What now for the Future of the UN and World Security
If The United Nations organisation is disbanded, is there much worth in developing an alternative international body that is responsible for peace and security?
The purpose of the United Nations is to maintain international peace and security per Article one of its Charter. Its purpose also encompasses developing friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. It seems to me that unfortunately, the United Nations has failed catastrophically in fulfilling these aims over the past thirty years with regard to the various different wars and interventions which have taken place.
Currently, 5 countries including Russia, China, the UK, the USA, and France are permanent members of the Security Council. Russia did not seek approval to send troops into Ukraine, since in all probability it would not have been given to it. Furthermore, it is unlikely that its actions fall under Article 51 which allows member states to use force when responding to an armed attack for example, in self-defense. Although, one could argue Russia was defending ethnic Russians living in the separatist areas, who were being systematically persecuted by the Ukrainian government. However, legally speaking at that point, Russia was “the one that started its military operation”, so it can be concluded that “Russia’s actions did not abide by the principles embodied in international law. Russia's operation was not sanctioned by UN resolution, and it is not clear that it falls within the remit of the principle of self-defense, which is embodied within Articles 2(4) and 51 of the charter”.
In President Biden’s speech given to the UN on September 21, 2022, he stated that Russia had “shamelessly violated the core tenants of the United Nations charter”. However, Biden fails to understand and acknowledge the fact that the principles of the United Nations charter have never been respected and adhered to by Western nations. So, this stand demonstrates hypocrisy to accuse one country of violating the tenants of the charter, when others have violated the terms without any consequences or repercussions. Allowing certain countries to breach the terms of the charter, signifies to the world that these principles are not worth protecting and are not respected.
This is not the first time that a country has engaged in a war without the UN’s approval, in contravention of international law. The West, while accusing Russia of this, is guilty of such behavior in Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Libya. All interventions were not sanctioned by the UN and did not fall into the remit of self-defense and were therefore illegal under international law. The charter according to Article 6 does allow for the expulsion of member states from the UN for consistent breaches of the charter, however, this has never happened in practice. Since there are evidently no formal consequences for a breach of the charter, what incentive do countries have to follow its rules and principles?
President Biden also stated in his UN address that “if nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then it puts at risk everything that the UN stands for”. This is undoubtedly correct: the sovereignty and freedom of each nation to live in peace and security should be guaranteed and sanctified at all costs. Yet, the West has recklessly pursued its own imperial ambitions in countries like Iraq, Syria, and Yugoslavia. They have also sought to control countries' leadership and freedom through the imposition of sanctions in countries like Iran and Venezuela; therefore, breaching the security of such nations and respect for the populations of those nations. The West does not recognize the pursuit of its own imperial ambitions but is quick to highlight those of other nations. It seems that there is a critical gap now that appears in international policing: the oversight and the sanctity of the terms of the UN charter are not truly embedded or respected. It is clearly not fair for one country to violate international law without consequences and then expect another country to do exactly the same and face repercussions.
In the same way that the League of Nations was helpless and mostly silent during the major events which lead up to World War 2, the United Nations has been helpless to prevent the numerous conflicts which have occurred after its formation. What should the future direction of the UN take? Should it be limited to the distribution of aid in areas where there are conflicts? Or should it be disbanded completely?
If it is disbanded, is there much worth in developing an alternative international body that is responsible for peace and security? It seems that there is a major divide now arising between the West (the UK, USA, and EU) and the East (China, Russia, and Asia). If, as it is clear, these countries cannot reconcile diplomatically how can peace be secured going forward? Is it through the unwritten acknowledgment that the West and East will not interfere in one another’s affairs as long as one individual territory is not compromised by the other side? I personally feel that this may be the only way to guarantee peace going forward, although inevitably it will lead to an extremely divided world.