The Strengths and Weaknesses of the United Nations
The true measure of the success for the United Nations is not how much we promise, but how much we deliver for those who need us most,” United Nations Secretary General-elect - The Strengths and Weaknesses of the United Nations introduction. The United Nations is an organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights and achievement of world peace.
It had its genesis in 1945 where fifty countries signed the United Nations Charter on the 26th June in San Francisco providing a mechanism by which countries could meet to find solutions, ensure peace and security in developing friendly relations among nations as well as promoting human rights and better standards of living. From thence forth the United Nations as a neutral entity have lived up to its aims and objectives for the greater good of maintaining a stable political atmosphere. Contrariwise, there persist deep seated shortcomings of the functions the establishment.
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As such the pros and cons of the United Nations would be examined. Primarily, a major strength of the United Nations is its efforts in elucidating the crisis from which it emerged. As such many of the issues which the world was confronted with in 1945 have been addressed. This can be seen with the organization’s mediatory efforts in resolving conflict in territories. Intrinsically, particular reference can be observed in the Cold War Era 1947-1953 where the world was in a state of political and military tension between the powers of the western world led by the United States and the communist world led by the Soviet Union.
As the world was divided East and West, Capitalist and Communist, US and USSR, the United Nations had its first opportunities to establish its role as a mediator in the international system. Moreover, the United Nations was involved in the establishment of an Israeli state on the Eastern Mediterranean coast. Violence erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinians and their Arab allies in response to the foundation of the state of Israel. In 1948, the United Nations implemented the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (U. N. T. S.O) “to supervise the Armistice Agreements between Israeli forces and its Arab neighbours. ” The United Nations, through the U. N. T. S. O worked as the mediatory force to settle conflict between the heads of both groups by setting a precedent for Peacekeeping work. As such this strength of the United Nations in solving problems can be seen as efficient as it has slowed down aggression and ensured peaceful negotiations between belligerent parties. Good works is a further additional strength of the United Nations and its family of agencies.
For instance, there is the preservation of the cultural treasures of the world- ancient monuments in 81 countries including Greece, Egypt, Italy, and Indonesia have been protected the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, and international conventions, improvement in freedom of expression and access to science, improvement in education in developing countries where over 60% of adults are literate and 90% of children attend school.
There has also been the promotion of democracy where the United Nations has enabled people in many countries to participate in free and fair elections including those held in Cambodia, Namibia, El Salvador and South Africa. Additionally, there has been the promotion of women’s rights, particularly in Middle Eastern countries, to have greater control over their lives. The United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) have supported projects in improving the quality of life for women in over 100 countries including marketing opportunities, access to food production and so on.
However, despite these strengths there exist deep seated shortcomings of the organization in the contemporary world. Notable of these is the fact that the world today is a different world than the epoch in which the United Nations was born. At that time the issues facing the organization was the achievement of peace and security in a world of great powers, the insistence of the United States that the European powers should grant independence and self-government to their colonies and so on. Nonetheless, some of these remain but many have changed.
The world and its political atmosphere have undergone a massive transformation however the structures of the United Nations have remain unchanged. These structures have failed to keep pace with the new demands which must be presently addressed. Consequently, given these circumstances the United Nations now faces increasing demand for change both in its institutions and in the subject matters of its concern. Lastly, another weakness involves that of corruption and mismanagement. There have been reports of a cascade of scandals at the hands of the United Nations.
Most notable of these is the wholesale corruption of the Oil-for-Food relief program in Iraq, disappearance of United Nations funds and the exposure of a transnational network of sexual misconduct by United Nations peacekeepers in Africa. To add, there have been political pressure, favouritism and cronyism plaguing appointments to United Nations peace operations. As such it can be examined there exist a culture of impunity where the United Nations operates with secrecy and is shielded by diplomatic immunity.
Consequently, it is no doubt that this result in institutional weakness and a staff that is less than ideally equipped to complete the required tasks. In essence, the United Nations as an organization contains both pros and cons in its performance and functions. Its strengths emphasizes its utmost importance in the international arena in terms of it neutral stance and mediatory efforts however this is questionable when and examination of its weaknesses is undertaken.