the united nations success or failure

Topics: United Nations, United Nations Security Council, Peacekeeping Pages: 5 (1486 words) Published: October 15, 2013

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose main objectives are stated to be; facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. The UN delegates these responsibilities to various agencies which include 193 member states. The organization consists of six main bodies as well as several other prominent agencies. The success of the UN, measured given their main objectives, can be seen by many as a complete and utter failure in various instances. The main body which receives most blame for these failures would be the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), in charge of international peace and security. What seem to be countless cases of failure to provide humanitarian aid, failed peace keeping efforts, failure to prevent genocide, failure to implement provisions to Security Council resolutions, as well as many other highly publicized failures have plagued the UN’s reputation. Cases of such matters can hardly be used to defend the UN’s success in facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. Other bodies of the UN have also been put under scrutiny, most recently a controversy within The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Although the UN has also seen its successes, one could argue that there are clearly great weaknesses in the system of international organization which the UN presents.

Key arguments:

The powers of the UNSC are outlined by the United Nations Charter and are exercised through United Nations Security Council resolutions. Hans Köchler argues that “The UNSC contains an irreconcilable normative contradiction, namely between (a) the principle of the sovereign equality of Member States and (b) the privileged position of the five permanent members of the Security Council, expressed in the veto right”(Kochler, 2006, p. 323). The five permanent members of the Security Council he refers to consist of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The remainder of the council consists of 10 elected non-permanent members with two-year terms. Adoption of a proposal within the UNSC requires affirmative votes from nine members of the council. However a veto from any one of the five permanent members of the council prevents adoption of any proposal even if it has received the required number of votes. As one would expect there have been many cases where a permanent member has used their veto power to strike down bids that conflict with their own international interests. The effectiveness and fairness of UNSC resolutions are constantly put to question in many high profile international instances.

The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the African nation. The UNSC which is in charge of international peace and security failed to act. Howard Adelman states that “At the time of the impending genocide in Rwanda, instead of acting as a deliberative body to make executive decisions – which at other times the SC has shown a capacity to do – the SC served as a diplomatic forum for contending voices reflecting different interests and powers through which the Secretariat diplomatically manoeuvred its way. The SC failed spectacularly in its deliberative functions in this case, should be held morally responsible, and can be deemed a delinquent institution” (Adelman, 2006, p.20). This further exemplifies the fact that the effectiveness of the UNSC regarding international peace relations is anything but consistently successful. Rwanda is only one example where the UN has publicly admitted their failure to react accordingly to an international crisis.

In April 1993 during the Bosnian War, the UNSC declared Srebrenica and its surroundings as a safe area which should be free from any armed attack or...
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