The University of Oklahoma
The topic of this paper is to determine if the United Nations is still an important component of international relations. This research paper will then argue that the United Nations is indeed still important to international relations, but needs some reform. Therefore, this paper is set out to focus on the history of the United Nations, the problems of the United Nations, ways to improve global governance, and why the United Nations is so important to international relations.
II. History of the United Nations Involvement in International Relations
Among the UN’s arrival in 1945, the United Nations persistent state of change between various international stakeholders has been seeking improvement over the effectiveness of the structure (Blanchfield, 2011). Thus, in a world where interdependence and transnational processes obtain greater cooperation, and to also maintain its limitations where the autonomy and primacy of the state remain unchallenged (Childers & Urquhart, 1996). The United Nations role in international relations has simply been placed in the line of demand towards peace and security since its arrival in 1945 (Schaefer, 2011).
To reach such goals of international peace and security, the UN must decide on the most effective and clear decisions within and among all member states (Childers & Urquhart, 1996).
It is then critical that the UN responds adequately to these diverse crises before the international community feels that the current ‘old’ frameworks are a failure to an effective multilateral intervention (Childers & Urquhart, 1996). According to the writings of Childers and Urquhart (1996), “The great merit of many excellent case studies collected is that they demonstrate that these disagreements are more often than not, rooted in conflicts of interest and value among member states” (p.97). This may serve to explain why in some instances the UN does not function well enough for fairly predictable decisions to be reached.
With in some cases of extreme failures, such as the Gulf War, the peacekeeping strategy may have never worked in the first place given the Iraqi leadership perception of there selves (Childers & Urquhart, 1996). However, in the case of Cambodia shows the effectiveness and successful functions of the UN intervention (Childers & Urquhart, 1996). The UNs envision of peacekeeping was largely displayed by the successfully organizing elections in Cambodia, where in a country ran by refugees, the UN pushed for the formation of a government of popular legitimacy, which was unheard of in this country (Childers & Urquhart, 1996).
Though, as a few passed since the UN ‘solved’ the Cambodian conflict, the country drew back to civil war (Childers & Urquhart, 1996). Childers and Urquhart’s (1996) study found that even with the outcome of Cambodia was led back to conflict, there were also positive lessons learned in the UN, “International consensus and support behind the peace process, unambiguously and repeatedly expressed by the Security Council throughout the UNTAC operation, greatly facilitated the task of the UN in the field” (p.98).
A great deal of disappointment has also developed between he United Nations. A lot of the failure is pointed towards the divergent interests among the member states that prevent the organization to make timely action (Schaefer, 2011). III. Problems of the United Nations
The United Nations is the major instrument of global governance, thus is again in a crisis (Murithi, 2003). The urge for reform is high due to the challenges of globalization and the impact it has on security and development around the world (Laipson, 2006). In Murithi’s (2003) writing, foreign Minister of Poland, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, proposed that there need to be a new charter for the international system to address obstacles of the upcoming decades. The proposal is to establish a more effective framework to deal with problems that are faced today (Murithi, 2003). A majority of these problems are to face the dealings of new forms of terrorism and strengthening the global human rights regime, and governance (Murithi, 2003).
In many ways, such as the inability to intervene in Rwanda in April 1994, demonstrates a collapse in global governance (Murithi, 2003). Murithi (2003) describes a reason within the UN charter that shows why the council was unable to intervene successfully: to veto provision within the constitution of the UN Security Council, it seems, and it has now become increasingly clear, that the UN charter was drafted to safeguard the interests of the powers who were involved in drafting it and therefore it lacks the ability to globally respond (in a democratic way) to the interests of middle-level and weaker states. (p.7) The Security Council and its failure to compromise with other actor-member states led to a collapse in global governance and resulted with genocide in Rwanda (Murithi, 2003).
The basic of the United Nations and its membership reflects the equality of its states (Weiss, 2010). A gap is growing between the world’s major issues and the ability of international decision-making; this is the result of sovereignty’s continuing gap (Weiss, 2010). The powers of major powers are not only the only ones that hold such collective policymaking. The small and poor, newer and less powerful states are just as protective of their sovereignty as those of the big and powerful (Weiss, 2010). Indeed, for national decisions to be met, compromising among member states is apparently the basis to make decisions, or to avoid them.
