All Hat, No Cattle | 2018-09-21 |

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All Hat, No Cattle

The Role Of United Nations In Promoting World Peace

Md. Joynul Abedin     21 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

All Hat, No Cattle

Observing all the incidents of devastating massacre of the Second World War, global leaders had realized the importance of forming an organization through which they can be able to avoid any kind of repetition of similar conflict in later years. Besides, developing international co-operation was another crucial requirement of the time. Considering all these aspects the United Nation was established on October 24, 1945, as a replacement to the ineffective League of Nations, with 51 member states. Its charter that was first formulated at the San Francisco Conference, on April 25, 1945, declares that the international organization will work to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, …to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, …to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” Since then 73 years have passed. If we look back and scrutinize the activities of UN in the past years, we find that the organization has failed many a times to work as per its initial aims (aims that were the basis of its establishment). Still mass violation of human rights, genocide and unjust wars are going on all over the world. From West to East, the most powerful organization (at least in an ironical sense) of the world is struggling to put an effective remark in ending hostilities and establishing peace. Often UN Security Council takes initiative to give statement and pass resolution to intervene in the volatile countries but they ultimately fail to act due to the veto provided by one or more of the five permanent members, who are also referred to as P5. This undemocratic character of the UN Security Council has made the world an unsafe place for the less powerful countries. Being a member of the UN, when any nation doesn’t get proper justice and find a logical solution of their regional problems, then where is the effectiveness of the UN?

Well, experts sometimes opine that terrorism began with hijacking the El Al Israel Flight 426 by a Palestinian terrorist organization in 1968. The United Nations condemned the action, but failed to take any further action. Since then, such terrorist acts have been happening time and again, with no meaningful reaction from the UN. With the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the UN finally took action, outlawing terrorism and punishing those responsible for the attacks. This was a remarkable step by the UN undoubtedly. But, unfortunately, this sort of operations was conducted only against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The most astonishing fact is that when such terrorist outfits were established, they received patronization from different influential countries, but the UN overlooked such sponsorship at that time. Since the attack of some of the powerful states in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries as a part of their self declared war on terror, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been injured and died. Being displaced from their root they are becoming refugees in different countries. But no country has yet been made accountable for instigating such consequences through their planned activities by the UN.


It is mentionable that violation of human rights is continuing all over the world in every moment challenging the fundamental charter of UN. For instance, we can cite the example of the genocide on Rohingya minority in Myanmar. The international authorities have found all evidences of crime against humanity including murder, torture, pillaging, executions without due process, rape, sexual slavery and taking hostages, on the part of the military and other security forces of the country. But, unfortunately UN has failed to take any effective measure apart from providing aid to the refugees in Bangladesh and giving statement condemning the violation of human rights. The same thing goes for the Syria crisis. When thousands of Syrians have been killed and millions have been displaced due to continuous bombing despite the ceasefire, the UN remained inactive except sending some aids. These recent failures remind us of some of the old examples of disappointing reaction of the UN. During the Bosnian War in 1995, Serbian forces raped women, conducted mass murder forcing the UN team away, but the UN didn’t take any measure to punish them later. During the regime of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, while extreme form of Communism was practiced and people were torture brutally, the UN refused to help, despite the fact that over 2.5 million had already been killed by the time. Back in 2003, conflict erupted as militia groups attacked the government in Darfur. The UN condemned the actions, but refused to send any aid to the country. In Africa’s Congo more than five million people have been killed between 1998 and 2003. But, any effective step to end their feuds is yet to be taken by the UN there.


Another major failure of UN is the non-proliferation of nuclear weapon. During the time of its establishment, the United States was the only nation in the world to own and test nuclear weapons. In 1970, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was signed by 190 nations, including five nations that admitted to owning nuclear weapons: France, England, Russia, China, and the US. Despite this treaty, nuclear stockpiles remain high, and numerous nations continue to develop these devastating weapons, including North Korea, Israel, Pakistan and India. The failure of the non-proliferation treaty details the ineffectiveness of the United Nations, and their inability to enforce crucial rules and regulations on offending nations. Moreover United Nations Security Council (UNSC) does not have true international representation. This has led to accusations that the UNSC only addresses the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members, especially in making humanitarian interventions: for example, protecting the oil-rich Kuwaitis in 1991 but poorly protecting resource-poor Rwandans in 1997.

In a world tormented with many grave challenges across many spheres, people look to the United Nations to play a key role in resolving them. Unfortunately UN initiatives do not match with the global expectations. Moreover, there is a broad perception that the UN is failing in vital areas, not least on peace and security. It is at its best in the development and humanitarian domain, where it works with and for people and gets results. But its seeming inability to act to end the protracted crisis has driven indescribable human misery. It badly needs structures and ways of working that will address this century’s crisis, not those of 1945. Some of its constraints are structural, like the veto power in the UN Security Council was given to five nations when the charter was written in 1945. Still the UNSC is working with the same provision. It prevents effective action on peace and security – even when an overwhelming majority of the Security Council and member states want it.


Since UN was established all of the five nations have used their veto power for securing their political interests. In the Cold War era and in later years, the USSR/Russia had cast 132 vetoes mainly to block entry of any country into the UN that it thought would undermine its position. The US used 83 vetoes, mostly to block moves against Israeli atrocities on the Palestinians. Another P5 member the UK used veto power 32 times beginning with the Suez Canal crisis and carrying it on when it went to war with Argentina over the Falkland Island in 1982. France cast 18 vetoes. China used the power 11 times. In 2007, China and Russia cast a double veto on a draft resolution calling Myanmar to cease military attacks on Rohingyas and other ethnic minority people. The duo again vetoed another Security Council move on Myanmar in 2009. And finally in March 2017, China and Russia together once again blocked a UNSC press statement to condemn the genocide on the Rohingyas. In September, they blocked a discussion in the UNSC on the Rohingyas’ plight. While using their veto power the way these influential countries consider their political and economic interests they hardly pay same attention to the misery of the victims of oppression and inhuman barbarism. The 1945 San Francisco conference is a case in point when a number of small and medium states opposed the provision of veto power as it “violated the notion of sovereign equality”. They were roughly snubbed by the P5 who made it clear that their participation in the UN was contingent to veto power. From then on, the veto mechanism has left the UN ineffective, no matter if this means permitting mass killings and genocide!

It is true that after establishing the United Nations we have not witnessed another world war. But they are far away from implementing its other mandates due to many reasons including the unwillingness of the influential nations. All the member states should make a review of the UN activities and they should assist the organization to act decisively. If we fail to make the UN an effective guardian of all the states, it will not only result in an organizational failure but also instigate, in a sense, the world powers to suppress other countries economically and militarily.