United Nations as a Failure Essay


United Nations as a Failure

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization that was founded after the Second World War in 1945 to replace another international organization which was known as the League of Nations. Its main purpose is the restoration and the maintenance of world peace, to provide a permanent solution and prevent the world from self-destructing. It was also meant to provide an avenue for dialoguing between countries.

The United Nations had an agenda and several purposes which are clearly outlined as facilitating the cooperation of the world nations in enforcing economic development and social progress. It also emphasized on the keeping of universal law and security and also supports human and civil rights, democracy and political freedoms. Upon its founding, the United Nations had 51 states that had a membership but the numbers have increased to 193 nations.


The United Nations is mainly composed of 6 major organs that help in the running of the activities of the organization. The fundamental organ of the judiciary known as the International Court of Justice, the main source of information and studies to do with the UN known as the Secretariat. The Economic and Social Council is charged with the mandate of encouraging the cooperation of nations economically and socially and ensuring the progress in the same. The Security Council is amongst the most popular organs known for its duty of keeping peace and resolving conflicts in nations and also amongst nations, the General Assembly and the United Nations Trusteeship Council which currently is inoperative (Wesley 34).

So much trust and hope are breathed into the global community by the presence of the United Nations since it is believed to also play a preservative role in that it prevents the arising of global unrest which would be catastrophic and lead to global annihilation. The international body, however, has not met all its expectations fully and is a failure to a great degree as can be seen from the activities and injustices that have occurred in different nations in the recent past.

One of the greatest failures of the UN is the fact that the five so-called permanent members have assumed veto powers that sometimes hinder the effectiveness of the UN’s operations. The Unites States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, and France have the power that is unchecked bearing in mind that the nations have nuclear powers. The bureaucracies that have littered the organization make the decision making process lengthy even in cases where the urgent response is expected to be given.

The 5 permanent nations have been severally accused of taking actions based on their interests politically and strategic actions that are selfish. This is vivid in cases where the UN has been more willing to protect nations in which the permanent members have an interest. For example, in 1991, the UN was swift to protect Kuwait a nation that has a rich oil reserve whereas merely 3 years later in 1994, the citizens of Rwanda were poorly protected since there were no interests to protect in the nation of Rwanda (Danson 56).

The ‘elite’ members of the council which is the permanent members have been accused of holding private meetings to deliberate and make decisions on issues presented to the united nations and then coming up to give conclusive agreements to the other members for them to rubber-stamp their decisions. To deal with the case of permanent members having exclusive right s to make decisions can be resolved by having temporary members to join the council. But this has been rejected and it was suggested that a more permanent solution would be the inclusion of non-nuclear nations in the permanent membership of the council.


However, when Paul Martin was in office as the president, Canada advocated the scrapping off of the idea of permanent membership. The first and second Charter mandates of the United Nations are “To maintain international peace and security” and “if necessary to enforce the peace by taking preventive or enforcement action”. The present administrative structure in the United Nations makes it hard to perform these two roles since for an action to be taken; the permanent members have to consent unanimously. This is a failure for the United Nations.

The United Nations has been labeled as merely a debate forum where nations send people to represent them and either argue for or against their plans with little results in the end.  Moreover, the nations that are governed by dictators who are against the interference of the UN with their activities use the forums to detract the plans of the UN and also mystify their own agenda.

For example, like Saddam Hussein, the late dictator of Iraq advanced his own agenda and played games with the United Nations the people of Iraq suffered under economic trade sanctions supported by the UN upon the nation of Iraq. The United Nations cannot operate independently of the members since it largely depends on the contributions of the members especially financially. It is highly unlikely that nations will make contributions towards the activities of the UN and they allow them to function independently without the approval of the member states.

