Failures of United Nations: A Report of Trends in Global Order


As the trends in the globe continued over decades and centuries, perhaps the most significant experiment done in democracy was the establishment of the United Nations. The singular most organization in the modern world which serves as a hope for many, a forum for voicing out opinions and a ground for major geopolitical ideas exchange. As it is established, wouldn’t there be any questions on its legitimacy considering differences in the ideas that pertains throughout the organization?

In pragmatism, no wonder that there have been claims of falseness in the United Nations system. Founded in 1945, a successor of the league of nations, today frankly the world is a united nation. An error in this means a drawback in the lives of millions. Unlike the league of nations where ideologies were less conflicting, the United Nations finds its way to the future, slightly tougher having experienced so many changes notably after the cold war. 

Globalism: Right or Wrong ? 

One of the primary aims of the United Nations is to promote globalism and internationalism which can increase the cooperation between all member states and aid joint efforts towards all problems. On the positive side, it is thoughtful and considerate to lead such efforts but what about the cost of sovereignty.

On various occasions, member states have been signatories to treaties which asked for them to hamper their sovereignty. Diplomacy is the basic definition of sacrifice and finding common interests but somewhere this idea was less conveyed to certain member states. For example, John Birch society in the United States, which was an opponent of the United Nations, popularized the campaign “Get US out of the UN ”. in 1959 arguing that the United Nations goal is to create one world government.

Various other developing and under-developed nations often reflected on the UN’s favoritism in the past. If such ideas of contradiction are raised against the UN, then somewhere certainly, its aims are not made clear. Former president of France, Charles de Gaulle famously criticized the United Nations, calling it “Le Machin” and did not agree with its role to simulate peace in the world, rather recommending that bilateral peace agreements should be encouraged by the United Nations.

What few countries don’t seem to understand well are the clear intentions of the United Nations presented with circumstances wherein most of the treaties seem to favor the west according to them. Today, more than thirty years after the Organization’s founding, the constantly shifting international environment and the Organization’s membership having tripled have led to a transformation in the Organization’s core spirit. 

World V/S United Nations

Ever since the formation of the modern world order, whose present is predefined by its relations in the past, a constant rivalry between the west and the rest of the world is seen. It is no wonder that Asia to the Middle East to Africa have been deeply plundered by its colonial masters who were mostly from the West. Today too, they don’t seem to digest the real motives of western nations. This sentiment has given rise to various leaders claiming destruction of the west, for example Saddam Regime in Iraq, the rulers of Iran, Russian leaders etc.

All these rules and leaders gathered masses of people behind the cause to destroy the western nations over centuries and this technique certainly worked as their rules became successful. The United Nations came as no exception in fueling such sentiments after its formation. The initial foundations of the United Nations were determined to create long term negative consequences when the UN established permanent 5 members- United Kingdom, United States, Russia, China and France who, according to the mandate, would set the flow of major decisions by vetoing the decisions.

The United Nations was formed in 1945 with the intention to strengthen security and promote peace, ensuring well-being of all people around the world, and international cooperations. Nevertheless, this was the fragile time when the world order was still under progress, when the challenge for allies was to abstain from going into another world war. Such promises did not last long as the Cold war between the Soviet Union and United States soon began, this divided the world in two halves, each with its own motives.

In 2004, former ambassador of the UN Dore Gold published a book called Tower of Babble: How the United Nations has fueled the global chaos which criticized the organization’s more revalatism in an attempt to promote genocide and terrorism. The fact is not hidden that the United Nations has famously failed to deliver its promises in all spheres such as security, economy, health and well being and nuclear power management.

The United Nations Population fund has been accused of providing support to government programs to force abortion measures. Another event of mistrust between the “World VS West” rivalry came when three US administrations: that of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush was accused of withholding funding from the UNFPA, this led to disturbances between relations of the organization and the government.

The UNFPA provided aid to Peru’s population control program in the mid-to-late ’90s when it was discovered the Peruvian program had been engaged in carrying out coercive sterilizations. The UNFPA was not found directly involved in the scandal, but continued to fund and work with the population control program after the abuses had become public. There has been criticism that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, who are all nuclear powers, may have created an exclusive nuclear club whose powers remain unchecked while they constantly attempted to denuclearize Iran by blocking the Iran Nuclear Trade deal.

This has led to accusations that the UNSC only addresses the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members, especially in humanitarian interventions: for example, protecting the oil-rich Kuwaitis in 1991 but poorly protecting resource-poor Rwandans in 1997. On International stage, it can be seen that most of the western nations led organizations such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization, European Union etc. have been taking active roles in dealing with other global affairs that reside beyond the capability and hampers sovereignty, as many Eastern nations have criticized. 

The United Nations Mechanism 

Any nation may be elected to the Security Council for a brief term, although some have argued that this is insufficient. They contend that in order to democratize the organization, the number of permanent members should be increased to include non-nuclear states. Other nations have recommended completely getting rid of the idea of permanence; Canada supported this position while it was led by Paul Martin. Another question was posed against the Security Council’s veto power of the permanent nations.

Currently, any decision the Council may make can be overturned by a veto from any of the permanent members. Any potential UN armed or diplomatic response to a crisis could be crippled by one country’s resistance rather than the views of the majority of countries. As part of the Soviet Union, Russia vetoed 90 resolutions between 1949 and 1991. As of July 2019, the USSR and Russia vetoed 141 times, the United States 83 times, UK 32 times, France 18 times, and China 14 times. The Arab League and its allies are typically included as candidates for the Security Council are put out by regional blocs, although Israel, which joined the UN in 1949, has never been elected to the Security Council.

