The UN


Jan 24, 2002
Now I don't want to come across as the typical UN bashing American here. I have a few basic questions, and I'd like to start an honest discussion.

What are everybody's thoughts on the structure of the UN? To me it seems inherently unfair, and thus doomed to at the very least need replacing. The reasons I see for this are as follows:

1. Five nations have veto power. This makes them more important, and thus their views carry more weight. Why? I know historically why, but what is the egalitarian justification for this?

2. Populations are represented unevenly. Correct me If I am wrong on this, but basically, India gets the same voice as Sweeden or Belgium. This in a sense means that their citizens' voices carry more weight. Many posters on this board have expressed firm belief in the concept of majority rule, and under this principle, how is the UN's setup equitable?

3. Nations contribute differently to the UN. This is not based upon population, and the form can vary from cash to troops. There is however nothing in place to credit these contributions in decision making. Perhaps this is okay in the sense that money and power shouldn't buy a voice, but then again, if a nation is not contributing, should they have a voice? And does it matter if the non-contribution is because of lack of resources, or just a choice?

Well, let me know what you think on this.
Since 1949, all the UN is is a joke.
First of all, in 1973, in the 'Yum Kippur War', when all the arab nations united to eliminate Israel, and Israel was about to be doomed, the UN did nothing. They said nothing to the arab countries for attempting to destroy Israel, they did not threaten them to be thrown out of the UN for attacking Israel nor Israel got any type of support to survive from the UN. But after a part of the war things changed, Israel managed somehow to defend itself, it stopped the troops and almost reached Demescus (Syrias Capital), and then the UN decided to say 'Israel must stop now the attack'. When they almost reached Tel-Aviv, the UN said nothing, but when we manage to overthrow them from our country, we must stop the attack. right.

Seond of all, The UN told Israel to evacuate all troops from areas like gazaa so their 'Peacekeeping' force could stay there, but when egypt wanted to attack israel and told the UN to bug off they did it without doing their promised 'Peacekeeping'.

Third of all, The UN told Israel to evacuate south lebanon so they can keep their peacekeeping force their, but since we evacuated lebanon the UN did nothing other than cooperating with the hizbullah, letting the hibullah attack whenever they want, allowing the hizbullah to kidnap israeli soldiers from their border while videotaping it and shouting 'The jews got it' with antisemitite joy.

Fourth of all, They putted Syria in their security council. Syria, the country that probably holds the largest amount of chimical weapons in the world, the country that indefinately supports the hizbullah, providing it with weapons and places to attack from, and headquarters in thier capital. the country that supports every anti-israel terror organization there is. a country that supports terror generally. in their security council. right.

Fifth of all, they are just UNable. every place they scrab their peacekeeping force in is doomed to be used in war. their peacekeeping force keeps peace my a$$ :mad:

Sixth of all, all their decisions and statements since 1948 have been all pro-arab and anti-israel and we all know the reason for that (erm... oil oil anyone?). They wont even let the Red-Star-Of-David (Israels Health And Care Agency) into the world wide health and care union, while they let the Muslim-whatever-they-have and The Christian Red-cross. pure racism to fit their oil and pro-arab needs.

There is nothing more corrupt and more dispised in this world at such position. nothing.
The U.N. structure indeed needs a reform,but I think in General the U.N. has proven its necessarity (Korea,Cyprus,Georgia,probably Afghanistan).And their subsidiaries play a very important role in holding the world together (WTO,WHO,UNHCR,UNESCO).To what a weak U.N. leads,showed the existence of the League of Nations.

1.THe Security Council is a joke.It represents a world which is gone forever.But for Britain and especially France it is a great part of national pride and in case of France their most influential internationall instrument.The veto power should remain on the permanent members,including:USA,Russia,China,India,Japan,Brazil;and there should always be a permanent seat for a European country,and they (means the EU,I think) can decide every turn who shall take the place.

2.This is the main idea of the U.N.,that every nation is equal in the U.N. But a) if the U.S. or China threatens Dominica or Tonga with cutting trade relation e.G.,whom are these going to vote this? and b)decisions made by the General Assembly are not International law;this can be seen from time to time when the GA demands from the U.S. to lift its sanctions on Cuba,but thats only a recommendation,not a duty;but Security councils decisions are duties (at least in Theory;see Israel/Iraq).

3.Membership can be supended (it happened to Yugoslavia and Indonesia,I think) and vote can be denied when money isn´t paid (almost happened to the U.S.) once;but this again is incontext with 2,because the SC makes the main decisions,where only contributing countries have influence
Thanks for the responses.

