Essay about the United Nations at the End of the 20th Century

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The United Nations came into existence as a result of the worst war known to man, World War II. Around 85 million people died during the course of World War II. That is nearly 3% of the 1940 world population. The creation of the United Nations was an American-led effort to replace the failed League of Nations. Even the name, ‘United Nations’, was first suggested by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, along with several other major combat nations agreed there was a need for a world organization to keep peace in future years. These founders of the United Nations had a clear vision of its roles as a facilitator of cooperative action among sovereign nations to prevent more global conflict. In 1945, 50 nations met in San Francisco, completing the Charter of the United Nations. The preamble to the United Nations Charter states, “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetimes has brought sorrow to mankind”, reinvigorates the ideals of cooperation and peace. The founders of the United Nations had more hopes than to solely prevent war. The United Nations was meant to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination, as well as achieving international cooperation in solving international problems. These problems could be economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian. To accommodate all these ideals the United Nations must be more than one group. The most powerful organization in the United Nations is the Security Council. The Security Council is a permanent council in the United Nations with the primary goal of maintaining peace and security. Consequently, the Security Council has the power to deploy troops from United Nations member countries, as well as place economic penalties on countries. The United Nations also include well known organizations such as the World Trade Organization and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as small organizations such as the International Seed Testing Association and International Bureau of Weights and Measures. The extensive list of organizations and groups contributing to the idea of a united group of sovereign nations shows the support placed behind the United Nations. The United Nations had an impact on history, and the world would be very different today without it, however they didn’t succeed in their goals. Today we have seen the United Nations fail in their efforts to prevent ‘the scourge of war’, ‘achieve friendly relations’, and ‘become the center for harmonizing the actions of nations’.

The United Nations had 60 members in 1950. They now count 193 members among their ranks. The goal has always stayed the same, to create a just and prosperous world through common action. This could hardly be simpler, yet after half a century we still live amid global insecurity and, in many places, injustice and suffering. The United Nations continues with no reform and an ever-increasing budget. Reform has been on the table ever since the United Nations founding in 1945, however it has yet to occur. This is due to the inflexibility and strong beliefs of many members, specifically in the Security Council. Many developing countries are underrepresented in the Security Council. Latin America and Africa have never experienced a permanent membership in the Security Council. Five states were also granted permanent membership in the Security Council due to their actions in ending World War II. These five nuclear powers: France, Russia, the United States, China, and the United Kingdom's, are often called the ‘nuclear club’, and are left unchecked, leading to the failure of full worldwide representation. The United Nations peacekeeping budget in 1984 was 141 million dollars for 5 missions and about 1,200 personnel. Today the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations directs and supports 18 current peace operators involving 12,000 personnel and an annual budget of more than 7 billion dollars. Despite this, the past 60 years have seen the United Nations struggle to meet expectations. There have been hundreds of wars since the founding in 1945, resulting in millions of deaths. The United Nations, despite their unity and backing, have only authorized force in the face of aggression twice. In 1950 after North Korea's invasion of South Korea, where it was declared that North Korea's actions were a breach of peace, and asked for U.N. members to aid South Korea. As a result, 41 countries sent equipment or provisions, and 16 sent troops, with the United States sending 90% of the total troops to South Korea. The other instance was Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1991. Kuwait contains about 20% of the world's oil reserves, which nearly every country heavily relies upon. The U.N. demanded the withdrawal of Kuwait's forces and denounced the invasion. The United Nations, first and foremost, would prefer to solve problems peacefully and without force. They have been successful, however, in conducting peacekeeping operations in dozens of countries through their Security Council. Such as the U.N.’s operation in Mozambique in 1992, where the operation aided in securing a lasting peace following a civil war between their government and a resistance due to the region's chronic poverty. Shortly after, the United Nations aided Tajikistan in monitoring a peace agreement during and after a civil war, as well as aiding their ability to withstand natural disasters their region is prone to. A few achievements don't outweigh the many failures the United Nations has experienced when attempting to resolve conflicts. An extreme example of this would be one of the most notorious modern genocides, the Rwandan genocide. The U.N. has stated they are still ashamed of their failure in this matter. The U.N. struggled with poor leadership and management, as well as a selfish corruption fearing an operation that could potentially damage future peacekeeping. This genocide totaled over one million deaths after the United Nations lack of involvement, and failure to even provide equipment to African countries who had promised soldiers.

