The United Nations is an important topic in the IAS exam, especially in the International Relations subject. Given below is an article on the UN success and failure which should be incorporated in your UPSC preparation.
“The United Nations was created 67 years ago to move the world towards peace and cooperation. The new millennium presents the most appropriate time to review the history of this institution, its successes and failures, and expectations for its future.” Opinions may differ about the successes and failure of the United Nations as an instrument for world peace and security. But everyone will agree that it has played a crucial role in the economic and social advancement of the people. United Nation’s efforts in the early Cold War era concentrated on the relationships between nations and the issues of war and peace. Not long into its existence, however, the UN was confronted with the challenges arising from global interdependence and social and economic inequalities. These new realities served to broaden the scope of UN activities and chart the future course of its global involvements. For, with the end of the Cold War, international concerns expanded to include the increasing economic competition between developed countries, problems of development, environmental degradation, population growth, and the threat of nuclear proliferation, the violation of human rights, and political fragmentation or civil wars within national boundaries. It is the Un that is called upon to confront these new challenges and to develop solutions. Some, concerned with a potential loss of national autonomy, prefer unilateral to multilateral action. But, because of its mandated principles, many believe that the UN is the only actor capable of tackling such daunting problems, although they are aware of the UN’s inadequacies in putting its principles into action. Thus in the above framework, what should be the role of the United Nations in this new global order? How must the UN be reformed to confront its new challenges? What support should the United States provide for the UN, an institution where it holds significant power? And what lessons have we learned, as an international community, to guide the Un into our future? These are the questions we seek to answer through this discussion. The focus of the discussion is the hope that we have for the future, peace, prosperity and a fairer an more just world. It was these hopes, which led to the establishment of the United Nations following the Second War to devastate the world in the first half of the twentieth century.
Today, we also discuss the topic of hope amidst the despair of the death and destruction of a war in Iraq, and the questioning of the relevance of the UN. The Iraq war represents the failure to resolve an international problem through multilateral channels. For the critics of the United Nations, it represents a failure of that organization. In fact, the UN has been buried many times by critics, but it has survived. It has survived because the would does need a multilateral forum and a framework of international rules to create order and assist security. Whatever difficulty the UN has had in trying to manage divided international opinion over the use of force against Iraq, it is the belief that the UN will be found once more to be essential in managing the post-conflict situation in Iraq. It will be essential firstly in addressing Iraq’s humanitarian needs. While the UN may have been sidelined by countries opting for unilateral action against Iraq, it is somewhat ironic that it may be called upon to pick up the pieces after the conflict. A range of UN agencies –the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the UN High Commission for Refugees, the UNDP and the Mine Action Service – will spring into action to alleviate hardship and suffering of the civilian population. There will also be the need for UN action to re-establish post-conflict governance and civil functions in Iraq. Those challenging the relevance of the UN, also, of course, ignore the critical role it plays in wider areas of development, human rights, refugees and the environment. No other organization is able to confront the plethora of cross-border challenges: global diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, climate change, environmental degradation, refugee issues, people smuggling, human right, poverty and hunger. It is how it responds to these cross-border challenges. The UN system continues to the international norms by which every member state should abide. In today’s globalizing world, no member state, no matter how powerful it is, can disengage from multilateralism entirely. The UN remains a relevant organisation and will continue to have a central role to play in the 21st century. Notwithstanding media criticism of the United Nations, what seems to be forgotten is that the organisation is only as strong as the will of its member states. The United Nations system relies on the collective will of all its members. It is these member states that set its priorities. The UN cannot act without their consent. It falls therefore upon us all to make the UN relevant in today’s world. In this regard, the United Nations and its members are very aware of the shortcomings of the organisation. For the UN to meet its potential it needs to reform. It needs to better prioritise its work to meet the needs of member states. This was the essence of the Secretary-General’s second term reform initiative, which seeks to strengthen the organisation to batter respond to the priorities established in the Millennium Declaration and to meet the needs of Member States. The United Nations is not a perfect organisation, but it remains true that any nation-state can achieve far less in isolation than it can working collectively with other states under UN auspices. The Secretary-General envisaged his role as an intermediary and a person who manages peace institutions and also brought about new techniques to the process of peacekeeping. The UN elucidated what human rights is for the international community. It played an important part in the decolonisation process by giving formal recognitions to the newly independent and formed countries, and also by aiding them in their economic and social development. The UN also played a huge role in the formation of international law. By conducting many international conferences, the UN progressed towards building an international consensus on major global problems such as population, environment, women’s status, development, human rights and such other basic concerns. The UN specialised agencies steered major normative and regulatory arrangements in their respective fields of activities and also gave humanitarian aid in many crisis-riddled parts of the globe. More recently, in spite of many limitations on resources and manpower, the UN has somehow responded to a considerable rise in the demand for peacekeeping forces and other emergency operations in the world. However, in spite of the reasonably good record of the UN, it is the organisation’s drawbacks that receive the highest attention. Many members have remarked about the UN’s disappointing performance but without acknowledging the fact that the organisation can only be as effective as the governments’ allowance of it. No doubt the UN has deficiencies, but it is generally made a scapegoat of the pitfalls of the member states. Today, safeguarding human security in its broadest sense mandates a fresh approach both by the UN and the governments. In the context of enhancing the capacity of the UN to tackle emergencies, there is a need to clarify and rethink its use of military force. Also, the UN response to many problems like resource exhaustion, population explosion, environmental degradation and migration is yet to be completely articulated. Many grave social problems such as women’s position, unemployment of youth, cultural diversityi, education and technology impact are being addressed only now.
The UN has not as yet been able to deal effectively with such global economic issues as currency instability, indebtedness, protectionism, and inequitable commercial relations. It the Organization is to realize its potential in the world of the twenty-first century, its members must recognize and resolve a paradox caused by the altered condition of the world. The association of sovereign states set up half-century ago to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” is now expected to function as the public service sector of a world community that does not exist as a political entity. In virtually all of its activities, from peacekeeping to development, from human rights to environmental accords, the United Nations is being asked to play a larger role and to assume fresh responsibilities at a time when governments are increasingly anxious to reduce their financial contributions, and increasingly reluctant to provide the necessary political, military and material support. Governments will only give the needed support if they see the United Nations as essential for advancing their interests in an effective and appropriate manner. Grappling with their current concerns, governments con not be expected to invest in totally new formulas of international organization or world government. The Independent Working Group on the Future of the United Nations was convened by the Ford Foundation in late 1993 at the request of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to reassess the role, mission, and function of the United Nations. The Working Group’s Report, The United Nations in Its Second Half –century was presented to the Secretary-General and released to the public in 1995. The working group was chaired by Moeen Qureshi, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Richard von Weiszacker, former President of Germany. Throughout these Report, it has been repeatedly stressed the need for the Member States to provide the leadership, common will and purpose which are necessary to create a more effective United Nations as it enters its next fifty years. The future United Nations System Change will not come easily. A great gulf often exists between what is ideal and what is politically possible. For now, the key to progress is to understand the paradox which confronts the UN, and to work more effectively through existing mechanisms or, where further change is necessary, to improve those mechanisms. The UN’s galaxy of organizations must be made to operate as an integrated system within the framework of agreed policies. Its activities, including peacekeeping, development and social programs, must complement each other. Its work has to gain a greater understanding among the private and nongovernmental sectors, the public and the media. These goals are reachable. Indeed, they must be reached soon, if the United Nations is the fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the world whom it was set up to serve. What might a successful UN system look like some decades hence, when our children and grandchildren confront these global challenges? Such a vision need not imply a total transformation of today’s world.
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