The UN works for all of us. This article is written in honour of the United Nations Day 2020, celebrating 75 years of the United Nations
The United Nations was founded 75 years ago after the deadly second world war which ravaged the entire world. The UN today is facing enormous scrutiny from various corners, across the world, various commentators, experts, organizations, diplomats and even national governments have critiqued and bad mouthed the UN. But is the UN an organisation that is so badly broken that it does absolutely no good for the world?
The UN works for all of us, it is the only organization in the world that allows for dialogue among all nations of the world, it is a platform where dialogue, diplomacy and discourse is allowed. The UN has several subsidiary bodies like the World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation, the UNDP etc. All of these bodies work towards a more inclusive and sustainable world where people have access to basic facilities and are not denied their basic human rights. Without the UN, millions of people across the world would not have the support that they are getting at this very moment, especially in parts of the world which are facing natural and political turmoil.
The UN serves as a platform where countries come together and discuss problems which are common to the entire world, say for example the Climate Crisis. Important legislations, protocols and agreements regarding Climate Change like the Montreal Protocol, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Climate Agreement to name a few would have never become a reality without a multilateral organisation like the UN.
The UN also serves as a body where cultural diplomacy is given space, people to people exchanges are facilitated by the UN. When people of various countries meet and engage with each other, stereotypes and misconceptions are removed and as a result conflict reduces. Organizations like UNESCO and SOCHUM precisely do this.
The UN Peacekeeping Keeping forces have also played a vital role in resolving conflicts in several parts of the world, they have also been deployed in many parts of the world to maintain stability and to reduce the chances of conflict.
The UN also plays a vital role in spheres like education, health care, science, technology and immunization via UNICEF, UNIDO and many other subsidiary organizations.
The UN bodies also provide a standardized framework for various variables, these ensure that the quality of human life increases across the world- for example the WHO gives a standard for how much water human beings should be consuming in a day to ensure a healthy life, the UNDP provides us a framework on how to counter violent extremism and radicalisation. This may seem minor but when we view smaller roles played by the UN in the larger context of world peace and development, they play an enormous role.
The UN also promotes Human Rights via the UNHRC and Labour Rights via the ILO. The UN Declaration on Human Rights mentions Human Rights that have become widely accepted as important and inalienable rights that all humans need to have. The UNHRC also plays a vital role in checking Human Rights violations.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals have been widely accepted as targets that all countries need to reach in order to ensure a more sustainable and healthy future for all human beings across the world. The UN also collects and makes available valuable data and resources which play an important role in ensuring that better policies and legislations are passed in various countries, for example the Human Development Index is a universal measure of Human Development that is very useful for developing countries in framing suitable policies and laws.
The UN also serves as a meeting place of world leaders and ministers from various countries. In the month of September, leaders from across the world reach New York where the General Assembly has the General debate. The world leaders not only speak about their concerns and issues but several meetings between various governmental and non governmental organizations are held on the sidelines, all of this goes a long way in creating an environment of mutual trust and acceptance across the world.
Other Institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the International Court of Justice, the UN Center for Human Settlements, The Global Environmental Facility, the UN University and the Economic Commissions for various countries/regions have all done enormous work in maintaining a world where there is continuous cooperation and dialogue. The UN has also allowed for various conventions like the International convention on civil and political rights to become a reality.
The single most argument in favour of the UN is that the World in which we live in is a world which is interconnected and each country’s progress and development is closely interlinked to every other country’s. The common misconception is that the UN only works to end war and conflict, the work of the UNSC has always been in the limelight in this context. While the UNSC is undoubtedly a powerful organisation and ensuring conflict reduces is a major part of the UN’s work, it is definitely not the only work the UN does. The UN along with its subsidiary bodies and institutions work in almost all spheres of human life-from war and peace to drinking water and vaccines. The COVID-19 Pandemic is an excellent example as to why the UN is needed for all of us.Unless all countries in the world have contained the virus, there is actually no way we can have normal existence again. The way to ensure the complete eradication of the virus is through multilateral cooperation and assistance, this is possible only with the UN being there.
The massive climate crisis and global warming too can only be solved when every government in the world works in sync with each other, this harmony cannot be done via a WhatsApp group. It requires a strong institution to facilitate dialogue and communication, the UN is precisely this institution.
The UN is much more than a building in New York. It is a dynamic organisation which works actively to make this world a better place for all of us, it promotes diplomacy and acts as a mediator. It is a body where countries have a chance to sit across each other and resolve the differences that they have.
Is the UN a perfect body? No! But it’s as close to perfect as we can get and we need to respect this fact. Yes, the UN has issues and concerns about internal democracy especially in the UNSC have come to the fore in recent years but the this cannot discredit the work the UN has been doing in so many other spheres of human existence and life. The alternative to the UN is a world where there is absolutely no dialogue and communication among nations, it is a Hobbesian existence where chaos, anarchy and violence rule the roost. I much rather would be in favour of a slightly imperfect UN than a world in chaos. As the memory of the Second World War fades away, let us not forget the critical role the UN has played in ensuring that there has never been a Third World War.
We are all facing the same storm, it makes more sense to get onto a big strong boat than to sit in small individual vessels and this is exactly why we need the UN and its various agencies. The UN has saved us from a lot of suffering and war, it is only via the UN that we can have a peaceful world where every human being has dignity of life and every country is respected and given equal status. Governments and organizations have to work towards making the UN a more efficient body rather than discrediting the work of the UN, this is the only way forward.
“The United Nations was formed not to take humanity to heaven but to save it from hell”Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld
“Jaw Jaw is better than War War”Winston Churchill
“More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations.”Kofi Annan
|“The United Nations is our one great hope for a peaceful and free world”|
|Everything will be all right – you know when? When people, just people, stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction and see it as a drawing they made themselves.”|