Israel has received numerous criticisms from the Council. On the other hand, detractors claim that while Israel can rely on the United States to reject any relevant legislation against it, the Palestinians do not have this authority. The five permanent members’ use of their veto to “advance their political self-interest or geopolitical interest above the purpose of safeguarding civilians” has been singled out as a threat to human rights, according to Amnesty International.

However, we must admit that in the twenty-first century, our organization lacks a powerful tool to hold an aggressor nation accountable for stealing the territory of another sovereign state. Others dispute the notion that the UN is a democratic institution, arguing that it primarily serves the interests of the governments of the nations that make up its membership rather than necessarily the people who live there. The powerful Security Council system, according to world federalist Dieter Heinrich, does not distinguish between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches because the United Nations Charter grants the Security Council authority over all three.

The United Nations recognizes and adheres to the One China Policy that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it. This has created a rift between Taiwan and the world as the People’s Republic of China does not have jurisdiction over Taiwan. Joan Wu, head of the UN task force for Taiwan, said: This is humiliating, ridiculous, and childish.

Question on the soul of the United Nations ?

Although the first and second mandates of the Charter of the United Nations mandate the United Nations because of its restrictive administrative structure, “to maintain international peace and security… take preventive or enforcement action (to enforce peace)”. The permanent members of the Security Council themselves have at times prevented the United Nations from fully fulfilling its first two mandates. Without approval (or minimal abstention), the Charter of the United Nations only permits the making of “observations”, reports and recommendations regarding international conflicts.

The United Nations questions its validity and relevance. Because in most high-profile cases, violating Security Council resolutions has essentially no consequences. An early example of this was the Bangladesh Liberation War and his 1971 Bangladesh genocide perpetrated by the Pakistani army against Bangladeshis. Critics of the United Nations argued that the United Nations was utterly ineffective in preventing genocide, and that the only thing that could stop the genocide was Indian military intervention.

Articles 39, 40, 41 and 42 of Chapter VII of the United Nations specify a course of action beginning with a statement of disapproval, proceeding to a blockade, and ending with offensive military action. Each article builds on each other and requires a stronger enforcement stance. Under Chapter VII, the Security Council adopts resolutions restoring peace and security (Article 39). Require the parties to the conflict to comply with interim measures (ceasefire, Article 40, etc.). and/or take decisions on non-military measures (i.e. severing economic ties, Article 41). and/or military action (Article 42). The failure of the United Nations to produce provisions for military contributions to the Security Council under Article 43 limits the United Nations to purely determining non-military action and recommending military action. 

Now, after more than 75 years of its formation, the United Nations seems to be keeping pace with upcoming global trends. Indeed, there have been flaws in its functioning due to multiple reasons such as non-accountability of states to their promises delivered. It is significantly difficult to majorly unite all nations behind a common cause given that each have their own personal interests and sovereignty issues. Diplomacy has always been a common way for the UN to pursue and the reasonable one but it comes with long term implementation and is often undermined by member states leading to its misuse often.

As it can be observed that the United Nations solely lies on the commitment of nations to make a positive change which is often misled. It relies on the promises by global leaders aiming that implementation of changes will take place from top to bottom in a government system. The pragmatic approach to this problem is to believe in the nation that each institution has its limitations, where the boundaries of such limitations are exhausted, there starts the undermining of them which is a major threat to UN mechanism. Another challenge that is faced by the United Nations is that of incorporating multilateralism in unilateralism.

Member states often seem to unite amongst themselves sharing common goals in forms of blocs such as NATO, BRICS etc. These blocs indeed represent shared interests but sometimes fail to deliver on the idea of unity that the United Nations aims to promote. The historical roots of several nations heavily determine their current relations with one another which poses a challenge to the UN. The only particular type of treaties that the UN was able to gather most signatories for was regarding environment, this includes The Montreal Protocol and The Paris agreement etc.

The world faces other problems too which are of equal or greater magnitude than these but little commitment can be seen regarding them. Many historic treaties seem to be trying to solve modern problems which are a mere negligence of present circumstances and harness the effectiveness to deal with modern world problems. For example, The United Nations Convention on the law of sea and the Antarctic treaty are still used to solve the arctic militarization and territory disputes, ignoring the current factors of the arctic problem.

The problems of the world are either under-estimated by member states or are dealt with by old conventions which present them as more complex than they actually are. If these problems are to be dealt with collectively, they would be solved as achieving milestones after milestones but this can only happen when the United Nations effectively recognizes the problem of problematic mechanisms and nations work together ethically, ignoring their arrogant self interests. 

Abhilaksh Dhankhar is a Orator, Writer, Analyzer of geopolitical scenarios and military strategies. He has attended numerous conferences around the world on politics and has been conferred with more than 5 international awards. Abhilaksh also served as esteemed jury member in diplomatic meets. His vision to expand the ideals of international diplomacy made his self-initiated project "Drona" to be recognized as top ten most sustainable projects in India. 11 times, he has been selected for Harvard's Asia conferences and international relations programs. He worked with UNESCO under project RAISE to remove the gender disparity in the society. Abhilaksh constantly likes to spread his ideas and delivers effective seminars and sessions around the world, so far teaching more than 200 youngsters.


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