United Nations: A Failure?

Last updated: March 9, 2017

Should the United Nations be judged a failure?

United Nations: A Failure?
Yes because...

The main objective of the United Nations at its founding was to prevent future wars and suffering on...

The main objective of the United Nations at its founding was to prevent future wars and suffering on a mass scale. As millions have died in hundreds of conflicts around the world in more than fifty years since the UN’s establishment, it must be condemned as a failure.
No because...
Despite horrific suffering in many countries, the world has avoided another devastating global conflict in which tens of millions might die, and for this the UN can take much credit. It has also resisted aggression in regional conflicts in Korea and the Middle East, helping to deter future invasions, and acted as an intermediary in making peace in many other conflicts, e.g the Iran-Iraq war. Consider how much more violent the world might have been without the United Nations.

United Nations: A Failure?
Yes because...

Another key objective of the United Nations has been to promote human rights worldwide, yet these co...

Another key objective of the United Nations has been to promote human rights worldwide, yet these continue to be violated by many regimes, often on a horrific scale, as in the genocidal civil wars in the Balkans and Central Africa in the 1990s. Given that voting rights in the UN General Assembly are not linked to a regime’s human rights record, and that gross human rights abusers such as China sit on the UN Security Council, it is no surprise that the UN has failed in this part of its agenda.
No because...
Human rights abuses usually take place within states, often in civil wars, so the UN has no mandate to intervene directly against them – as it was explicitly set up with a policy of non-interference in internal affairs it is unfair to count this a failure. Nonetheless, it has placed human rights on the international agenda, making billions of people aware of what are considered norms and shaming many regimes into improving their policies. Even China makes great efforts to claim its human rights record is better than that of countries such as the USA, albeit differently defined.

United Nations: A Failure?
Yes because...

The UN suffers from a bloated bureaucracy, in which seniority is not linked to ability, resulting in...

The UN suffers from a bloated bureaucracy, in which seniority is not linked to ability, resulting in painfully slow decision-making and operational failure in such crises as Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Some UN organisations, such as UNESCO have been viewed as so corrupt countries such as the USA and the UK have withdrawn from them, while the US Congress has long withheld part of the dues it owes to the UN in protest against corruption and money-wasting.
No because...
Errors in strategic decision-making are not the fault of the UN secretariat but of its masters in the Security Council. There have been past abuses, but these are used as a stick to beat the UN with by those, principally in the USA, who are against the UN for other reasons. In recent years considerable progress has been made in improving the efficiency and meritocratic nature of the secretariat, although this has been hampered by the failure of the USA to pay its dues, which are needed to compensate those made redundant by restructuring.

United Nations: A Failure?
Yes because...

There are also institutional problems associated with the General Assembly and the Security Council,...

There are also institutional problems associated with the General Assembly and the Security Council, whereby GA resolutions with widespread support can be stymied by a single veto from one of the Permanent 5. This has led to unilateral action by countries such as the USA and organisations such as NATO, undermining the authority of the UN, and to a lack of credibility for the UN in dealing with issues such as Israel and Palestine, where the USA among the P5 has strong interests.
No because...
Since the end of the Cold War UN decision-making has been much improved, as key votes in the Security Council are no longer likely to result in deadlock between eastern and western blocs. In any case, P5 countries try to avoid using their veto power if at all possible, due to the negative image this creates at home and abroad. Instead the Security Council acts as a forum in which positions can be explained and compromises hammered out, even if action is not necessarily collectively authorised. Clearly the workings of the Security Council could be changed to diminish the importance of the P5, and to make action easier to take, but this does not in itself render the unreformed UN a failure.

United Nations: A Failure?
Yes because...

Much of the international progress made since 1945 has not involved the UN at all. The Cold War and...

Much of the international progress made since 1945 has not involved the UN at all. The Cold War and mutually assured destruction kept the peace between the great powers, while institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, GATT and the WTO have functioned independently of the UN in promoting greater prosperity.
No because...
Other organisations have also been important in bringing greater peace and prosperity to the world, but none have the authority the UN derives from the participation of almost every state in the world. In international crises the Security Council is the forum for discussion, deal-making, arbitration and understanding. The UN has also made huge contributions to global progress through its agencies, particularly those dealing with refugees, the World Health Organisation and Unicef. By its efforts smallpox has been eliminated, healthcare improved and education promoted. Such programmes are not often noticed, but the UN’s responsibility for them should be seen as a key part of its success.


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Me

The UN has morphed into a world government and is unelected, it is run by people who mean well but they are like children in their “its not fair” phase, the world isn’t fair never has been, never will be.
The UN is an unelected globalist elite organisation who’s sole aim seems to be to redistribute wealth, and we all know what happened to the soviets and more recently Venezuela.
Time for the UN to go back to peace keeping and stop trying to rule the world.

Gary M Powell

Sure, there have been substantial episodes of failure and inefficiency as part of the UN’s track record, but the daily UN development activities in over a hundred nations add up. Over time, the educational, health, economic, conflict resolution and infrastructural benefits of many UN programs are boosting individuals and groups to take a more central part in their nations’ well being as globalization brings its challenges and opportunities. This is why host countries invite UN bodies into their systems–to enact solutions where problems exist that fulfill the UN Charter. If the UN was such a complete failure as some suggest, there would be little benefit to host nations and most of the UN’s outreach would cease to existence. From AIDS to clean water, peacekeeping to training teachers, the United Nations continues to plow ground and reap a harvest and the whole world is beneficiary.

Paul

UN is a failure because… Palestine, Ukraine, Aleppo to name but three. As long the five permanent members have a veto the UN is nothing an extension of political posturing and brinkmanship. A waste of space.

tia alexander.

“Given that voting rights in the UN General Assembly are not linked to a regime’s human rights record, and that gross human rights abusers such as China sit on the UN Security Council, it is no surprise that the UN has failed in this part of its agenda.”

So you’re saying that since China & other human rights abusers sit on the UN Security Council, they aren’t able to be reprimanded for not granting its citizens human rights? Why is that? Why won’t the UN do something about it?