Essay Topic: The United Nation has failed to measure up to the demands of its charter
- UN Charter – Its features
- How has the UN failed to measure up to the demands of its charter?
3.1 The UN’s failure on Political Front:
a) Failed to come up with the peaceful resolution of international disputes.
b) Failed to ensure the Right of Self Determination to all peoples.
c) Unable to ensure Sovereign Equality of the weaker states
3.2 The UN’s let-down in the Security Domain:
a. Growing Nuclearization of the world – A threat to international peace and security
b. Escalating political and maritime disputes – A menace for universal peace
c. Emergence of Complex Transnational Issues i. Terrorism – ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda,
3.3 The UN’s ineffectiveness on Economic Front:
a) Unjust economic policies of Bretton Woods Institutions deprived the third world countries of social and economic benefits.
- Causes for UN’s failure to measure up to the demands of its charter.
a) Non-Democratic representation: Hub of social evils— Africa— and of burning militancy—the Muslim world— are deprived of any representation to make decisions for their fate.
b) Entire power concentrated at the disposal of 5 permanent members while the misuse of ‘Veto’ renders the UN merely a spectator when it comes to evolving international disputes like.
c) Lack of any law enforcement mechanism makes the UN unable to bring violators of international law to justice.
d) Funding problems cause the UN to be dominated by its major contributors
e) Discriminatory attitude of the super powers towards its allies.
- Towards reforming the UN: The Way Forward
a. Structural Reforms
b. Setting Legal Enforcement Mechanism
c. Quitting the double standards and resolving all outstanding issues.
d. Forming a Democratic Culture – Internationally
e. Diverting focus from politics and addressing the impending Global Dangers:
The United Nations (UN)—an international organization aimed at preventing the generations from scourge of war—has barely lived up to its charter, which was signed on June 26, 1945 at San Francisco. It was a product of the joint evolutionary efforts and developments extending back over many centuries for the goal of establishing peace and security. The aftermath of the second world war causing about 62 million deaths and huge economic losses provoked the leaders of the world, who came up with the ‘United Nations’. Though, it is a global association of governments facilitating cooperation, international law, international security, economic development and social progress; however, many foreign policy circles criticize its ineffectiveness in various domains. It has failed to ensure political freedom and sovereign equality of all states. It has also been unable to prohibit the states from unbridled use of force. Further, it is hardly effective in curbing growing nuclearization of the world. Moreover, the emerging transnational threats to peace and security add to the weakness of the UN. Since 1945, the world has been witnessing the perpetual abuse of Human Rights. Furthermore, the debt of the third world countries has been mounting up. Owing to structural and political causes, the United Nations on political, security and socio-economic domains has hardly fulfilled the requirements of its charter.
The UN happens to be unsuccessful in coming up with the peaceful solution to the international disputes like ‘Palestine Issue’. Despite various resolutions—242 (Land for peace), 1397 (Two-state solution), and many others— Palestine Issue is far from being solved. The atrocities inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Israelis revoke these conventions, rendering the UN an ineffective body. Even the former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter in his book, ‘Palestine: ‘Peace not Apartheid’, blatantly criticized Israel for its ruthlessness towards Palestine. Various human rights organizations like Amnesty International time and again accuse Israel of the war crimes committed in July 2014 offensive, in which 2200 Palestinians lost their lives. In spite of all these evidences, the UN organs— International Court of justice and Security Council— have not been able to bring the perpetrators to justice. Its failure in ensuring diplomatic resolution—Two State solution—of the issue as per chapter 6 of its charter, which deals with the Pacific Settlement of Disputes, manifests its ineffectiveness.As a recent development the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 was approved on 23 December ,2016 concerning the Israeli settlements in “Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem”. It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.
The UN has remained inefficient in safeguarding the very essence of its charter—sovereign equality of all states—and deterring the members from the use of force against each other. Article 2(1) of the charter reads: “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members”. This implies that all states regardless of their size and strength are equally sovereign. The powerful states have undermined this clause on various occasions when they unilaterally go on intervening in the affairs of other states. Moreover, article 2(4) 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…” The US-Invasion of Iraq in 2003 has not only challenged the sovereignty of Iraq, but also violated the article 2(4) of the charter, which prohibits the states from ‘Use of Force’ against each other. The inability of the UN to stop the US from unilaterally going offensive against Iraq and other countries demonstrates its incompetence to achieve the very aims, which are to uphold the respect for political freedoms and prevent states from resorting to force.