Iceblaze, I appreciate your angst against the UN, and by no means do I think you are unjustified. However I am looking more at the structure of the institution as opposed to its actions. I know the two can be connected, but I am trying to work in the theoretical.

Kennelly, I can agree with your point on the Security council to the extent that it is a joke, but is expanding, and or redefining membership the answer? This will still leave many nations out, and put them permanently in a lesser status.

As for the money, does anyone know how dues are assessed? Is it the same for all nations, different based upon wealth? What about population? How is deployment of peacekeepers handled? Can this be used as partial payment, or does this always come as cost above and beyond normal dues?
You might not think this helpful, but as the great Homer J simpson once said:

"...when will people learn...Democracy just doesn't work!"

I can't really summarise my opinion in any other statement. The UN has to be granted power and the means to exercise it, the way it is structured will always be to the advantage of those funding it. There's no way anyone will put in 25% of the funding for 8% of the vote.
At present UN representatives are chosen by governments. They should really be directly elected by the people. UN funding should be via taxation not under control of individual governments - say special taxes on alcohol, tobacco, luxuries etc. A 1% tax on these should raise a sizeable amount.

In such a set-up the Chinese and Indians would have 30% of the votes together and the US only 5%. But then isn't that fair enough, as long as governments are not allowed to influence the UN votes.
Originally posted by macaskil
At present UN representatives are chosen by governments. They should really be directly elected by the people. UN funding should be via taxation not under control of individual governments - say special taxes on alcohol, tobacco, luxuries etc. A 1% tax on these should raise a sizeable amount.

In such a set-up the Chinese and Indians would have 30% of the votes together and the US only 5%. But then isn't that fair enough, as long as governments are not allowed to influence the UN votes.

Well Muslim countries will love the tax on alcohol.

Also, how are you going to make it so that the governments are not allowed to influence UN votes?
My ideas about the UN are a little fantastic I'm afraid. Maybe in 100 years.....

What is needed 1st is for the power of the nation state to diminish. This has already been happening throughout this century. Unfortunately it looks as though corporations are moving into the power vacuum. The ulitimate nightmare would be a de facto United Nations consisting of the board of Microsoft. Aaaaaagh!
Originally posted by macaskil
The ulitimate nightmare would be a de facto United Nations consisting of the board of Microsoft. Aaaaaagh!

Wow, what a cool idea! MS-UN version 3.0!

A Microsoft UN would have the cash they need to act
A Microsoft UN would actually have the power to do something
A Microsoft UN would inspire fear instead of contempt
A Microsoft UN would protect its turf
A Microsoft UN would have no patience for socialist kaka
A Microsoft UN would be full of young ambitious people instead of leftover retread bureaucrats from middle and regional powers.

Sounds perfect to me. In fact, sounds like a UN I could actually get behind, instead of like the UN that turned its back in Rwanda, Goradze, etc, and fosters this BS idealogy that there is always a middle ground, no matter how offensive one side of the ground might be.
Ah, the much-maligned UN...

I think a lot gets done through the UN, especially if you consider it is a toothless organization that has to find some sort of consensus among nearly every country in the world.

Structurally, well yes it could stand to be reformed. It was designed in a time (1945) when the world was very clearly dominated by a handful of powers, so the Security Council was meant to provide those states with some extra leverage - especially since they before all others would have to provide most of the funding and logistical support for UN operations. It is the classical legislative problem of how to balance and fairly represent the interests equally of unequal participants, especially since the larger states would have to provide a disproportionate amount of the resources for solutions to issues. This means countries like Yemen or Granada would effectively have influence over American or Chinese budgetary and foreign policy decisions, something neither Washington nor Beijing would ever accept. The U.S. Congress resolved this by having one chamber with an equal number of representatives from each state and another with the number of reps determined by each state's population. Germany has developed a very complex legislative system to balance the interests of the individual Lands. The UN is technically not a legislature - it can't make binding laws - so the equation is a little different when its members send delegates (with specific instructions from their respective countries) rather than representatives (who can use their own judgement in decisions).

Still though - the UN does provide a forum for all states to at least be heard. The UN also provides many critical health, financial and educational services around the world, as well as the occasional military mission - though this is often at the whim of its most powerful members. It is unwieldy and susceptible to manipulation occasionally but again, it provides each state with "face-time" with the rest of the world and has contributed immensely to the growing awareness since WW II of the need for sustained international cooperation on many critical issues.

