Whatever section: Will the UN stand or fall?
April 5, 2003
We’ve all heard the phrase “united we stand, divided we fall” applied to the United States of America.
But can this message be shifted and applied on a bigger scale, to all the countries of the world? This is what the United Nations tries to accomplish, among many other things.
With the recent conflict in Iraq, however, it seems that the world’s nations are far from united. So the big question is, what exactly lies ahead for the organization?
Once again, I realized that I did not know much about my topic this week until I started researching it. So if you are anything like me, you might enjoy a bit of background information about the UN before I tackle this question. I found it helpful to know a little about the history of the United Nations, the organization’s predecessor, the UN’s purpose, and the membership of the organization.
According to the United Nations Web site, the organization was unofficially founded in 1942 during World War II, “when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.”
This came shortly after its predecessor, the League of Nations, was dispelled for failing to prevent the war. The United Nations evolved into an official organization on Oct. 24, 1945 when representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco to draw up the charter.
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The purpose and membership of the UN has vastly expanded in the organization’s 58 years. It is stated in the charter that the UN’s purposes are “to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends.”
Although these goals were outlined in the charter, they have only recently begun to truly influence the world. Also, the membership of the UN has increased hugely since 1945.
One hundred ninety-one countries are now members in the world organization, and all members have a vote and a voice.
Now back to the original question: What is the future for the United Nations now that it is so obviously divided?
Basically, there are three opinions on the subject.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan talks about two of the more negative ones in a recent letter to his fellow members of the UN: “On one side, we hear that the United Nations has failed, because it could not prevent the war. On the other, we are told that it is doomed to irrelevance because the Security Council did not agree on military action.”
But Annan goes on to take an optimistic stand on the issue, by stating that it “is my belief, therefore, that the United Nations family may come out of this difficult experience more relevant than ever.”
In the whole scheme of the history of the world, the UN has been around for a mere blink of an eye.
But will the organization be forever doomed to this fate, the same as was suffered by its predecessor?
In my opinion, yes.
A united world is one of those things that are great in theory, but maybe just too idealistic at this point.
We must admit that the United States is the strongest world power at this point in time, so when our country defies the United Nations others will soon begin to follow.
Over the next few years, I would not be surprised if the UN collapsed for these and other reasons.
But don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that I want it to. The world needs an organization like this if we ever want to achieve true world peace.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the world is ready to take that step yet. But I will be thrilled if I am proven wrong.
Jessica Smallman is a senior at Carson High School. She is writing a regular column for the Nevada Appeal as her senior project.