Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 21st, 2019

66 Years of United Nations – A Reflection


66 Years of United Nations – A Reflection

The United Nations formally came into existence on October 24, 1945. We are less than a week away from the 66th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. In more than six decades of its existence, this international organization has come to play a vital role in global affairs and its contribution to lessening of human suffering has been significant the world over, more so in the Third World and the developing countries of which Afghanistan is a part.

It was the United Nations Security Council's resolution in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that paved the way for the invasion of Afghanistan, the toppling of the Taliban regime and opening of a new chapter in recent history of our country.

In post World War 2 era, the establishment of the United Nations Organization represented a renewed attempt to accomplish world peace through an international organization, as different from a world government and also a failed League of Nations that had existed prior to the establishment of UN.

The makers of the United Nations Charter were basically the victorious nations in the Second World War. They quickly got the charter signed by the concerned states while the crucial last stage of the war was still being fought In Europe and some Pacific regions.

The idea was that wartime unity and unprecedented sense of cooperation among countries would sideline the hurdles that arise so easily in times of peace and security. Thus, the UN Charter was purposefully drafted as a means to achieving justice and orderliness in international relations.

It was meant to be a document belonging to the global community as a whole and not merely a subsidiary to the victorious Allied Nations. It was also essential to de-link the UN charter from its predecessor, the League of Nations, which had largely failed to bring stability to international relations and prevent the devastating Second World War.

The UN charter was signed by representatives of 51 nations at San Francisco, U.S., on June, 26, 1945. Within three months, the charter was ratified by all of the permanent members of the Security Council and by majority of the signatories. On October 24, 1945, the United Nations officially came into existence.

The UN Charter clearly states the purposes, principles and general nature of this international organization. Maintaining international peace and security is, according to the UN Charter, the organization's foremost responsibility. The Charter envisions many means in order to achieve this objective.

They include peaceful settlement of disputes and collective security. The Security Council is assigned the primary duty for peace maintenance but also shares this function with the General Assembly as well as the International Court of Justice. Cooperating in resolving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights is another responsibility of the UN according to its Charter.

In this regard, the Economic and Social Council serves as a major organ for working towards these goals. Alleviation and prevention of human suffering is perhaps the most prominent role of the UN in its more than six decades of existence on the international stage. The UN Development Program, The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program are specialized entities under the overall structure of the United Nations Organizations that directly deal with alleviation of human suffering on a global scale.

The Charter of the United Nations provides for six principal organs of the United Nations. These are the General Assembly, the Security Council, The Economic and Social Council, The Trusteeship Council, The Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice. The Security Council is perhaps the best known organ of the UN system.

Unlike the General Assembly, it is a smaller body and can be convened on any given day as each country has its own envoy to the UN. It has 15 members with 5 of them, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China as the permanent members of the Security Council, who wield the veto right.

Each of them can summarily stall an initiative taken by the Council by way vetoing the motion made. In recent years, there have been strident calls made to reform the Security Council and repeal or expand the right to permanent membership so that the Security Council can better reflect the realities of today's world.

The frequency of the meetings of the Security Council is determined by such considerations as the existence of disputes or threatening situations that demand quick action. The willingness of states to bring such matters before the Security Council also determines whether the Council convenes a meeting on a specific issue.

In recent decades, however, there has been a widening disconnect between what is demanded of the UN and what this international organization has been able to deliver. Problems of underdevelopment, poverty, climate change, environmental degradation and threats of wars and conflicts including nuclear confrontation and nuclear proliferation, mostly in the so-called Global South, have overwhelmed the UN System, rendering it to a great degree ineffective in successfully tackling these prevailing global problems.

The UN System, on the eve of the 66th anniversary of its establishment, is in desperate need of reforms so that the organization and its organs can remain relevant at a time when the need for large-scale international cooperation is the need of the hour. In order to overcome many of the mounting problems faced by the global community on a global scale, the need for such international organizations as the UN has only increased in recent decades.

The world is bracing itself for a series of monumental happenings across the world in coming years that will only add to the scale of misery and poverty across the world. Having a UN system that is still mired in fiscal and structural indiscipline and one which can barely manage to at least respond to such challenges does not bode well for the future of this international organization.

It is high time that the long-overdue process of meaningful reforms in the UN system be undertaken. Structural and organizational failures and shortcomings should be adequately addressed and, politically, it should be reformed so that it can better reflect the desires and aspirations of the global community in a more efficient fashion.

The author is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlook afghanistan@gmail.com

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