The United Nations as we know today was formed on 24th October 1945 in San Francisco. At the time of its formation, 51 countries became a part of it. The list has now gone up to 192 countries now being member nations.
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The United Nations was supposed to be, informally at least, a successor to the League of Nations. The League of Nations turned out to be an ultimate failure. The League of Nations was set up after World War I in order to prevent another world war from breaking out. Unfortunately, another world war broke out and the magnitude of the war was much bigger than world war I. Obviously, the League of Nations was dissolved because it couldn’t meet its objectives.
There was a lot of scepticism with the United Nations as people believed that it would more or less act like the League of Nations itself. Thankfully, till now, there has been no war on such a scale which threatens to extinguish humanity and any conflict that has been put in front of the United Nations has never gone on to such lengths to become a problem of another world war.
The United Nations has had its share of successes which are remarkable. The existence of the UN has been extremely beneficial to many countries. And the successes are extended especially to agencies like the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and agencies like the UNESCO and UNICEF. These agencies have tried to reduce the suffering of many countries and has tried to aid them in times of crisis. It is because of the involvement of such agencies that we see the survival of many countries. If it weren’t for such agencies there would be millions of people who would be suffering and who would have probably be dead right now.
In my opinion, one of the most successful agencies of the United Nations remains the Trusteeship Council. It is a shame that the Trusteeship Council has served its purpose and has been disbanded. What the Trusteeship Council did was that it took up the administration of a bunch of countries who had just gotten independence from colonial and imperial powers and took care of its administration till it set up a proper framework of how affairs would be conducted in that country. So all the countries was properly supported and the transition was monitored closely and when the countries were ready to take up the leadership in their own hands, the Trusteeship Council would transfer power to the people there. 11 countries came under the Trusteeship Council and all 11 countries are independent and democratic countries today. That shows that there was a time where the world saw the reason why the United Nations should exist.
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But that is clearly not the case today.
People are more sceptical of the United Nations than ever. It is shocking to know that so many people challenge the legitimacy of the United Nations than ever before. The number of supporters of the United Nations is falling and the sceptics and critics are increasing. And they have all the reason to be critical of the United Nations.
The United Nations has come to a position where it can be described in one word. And that one word is: IMPOTENT.
First of all, when the United Nations was formed, it is clear that the charter and the rules of proceedings were made in haste. Any stable democracy knows how important it is to have flexibility in the constitution so that it can fit the changing needs of time. However, when the leaders signed the Charter on 24th October 1945 in San Francisco, they did not realise, or rather did not even try to realize how important was flexibility in the UN Charter. There are very few provisions in the United Nations charter for any sort of change or flexibility.
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The UN is an organization which has completed 65 years of existence. It would be absolutely foolish to assume that the world has not changed a bit since then. The world has almost completely changed now. The Cold War was dead and gone, Globalization became the new mantra in the new age, people are communicating with each other on a larger scale now, new countries were formed, new schools of thinking have emerged, new facets of diplomacy has emerged, there are new alliances, new enemies, new agreements, new perceptions and so many things so different.
The world was a different place in 1945. It is a whole new world now, with a whole range of new problems. You cannot have something as outdated as the United Nations trying to fix today’s problems. That is absolute foolishness, nothing less.
The biggest flaws of the United Nations is in its executive body known as the Security Council. In the Security Council, there are 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members who change every 2 years. The 5 permanent countries possess veto powers which enables the Permanent 5 to completely reject the resolution and thrash it if they are not happy with it, and this can happen even if all other 14 countries have supported it.
The veto power literally hijacks the United Nations and brings it down to its knees. Any resolution that may actually help out some major problem will be thrashed if the P5 thinks it offends them in some way or limits their power.
So basically, any resolution that passes through the United Nations should not offend any country in the Permanent 5 or else it will be vetoed. There cannot be a bigger bias than this.
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The worse part is that there is very little scope for change. When there are open debates regarding the reforming of the Security Council, there is a lot of scepticism and there is a lot of fuming and fretting. The Permanent 5 is very hesitant when it comes to Security Council reforms. They believe that any reform will actually dilute their powers and make them more weak. Contenders like India, Brazil and Germany have been trying really hard to get a permanent seat in the Security Council, but due to these countries being emerging global powers, very few amongst the P5 actually want them to have a Permanent Seat in the Security Council. Whenever UN experts talk about UN reforms, they put the deadline to say, about 20 years from now. That is a really long time. I don’t see why any country has to wait that long to get a permanent seat in the Security Council.
Another reason why the United Nations has been criticized so much is because the United Nations has not been able to work upon or enforce its resolutions on countries.
As per International Law, national legislation always triumphs over international law and that is one of the principles on which international law was made on. So if a resolution violates something according to national legislation, then that provision cannot be introduced or enforced in the country.
For example, suppose the United Nations passes a resolution which states that all forms of prostitution should be banned, then the countries who have legalized prostitution are in no way bound to follow the resolution. It does not enforce upon every country to follow the resolution. The resolution is recommendatory in nature. That is pretty useless in itself.
Then you have a problem of despots using the United Nations and making it an absolute joke. You have leaders like MuammarGaddafi coming into the United Nations, insulting it on the face, throwing the UN charter in front of all the representatives of different countries and then you have an absolute despot known as Mahmoud Ahmedinejad who comes and tells the world that there was nothing known as the Holocaust and that its all a lie. There are countless examples of such things happening. All this has reduced the United Nations to nothing but a joke.
It is funny how people flock to Youtube to watch the long despotic speeches of Gaddafi and Ahmedinejad than to watch sensible people like Ban-ki-Moon, Jim Mclay, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Rosemary DiCarlo, Gabriela Shalev or Sergey Lavrov make speeches. I am sure many haven’t even heard of such names. They are respectable diplomats who talk a lot of sense. But people don’t want sense, they want despots who challenge the world order and make it all a joke.
Then we come to what is known as the “United Nations Peacekeeping Missions”. These missions of lately has proved to be disastrous. First of all, the United Nations has themselves admitted that they haven’t been able to put in troops into all the conflict areas where there is a need to put in troops. This is largely because, the United Nations has no army of its own and relies on troop donations from member countries. Secondly, There have been so many complaints that the UN peacekeepers are themselves involved in human rights abuses and gross misbehaviour including sexual harassment, assault and rape. When the protectors turn into villains, then that shows that there is no hope left. Peacekeeping missions all around the world have been reported to have such problems. Be it in Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia or anywhere else in the world.
Rwanda, perhaps is one of the biggest examples of UN failures.
In April-May 1994, there was a such a huge genocide of the Rwandan people. There were some early warning signs, the UN sent a peacekeeping force. Yet when the massacre took place, the United Nations Security Council was busy debating whether to call it a genocide or not. Their indifference had cost the lives of thousands of innocent Rwandans.
So much for the 65 years of existence of the United Nations. What a shame.
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