Furthermore, the US drone strikes stand as a blatant violation of the state sovereignty and human rights which the US itself proclaims to be defending. These drone strikes in the territory of Pakistan go against the Geneva conventions and Article 2(4) of the UN as they violate the territorial integrity of Pakistan. Though, Pakistan has been raising the issue of drone strikes at the UN, it has hardly seen any UN action aimed at deterring the US. The leaders of the UN occasionally criticize the drone strikes; however, they are unable to take any substantial action against the US. This allows the US to go on unfettered striking areas in Pakistan under the premise of countering terrorism. Recently, the US carried out drone strike in Balochistan to kill Mullah Akhtar Mansour (on May 21, 2016), the leader of Afghan Taliban. It was a flagrant violation of the UN charter, which asserts the states to have regard for territorial integrity of other states. But in case of the US, it dances to the tunes of the US, who either goes on with its misinterpretation of the contents of charter or marginalizes them. The United Nation’s failing to discourage the US from acting on its own, manifests the UN’s inability to hit the mark of its charter.
The UN’s failure to exterminate the threats to security has challenged one of the primary purposes of its formation—maintaining peace and security. Emergence of the complex transnational issues like terrorism poses the greatest threat to peace. Today many terrorist organizations have been operating in various parts of the world. These include Al-Qaeda, Boko haram, Al-Shebab and the most lethal, ISIS. The US President Obama admits that ISIS has formed in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq. Contemplating at the way it has acquired the large swathes of territories, raises the alarm bells for the world. The UN has been unable to eradicate the political agendas that led to the formation of these organizations. Giles Fraser asserts. “It is not the religion but it is politics that creates the terrorists”. This quote implies that the formation of these lethal organizations has its genesis in the political agendas of competing powers. It is in the era of UN that terrorism has become the impending danger and the biggest transnational issue. According to ‘Cost of War’ project, the combined loss of lives in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq amounts to 225,000 till 2014 which is a great human loss questioning the credibility of this world organization. The figures depict UN’s failure to live up to the promise of assuring peace and respect for human rights. Curbing the Nuclear Proliferation happens to be another important subject to be discussed in this regard.
The UN continues to make ineffectual attempts to curb the Nuclear Proliferation. The growing nuclearization of the world is threatening the international peace and security. Along with 5 declared nuclear weapon states (NWS), there are 4 other countries— India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel—known to possess Nuclear weapons. Pakistan despite its willingness to join non-proliferation treaty NPT 1968 has not yet joined because it has to retain its nuclear capacity for credible minimum deterrence against the Indian aggression. The UN has failed to prevent the powers from enhancing India’s nuclear program for their own interests. The advancement of Indo-US Nuclear Deal and India-specific exemptions to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) are the evidences that Non-Proliferation Regime (NPR) is an instrument of great-power’s strategic objectives. The US and other powers want to promote their strategic interests in South Asia by trying to prop up India to act as a counter-weight to China. Since the UN has been ignoring the violation of NPT by these countries, it is paving the way towards growing nuclearization, as the developments are prompting Pakistan to advance its nuclear program. Moreover, the Gulf States have also threatened to start their own nuclear program in case Iran manages to obtain a nuclear bomb. Furthermore, according to a few strategic thinkers, Japan; amid its row with China; is also looking forward to establishing its nuclear program. This clearly demonstrates the incapacity of the UN in the domain of security while performing on the economic front is another question to be raised as the UN does not seem to be measuring up to its demands of its charter here as well.
