After that on 24 October 1945 the United Nations Charter came into existence, formally understood as birth of the UN. The day is celebrated to memorize our common legacy, common inheritance and its achievements. The achievements of United Nations have always been debated and during last two decades the relevance of the organisation has been questioned. It is always argued that the organisation is not democratic in nature; rather it is manipulated by a handful of powers like US and its cronies for serving their own purposes.
The UN day, i.e. is also notable for messages issued by the UN Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly. In addition, special briefings are arranged for nongovernmental organisations on UN-related topics. Sometimes schools and civic groups arrange “peace marches” and other such events.
The tradition of celebrating United Nations Day with a concert is a powerful souvenir of common aspiration of nations to discover harmony and solidarity. The cultural treasures of nations are shared in the celebrations to cultivate peace and harmony across the world. The celebrations are also aimed at emphasizing the longer term goals of peace and justice and for remembering nations’ common legacy.
The composition of the Security Council has always been a bone of contention among the member countries. For many years, some member-states have been advocating expansion of the Security Council, arguing that adding new members will cure the democratic and representative shortfall from which the Council suffers. The Security Council reflects the global power structure of 1945, and it was in 1965, the last time, under pressure from a growing membership, that the UN expanded the Council, bringing its total membership to 15.
This arrangement makes the Council both autocratic and fruitless. The veto- wielding permanent members (P5) avert many issues from reaching the Council’s agenda and they often selfishly block widely-agreed and much-desirable initiatives. Despite the ten elected members, the Security Council remains geographically unbalanced and unrepresentative.
At the heart of this divide lies a disagreement over claims to new permanent Council seats. Brazil, India, Japan and Germany want a permanent seat in the Council, and have threatened to session their monetary or military troop offerings to the UN if they are not rewarded with permanent member status. African countries have also uttered the need for permanent African representation in the Council to bring an end to the domination of industrialised nations in the influential UN organ. But the P5 prefer to keep their oligarchy. Nations agree on the Council’s loopholes, but they differ sharply on the required solutions.
On September 16, 2008, however, the United Nations members endorsed India’s viewpoint that the General Assembly should begin the inter-governmental negotiations on expansion of the Security Council, with consensus emerging in favour of starting parleys by February 2009.
Pakistan and its allies had favoured the open-ended working ground (OEWG) continuing negotiations until consensus is reached. But India had advocated that the issue be sorted out at inter-governmental negotiations as OEWG had failed to reach any agreement after more than a decade of discussions.
After regular discussions, the OEWG agreed to recommend that the UN General Assembly begin informal negotiations on expanding membership of the Council no later than 28 February 2009.
The United Nations appears to be in bad shape, and has almost become ineffectual, says an article drawn from a new book, New World Disorder: The United Nations after the Cold War-An Insider’s View by David Hannay.
Events in the Balkans, in Rwanda and elsewhere have shown that the post-Cold War hopes about the UN presiding over a stable world have been dashed to the ground. The Security Council is divided over crucial issues like Iran, Myanmar, North Korea’s nuclear program, Zimbabwe, and now, Georgia. “Stymied in doing anything useful, the council keeps itself busy inventing ever more formats of meeting and forms of expression”, says former British diplomat Carner Ross in the piece. “Efforts at reform are nowhere to be seen. Leadership, from the UN Secretariat or the leading states of the UN, including the UK, is notable only in its utter absence”, he adds.
The 2003 Iran War is perhaps the biggest reason for the failure of the UN, since it was seen by most of the world as a deliberate abuse of internal law and the hold of the US and the UK over the Security Council.
Also responsible is the new-found assertiveness of Russia and China, and the growing economic and strategic self- confidence gained by other countries, including Sudan-all making the world a multipolar entity. Besides, conflicts deal with by the United Nations is increasingly located inside rather than between states.
Then there is the issue of scant leadership. The Secretary- General seems to have been appointed by the P5, on the understanding that he is not to offer a firm steers, either on political issues or the ‘United Nations’ necessary reforms. But what is the solution to its institutional problem? The UN can sure be made more open and accountable.
It will require a determined and sustained effort to do this, and few countries show any willingness to take on this burden. Instead, most of them seem content to let the UN deteriorate.
Other challenges that lie ahead for the UN are to stress the need to re-energise the fight against poverty and strengthen its efforts for development. The 2005 World Summit highlighted the significant role played by the United Nations in influencing a collective vision of advancement.
The developmental goals have been laid down under framework of Millennium Development Goals. The role of the United Nations in conflict prevention, peacemaking and peace building have always been discussed in high pitch, but for any kind of success in this regard, approach must be integrated, coordinated and comprehensive. Enhancing the UN’s capacity for preventive diplomacy and supporting sustainable peace processes will help to enhance the Organisation’s credentials.
The menace of terrorism is another important global challenge which has been on the agenda of the United Nations for decades. In September 2006 for the first time in history, all UN member-states agreed to a common strategic and operational approach to fight the scourge. In the emerging global scenario, the persisting risks posed by nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction underscore the need for revitalisation of the disarmament agenda.
Bringing human rights to all people of the world is another challenge to be taken care of. The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), a part of the United Nations Secretariat, has a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights.
The modern humanitarianism demands more accountable, transparent, predictable and coordinated approach to confront the crisis. Furthermore, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has expressed his commitment to an Organisation that delivers more effectively. On 24 July 2008 a newly-created group of legal experts played a pivotal part in improving the system of internal justice within the United Nations. The Internal Justice Council was created after the General Assembly decided to reshape the UN justice system.
The working of the UN has been severely criticized by some nations on several grounds. But the fact cannot be denied that the world body has so far achieved its basic objective of preventing a large war involving more than two nations. It has stopped many skirmishes and mediated peaceful dialogue.
Its agencies and organs have played a major role in maintaining a world order besides helping in alleviating poverty, preventing diseases from becoming epidemics, helping the cause of children and women in poor countries providing loans through financial institutions like IMF and ADB. The UN provides a platform to world leaders to be united and fight world problems in cooperation with one another. Though its organs like Security Council need structural reforms, yet we can conclude that the UN is still relevant today.