United Nations Organization

 

This unit has been covered under the following segments-

Description of the above segments has been laid down below.

Introduction

Need for International Organizations

UN is generally regarded as the most important international organisation in today’s world. In the eyes of many people all over the world, it is indispensable and represents the great hope of humanity for peace and progress. Why do we then need organisations like the UN? Let us hear two insiders: “The United Nations was not created to take humanity to heaven, but to save it from hell.” — Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second Secretary-General. “Talking shop? Yes, there are a lot of speeches and meetings at the U.N., especially during the annual sessions of the General Assembly. But as Churchill put it, jaw-jaw is better than war-war. Isn’t it better to have one place where all… countries in the world can get together, bore each other sometimes with their words rather than bore holes into each other on the battlefield?” — Shashi Tharoor, the former UN Under-Secretary- General for Communications and Public Information.

These two quotes suggest something important. International organisations are not the answer to everything, but they are important. International organisations help with matters of war and peace. They also help countries cooperate to make better living conditions for us all. Countries have conflicts and differences with each other. That does not necessarily mean they must go to war to deal with their antagonisms. They can, instead, discuss contentious issues and find peaceful solutions; indeed, even though this is rarely noticed, most conflicts and differences are resolved without going to war. The role of an international organisation can be important in this context. An international organisation is not a super-state with authority over its members. It is created by and responds to states. It comes into being when states agree to its creation. Once created, it can help member states resolve their problems peacefully.

International organisations are helpful in another way. Nations can usually see that there are some things they must do together. There are issues that are so challenging that they can only be dealt with when everyone works together. Disease is an example. Some diseases can only be eradicated if everyone in the world cooperates in inoculating or vaccinating their populations. Or take global warming and its effects. As atmospheric temperatures rise because of the spread of certain chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), there is a danger that sea levels will also rise, thereby submerging many coastal areas of the world including huge cities. Of course, each country can try to find its own solution to the effects of global warming. But in the end a more effective approach is to stop the warming itself. This requires at least all of the major industrial powers to cooperate.

Unfortunately, recognising the need for cooperation and actually cooperating are two different things. Nations can recognise the need to cooperate but cannot always agree on how best to do so, how to share the costs of cooperating, how to make sure that the benefits of cooperating are justly divided, and how to ensure that others do not break their end of the bargain and cheat on an agreement. An international organisation can help produce information and ideas about how to cooperate. It can provide mechanisms, rules and a bureaucracy, to help members have more confidence that costs will be shared properly, that the benefits will be fairly divided, and that once a member joins an agreement it will honour the terms and conditions of the agreement.

With the end of the Cold War, we can see that the UN may have a slightly different role. As the United States and its allies emerged victorious, there was concern amongst many governments and peoples that the Western countries led by the US would be so powerful that there would be no check against their wishes and desires. Can the UN serve to promote dialogue and discussion with the US in particular, and could it limit the power of the American government? As you go through the forthcoming paragraphs, answer will be brought forward.

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