that is as far as the UN has gone to stop a war. What is the use of having such an embodied organization if it practically has no say in world affairs? Yes, there was a commission sent to Iraq to see whether they indeed did possess WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) and even though they could find nothing, the US went on with their invasion. Doesn’t the UN hold the power solely to question this invasion and do something about it? The fortunate, or shall I say unfortunate answer is yes, it does have the authority but still nothing has been done with that authority. Well we cannot blame the UN completely for this as the USA is its largest donor. Yes, the only source of income for the UN is by the way of donations from member countries. As compared to other rich countries in the world economy such as Japan, Great Britain, USA donations are the largest by far,46% of all donations. This way if any bill, resolution, law is not passed in favor of the US, the US could simply hold back these donations and seriously handicap the UN. However, this does not mean that the US has the right to dominate and overpower the UN and pull all the strings in the ruling of major world affairs. In my view the UN should have a peace keeping force- much larger than the one which they have at present, which is more symbolic than effective- and thus taken military action itself in crisis when and if it feels suitable to do so, thus eliminating the risk of any war or invasion. Although this may seem easier said than done, it seems to be the only effective way out of the current mess they find themselves in.
The UN has also been unsuccessful in stopping North Korea getting the nuclear bomb, and thus being a major threat to the Asian region. This way severe instability has spread throughout the region and produces yet another threat to mankind. In spite of heavy sanctions, embargoes and all sorts of punishments, the UN has failed to stop North Korea and conclusively helped in worsening their situation, instead of helping it like a ‘peace-seeking organization’ really ought to do. Another issue that the UN has failed to address is world poverty. Millions of people around the world are living at the plight of the UN for help on an everyday basis, but the UN fails to concretely address this issue. The formation of the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDG’s) was an encouraging step but little has been done ever since. The Middle Eastern crisis between Israel and its neighbors has continued and has eluded a conclusion. The issue has gone on for 5 decades and resulted in 4 wars, and yet the world’s ‘peace-seeking organization’ has not been able to resolve the issue. Enough has been said about the Middle East and I do not wish to add any more.
Secretary General Kofi Annan’s second tenure at the UN will end in December and his post will be taken over by present South Korean Foreign Minister, Ban Ki-Moon. The international community welcomes this change as it feels that an Asian leader will help improve the UN’s global image. However, the same was said about Annan when he took over, as he was from Ghana and people hoped that this way the African region would receive some much need attention. Unfortunately this did not turn out to be the case as Mr. Annan I feel was far to gullible and overwhelmed by pressure from the likes of USA and its allies, and thus not someone suited to lead such an organization. Mr. Moon also does not promise to be much different as he has already said that what he lacks in charisma and leadership, he wishes to make up in diplomacy; unfortunately more diplomacy is the last thing the UN needs at such tumultuous times.
The one beacon of hope which seems to be present with the UN is their motto, which reads at their headquarters in New York, as follows, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” In conclusion I feel that all is far from lost for the UN and they can still salvage something concrete and fruitful. However, this can be only done if reform is carried out at the United Nations and its leader choose to be more involved in resolving the issues which face mankind.
Rustom Birdie FY