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The United Nations has also shown their struggle to ‘achieve friendly relations’. The U.N. is meant to be a center to develop friendly relations among nations based upon the equal rights of peoples. From those with disabilities, to minorities, to women, and to children, the United Nations promotes the respect for human rights. This pushed the creation of a body of international human rights law, which contains 10 human rights treaty bodies. These bodies monitor the creation and implementation of any human rights laws or treaties. These bodies and the U.N. have failed, however, to protect thousands of people such as women, those displaced by war, and immigrants. In states of emergency that required immediate action, the U.N. is known to struggle in sending relief and forces. This spurred the creation of the UNEF, or United Nations Emergency Force. The Suez Crisis marked the first use of the UNEF in 1956. The Suez Crisis was caused by Britain and France's invasion of Egypt to gain control over the Suez Canal. The United Nations providing an international presence in the canal, and Britain and France experiencing pressure from the U.S. and U.S.S.R., caused their retreat after many casualties and damage to Egyptian war making potential. The Suez Crisis was a complete disaster, but marked the beginning of the UNEF. The UNEF wasn't without its problems. The United Nations struggled with the budget for expeditionary forces. The only way to pay for these was through voluntary assessments, which small powers weren't always able to pay. This caused the small powers to send the majority of the troops while the greater powers sent little to no troops, but paid the costs of the UNEF. Even with the UNEF, however, the United Nations was completely useless in peacekeeping during the Cold War. The Cold War stretched from 1945 to 1991, creating a global economic, cultural, and ideological battle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The United Nations became a battleground for Western powers, against communism, and communist powers led by the Soviet Union. Security council members are given the power to veto UN actions. The use of this caused much of the U.N. to fail, with no way of taking any action. Peacekeeping operations were impossible, unless there was a unanimous vote from the security council, and the entire organization was frozen. The U.N. was based on complete impartiality and couldn't take a side in the conflict. After the Cold War ended the landscape of the United Nations was radically altered. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to pay any financial debts they had to the U.N. The United Nations was also accepted and realized by the U.S., and other countries, as an opportunity to maintain national status, and international cooperation over violence. With the Soviet threat gone, the alliance between the U.S. and the Western world weakened. New ambitions and tasks emerged under the mistaken belief its inadequacies were a reflection of the Cold War. Smaller, developing countries began to band together and make the U.N. more efficient to their necessities. They used their numerical advantage to focus on their priorities, while overlooking the option to reform the U.N. in order to make it more effective. The Cold War demonstrated a situation where the United Nations was helpless in solving a worldwide problem.

After World War II the United Nations was founded. Led by the USA and many other major powers in the world, an organization meant to help keep the peace and gain positive foreign relations was created. An organization meant to prevent the future generations of the world from experiencing the ‘scourge of war’, too many had been forced to live through already. Throughout the late 20th century, the United Nations achieved many accomplishments in aiding foreign relief and peacekeeping between nations. This is present in countries such as Mozambique and Tajikistan. The United Nations Emergency Force was also created in order to aid in the United Nations response to emergency situations. This group was demonstrated in their first deployment during the Suez Crisis, and were major contributors to the end of the invasion. Despite this the United Nations has failed to ‘prevent the scourge of war’, which is apparent in the millions of lives lost during the Rwandan genocide. The goal to ‘achieve friendly relations’ among nations was backed by the ideals of equal human rights. This was pushed by a body of international human rights law. They have failed however, to protect the minorities they were created to assist many times. One of the greatest failures of the United Nations is the Cold War. The United Nations was split between the anti-communist and communist regime. With no way to begin a peacekeeping operation due to the necessary neutrality of the U.N., both parties were left unchecked, and the United Nations turned into a battleground between parties for years. The United Nations experienced many successful peacekeeping operations and relief efforts, however they have failed many operations and allowed millions of lives to be lost, minorities to suffer, and relations among countries to fail.

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