When one wonders what the symbol of the United Nations signifies, notions such as self-determination, freedom, liberty, peace, security, collective resolution and human rights come to mind. Its emblem is composed of the globe surrounded by two “olive branches of peace. ” The United Nations has stated that it has four purposes.
These purposes are to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems while encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction and, to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
However, even though the United Nations and its emblem have a similar meaning, it has been accused of not fulfilling its role in the international community regarding many troubling issues. In most cases, the UN has failed to prevent wars, massacres, genocides, economic inflations and terrorism. While the United Nations do succeed in resolving, to a certain extent, some less critical issues, problems such as occupation, human rights violation, extermination and armed conflicts continue to plague many regions.
This Non-Governmental Organization has persistently disappointed countries around the world because it seems as though the world is run by the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council which are the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic Republic of France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. A large number of people believe that it actually symbolizes hypocrisy and corruption by being undemocratic and biased. Therefore, the United Nations’ emblem is also believed to actually symbolize injustice and is associated to hypocrisy.
For that reason, in order to demonstrate the massive misinterpretation of the United Nations’ actual purpose, it is necessary to examine its failures, how it is structured, its mistakes and its effect on the way one perceives it. The United Nations have, on many occasions, failed to act in order to stand up for the ideals and principles it so proudly claims to defend. Despite the fact that the UN has aided countries that suffer from issues such as disease, famine and resource scarcity, it has also failed to act in many occasions.
First of all, in 1994, there was genocide in Rwanda during the ethnic strife between the Hutus and the Tutsis resulting in the death of around 800,000 men, women and children. 1 This form of ethnic cleansing occurred under the watch of the United Nations who already had UN peacekeeping forces stationed in Rwanda. The United Nations have also recognized this atrocity as UN failure. Another example would be the second Congo war. The United Nations had failed to send humanitarian aid as well as intervene which led to the death of over 3 million people in less than 5 years.
In 1995, the UN again fails to get involved in the Srebrenica Massacre and defend the Bosnians. It could have permitted the peacekeeping forces to actually keep the peace by using force to defend refugee havens. Unfortunately, the United Nations appears to only be able to act when it is too late. The UN has even failed to send food for the starving people of Somalia during famine. During the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the UN had again failed to procure provisions to the Palestinian civilians who were suffering from the horrors of war.
In addition, the United Nations had as well failed to prevent genocide or even produce supplies in war-consumed Darfur. Furthermore, during peacekeeping missions, the UN has even been accused of sexual abuse of children and soliciting prostitution. 2 These failures are in direct opposition to everything that the United Nations allegedly stands for and these accusations only diminish the value of what is supposed to be the symbol of peace, security and human rights. Moreover, the United Nations has also been accused of being the United States’ “puppet.
” When stating the UN, understand that what is being referred to are the member states in the UN because the United Nations cannot function without states especially the permanent five members. What is meant by this is that the United States has the support of most of the world’s countries because it is heavily relied upon economically as well as politically and has leverage over other less “popular” world powers such as the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation.
For instance, when the US proposes a clause, it is normally supported by the Republic of France, the United Kingdom and most of the other members because they value US support. So, if the other powers veto a resolution in the Security Council, they will be heavily criticized by the international community. For that reason, unless they have the rare support of the majority, they either have to accept or abstain allowing the United States freedom to do whatever it pleases.
Consequently, nations or people that do not agree with the United States’ decisions or are simply against it find the United Nation to be biased, unjust and, most importantly, undemocratic. The fact that the United Nations, which is considered to be the symbol of justice, peace and security, appears to be undemocratic is very demoralizing to countries that rely on its assistance. In history books, it is stated that imperialism and colonialism are over and that all countries are now independent.
However, even though almost all of the former colonies have officially gained their independence, some remain occupied and require for the United Nation’s aid. Countries such as Palestine and Iraq have been invaded and occupied without much resistance. For instance, Palestine lost 54% of its territory to Israel with the United Nations’ blessing in 1948 through the Security Council’s resolution in order to create the Jewish state. Presently, Israeli forces now occupy a super majority of Palestine’s now former territory with the exception of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
3 Iraq, however, is a more recent colony. In 2003, the United States invaded and occupied Iraq which has permanently maimed the country’s history with years of war leaving them no choice but to resort to terrorism. Shockingly, the United Nations, more specifically the Republic of France and the Russian Federation, was against the invasion and did not allow any use of force against Iraq. However, the United Kingdom and the United States did not need authorization and chose to preemptively attack Iraq due to the presence of alleged weapons of mass destruction as a response to the 9/11 attacks.
4 These two countries are in need of what the United Nations is supposed to symbolize. The United Nations has given a chance to Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to speak before the General Assembly in order to discuss the question of Palestine and to plead his case. Freedom fighters, such as he, rely on the United Nations’ help against the oppressor, in Arafat’s case Israel. However, since the UN is basically controlled by the United States, and since the United States is heavily invested in Israel’s survival, freedom fighters are now labeled as terrorists.
The fact that resistance against an oppressor has morphed into terrorism at the hand of the United Nations is truly a disappointment. The United Nations was meant to be a sacred ground where all member states are deemed equal, where all can voice their opinions without discrimination or oppression. Regrettably, this is not the case. In the United Nations, some countries seem to matter more than others. Some voices are suppressed and freedom fighters’ opinions are discredited by western media in front of the international community.
It is the in shift of the way the United Nations is perceived by the world that causes the loss of trust between states and marks a change in international relations. It is what fuels armed resistance against the mighty oppressor who is supported by the only possible organ that can allow for the freedom fighter’s voice to be herd and discussed. To conclude, this shameful turning point in history is what caused the change in the way one perceives what the United Nations symbolizes. The United Nations is supposed to stand for self-determination, freedom, liberty, peace, security, collective resolution and human rights.
However, the UN has proven to some that it actually symbolizes hypocrisy and injustice by being imperialistic, undemocratic and biased. Due to the fact that the United Nations is mostly a failed institution because it did not act to fight for what it stands for in a number of occasions resulting in civil wars, genocides and death, and to the fact that it is mainly controlled by the United States, victims of these atrocities have ceased to believe in the United Nations’ power to effectively aid a country in need.
In addition, due to the fact that the United Nations have not been able de vanquish imperialism and colonialism which have caused a world war before and that it is created to avoid such a type of war is another reason why this institution cannot be deemed significantly helpful by any standards. On the Other hand, the United Nations is actually the only hope the world has because it is the only possible figure of international authority in this anarchical world we live in. This organization has affected many populations by its wrong decisions and refusal to stand against tyranny and oppression.
Therefore, in order to make it more efficient, the United Nations Charter should be heavily reformed. For instance, the Veto power should be removed or granted to ever member state in the Security Council because all countries must have the same advantages as well as the same disadvantages. If this truly does take place, the United Nation’s Emblem can actually stand for self-determination, freedom, liberty, peace, security, collective resolution and human rights as it should.