By: Asadullah Khokhar
Since time immemorial, the humankind has been coveting for peace. All religions, philosophies and civilizations have praised the virtues of peace and have strove for its attainment. The abhorrent ugliness of war and violence compels the suffering humanity, from time to time, to reflect and make concerted efforts to restoring peace. So, harbouring this desire of a peaceful world, the international community created, out of its collective wisdom, the United Nations Organization in 1945 in the wake of the horrendous and excruciating experiences of World War II. In comparison to its predecessor i.e. the League of Nations, the United Nations (UN) proved more successful; given that it averted a large-scale war, helped in decolonizing the world and prevented violent conflicts in many parts of the world. Notwithstanding its feats, today the UN is beset with myriad structural and organizational flaws which hamstring the vital role it can play in achieving what has hitherto proved to be a pipedream: the global peace and security. Therefore, a holistic reform of the UN has become a pressing need of the time. Many nations around the world believe that peace and security will remain a distant dream without a renovated, restructured and fairly-represented United Nations that must be ready to respond, rapidly and proactively, to the perennial problems and newly-emerging challenges in the twenty-first century. Addressing a session of the UN General Assembly, former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed, “I have been pushing hard for the UN reform to make UN faster, more mobile, more effective, result-oriented, transparent and accountable.”
William Hazlitt’s words that “[t]hose who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves” underscore the importance of peace which actually is the raison d’être of the United Nations. The history, dyed red with the blood of the innocent millions, serves as a lesson for those with the penchant for waging wars. The significance of peace can also be gauged from the ruinous results of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was the collective failure of human experience. The worrisome and dreaded presence of deadly nuclear weapons in the world portends ill for the human race which, beyond doubt, is in imminent danger of complete annihilation. The present sabre rattling between North Korea and the United States, with veiled threats to attack each other with nukes, reminds one of the words of a Shakespearian character who said: “Mend your speech a little lest it should mar your fortunes.” Therefore, war is not the solution, peace is; and peace can be achieved only through understanding and dialogue. Hence, the UN is the only forum where nations can iron out their differences peacefully and amicably.
Therefore, in order to ascertain as to how far the United Nations has succeeded in its quest for the peaceful common destiny of humanity, it is important to have a glimpse of the successes the world body has achieved.
One of the greatest successes of the UN, so far, is the prevention of a large-scale war. Furthermore, it was the UN that accelerated the decolonization process post-World War II through certain mechanisms such as the Declaration on the Decolonization adopted on 14 December 1960. Likewise, the UN Peacekeeping Missions –the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, for instance – deployed in most of the conflict-ridden regions of the world reflects the commitment and victory of the UN.
Contrarily, all these accomplishments of the United Nations stand dwarfed by its inaction on matters of peace, which, as discussed earlier, is still a pipedream. The UN triumphed in the areas that matter the least and failed in those that matter the most. In fact, it has fewer successes and more failures to its credit. Resultantly, “such failures defy the very reason the UN was created for,” says Charles W. Kegley in his famed treatise ‘The World Politics: Trends and Transformations’.
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