How Effective Is the Un? What Are the Constraints on Its Power.

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  • Topic: United Nations, United Nations Security Council, United Nations General Assembly
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  • Published : April 7, 2008
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How Effective Is The UN? What Are The Constraints On Its Power? The United Nations, (UN) was originally established in 1945 for the purpose to “maintain international peace and security…to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems…and to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations in attaining these ends.” In assessing whether or not the UN is an effective organisation, it is essential to acknowledge several important features of the establishment. The UN and its organs, to what extent it has failed or succeeded, how heavily the organisation relies upon funding and cooperation of member states, the importance of the Security Council, and constraints that all these factors put on the establishment.

The United Nations is made up of 5 separate organs that each have different responsibilities. These include the Security Council, General Assembly, the Economical and Social Council, International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. The Security Council has the primary responsibility under the Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. Made up of five permanent members (US, Russia, China, UK and France) who each have veto-power over any resolution and ten temporary members, this council makes decisions on whether or not the UN will intervene in a conflict. The General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberatator, policy-making and representative organ of the UN. Comprising of all 192 members, the General Assembly acts as the discussion forum for any issues, having the ability to make comments or suggestions on any concerns in maintaining international peace and security. The Economc and Social Council acts as the centre for all discussions relating to the international economy or social issues. Its focuses on issues involving education, employment, international culture, living standards and health care. The International Court of Justice is the primary judicary organ of the UN, with its main purpose being to settle legal disputes brought upon by member states and give legal advice to international organs, agencies and the UN General Assembly. The Secretariat involves the caring for UN staff who do the day to day work of the organisation in all different countries. It is the administrative side of the UN with the Secreatry-General at its head. Understanding the organs of the UN will assit in identifying whether or not the UN, with its different sections is an effective organistion and what constraints are limiting its authority, if any.

As a whole, it is difficult to assess whether the UN is a success or failure. Under the five principle organs, there are dozens of minor bodies that each face different objectives, and experience varied degrees of success and failure. For instance, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is currently assisting in restoring fisheries and aquaculture in tsunami affected areas, having granted 7.5 million dollars towards the cause , this being seen as a potentially effective mission. However, on the other end of the spectrum, problems have arised with the UN organisation, CARE International, due to the lack of electoral workers sent into Iraq to assist with the Iraqi election in January. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters that “It is unfortunate that the contribution and participation of the UN employeers in this process is not up to expectations.” This could be perceived as an ineffective decision by the UN and a potential failure. These examples demonstrate how the UN as one organisation can experience both successes and failures, as its individual bodies control the outcome.

The UN has been accused of being ineffective, however to identify whether or not this has any fact to it involves recognising the failures, successes and the consequences of both. According to the Human Security Report 2005, peace keeping organisations such as the UN and Amnesty...
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