Decades ago, France President Charles de Gaulle slammed the United Nations, famously calling it le machin (“the thingamabob”). Not convinced that a global alliance like the UN could help maintain world peace, Gaulle proposed that the UN should only focus on watching over defence and peace treaties between countries.
Today, the UN has lost its relevance almost completely. It has been reduced to an insignificant entity, ineffective and toothless. A replacement for the unsuccessful and ineffective League of Nations, the UN was created following the Second World War to prevent another such mass scale clash. They were meant to uphold international peace and security, advance human rights, cultivate social and economic development, guard the environment, and make available humanitarian aid in times of food crisis, natural disaster, and armed conflict.
It is able to do none of the above! Nobody listens. You only have to look around you to understand the insignificance of the United Nations today.
The UN ceasefire monitors n Syria are welcomed with guns and artillery barrages. Iran doesn’t care about the UN warnings and resolutions, it refuses to open its nuclear facilities to international inspectors. North Korea doesn’t think twice before ignoring UN resolutions, and fires guns and bombs, tests nuclear weapons at will.
UN’s ineffectiveness came to the fore once again when it couldn’t get a handle on the Ukrainian crisis. The United Nations failed to send the peacekeeping force to contain the worsening situation. What did the UN do when Ukraine was slipping into a civil war? Nothing. It may have wanted to, but it didn’t have the leadership and respect to do something about it. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid lip service to the crisis but no concrete action was taken.
The UN has maintained complete silence on the matter. They have not offered any solution, they have not assured the people that they will see better times soon. They claim they are working behind the scenes, but there is nothing to show for.
I remember there used to be a time when there was respect for the UN. The international peace body had an objective and they realised it responsibly. All major UN resolutions were reported by the media and featured prominently. The guiding principles laid down by UN were generally followed.
Today, it’s different. More and more countries are seeing that UN’s orders and policies are not to be taken seriously. As that happens, even more States are beginning to ignore it.
Look at the number of bodies and organisations which work on UN mandate, how ineffective and toothless they are. The human Rights Commission has become a laughingstock, the human rights violators are not fearful of any action because there has never been any. They are irrelevant and it’s about time that the powers that be rethink on the issue of relevance of many such bodies.
The UN is also an extremely obsolete. The Security Council power equation in 1945, when UN was born, represented a compromise. Britain, USA and USSR were true powers in 1945. China and France were only just beginning to cast their influence on world stage. In the 21st century environment, most of the permanent Security Council members aren’t as strong and powerful as they were. There are significant powers, like India and Japan, who deserve to have a say in global decision making because of their rapid rise, who are having to struggle to achieve their rightful place in the Council.
The UN is a poorly-run organisation today. Incompetent Governments insist on putting their favourites in prestigious jobs at the United Nations because they have the power and clout to do so. Equality is just a fancy idea. The UN bureaucracy is notoriously corrupt and scandals are always round the corner, waiting to erupt.
We see ‘blue helmets’ deployed in conflict zones but they only fill in the numbers, they are ineffective at clamping down violence.
I am not against UN. It’s a novel idea and while I don’t believe we need a world Government, we could certainly do with an organisation that is respected and listened to. For our own sakes.