UN wins Vote of Confidence
THE UN summit of world leaders which
opens today in New York invites global attention on two principal
counts, besides being the largest gathering so far of such leaders.
First, it opens at a time when multifarious, unprecedented challenges
are gripping the world. Second, the summit coincides with an increasing
tendency among some sections to question the UN's effectiveness in the
face of these challenges.
When it was launched at the closing stages of World War II decades
ago, the UN was conceived, among other things, as an answer to the
yearning in the hearts of the peoples of the world for peace and for an
institutional mechanism which would facilitate this cherished aim. The
UN was also conceived as an instrument which would help in ushering
equitable development in all parts of the world and serve as a forum for
the meeting of the world's minds.
In assessing the UN's effectiveness in meeting these prime aims it is
possible to veer towards a cynical standpoint; count the UN's failures
only and declare the international body as failing to measure-up to the
However, one could also adopt the premise that the performance of the
UN should be evaluated in relative terms and assess its effectiveness on
the basis of the number of conflict situations it has helped defuse and
the numerous occasions on which it has played a principal role in
containing conflicts and effecting reconciliation among potential and
real adversaries. If international relations are to be analyzed from a
realistic standpoint, it is this second yardstick which should be
adopted to assess the effectiveness of the UN.
In other words, the world could have been a far worse place to live
in if not for the UN. Over the decades, it has not only endured bravely
but grappled courageously with a plethora of problems, which, if
unattended by the UN would have even brought the world perilously close
to another world war. Even on the development front, mankind's lot would
have been far more abject, if not for UN intervention through its vast
array of specialised bodies.
However, there is no denying that the contemporary world is
presenting the UN with a number of unprecedented challenges, which call
for patient and insightful unravelling. For instance, the last two
decades or more have seen the outbreak of a rash of ethnic and genocidal
wars which defy easy resolution. Terror is proving a formidable
challenge with the spectre of nuclear-armed terror groups now ominously
crowding the horizon.
Fragmentation of states rather than their unification on ethnic and
religious lines, is steadily defying the conventional conceptual tools
of analysis and is calling for the adoption of entirely new frameworks
of thought and analysis for their resolution and containment.
The world's problems are compounded by the fact that nuclear power
-despite the horrors associated with it - is being favoured by states
which find the current global order unacceptable.
Negative tendencies are also evident on the development front. The
signs are that the UN's Millennium Development Goals would prove
increasingly elusive on account of a lack of determination on the part
of the world community to mark vigorously towards them. We are also yet
to see a concerted effort by the developed countries by meet fully their
overseas development aid commitments.
These are a mere crop of the problems confronting the world community
for the resolution of which UN intervention is essential. Going by the
pace of resolving these issues, the UN could seem to be falling below
the required performance standards but the vast number of world leaders
gathering at the UN today is proof that the latter is continuing to win
a Vote of Confidence from the peoples of the world.
True, the problems confronting us are daunting in their dimensions
but the UN is continuing to command the respect of the world community.
As long as this is the case, the UN would not be seen as superfluous.
The peoples of the world should now resolve to steadily strengthen the
time-tested UN system.