By: Meredith Cruz
Opinions Staff Writer
The United Nations is an international governing group that has been around since the end of WWII. It was modeled after the League on Nations, which was formed after WWI. The U.N. is a good idea, but it is ineffective in its peace keeping ability.
The U.N. is composed of a large majority of world states, representing 98% of the world’s nations. In order to be a member, according to the UN Charter, each nation must agree to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.” If almost every nation follows this charter, then why is there no peace?
The U.N. Charter states “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” This means that members of the UN are prohibited from being aggressive towards other nations. So what’s the matter? We certainly don’t see the results of such actions.
A big reason for the ineffectiveness of the U.N. is its structural biases. For example, there are five nations that control the Security Council, which is in charge of maintaining peace and security. If there is a perceived threat, it is the Council’s decision whether or not to take action. These countries, called the “Big Five” include: the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom. They are given permanent seats in the U.N.’s Security Council, among many other perks.
The influences from the Big Five do not lie solely in their permanent residence in the Council. Each of these five nations is allowed to veto any substantial issues brought to the Council. According to Stephen C Schlesinger, a substantial issue pertains to issues relating to enforcing measures, investigations, and imposition of settlements. This can be assumed to be anything brought to the Security Council. These five nations are also very powerful. The Federation of American Scientists reported in 2012 that these five nations also lead the world in nuclear forces.
They can and have used their power to destroy or aid their opposition or allies. The power and influence delegated by the Big Five helps them to make decisions based on what best benefits their nation. Self-importance, economic ties, among other reasons can override what is right. This has been proven throughout the U.N.s history.
According to Schlesinger, an instance of abusing veto power came from France after WWII. Syria and Lebanon were independent countries and France wanted to restore colonization. When plans for investigations and enforcements came to the Council on behalf of Syria and Lebanon, France was able to veto the proposal for its own purposes.
Another instance of veto abuse was by the Soviet Union. During the first ten years of U.N., the Soviet Union used its veto power 79 times. According to Robert Gorman, most of the vetoes denied nations acceptance into the U.N. who supported westernized policies. The conflict between the political ideologies of two of the Big Five caused the U.N. to spitefully veto those who sided with democracy. These vetoes escalated into the Cold War.
In the past sixty years, since the birth of the U.N., there has not been enough worldwide peace to say that the U.N. is effective. One can argue that there is less war then in previous years. This could be true. A lot of things have changed. The world population has grown considerably, and world domination is not as strong of a threat as it was in the past. We no longer have to live off of survival instincts as much as we had in the past centuries. Technology has brought us a long way. Nuclear weapons are a major reason for the decrease in conflicts. Nuclear weapons can destroy a nation from thousands of miles away without the aggressor having to get its hands dirty. All it takes to win is a click of a button from a computer, and the opposition is eliminated.
For an international peace organization to be effective, it must be objective, similarly to our judicial system. Capitalism is a mainstream ideology that promotes self-advancement. The United Nations is exhibiting capitalistic ideals. There needs to be an equal distribution of power, such as the check and balances system. World peace will never happen until we, as a world, can look to benefit “ourselves” instead of our “self.” Either that, or aliens attack the Earth and then we have to work together to fight them. Personally, I would not hold my breath waiting for either scenario.