In 1920, a bold idea was hatched to bring the world together. After the calamity of the Great War, countries were in ruin and there was discord still lingering in the air. In an attempt to heal the world and bring the nations closer together in unity and peace, the League of Nations was born. It lasted 26 years before falling apart, as the rise of the Nazi Party and war began to rear its ugly head in Europe. But the idea of the League of Nations planted a spark in the mind of the international body. After World War II, the victors of the World War came together and drafted what became the founding constitution of the United Nations. To this day, there are currently 193 members of the U.N. I grew up idealizing the United Nations. Ban Ki Moon, the former Secretary General, was a personal hero of mine. As I grew older and became more critical of the U.N., I became increasingly disappointed. I began to realize that the United Nations was not as united as we believe it to be.
Before I go on, I must make this precursory statement: while I am criticizing the role and function of the U.N., I still hold the institution and the individuals involved in the highest regard. The foundation of the U.N. is both noble and worthy of upholding. With that statement out of the way, I can begin to explain my rationale behind my beef with the U.N. My first problem is that the U.N. actually has very little power. Certainly the U.N. does a wonderful job in humanitarian efforts, as well as condemning wrongdoing, but that’s just the problem! The U.N. simply condemns the actions of a government, without really taking action at all. One of the problems is the U.N. Chapter VI, which indicates that both parties must first strive for a peaceful solution, and if that fails, all proposals of the nature must go to the Security Council. The chapter is not inherently bad, but it makes it much more difficult to actually pass any resolution of a peacekeeping nature.
My second problem with the U.N. is the Security Council. The statement “History is written by the victor” could not ring any truer, seeing as the Security Council is made up primarily of the victors of World War II. There are five permanent countries on the Security Council: France, Russia, China, Britain, and the United States. In addition to these members, there are 10 temporary seats that rotate every two years. The problem is that the five permanent seats have the power to veto any Security Council resolution. It is important to note that the council is the only body of the U.N. that can actually give binding resolutions to other members, and holds the power of peacekeeping military actions. Binding resolutions are the only true law in the U.N., and are the only enforceable resolution type. This gives an extremely unfair advantage to these countries. I have to be honest: I am pretty confused as to why anyone would give any country, let alone a group of countries, so much power. The other problem is the veto. Any permanent member can give a veto or negate a motion without needing a second, and the resolution is dead in the water. This happens more often than it should, considering that Russia, China, and the U .S. are currently at odds with each other. So while the members of the council make grandiose claims and puff up their chests, the rest of the world suffers for their inaction.
I believe the world is a better place due to the U.N., but I also believe there is room for change. The first change I believe ought to happen is the disbandment of the permanent seats in the Security Council. Giving certain nations supreme power undermines the very nature of the Security Council. I suggest that all seats should rotate every two years. That way, other nations gain more of an international footing and the ability to check the already immense power of nations like the U.S. The second change is more of an emphasis on the International Court. Located in the Netherlands, the International Court deals with cases such as war crimes and crimes against humanity. I believe it is necessary to make all signed members of the U.N. acknowledge the power of the IC. Many countries already have, but countries such as the U.S., China, and Russia (three members of the Security Council) either have not signed or have taken back their signature. By requiring the acknowledgement of the court’s power, this ensures that no country is above the law, and that all are held responsible and equally for any crimes they may commit. I would like to conclude this article with a quote that I believe symbolizes the purpose of the U.N., and the need for change; “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”