The United Nations

The UN is regarded as being inefficient in some quarters due to its grossly inflated bureaucracy over the years and thus alternatives to the body have been suggested.

This is because the UN has not lived up to its mandate as conflicts have been allowed to proliferate, as evidenced recently with president Bush’s dictatorial plunge into the Iraq war leaving the UN helpless and other warfare across the globe. I believe that prior to forming the UN, we could have regional bodies, say like the AU for Africa or ASEAN for Asia that better understand regional conflicts or resolutions to such conflicts. The regional conflicts could then negotiate on behalf of their countries on a larger scale if conflict arose, say, between an AU member state and an ASEAN member state. If alternatives to the UN were to be proposed, then we could suggest Francis Fukuyama’s “The Neoconservative Moment” argument. Fukuyama refers to the UN as a much aligned system and thus the need to focus on institution building. One of the reasons for the argument is that the UN is dominated by non-democratic regimes and thus the need to build on an institution, say, Community of Democracies that was founded during the Clinton era.

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This should be an institution built on uiversally accepted norms and values that are shared by all countries able to play legitimizing roles around the world, like NATO does. Unlike the UN that shuns some of the world’s biggest democracies, the community of democracies will have to embrace the community itself with member countries like the US, Britain, India, South Africa, Brazil, Afghanistan, Europe countries, Japan and many other democracies in the world. Giving these countries a voice will empower and encourage other countries in the world to adopt democratic reforms. This way, the US will be seen as delegating democratic initiatives to other regional democracies and be free from entangling itself in cultural battles in those countries. How did the UN improve on the League of Nations and how did it not improve? The League of Nations was set after WWI to prevent a repeat of the same war.

With a sizeable number of countries, it was believed that as a world organization it could ensure peace and prevent a repeat of WWI. However, the League of Nations failed to keep peace due to lack of its own military power, thus after WWII the UN was set with similar aims. The UN was constituted in a manner that it was possible to negotiate and be able to prevent warfare between countries, which it has succeeded. The UN holds numerous purpose like on environment, economics as opposed to the League of Nations whose mandate meant it was more of an organization to prevent war. The UN has proven to be successful when it comes to dealing with major powers, and this is where the League of Nations had failed. The UN has been able to mobilize troops allowing aggressor countries to face no resistance, like the case in Congo or Korea.

The UN has been successful in bringing humanity through the cold war with commendable humanitarian work that have affected virtually every corner of the earth, something that the league of nations could not have achieved as it was only good in solving minor disputes.However, the UN like the League of Nations did not allow or give time for change. This shifted the nature of conflict to civil unrest and irregular warfare that was not recognized by the UN charter instead. The UN has failed to stop wars in Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur, Rwanda, Somalia, Liberia, Congo (where it was reported that UN peacekeepers raped the local women) and many other conflicts around the world. Thus the UN whose mandate is also to protect human rights has failed to do so.

This shows that the UN is not always the answer.