International Day of Peace
UN and international peace: An assessment
One of the dominant keystones behind the establishment of United Nations is the collective desire of the countries to safeguard international peace and stability from the machinations of malicious actors. However, while United Nations (UN) has unwaveringly concentrated institutional efforts in order to salvage international peace, its efforts had become unavailing in innumerable occasions calling into question the core principle of the United Nations. Against this backdrop, this article presents an evaluation of the chequered history of UN in maintaining international peace and stability.
United Nations is an embodiment of collective endeavours of countries in institutionalization of the international politics. The anarchic international structure has wreaked havoc to the general public by triggering internecine wars between countries actuated by a perennial security dilemma. This perennial anarchic international environment had been expressively pushed the world towards the two world wars of 20th century which had endangered the stability of the world.
Besides, the efforts to establish a world government were taken after the World War 1, led by the US president Woodrow Wilson. The victors of the war framed an international institution and bestowed collective pledges to enable the institution to become the custodian of international peace and stability to avert a future crisis. Although the institution was first broached by the United States president Woodrow Wilson, in US the creed of isolationism circumvented the country to join in the international institutions.
Therefore, the League of Nations was from its very outset a debilitated organization as it failed to incorporate one of the great powers which considerably lessened the efficacy of an international organization. This has been manifested in the following two decades when the League of Nations had assumed the role of a passive bystander to the international crisis and abysmally failed to forestall scores of norm-defying behaviour of countries, and thus precipitated the breakout of the Second World War.
Therefore, the debacle of the League of Nations in effecting any considerable change in international order can be attributed as one of the paramount causes of the breakout of the Second World War. Against this backdrop, the exhausted countries from intermittent wars had resolved to entrench international norms, rules and regulations so profoundly in their attempt to pre-empt any malicious actors from imperilling international peace.
From the beginning, United Nations had been forged with the professed rationale undergirding the endeavours of the countries to safeguard international peace and stability and to ensure peaceful international order. Unlike the League of Nations, the establishment of the United Nations had been a result of a series of diplomatic deliberations among the preeminent powers and hence was more efficacious in sustainably maintain the international order and stability. Besides, the great powers had also entrenched their position perpetually through an arbitrary privilege of veto powers which has sparked grievances among the emerging nations.
After the establishment of the United Nations, the world has plunged to the abyss of cold war which was characterized by escalating tensions among the Soviet Union and United States and therefore hamstringed the effectiveness of the United Nations. As has been mentioned, the permanent members of the United Nations wields veto power which bestow them the power to stonewall any decisions of the organization. This anachronistic veto has, therefore, been subject of fierce condemnation by nascent powers in the global stage.
In the Cold-war era, the United Nations (UN) had been hostage to the power wrangling of two superpowers and could only function when the two divergent powers had consensus on a particular issue. Therefore, the cold war exhibited a feeble UN which had been abysmally inadequate in dispensing its mandate of safeguarding international peace and stability. Besides, the protracted war in Vietnam didn't evoke any vigorous response from United Nations.
While Security Council sanctioned military retaliation, during Korean War, it was foiled due to the Cold War politics. Besides, while there were a procession of coup and counter-coups in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere orchestrated by the super power in order to retain control in the client states, United Nations had been a mere onlooker of such great power charade.
In the post Cold War period we had seen United Nations had taken a much vigorous role in safeguarding international peace and security. This consequential role had perhaps been typified in the introduction of a raft of peace building missions in the crisis-ridden areas of the world. This novelty in dealing with the international crisis had been instrumental to the goal of safeguarding international peace as it enabled the United Nations to navigate the intricate nature if the crisis. Peace building missions had salvaged scores of people in the conflict areas, however the glaring debacles of the peace building mission had also become subject to international opprobrium. For example, the United Nations became unavailing in averting Sajarevo massacre.
At the onset of the new century, the international politics had been jolted by the cataclysmic 9/11 attack which was followed by equally vicious reprisal of the United States that precipated a series of interventions by the country disregarding the fundamental international norm of deference to sovereignty. For example, the intervention in Iraq based on spurious evidence has triggered a humanitarian crisis. However, United Nations became the passive organization of bestowing legitimacy of the great power foreign policy goals.
In the year that followed, the international stability has considerably deteriorated which can be manifested by the increasingly simmering tensions between United States and China which has been reminiscent of the cold war confrontation between two superpowers only distinct in that China has supplanted the role of US adversary. This rivalry between US and China can be detrimental to international peace and stability engendering ruinous wars and conflicts.
Therefore, United Nations should be scrupulous in order to prevent the international situation from deteriorating at this rivalry between countries is at odds with the core mandate of united nations in safeguarding peace and stability. Besides, more often we observe that any resolution pressing geopolitical issue are swiftly vetoed by the veto power countries to safeguard their interests. This is, however, prejudicial to international peace as majority of international crisis remain inconclusive despite broaching the issue to UN often due to the objection of a permanent member.
Therefore, United Nations should be refurbished in order to better orient the organization to maintain international peace. Moreover, the evolving geopolitical challenges emanating from cyber war and a more pernicious conflict calls for a more streamlined and nimble peace settlement process of United Nations for ensuring peace and stability in the future.
The writer is a student, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka