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THE UNITED NATIONS Failures, Snags and Reforms


By: Abdul Rasool Syed

Ensuring peace has been a primordial and universal aspiration of the mankind inhabiting the globe. The enlightened people, groups and nations have, from time to time, taken various initiatives in this respect. The urgency to establish an international organization for building peace was vehemently felt for the first time after the catastrophic events of the two World Wars that resulted in casualties of millions of people. In the aftermath of World War I, the League of Nations was established, but it had the seeds of its own destruction since its very conception. With a maximum membership of fifty-nine, it remained predominately a European organization. It made some progress in economic and social spheres. However, the outbreak of the Second World War was the death knell for this bloc as it abjectly failed to thwart the war and its members openly flouted the principles of peace.

However, the longing for a world body having the mandate to build and maintain peace did not wither away; rather it grew sharper with the eruption of the WWII. Consequently, in 1941, the western allies in concert against Hitler’s Germany started calling themselves “United Nations”. The Moscow Declaration of 1943 stressed the necessity of the establishment of an international organization for peace. As a result, fifty nations sent their representatives to the San Francisco Conference in 1945, which drafted the Charter. It formally came into existence on October 1945.

It is an undeniable fact that the UN had, in more than seven decades of its existence, been successful in averting the large-scale wars. This, indubitably, is its remarkable achievement. Even during the Cold War, when the two superpowers remained at daggers drawn, no direct armed conflict ever took place, thanks to the United Nations.

However, despite all the resources and the elaborate paraphernalia it always has at its disposal, the performance of the UN in dealing with the burning international issues has not been up to the mark. It has not been able to achieve the objectives its founding fathers had desired for and it has not really discharged its functions, in its operations and activities, in a manner a world organization is expected to. It has failed to live up to the expectations of the people of the world. What U Thant, the third Secretary-General of the United Nations (1961-1971) said more than three decades ago probably holds good even today. He said, “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 evils, injustices and aspirations of man are being brought, it has helped to prevent local conflicts from turning into world-wide conflagrations … it has condemned and fought colonialism, discrimination and racism in all its forms … it has looked for into the future, warning nations and men of world-wide dangers ahead. But the United Nations has done well enough.”

Undoubtedly, history would have been different had the UN taken a firm stand against the Zionists when they were driving out the Arabs from their homeland; had the UN intervened when Kashmir, historically, culturally and religiously an integral part of Pakistan, was snatched by Hindu imperialists; had the UN been effective and strong enough, thousands of innocent civilians would not have died in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Bosnia, Chechnya, Myanmar, Vietnam and in other parts of the world.

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

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