70 Years of the United Nations | Successes, Failures and Way Forward

70 years of the UN



  • UN in Historical Context – Mankind’s Last Best Hope
  • UN in Hypothetical Framework: A Saga of Not Impeccable in Practice but Still Operational in Law


  • Avoiding another large-scale war
  • Hegemony of powerful nations so far challenged
  • Widening international law
  • Awareness by media and civil society regarding organization
  • Commendable efforts for humanitarian assistance and development


  • Failed to meet charter’s demands
  • Polarization and tension during Cold War
  • Tension between the UN and member countries
  • Dichotomy between theoretical and practical international law
  • Tension between the UN and United States
  • Gap between the haves and have-nots


  • UN is all about P5
  • Reforming Security Council
  • Coordination among Heads of Member-States and Government
  • Still hope for the best



JWT eassy of the monthThe United Nations turned 70, but fragile and feeble, not in size, but in terms of its authority and credibility. The organization marked its 70th birthday with the world facing harsh, synchronized and interrelated crises. Terrorism is taking roots in diverse areas, exclusionary, and corrupt governance. A renaissance in arms race and nuclear proliferation is on peak. Climate change is melting ice caps and altering critical weather patterns, affecting rich and poor alike. And while globalization, accelerated by the internet, has connected us closer than ever before, but it has also opened doors to boundless illegal trade, espionage and theft.

The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is an opportunity to reflect to look back on the UN’s history and take stock of its enduring achievements. It is also an opportunity to spotlight where the UN has failed in reference with demands of its charter, and the international community as a whole needs to redouble its efforts to meet challenges in current and projected timeframe across the three pillars of its work: development, peace and security, and human rights.

Emerging from the remnants of WWII, fronting the chain-reaction of violence, brutality, bloodshed, hunger, and migration, and botched experience of the League of Nations, the UN came into existence on 24 October 1945, envisioned by its founders to preserve humanity and its subsequent generations from the menace of war. The UN was created to pursue the twin goals of peace and prosperity, and for the realization of these goals, therefore, it was hailed as “mankind’s last best hope”.

Essaying the UN’s 70 years performance, its successes can be gauged from the very fact that so far it has managed to avert the outbreak of the third world war. The UN system, born in a spirit of ‘Never Again’ in 1945, is not ageing well. A security council that seems to deal only in magnifying insecurity; peacekeepers who can’t keep the peace. Ifs and buts in law and practice has been in competition; where vital developments are limited to papers only. Despite some remarkable achievements, the world body is still a tarnished brand that needs fixing. The proposed reforms of the UN is a buzzword in international politics. The UN was founded with the stated aim of maintaining peace among nations, but the reality is that not only has it consistently weak to thwart international conflicts, but it has also played no small part in causing them.


Notwithstanding the dichotomy of law and practice, the influence of UN on world politics cannot be overlooked due to its significance. The prime motive of UN’s founders was to circumvent WWIII, and the organization has succeeded in that Reverence. Unlike its predecessor the League of Nations, United Nations in its seventy years of existence has been successful in averting a large scale War. The UN has established a custom of rules for the use of force in the modern world and has placidly resolved various international disputes since its creation.

The hegemony of powerful nations has been challenged by the emergence of host of developing countries. This development is destined to enhance the prospects of UN’s effectiveness. Individually as well as collectively, these nations are vying for reforms in UN to have their effective say in the decision making process of this organization. The prominent among these are G4 nations of India, Brazil, Germany and Japan and ‘Uniting for Consensus’ group member of Coffee Club, Italy Pakistan, Mexico, Turkey and Egypt etc. This would result in increasing representation of the people and democratization of UN which eventually would augment the effectiveness and prestige of this world body.

Since World War II, in one manner or another, the UN has been involved in each international crisis and major war. The clout of UN is hoped to widen owing to the expansion of International Law. In fact it is International Law which provides basic principles and customs which govern international relations and diplomatic ties among nations of the world. It also sets grounds for resolving mutual conflicts amicably. To foster international Law, UN has initiated hundreds of International conventions and treaties ranging from agreements governing bilateral and multilateral trade, environment protection to diplomatic relations. International Court of Justice and Security Council also seek guidance from this Law. Therefore, expansion of International Law is a happy omen for the brighter future of UN.