In short, it's a baby step in the right direction, but in comparison to what came before it is a giant leap.
As always Vrylakas, very inciteful. Thank you. Perhaps what we need to do is fully appreciate what the UN is, and what it has turned out not to be.

It is a good forum for the world.
It is a good mechanism for coordinating some humanitarian efforts.

It is not very good at imposing rules and standards on member nations.

Well, that's my take for the moment.:)
In my opinion the UN has one basic problem that causes all the problems mentioned here. The UN takes himself as a democracy, but actually it is built in a way amazingly similiar to the political system of Iran - The only democratic foundation is the elections. No rules to protect the minority, paying money (or other things like oil) to other members so they'll vote for you is legal, the founders have more rights then other people have, killing someone can be decided by the majority and not by a seperate body like in real democracies, etc.

The UN tries to be the parlament of all nations but is more similar to a parlament under a dictatorship then to a democratic parlament.
:yinyang: The UN needs to check out a couple of episodes of Star Trek;asthe Federation system seems a bit more egalitarian then the rich nations club,the UN.
[dance] :beer: [dance]
The UN is not perfect, and will never be, before man is. Ofcause USA and the other powerfull contries will not let go of the security chambre, because that would mean that they lost power, which actually is not wrong of them to want, 'cos they are the biggest nations, and have the most influence in the world. If we said - "USA you can only have 1 vote like little Denmark" (where I live), they would say - "**** you", and there would be no UN. As I said, the world is not perfect, but we do our best - and a UN with the security chambre is better than no UN at all.
The U.N. is a toothless orginization for solving the worlds problems. The only time it is effective is when a power, capable of drawing up the coalition and acting without the support of the U.N., takes up the blue hats and does it under their auspice.

In my opinion, too many people expect too much from the United Nations. Its most important function, one which I hope won't get burried under the political wrangling of the role of the UN, is to allow nations to discuss their grievences in an open forum. Communication between nations is key in preventing unneccessary conflict, and keeping it isolated if it does errupt.

The U.N. is not, and should not be, treated as a model for a future world government.
I think that in this thread the UN is judged on things that are most visible, the reaction of the UN on various conflicts. The major contribution of the UN to the world is not very visible to most people but what the UN has done with food programs and medical programs all over the world is quite impressive. Many lives have been saved and some diseases have almost been eliminated. These are things that may not be very spectacular to the media (therefore no media attention and not much knowledge in the general public) but these are accomplishments that are not to be overlooked.
Another important thing is that the UN is a stage in which countries are forced to remain talking and listening to eachother even in conflict situations. To keep the dialoge running is a major accomplishment that was impossible before the UN.
So what we have is a problem of perceptions. The UN does good work, and I for one don't question that. However, I would raise the possibility that the political side can and does get in the way of that work. The Israelis on this thread don't like the UN very much, but I doubt they are against the coordination of humanitarian efforts. The same applies for many Americans, and I would guess many other people in the world.

What about splitting the two functions up? I know there are cons, but are there any pros to doing this? What do you guys think?
you can't say the UN is not perfect because humanity is not perfect :rolleyes:
Just admit it, the UN could have been a lot better and in fact and not fiction, it doesnt take men kind to be perfect in order of the UN to get better. the UN is completely corrupt and hypocritic, thats all.

If only you would look at the regular sentence koffi anan says about the situation in israel, each time (on weekly/monthly basis):
"The circle of violence must be stopped. Israel should stop assasinations and evict the palestinien territories and the palestiniens must stop terror now."
sounds like such a naive and lack of political understanding sentence, no surprise the UN is so soft and full of shi*
Though I see the positive effect the UN has had through its various sub-organisations (UNESCO etc.) I don't see much sense or positive effect in the UN as an organisation that should lead towards world peace. That goal is a great thing but if you look at what the UN actually did (or was able to do) there's not much left of it. And that certainly won't change as long as some nations have veto rights that effectively block anything they don't like. This was a nice instrument for cold warriors but today it's even completely useless.
Fact is, that the UN itself is and has ever been almost without any power. It can't force anything on member states (like for example the EU) therefore decisions made in the UN are worthless if the bigger (in the sense of powerful) nations, in particular the US, disagree. I don't want to talk about specific decisions now, but there have been several votes that were almost unanimously but single countries blocked them, or if that wasn't possible, simply ignored them.

As much as I generally like the idea of a world organisation that unites all human beings to some degree I think that the actual existing UN is far away from that. :(
Top Bottom