Another problem that has been in discussion (mostly among powerful states) is the issue of UN member states not paying enough to the UN (Schaefer, 2011). For example, the United States pays around 22 percent of the UNs regular budget, while Sierra Leone pays a striking 0.001 percent (Schaefer, 2011). With those types of numbers, there is no wonder why the United States cares so much about what the UN does with its money. However, these least-assessed countries control most of the General Assemblies votes (Weiss, 2010). This can cause problems to the United States and it implements toward reform, while these weaker countries form-voting blocs in attempts that block decision approval (Weiss, 2010). This led to the 1985 Kassebaum-Solomon Amendment to Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal year 1986 and 1987 (Schaefer, 2011).
Even though the countries that contributed more than 85 percent of the UN budget, they were still unable to prevent budget to increase because the countries that pay 10 percent have a majority of the votes (Weiss, 2010). It was not until 1994 that the UN created an inspector general to monitor the UN operations (Schaefer, 2011). The Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) main goal is to investigate the UNs auditing unit and to keep the UN form mismanagements (Schaefer, 2011).
Maintaining peace and security is a primary responsibility of the United Nations in international relations. With the help of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, the UN peacekeeping is being investigated for corruption schemes, instances of wrongdoing of sexual abuse by peacekeepers, and finical irregularities (Schaefer, 2011). The crimes of sexual abuse by peacekeepers are far too often not punished (Schaefer, 2011). However, the United States and other member states successfully pressured the UN to require stricter mandates for peacekeeping troops, and troops are now required to undergo trainings on conduct (Schaefer, 2011). After all these recent requirements, sexual abuse by the peacekeepers still continues. Without any type of reform, serious problems will likely continue and expand, undermining the UN’s likelihood to continue their mission of maintaining international peace and security (Schaefer, 2011).
Regarding to peace and security, the realm is still trusting on institutions that were made well over 50 years ago that try to avoid and administer present day encounters (Murithi, 2003). Is it possible to heal the United Nations with such different views from across the world? With recasting national interests in terms of good global citizenship, redressing the North-South quagmire, and pursuing the possibility of making the UN work more coherently as delivering as one should indeed strengthen the performance and productivity of the United Nations (Weiss, 2010). IV. Improving Global Governance
The prescription for recasting national interests of good global citizenship lies in the “responsibility to protect” or “R2P” doctrine (Weiss, 2010). In this doctrine it defines the state sovereignty as not being absolute, but reliant on a measure of respect for human rights (Weiss, 2010). Whether big or small, the UN member states should apprehend that they have a long-term, an honorable obligation, and to endorse multilateral cooperation (Weiss, 2010).
To illustrate R2P, it argues that if a state is unwilling to honor these responsibilities, then the responsibility to protect the rights is then in the hands of the international community of states (Weiss, 2010). The breakdown of this doctrine is helpfully described by Weiss (2010), “to move on in the direction of reframing state sovereignty, a break-through in values after centuries of passive, mindless acceptance of the proposition that the state sovereignty is a license to kill” (p.325). This proposition is meant for repeating mistakes, such as Rwanda, to not be repeated.
To solve or to try and solve the North-South quagmire has become a major discussion in the UN. The United States is particularly a problem, due to not being apart of any coalitions in the International Criminal Court (Weiss, 2010). With many divides becoming wider, the United States should try and build some types of bridges to ensure legitimate coalitions, which could increase better cooperation among member states (Weiss, 2010). For the future of the world organization and international politics, both North and South must engage with one another in a civil fashion.