In economic sphere, the performance of the UN has remained unavailing in removing the economic disparities among the nations. The persistent widening of the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world has been evoking a strong response from the neo-Marxists school of thought. They are of the view that the poor countries could never become rich because the international system is exploitative—designed to disrupt the poor countries from getting prosperous. Through the UN financial institutions—IMF and WB— the big powers frame the policies which solely benefit them at the cost of the weaker states. They give economic aid to the poor countries at the cost of their political freedoms, and dictate the policies, which prove disastrous for the economies of third world countries in the long run. This had been an answer to the perpetual accruing of the debt of the third world countries. Pakistan has the debt of about 164 billion dollars. The economy of Greece is in doldrums, raising the questions of UN economic policies. Moreover, the global economy has crippled, resulting in Global Economic Recession 2008. The whole scenario leads to certain factors which have caused and are still causing the present state of affairs.
There are various causes—structural and political—for the UN not being up to scratch in political, security and economic domains. The structure of the UN is such that the most powerful organ –the Security Council – possesses the entire power at the disposal of its 5 permanent members (P5). They all possess a ‘Veto’ power which has been misused on various occasions owing to the vested interests of the super powers. Palestine issue has yet been lingering because the United States vetoed 44 out of 77 resolutions since 1948, protecting illegitimate acts of Israel. Similarly, in the wake of Syrian crisis, Russia and China exercised their veto powers, prohibiting the international community from Humanitarian Intervention. In the wake of these ‘Veto’ abuses, the ‘Human Rights’ violation are at their peak, denouncing the UN’s claim to respect them.
While the game lies at the disposal of powers with vested interests, the UN is deemed merely a spectator in deciding the international issues.
Besides the ‘Veto Abuse’, the absence of any enforcement mechanism or an executive punitive authority adds to the weakness of the UN. Moreover, the resolutions of General Assembly (GA) are non-binding. Although about 136 of 193 countries advocate the existence of state of Palestine while many of the countries that do not recognize the State of Palestine recognize the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) as the “representative of the Palestinian people”, however, there is no such institution such as the ‘Global law enforcement Agency’ or ‘Global police’ to go against the US and Israel to drag them to justice. Without such an authority at international level, the UN hardly shows signs of being capable of resolving the issues that go against the interests of the big powers.
In retrospect, it can be safely maintained that the UN has failed to meet the demands of its charter. The manifestation of its ineffectiveness to measure up to its charter include: the violations of political independence and sovereign equality of the weaker states; the perennial use of force by the stronger states; growing nuclearization of the world; the emerging transnational threats to peace and security; the perpetual abuse of Human Rights; the vicious wave of 60 million refugees (UNHCR) worldwide; and the accruing of the debt of third world countries. The uni-polar World has been more chaotic than the bi-polar world. However, there is a gleam of hope when one witnesses and appreciates the achievements of the UN in various circles. Implementing the proposals for reforms to make the UN more democratic and realization on behalf of world’s powerful states to act collectively against the common global threats will bring about a positive outcome. While it is encouraging that the world community is actively putting forward the demands to reform the UN, it is incumbent upon the world powers to make the body more effective. A few initiatives could help the UN work efficiently.
Towards ensuring the international peace and security, the way forward lies in reforming the UN. Some suggestions on reforming the structures have been given by the former secretary generals— Boutros’ ‘Agenda for peace’ and Kofi Annan’s ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’. The implementation of Kofi Annan’s Plan B enables more countries to have their say in deciding their own affairs. It will also liberate the UN from the misuse of ‘Veto’ and working under the commands of the leading financial contributors. As Secretary-General António Guterres takes up his job as the head of the Organization initiating an appeal for peace. His wish for 2017“Let us make 2017 a year in which we all — citizens, governments, leaders — strive to overcome our differences,” .He urged people to share his New Year’s resolution: “Let us resolve to put peace first.” Besides this, the resolutions of the GA (General Assembly) must be made binding on all states to discourage them from violating international law and making them abide by the UN charter (as in the case of the recently passed resolution on Palestine). The powers need to quit the double standards and discriminatory attitudes when it comes to resolving international issues like Nuclear, Palestine and others. Furthermore, the UN member states shall focus on Global Threats that have been on an unprecedented scale. Robert Kaplan warns in his book, “The coming Anarchy” about the impending dangers such as climate threat. Realization on behalf of the world powers to collectively cope with these issues is imperative to make the body functional.