Successes and failures of the United Nations

By Abdul Wasay Ajmal 

The formation of the United Nations is considered by academics and scholars as a pivotal moment in the history of International Relations. The organization has had a major role in global politics, which has been studied in detail. The United Nations charter aims to create an environment where in people, organizations and states have equal rights to the most fundamental of human needs. The charter signifies the importance of upholding the values espoused by its creators and major stake holders. While the United Nations has and continues to provide aid, relief and a platform for people and underdeveloped states, it has not been able to follow up on its set ideals in many major crises around the globe. The ensuing paragraphs shall provide a brief overview on these successes and failures of the United Nations.

The United Nations is divided into various key bodies, each having its role in upholding the values laid down by the UN charter. Furthermore, there are multiple UN organizations which are responsible for covering and upholding fundamental human rights. These play a key role in times of humanitarian crisis or natural disasters. The UN role in Kosovo is a key example in which the UN intervened in order to prevent further deterioration and ensure that fundamental human rights were adhered to. Other such interventions have allowed the UN administrative body to prevent further worsening of the situation in war torn countries. Apart from such interventions the UN also plays a key role in human development. This in part lies within the overall objectives of the UN which is to raise the standard of human life throughout the globe. It also keeps track of the internal economic, political and social situation of states through a rich and reliable database. This allows the UN to then allocate and provide essential aid in times of need. Countries in Africa which face a multitude of crisis such as food deprivation, endemics, civil wars and other atrocious human rights violations are aided by various UN programs aimed at alleviating and helping these states in times of crisis. Today as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic the UN continues to play its role in leading the fight against the virus.

The United Nations has continued to exert its influence in global politics since its inception. While the role has varied, presence of the United Nations in the global policy making ranks cannot be denied. While originally made by Western powers to prevent conflicts and to uphold the sanctity of human rights, it cannot be denied that the United Nations has had its failings in the past as well. As an organization which functions on the joint funding of all its members, out of all these the United States of America has the biggest share of the pie. Critics and leaders from 3rd world countries have raised concerns about the consistent dominance of the United States in the making of UN policies. This in turn has led to a trust deficit making it difficult for the UN to operate in countries in which many people eye it as an organization aiming to further United States foreign policy objectives.

The United Nations has not been able to prevent some of the most atrocious human rights violations in the modern era. The genocide in Rawanda in 1994 which resulted in the killings of almost 800,000 people belonging to the Tutsi minority group is regarded as one of the major failings of the United Nations. The inability to protect the minority group is attributed to the inaction of members of the United Nations to decide and act in time in order to protect the lives of innocent men, women and children. The Iraq war is yet another example of inability of the United Nations to act on time and prevent the United States from launching a catastrophic campaign which would result in the near total destruction of the country. Despite the United Nations declaring the war against Iraq illegal, the United States still pushed through with its decision to go after what it had termed as Iraq having “weapons of mass destruction”. This in turn also damaged the credibility of the United Nations in ensuring that it held states accountable for their actions.

The United Nations has throughout history been a prominent player in global politics. Today it is still one of the most prominent organizations in the world with almost every country being a member. The organization’s charter sets the values which it strives to achieve. Taking into account the many hurdlers and complicated relationships between states, the United Nations continues to provide its resources in aiding countries facing major issues. Despite its continued attempts to make a more peaceful and prosperous world, it has had its failings in achieving its goals outlined in the Charter. What cannot be denied however is that the United Nations shall continue to have a prominent place in the International system and that its role and influence shall continue to shape International politics.

Abdul Wasay Ajmal is a student at National Defense University Islamabad. He is also a research associate at the China Pakistan Study Center at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad.

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Foreign Policy News is a self-financed initiative providing a venue and forum for political analysts and experts to disseminate analysis of major political and business-related events in the world, shed light on particulars of U.S. foreign policy from the perspective of foreign media and present alternative overview on current events affecting the international relations.

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