Is the UN beneficial to the world?
- The United Nations was founded in 1945 by 51 countries after World War II to “maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and promote social progress, better living standards and human rights.”
- Under the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, the League of Nations was established in 1919 to promote global peace. By 1945, it was disbanded and reformed into the United Nations by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill with the signing of the Atlantic Charter on August 1941.
- The United Nations formed the first legal document to define universal fundamental human rights with the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.
- According to a Gallup Poll, the United Nations had a 45% approval rating in February 2021. In its early days in December of 1953, it had a 55% approval rating.
The United Nations may have had noble beginnings, but now it stands at the heart of more controversies than it helps solves. Even its origins are somewhat suspect, seeing as former State Department official and communist spy Alger Hiss helped create it. It was initially designed for nations to negotiate through their conflicts rather than go to war. Yet, the United Nations has regularly been unable or unwilling to negotiate and mitigate worldwide crises, ostensibly negating its primary purpose. At best, it has been ineffectual.
Beginning with the Korean War to conflicts in the Middle East, including the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf War, genocide in Syria, and the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflicts, the United Nations struggles to resolve disagreements among nations. Obviously, the large nation members that are permanent members of the UN Security Council dominate the proceedings. Yet, when they often have China and Russia on one side and the United States, Great Britain, and France on the other side, getting agreement among the permanent members is regularly a challenge.
The United Nations should be a place of moral integrity. Yet, it is often anything but. Time and again, it favors despots and dictators—and there is no better evidence than when Libya was elected chair of the UN Human Rights Commission a few years ago. Add to that the sexual assault allegations against UN 'peacekeepers,' as well as harassment and corruption in several of its agencies and programs, it is clear that it does not live up to what may have been a noble purpose.
The UN's first goal is to keep peace throughout the world. The UN has been instrumental in its peacekeeping mission, negotiating over 170 peace settlements around the globe.
The UN's second goal is to develop friendly relations among nations. It has conducted successful peacekeeping operations in dozens of countries, including Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tajikistan. Through its show of military restraint, its humanitarian relief network, and its security missions, countries worldwide have become safer. The third goal of the United Nations is to help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease, and illiteracy, and encourage respect for each other's rights and freedoms. This fact best demonstrates the UN's success as it has provided food to 90 million people in over 75 countries, assisted more than 34 million refugees, and provided vaccinations for 58% of children in the world.
Finally, the UN is a center for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these expressed goals. The UN is known as an 'alliance of states,' currently supported by 193 nations (or 'member states') from every part of the world. These UN member states are made up of over 7 billion people, which is a stunning 99.44% of the world's population.
The UN is the most successful experiment on the cooperation of nations, and while some feel it has become obsolete, the symbolism alone is beneficial to the world. With more funding, the UN could be an even bigger success, and could be a stronger influence on the world stage with the rise of China and global communications.