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The United Nations was formed on 24th October 1945 in San Francisco. The body was formed after World War 2 in hope of averting another world war from happening again.
When the United Nations was formed, it was formed with a hope that it wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes that the League of Nations did and hoped that the United Nations wouldn’t be a failure like the League of Nations. It was clear that the League of Nations was an absolutely failed organization which had clearly failed to live up to its objectives of stopping another world war. The second World War happened precisely when the League of Nations existed.
The United Nations did learn from the mistakes of the League of Nations. If you compare its achievements from the beginning of its existence, you do find that there has been quite a lot of achievements.
Of course, many UN experts still believe that the UN has outlived its purpose. Many believe that when the UN was formed in the year 1945, the organization was pretty much ad hoc. The UN prospered as it could solve the problems at that time. However, the lack of reform and change coupled with the rigidity of the UN system made the UN a more useless organization by the day.
The UN’s biggest failure happens to be the executive body, which is the Security Council. The UNSC has been dominated by 5 countries with the power to veto. These 5 countries, namely, the United States, China, Russia, France and the UK have literally bullied the entire UN. All resolutions are to be approved by the UNSC and if any one of these countries believes that it could affect them in anyway, then the resolution is thrashed. The resolution could be a great resolution, but it is thrashed because there are political objectives behind it. And even if the resolution is passed, everyone knows that national law always has more importance than international law. So you cannot impose a resolution on a member state however hard you try.
Besides, there are other problems of the UN that makes people more cynical about the UN. The UN has failed in its peacekeeping missions, the UN in no way has any control over issues concerning international security, the UN has done little to stop massacres, just like what happened in Rwanda in 1994. People have lost faith in the United Nations. It is time we accept this fact.
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But when we are confronted by the question about the UN ceasing to exist, I think it is a big NO.
To begin with, the United Nations is one of the most effective inter-governmental organization there is. The United Nations is a place where all 192 countries do have a voice. It is where they can voice out their opinions regarding different issues. It is a platform where they can actually discuss issues and find out new ones to discuss about.
For many countries, the United Nations is a political advantage. They use the United Nations to shame other countries and portray them in poor light and point out any misgivings in that country. That way, everyone knows who is supporting who. Countries and their governments need this platform.
The United Nations is where you get legitimacy for some action which is required to protect a nation. This concept is called the responsibility to protect or R2P. Of course, this concept can be debated on end regarding what the UN really does, but nevertheless is a very important concept. For example, in order to protect the Kuwaitis, the coalition required the permission of the United Nations. Even in the recent case in Libya, the NATO had to wait for permission to engage. The Iraq war can be considered an exception, but even for the Iraq war, Colin Powell went to the UN and had requested permission to conduct the war in Iraq. That is another thing that he did not wait for the outcome and the US had already put boots in Iraqi soil. Article 42 of the United Nations charter provides legitimacy for the Responsibility to Protect.
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The United Nations is where nations bring their bilateral disputes. IT could be something as big as the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan or it could be as small as the dispute between UAE and Iran over AbuMusa island. This is where nations make their case. This is where the nations see who their true allies are and what their policy really is. This could break or make bilateral ties between countries.
Even though the world doesn’t have faith in the General Assembly or other organs of the United Nations which make decisions regarding security of the world, the world has faith in the organs of the UN like the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP and other developmental bodies. There is little scope for bias and they target issues that really affect people. These bodies are quite effective and they target a vast amount of issues ranging from poverty to women and children’s rights.
The resolutions passed in the United Nations is also a source of good legislation. Countries can study resolutions and adopt the good parts about it into their national laws. Since all resolutions are debated, discussed and then passed, there is very little need to work on it again. The resolution may be amended little and adopted for use with the national laws.
The UN is going nowhere. The UN is going to be here for a really long time to come. This is proved by the growing budget for the UN and its activities. The UN however, is in need for serious structural reforms that will make it more fit to play a big role in the 21st century.
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