This makes the UN passive and highly dependent on the members. For instance, due to this passivity, nations such as North Korea have tested nuclear weapons and are not giving up their nuclear plans whereas the UN is only considering sanctions against them. The ineffectiveness of the United Nations is further observed in the fact that it does not formally identify any nation as a terrorist nation. Considering the fact that it is highly incredible that terrorist groups will appear before the united nations to discuss the way forward, the international peacekeeping organization is operating blindly as to the motives of the terrorist groups and the best is to hope that they will get intelligence information on terrorist activities. The 9/11 incident is a good example to show the ineffectiveness of the UN in seriously addressing the issue of terrorism.

There have also been a number of appalling failures by the UN as far as keeping the peace is concerned that have led to the loss of many lives. For example, the hijacking of an Israeli flight by Palestinian terrorists saw no further action by the UN except a simple condemnation. After the 9/11 incident in the US, the UN outlawed Taliban and Al Qaeda but left out Hamas, Hezbollah, and Mossad which are terrorist programs funded by governments. It is also interesting to note that no action is taken against nations such as Iran known to support terrorist groups. Along with the same breath, there has been an increase of nations developing nuclear weapons including Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, and India despite there being a non-proliferation treaty signed by 190 states in 1970.

In Sri-Lanka their civil war than spun the period of 1983 to 2009 left many people dead and scores of casualties and although the UN was aware of the situation it took no action with 6500 civilians being killed between January and April 2009 in the so-called safe zone. The once trusted peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Haiti turned to be wolves in sheepskin as a report from these regions revealed that the claims of rising in child prostitution were just a cover-up story of the sexual abuse on children in the regions by the soldiers. The soldiers would reward the children so that they would say they were prostitutes rather than they were raped. Even with this, the UN failed to judge these soldiers who were ‘peacekeepers’ fearing that they would discourage the participation of member states in peacekeeping missions.

One of the greatest failures that hit headlines the world over is the failure of the UN to protect the Rwandese in a time when they were completely helpless and instead ordering their troops out of the nation. The peacekeepers that entered Rwanda in 1994 to secure the capital so that they can help humanitarian aid were not allowed to use military force to achieve this. A cable sent to the UN by the commander of the Canadian force concerning the threat of genocide was ignored since the US was not willing to help in the intervention since they had lost 18 American soldiers in the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia. This lead to the massacre of more than 800,000 Tutsi (Howard 98).

The United States was reluctant to release military forces to help in the Rwanda case to avert a genocide was mainly influenced by the happenings in Mogadishu Somalia barely a year before. On October 3rd, 1993, there was a mission to Mogadishu where 100 Special Force soldiers were sent to capture Mohammed Farrah  Aidid’s lieutenants so as to threaten Aidid, a warlord who was frustrating the UN’s attempts to offer humanitarian aid to the nation.

The one hour mission instead took a whole day and night and it took the help of rescue soldiers from outside Somalia. This led to the loss of 18 American soldier’s lives and four MH-60 Black Hawks were lost with over seventy soldiers injured (Bowden 26). This is yet another show of UN’s failure since the cause of the whole disaster was a result of poor communication and misinformation. The soldiers were oblivious of the state of Mogadishu since they were poorly informed of this being a failure of the United Nations.


However, despite the failures, the United Nations has done more good than harm since it would actually be impossible to try and visualize what would have happened over time from the past had the United Nations not been present. Being an international organization is charged with an enormous mandate to ensure that the globe does not boil over and a nuclear war erupts which would lead to the total annihilation of the human race. The various organs help nations that are struck by a disaster such as terrorist attacks or vagaries of nature.

For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) has helped provide health services in countries affected by floods and disease outbreaks together with the World Food Program which has seen food aid availed in famine-stricken lands. Organs such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have seen countless children receive aid from all over the world especially third world countries. The United Nations has therefore been of great help to many nations despite its failures.



Works Cited

Bowden, Mark. Black Hawk Down. London: Corgi, 2000. Print.

Danson, Bake. Dangers of Co-Deployment: Un Co-Operative Peacekeeping in Africa. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. Print.

Howard, Lise M. UN Peacekeeping in Civil Wars. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Print.

Wesley, Michael. Casualties of the New World Order: Causes of Failure of UN Missions. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997. Print.

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