The United Nations Organization (UNO) officially came into existence in October 1945 after the Second World War. It was formed to replace the League of Nations, which had proved incapable of restraining aggressive dictators like Hitler and Mussolini. In setting up the UNO, the great powers tried to eliminate some of the weaknesses, which had handicapped the league. The UN charter was drawn up in San Francisco in 1945, and was based on proposals made at an earlier meeting between the USSR USA China and Britain held at Dumbarton Oaks (USA) in 1944 The aims of the UN are to.
•Preserve peace and eliminate war •Remove cause of conflict by encouraging economic social educational scientific and cultural progress throughout the world especially in the under developed countries •Safeguarding the rights of all individual human being and the right of peoples and nations In October 1995, the UN celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. However, it was still nowhere near achieving its basic aims: the world was still full of economic and social problems and acts of aggressions and war continues.
The UN’s failure was caused to some extent by weakness in its system The lack of a permanent UN army This means that it difficult to prevail upon powerful states to accept its decisions if they choose to put self-interest first. If persuasion and pressure of world opinion fail ,the UN has to rely on member nations to provide troops to enable it to enforce decision. For example, the USSRR was able to ignore the UN’s demands for withdrawal of Russian troops from Hungary (1956) and Afghanistan (1980).
UN involvement in Somalia (1992-5) and Bosnia (1992-5) showed the impossibility of the UN being able to stop a war when the warring parties were not ready to stop fighting. When should the UN be involved? There is a problem about exactly when the UN should become involved during the course of a dispute. Sometimes it hangs back too long, so the problem becomes more difficult to solve; sometimes it hesitates so long that it scarcely becomes involved at all, as happened with the war in Vietnam and the war in Angola.
This left the UN open to accusations of indecision and lack of firmness. It caused some states to put more faith in their own regional organization such as NATO for keeping peace, and many agreements were worked out without involvement of the UN; for example , the end of the Vietnam war, the Camp David peace between Israel and Egypt in 1979 and the settlement of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe problem in the same year. All this time, critics were claiming that the UN was becoming irrelevant and was no more than an arena for propaganda speeches.
Part of the problem was that the Security Council was hampered by the veto which its permanent members could use. Although the “Uniting Force Resolution” could offset this to some extent, the veto still could cause long delays before decisive action was taken. Anthony Parsons, for many years the UK Permanent Representative at the UN, gives two recent examples, of which early action might have prevented the war “If a potential aggressor knew that his forces would be met by the UN armed force, equipped and mandated to fight, this would be a powerful disincentive….
Such a force, if deployed on Kuwait side of the Iraqi/Kuwait frontier in 1990, or on the Croatian side of the Serbia /Croatia border in 1991, might well have prevented hostilities for breaking out” The increased membership of the UN during the 1970’s By 1970 members from the Third World were in clear majority. As these nations began to work more and more together, it meant that only they could be certain of having their resolution passed, and it becomes increasingly difficult for both western and communist blocs to get their resolutions through the General Assembly.
The western nations could no longer have things go in their own way and they began to criticize the Third World blocs for being too “political”, by this they meant, “acting in a way the west disapproved of”. For example in 1974 UNESCO passed a resolution condemning “colonialism” and “imperialism”. In 1979 when the western blocs introduced a General Assembly motion condemning terrorism, the Arabs states and their supporters defeated it. Fiction reached crisis point in 1983 at the UNESCO General Congress. Many Western nations including the USA, accused the UNESCO of being inefficient and wasteful and of having unacceptable political aims.
What bought matter to a head was a proposal by some communist state for internal incensing of foreign journalists. According to the US, this would lead to a situation in which member states could exercise a effective censorship of each other’s media organization. Consequently the Americans announced that they would withdraw from the UNESCO on 1st January 1985, since it had become “hostile to the basic institutions and a free press”. Britain and Singapore withdrew in 1986 for similar reasons. There is a wastage of effort and resources among the agencies The agencies sometimes seem to duplicate each other’s work.
Critics claim that the WHO and the FAO overlap too much. The FAO was criticized in 1984 for spending too much money on administration and not enough on improving agricultural systems. GATT and UNCTAD even seen to be working against each other. GATT tries to eliminate tariffs and anything else which restricts trade, whereas UNCTAD tries to get preferential treatment for the product of Third World countries. The UN has always been short of funds The vast scope of its work means that it needs incredibly large sum of money to finance its operations. It is entirely dependent on contributions from its members states.
Each state pays a regular annual contribution based on its general wealth and ability to pay. In addition, members pay a proportion of the cost of each peace- keeping operation, and they are also expected to contribute towards the expenses of the special agencies. Many members states have refused to pay from time to time, either because of financial difficulties of their own, or as a mark of disapproval of UN policies. 1986 was a bad year financially, no fewer than 98 of its members owed money, chief among them being the USA, which withheld more than $100m, until the UN reformed its budgeting system and curbed its extravagances.
The Americans wanted the countries which gave most to have more say in how the money was to be spent, but many smaller members rejected this as undemocratic. As one of the Sri Lanka’s delegate puts it “in our political process at home. The wealthy do not have more votes than the poor. We would like this to be practiced in the UN as well”. In 1987 changes were introduced giving major financial contributors more control over spending, and the financial situation soon improved. However, expenses soared alarmingly in the early 1990’s as the UN became involved in a series of new crises, in the Middle East (Gulf War), Yugoslavia and Somalia.
In August, 1993 the Secretary-General Dr Boutros Ghali, revealed that many states were well in arrears with their payment. He warned that unless there was an immediate injection of cash from the world’s rich states, all of the UN’s peace-keeping operation would be in jeopardy. Yet the Americans and the Europeans felt that they had already paid too much- the US (about 30%) the Europeans community (about 35%) and Japan (about 11%) pay three quarters of the expenses and there is a feeling that there are many other wealthy states which could afford to contribute much more than they do .