The Role of The UN
Explain the Role of the
United Nations in the Twenty-First Century?
When the League of Nations was founded after World War I its main task was to resolve disputes regarding land and power in post war Europe with the creation of the Treaty of Versailles. It described itself as a "global association of governments facilitating co-operation in international law, international security, economic development, and social equity” and this is a similar attitude to the modern United Nations. A list of their aims and activities can be found on the United Nations website or charter and reads as follows “International Years, Arms control and disarmament, Peacekeeping, Human rights as well as Humanitarian assistance and international development” so when answering what the role of the United Nations in the twenty-first century is one must consider what the UN considers it does.
The UN, each year, specifies issues, aims or themes they wish to bring to the attention of members of the public in their “International Year of…” objective, most recently, the international year of Sport in 2005 and Rice in 2004, from just these two themes one is able to see the varied and diverse issues that the UN cover and using the symbolism of the UN, a specially designed logo for the year, and the infrastructure of the UN system to coordinate events worldwide, the various years have become catalysts to advancing key issues on a global scale. So although the person on the street may not know whether it is the year of Geophysics or the year of International Culture and Peace this point in the UN System certainly plays a huge part in the work carried out around the world. It is important to remember that as there are currently 191 states sit in the UN (as appose to just 42 when it was founded in 1919 showing the importance of it in the modern world) so what they agree upon more often than not goes ahead. All decisions are made at the International Conferences, to which representatives from all 191 states are invited and all key issues are decided upon by vote but it is governed by the Secretary-General Annan and in part the UN Security Council, which has the power to make decisions that must be carried out by governments, made up of United Kingdom, United States of America, Russian Federation, French Republic and the People’s Republic of China
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Arms Control and Disarmament was a factor set up in the original charter which centered on “the founders of the UN having high hopes that it would act to prevent conflicts between nations and make future wars impossible”- Franklin D. Roosevelt. Just months after signing the charter which ensured "the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources" came the threat of nuclear weapons, which has continued ever since, and even now Kofi Annan faces problems over calls for certain countries to disarm and others to take up arms and so the creation of many councils were set up to deal with these occurrences including the First Committee of the General Assembly and the UN Disarmament Commission. Another issue which may not be as popular as Celebrity Big Brother but is certainly crucial for every person on everyday. This tie in with the Peacekeeping aspect of the Charter, an idea which requires countries in to supply soldiers to those in need of them with the aim being “keeping the peace”, not fighting! With the average person in Britain knowing of troops who served in Bosnia, which won the Noble Prize for Peace in 1988 and in 2000 the UN and Kofi Annan, won the Nobel Peace Prize "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."
Over the past twenty years the UN has devoted a considerable amount of resources into promoting Human Rights; as such the UN Charter obliges all member nations to promote "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights" and to take "joint and separate action" to that end. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though not legally binding, was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all, and without making this a law, the UN do all they can to promote the basic human rights every man, woman and child has, working closely with Amnesty International to review these, a role that is essential in the modern day, whether people know about it or not. The UN also provided a major percent of the aid sent to The Asian Tsunami and the New Orleans tragedy as part of its Humanitarian assistance and international development aim, which also includes work with the WHO who spent much time eliminating smallpox and polio, most notably, and the World Bank for the end to World Debt.
It is normally the case that when one looks at the aims an institution creates for itself and what it does in reality they are often very different, but this cannot be said about the UN. Although sometimes not making goals they set, for the benefit of every country in the world, they always try - with no gain for the men and women that spent hours working on it. The Role of the UN in the twenty-first century is simple, it is a "global association of governments facilitating co-operation in international law, international security, economic development, and social equity”, or in simple terms it is a gathering of informed and knowledgeable leaders, who work tirelessly to keep the world going round, whether saving people from weapons, starvation, natural disasters, other people or even themselves
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