What is the United Nations?
United Nations Organization or the United Nations(UN) as it’s mostly called, came into existence on 25 April 1945 just before culmination of the World War 2. It followed the defunct League of Nations which was also an attempt to bring together nations post World War I. League of Nations was a grouping of 58 countries and remained in existence from January 1920 to April 1946. The key architect of the UN were USA and UK, infact the name United Nations was proposed by then US President Roosevelt. USSR, China and France were the other big three powers that existed, joined in as it’s permanent members with special privileges. Notable omissions from the League of Nations’ executive council were it’s permanent members Italy and Japan while the Britain and France were the only two common permanent members in UN. In addition, by the time charter was finalised on 25 June 1945 around 51 nations agreed to join it.
The grouping which started with 51 members in 1945 later become almost four times of it’s original self at 193 members today. Major expansion came immediately post World War 2 when large number of erstwhile colonies demanded and got their independence. Followed by newly independent nations post dismemberment of USSR in 1991.
While memberships continue to increase in between due to partition of nations and creation of new nation like Israel, no one really questioned the modality and representative format which continues to represent pre World War 2 era. However, today there are other thriving countries which are more than a match to some of the permanent members. But unfortunately, instead of evolving with times United Nations has been left in deliberate stagnation. In the given dynamics expecting this world body to take a moral high ground and deliver with impartiality is like asking an accused to deliver justice, in plain words it’s just beyond their capacity.
What Plagues the UN?
The idea and evolution of UN dates back to pre World War 2. The powers at the time which essentially shaped it’s contours reflected skewed realities. The size and political capital which were being represented by UK and France were artificially inflated due to massive colonisation. They were hedging more share of strategic power than their actual worth.
Even the timeline and concept of permanent members of this world body is highly suspect. Britain knew that colonisation will be unsustainable post World War 2 and soon it will be pushed out of major territories like India. It preempted what was becoming obvious and rushed to create a world body with a powerful place for itself while Sun still didn’t set over the empire. So here was a hastily created world body with self appointed guardians when three fourth of present members still struggling against imperial rule!
Who Has the Control of It?
By the basic tenet of UN, actually No one should have the control of it, but by design it is not only controlled by the permanent members but at times held to ransom by them. The permanent members instead of streamlining the functioning more often than not are found creating politically motivated hurdles. The key factors that prove to be the biggest bane with them are their, Veto power, financial contribution and military might.
Thus it was hardly surprising to see US which is the largest financial contributor at almost on-fifth to the UN desired to cut funding in areas which apparently clashed with White House policies viz. UN peacekeeping missions. While financial muscle and military strength is not exclusive to permanent members in today’s power matrix their Veto power definitely is. Leaving rudimentary affairs of social services this world body has made serious security lapses either by becoming fully defunct to take a call or by being unable to execute popular will of the nations.
A Crisis of Faith.
UN was a rushed up world body, it was never designed to function independently. Most basic rule for impartiality was violated by having privileged membership for select few wherein any of them could sabotage popular international opinion. A biased foundation could never create a balanced structure.
This skewed arrangement led to subsequent security issues being dealt on political convenience by permanent members and hardly on merit they deserved. The feel of let down soon became a sense of betrayal among majority of nations. Shockingly it was to be discovered later that rules would apply differently based on which side of permanent members you are in and at times they may not even apply at all! End state there’s nothing to Police the Police and hence the crisis of faith.
If the UN continues with it’s present methods it will not survive long. It doesn’t have the capacity to deal with complex security situations something which are of immediate serious concern for affected nations. This would lead to swift disconnect or worst still withdrawal from the membership. The choice left now is to give a clear mandate to UN on matters of security, territorial integrity and acceptable international conduct by all. There cannot be any privileged membership for select few. The idea of nations having a say in UN policy matters, commensurate to their monetary contributions needs an immediate discard.
This world body should either cut down on fanciful and welfare related expenditures and meet the security requirements through proportionately shared cost or redefine it’s charter as just an international welfare organisation. However, best case for world would be to see that UN re-evolve itself as the primary guarantor of world order, what it should have been at the first place or runs the risk of fading into oblivion as it’s predecessor the League of Nations.
(This article has featured in a National Magazine)