The difficulties of reaching agreements in the UN, or the failures to make decisions are problems that make this organization weaker than it should be (Clark, 2012). In some cases, such as the veto power in the UN Security Council, and other bodies where a full consensus must be met to get approval is a key concern in relation decision-making (Clark, 2012). A reform of veto power in the UN Security Council is a tall order to fill, and the discussion for expansion of the Security Council suggests that it would resemble today’s geopolitics (Clark, 2012). However, as Mark Mallock Brown (former administer of the UN Department Program) suggested in Weiss (2010) writing that, “the UN is the only institution where reform is a more popular topic around water coolers than sex” (p.326). A reform on the most powerful organ in the UN (Security Council), would entirely be a long and tedious process that would make for many more ‘water cooler’ topics.
That reform, if it comes, would need to be flexible, so that in the future the international community will not repeat how the council does not represent geopolitical realities (Clark, 2012). The UN Security Council is needed today, but the outdated structures of veto power can decrease an effective co-operation (Clark, 2012). Now, more than ever, we need the United Nations to take collective action. V. The Importance of the United Nations
The world has many global problems that require global solutions, and if the UN did not already exist, we would simply invent it (Martone, 2010). There is simply no other global institution like this. The United Nations mat at times act slow or in disagreement, but this institution is so vital to human rights, standards of living, war and disasters that no single nation could do on their own (Martone, 2010).
In a 21st Century world where dangers are past boundaries, the UN does undeniably work (Martone, 2010). The UN enhances the need to address global challenges, multilateral engagement to discuss issues with other countries, and it helps build global networks that the 21st Century economy depends on (Brimmer, 2011). The irony of that at a time where technological advances are at an all time high, however, there is also an all time high in poverty (Brimmer, 2011). These global problems that happen in many countries would not be able to get back on their feet if it was not for this powerful institution (Martone, 2010).
The United Nations has dealt with many foreign policy challenges since existent, which has been instrumental in nuclear proliferation (Brimmer, 2011). In recent years the Un Security Council has mad strict sanctions on Iran and North Korea (Brimmer, 2011). These sanctions have made vessel shipments to be inspected for any illegal nuclear weapons (Brimmer, 2011).
Since the morning of September 11th, there have been many nations engaged with war on terrorism (Tackaberry, 2007). The engagement of such terrorism has been an important topic with the UN (Tackaberry, 2007). With the UN Security Council applying sanctions on nations that use terrorist’s tactics, through universal application, the sanctions isolate and freeze assets of these terrorists and their supporters (Brimmer, 2011).
However, the lack of international enforcement mechanisms brings trouble to a regime that could disrupt world order (Tackaberry, 2007). Unlike in 1945 when the UN was established, today’s member-states hold the positions of power tightly and are unwilling to sacrifice peace (Tackaberry, 2007). The act of terrorism is no easy task for the UN, but to address humanitarian issues, the Human Rights Council continues to respond effectively (Brimmer, 2011). This council handles human rights situations with hard action that defends attempts in direct negotiation to seek a path for peace (Brimmer, 2011).
To seek peace and security, the UN Peacekeepers intervene in some of the most pressing conflicts today (Martone, 2010). However, the problems of sexual abuse and other occurrences still happen far too often with the UN Peacekeepers (Schaefer, 2011). But the UN Peacekeepers are the second largest deployed military force in the world (Martone, 2010). The intervention for maintaining peace and security through the Peacekeepers is also relatively low in price (Martone, 2010). The UN Peacekeepers of a large military power is missioned for peace and security to be maintained across the world (Schaefer, 2011). VI. Conclusion
The world has changed dramatically since the United Nations was founded in 1945. Of course, the United Nations can be improved to work more efficiently. With the United Nations, all nations can come together and discuss and develop international standards, there just is not anything like it (Martone, 2010). Global governance is messy, untidy, and incoherent, with the many different actors all-moving at different paces and directions (Weiss, 2009). But to protect peace and security for all international relations this UN administration continues to pursue multilateral engagement therefore that international stability can advance (Brimmer, 2011). As President Obame was noted in Martone’s (2010) article, “the United Nations is imperfect but it is also indispensable” (para.17).
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Cite this The United Nations, A Tool for International Relations
The United Nations, A Tool for International Relations. (2016, May 18). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-united-nations-a-tool-for-international-relations/