“The United Nations was intended to be a temple of peace, but this once great global body has been overrun by the repressive regimes that violate human rights and undermine international security.” In the light of its recent decision and the way it functions, critically comment on the statement. (200 Words)

Like many other organisations, UN was also set up with some purpose. Today it faces many hurdles in achieving those purposes similar to other organisations. In the last 70 years it has become a global deliberative body. It gives nations a platform to share  their views. It has been successful in negotiating peace and reaching out to affected population with aid and other necessities in the times of war or natural calamities etc. Its Millennium Development Goals have been game changer in giving direction to make this world better place to live and spread the fruits of development to hitherto side-lined populations. Many of its arms like UNESCO, WHO etc. have been able to create the platform for sharing best practices and helping nations rise on the Human Development parameters.
At the same time it has also failed on many fronts. Powerful nations like U.S., Britain etc. have several times attacked other nations without its sanction. U.S. attack on Iraq, Libya, and Syria etc. has caused much serious humanitarian crisis than these were facing during autocratic rulers. It is not to say that autocracy is good but to say that U.S. attack was ill considered. Similarly Russia’s attack on Ukraine also caused many problems.
Its inability to act upon challenges lie in following factors:
  • Sovereignty of nations: Nations participating in it are sovereign. U.N. cannot be a global police. So, its ability to act upon any situation is dependent upon the resource it has, which is again provided by participating nations only.
  • Funding: U.N., for most of its programme, is funded by developed nations. So, often, they decide terms to utilize those funds.
  • Even other resources like Peace Keeping Force, medicines etc. come from participating nations.
What is “Responsibility to Protect” in UN context?
It is a doctrine which was adopted under Kofi Annan’s regime in UN in 2005. This doctrine asked that sovereign states respect the human rights of their citizens. When these rights are violated, then sovereignty dissolves. An outside actor endorsed by the U.N. can then come in to protect the citizens.
What is the issue in this doctrine?
It is not properly defined who gets to define the nature of a conflict and who gets to intervene. Hence its use has been biased. For ex. In case of Palestine and Libya, response of west is different while in both cases state conducted atrocities on its own citizens.
BRICS countries see this doctrine as tool in the hand of west to change regimes.
What are some of the instances when UN was used to propagate Western interest?
  1. The US’s invasion on Iraq in 2003 is the famous one. US invaded Iraq in the name of promoting democracy, but the real motive was to overthrow the incumbent govt. and curb Russia’s influence in the region and establish a puppet government of the USA, resulted in killing of half a million innocent children and the rise of terror outfits like ISIS .
  2. Similar interventions took place in countries like Yugoslavia in the name of protecting its civilians but ended in disintegration of Yugoslavia into six states despite the reluctance of China and Russia at the UN.
  3. However, when Western clients like Israel and countries of the Great African Lakes massacred tens of thousands, no western states intervened . This reflects the double standard of the westerners and led to loss in credibility of UN.



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