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The Role of the United Nations in the Modern World
Publication date: 2003-02-10

The Role of the United Nations in the Modern World against the Background of the US Foreign Policy

All wars eventually lead to peace — to sobering up of belligerent rhetoric and to realization that prevention is better than reconstruction.

It is such post‐war sobering up that lead to the establishment of the League of Nations after World War I, and of it's successor the United Nations Organization after World War II.

The purpose of these organizations was prevention of wars.

As we know the League of Nations had failed in that task. And the UN is now passing a test, of whether it can be an effective instrument of peace.

So far, the UN has been unable to prevent regional wars, which have been going on all the time up to the present day, but there was no World War III.

Was this due to the UN? Or was it due to the Cold War Balance of Power between the two Power Blocks lead by the two rival super‐powers?

The Balance of Power was certainly the material force behind the peace. But the UN did play the role of a meeting place where the super‐powers could talk to each other when the things were getting too hot.

At one of such meetings a super‐power leader had to take of his shoe and bang it on the table to put his point across. But shoe‐bangings were preferable to bombings — and World War III had been averted.

But can the UN still prevent a global war now, when the military Balance of Power is no longer there?

The Bush administration are seeking to formulate new principles for world government, which will be effectively performed by the United States, as the world's most powerful nation. These principles are stated in the The National Security Strategy of the United States of America Report (September 2002).

How does this new American Strategy affect the role of the UN?

The NSS document shows that the US administration still think along the old Cold War lines, with the Specter of Global Communism being replaced with a Specter of Global Terrorism. They see the American National Interest as the sole criterion of Right and Wrong and themselves as an unchallenged World Ruler rewarding his friends and preemptively exterminating his enemies, as, when and how he pleases.

It is difficult to see how in such world order the UN can play any role, except as a rubber stamp of approval of anything the US administration might wish to undertake.

It is also difficult to see how such one‐nation‐state world domination can bring to Mankind security and peace.

The war against Afghanistan was not a pre‐meditated operation. It was an impulsive reaction to the events of the 9/11. Each step of this war was undertaken as a reaction to the situation on the ground. The steps were justified after being taken. The aim of that war was to catch or kill Osama bin Laden with minimal American casualties. This aim has not been achieved. But the side effects were a “regime change” and the devastation of Afghanistan, neither of which was originally intended. Nor did they envisage the prospect of “nation building” with which they are now faced.

The war against Iraq is the first deliberate and pre‐meditated step in implementation of the US strategy. And the UN has already become an obstacle to the US administration. The US did not object to using the UN as a rubber stamp legitimizing their war, but now the Europeans (France, Germany and Russia) want to use the UN for its intended purpose, as an instrument of preventing wars, rather than of legitimizing wars.

The need to keep word peace, and the threat to it posed by the new US strategy, are pushing the UN towards becoming an effective means of World Government — of resolution of conflicts between nations on the basis of justice and of maintenance of international law and order. This is a greater challenge than being a mere talking shop, where potential conflicts were diffused by the national leaders banging their shoes on the table, as in the Cold War days.

These are the first tentative steps to the new World Order based on rule of law. It is still a long way to go. But this is the right way to go. The US administration needs to come to terms with this new order and to learn to play an active and constructive part in it. This is the way to world peace and security, not the thuggery of wars and politics.

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