There prevails a broader awareness among populace concerning the importance of this organization. People today are more conscious about their rights and duties as well as for the want and significance of peace. Thanks to the constructive role played by media and civil society, it has been inculcated in the minds of citizen of this global village that UN only can prevent major conflicts in the world and can preserve their fundamental rights. This understanding has positively affected the decision-making process of UN where aspirations of the masses are considered. Consequently, this wakefulness has proved to be instrumental in making UN a more potent world body.

The partial success of this organization in past and numerous developments in present demonstrate that the forthcoming role of UN is going to be effective. It has earned immense reverence for itself on account of its highly commendable efforts for humanitarian assistance and development. The efforts of its various organs and agencies for eliminating poverty, improving socio economic justice, protecting fundamental human rights specially those of marginalized classes and protecting environment have cultivated among people a significant esteem and a sense of ownership towards this organization. UN’s response and tremendous contribution in the wake of War, famine and natural calamity spanning the world from killing fields of Cambodia to the burning building of Dili and from devastating Tsunami to deadly Earthquakes in Pakistan are clear manifestations of the effectiveness of this organization.


The big picture of the United Nations in meeting the demands of its charter is bleak as the UN has miserably failed to meet its charter demands. It remains a fact that UN has not been able to fulfil its objectives as its founding fathers had desired. It has not measured up to the demands of its esteemed charter. For instance, the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Darfur conflict of 2005, Khmer Rouge practice of 1979, Srebrenica Massacre of 1995, UN’s polarization from war between LTTE and Sri Lankan Army, failure of the non-proliferation treaty, disregarding Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) along with the Convention Against Genocide by two super powers during Cold War, dilemma of vetoes by China and Russia halting any international intervention to prevent genocide in Syria, refusing reports by senior officials of UN from Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, Haiti, and Mozambique that revealed a shocking trend; areas with Child Sex Abuse Scandals, issues of Palestine and Kashmir which are perfect examples of the prejudicial treatment of big powers, the American Unilateral attack on Iraq and completely sidelining the international body, and lastly wide-ranging catastrophe in controlling the monster of terrorism. All these serious issues has seriously undermined the credibility of this institution.

Immediately after the inception of World body, the harmony of action disappeared among Allied Powers and a cold war started between the communist bloc and non-communist bloc. The polarization of the globe along ideological lines which has also played havoc with the effectiveness of UN. Besides this, inter faith harmony and inter civilization feelings of tolerance and peaceful co-existence have been injured badly. As a result of this polarization, the progress on certain long standing issues has not been made. This contentious issue has not been given serious attention only because of the acrimony between Islamic world and the Western Bloc. Similarly the West has always refrained from speaking vociferously in favor of the right of self-determination of Kashmiris and Palestinians. The vested interests and Inter and intra faith disharmony have also a lot to do with current Syrian Question.

There is persistent tension between the UN’s role as an autonomous actor and its role as a comity of nations. On one hand, UN can call on member nations for action, but on another, enforcing its own resolutions is critical because of its commitment to the principle of sovereignty; asserting policy-formulation of each state sovereignly . The UN has emphasized the right of the Security Council to be the sole body with the power. However, this claimed authority does not always work. In approximate cases, especially in a violent conflict, UN seemed fail to assemblage support for force to interfere. For instance, the UN failed to stop the 1994 genocide in Rwanda killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, just because of lacking support for intervention from UN member states.

Amidst the International Law of the UN Charter and the diplomacy that the member nations conduct on a daily basis, the Charter only has worth to the magnitude that members follow its provisions. Work outside or ignoring elements of the charter, that’s up to the member states. Peacekeeping, for instance, has become a key UN diplomatic function but is never mentioned in the Charter. Effective diplomacy that satisfies the needs of the member countries consumes much of the customary business of the UN, is just trying to maintain the prestige of international law.

The lasting tautness exists among the UN and United States; the world’s super power. The UN constrains US by means of creating the only coalition which could rival U.S. energy hat of all other states. In addition, US has a strip of isolationism in its overseas policy that runs counter to the idea of the UN. But the UN moreover advantages US by numerous means. It amplifies U.S. power because the US commonly leads the UN coalition. It enables keep global peace, which the US is not rich or robust sufficient to do by itself. And it helps in maintaining the world unwavering, providing a suitable arena for worldwide economic growth.

The organization has not been effective in bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots. The disparity between the developed and developing states, as the developing states represents major representations, both in terms of number of states and population. The developed world, in the meantime, controls majority of financial and military assets offered to the UN. Developing nations want the chance to build their societies, but to do that they need assistance from the richer, already developed countries, lots of that are reluctant to spend their assets on others. The skirmish in setting priorities and distributing scarce assets is a steady tension within the UN.


70 years of the UN 1The Security Council’s P5 remain disposed to collaborate in regions where they observe a prevalent concern, such as , negotiations with Iran on nuclear issue, or in sub-Saharan Africa, where UN peacekeeping missions perpetuate to be assemble by unanimous resolutions of the Security Council, ample of which perpetuate to beseech the obligation to defend, in spite of the bitterness following the NATO action in Libya, which was perceived by numerous as mistreating the predominance given under this banner resolution of the Security Council.

The humanitarian confrontations perpetuate to be intimidating, particularly by elevating figure of people evacuated not only by conflict but by complicated array of dynamics together with climate-change. Hitherto, so forth their criticisms, rare visually perceive anybody except the UN adept of foremost as well as harmonize the replication. Likewise, while humanity as so far by no designates found an ample replication itself to the climate-change threat, the UN is nevertheless customarily visually perceived as the foreseeable medium where such comebacks must be knocked-out and synchronized.

The prerequisite to strengthen the International Body is most conspicuous essentially in the peace and security field. The Syrian anguish particularly, perpetuating yearly, makes a travesty of the founders’ tenacity ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ and the role of the P5 seems increasingly outmoded to the Member States extensively. Reforming Security Council is an immediate-required and it cannot be accomplished lacking a compromise, which will involve agonizing concessions both by those who seek to become new permanent members and by those who seek to refuse them that rank.

Such a coordination will require to be negotiated by Heads of State and Government, and will accordingly take time. Meanwhile, the membership can minimize adjustments which do not need Charter amendment. The existing P5 can resolve to work harder for consensus on efficacious action, in cases where the lives and fortune of entire populations are in jeopardy. Perhaps most consequential, the General Assembly can insist on a reasonable, more apparent method to choose the adjoining Secretary-General, on whose leadership the prestige of the UN in the years forward will decisively vary. Though, there is still a general agreement that despite its constraints and failures the UN is essential to the stability of the world. Consequently, it is high-time that international community concentrate its reflection on the Reawakening of this world significant organization.


To clinch is to restate that despite the failures of the UN and its inherent shortcomings, it is difficult to imagine a world without such multilateral organization in which the values of peaceful coexistence through political independence, mutual self-respect and territorial integrity of each country, at least, exist on paper and these norms themselves could impose a check upon the big powers’ ambitions. Concluding in the words of U-Thant, the ex-SG of UN appear to be most appropriate. “The United Nations born of the Charter has done well, but it has not done well enough. In a sense it is a great parliament of mankind to which guild, injustice and aspirations of mankind are being brought, it has helped to prevent local conflicts from turning into worldwide conflagrations. It has assisted 1000 million people to gain independence, it has condemned and fought colonialism, discrimination and racism in all its forms, and it has looked far into future, warning nations and men of worldwide dangers ahead. But the United Nations has not done well enough”. However, the UN remains perhaps the only available structure and a global mechanism to save humanity from anarchy and disaster.

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