The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental global organization that works to promote international co-operation and peacekeeping among nations. It was established on the 24th of October in 1945 following the catastrophic effects of World War 2, in order to prevent similar conflicts in the future. At its founding the UN had 51 member states, but at present there are 193 members, with only Palestine and Vatican City excluded. The main mission of the United Nations since it was founded has been to promote peace and international cooperation.
However, now that the UN is much larger and better funded, with many individual organisations that focus on specific issues such as UNESCO and UNICEF, the mission of the UN has become a lot broader in relation to specific issues, such as poverty and women’s rights etc. However, the main objectives of the UN can be summed up by five general points; maintaining peace and international security, promoting sustainable development, protecting human rights, upholding international law, and providing humanitarian aid and peacekeeping support in areas of conflict or disaster.
Personally, I believe that the UN so far has been relatively successful in working on these five main objectives that they have. In comparison to the League of Nations (The UN’s predecessor), the UN’s impact has been leaps and bounds more successful, and is a lot more well established globally than the League of Nations ever was. It’s inevitable that conflicts will break out, and so it’s unrealistic for anyone to expect the UN to prevent all conflict around the world (even though that is their main goal). However, that is not to say that they no longer fulfil their mission as the UN still has made a large impact on shaping the world today, especially in developing countries.
One major aspect of the UN’s mission in the last few years was to achieve the Millennium Development Goals that were set in 2000 following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. These Millennium Development Goals were eight international development goals that all 189 member states (at the time they were set) committed to working towards and achieving by 2015. Each goal had individual specific goals under it that were set to monitor progress over time.
The eight goals were: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, to achieve universal primary education, to promote gender equality and empower women, to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, to ensure environmental sustainability and to develop global partnership for development. Clearly, not all of these goals were met worldwide as many of these issues are still prevalent in different parts of the globe today.
However, many countries did make a lot of progress in those 15 years such as China whose poverty population dropped from 452 million to 278 million, and Brazil. In reality, progress towards these goals has not been uniform across the world, as there are huge disparities across countries and continents in the world.
For example, in many parts of Africa and the Middle East a lot of work is still left to be done, and constant conflict in those areas also has prevented a lot of potential work that could have been done there to work towards the MDG’s. In conclusion, while not all of the Millennium Development Goals were achieved in full across the globe, a lot of progress has been made towards achieving them, and the results have made the world a better place than it was 15 years ago.
Today, the Sustainable Development Goals (that were set at the end of 2015) have replaced the MDG’s, and contain 17 major objectives to be achieved globally by 2030.
While the MDG’s were major objectives that the UN was working to achieve in tandem with the governments of many different countries globally, the main goal mission of the UN has always been to prevent conflict and wars. Logically, some may say that they have been completely unsuccessful in doing so since 1945 as major conflicts such as the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the Iraq War have happened since then.
However, I disagree because as I mentioned earlier, it’s inevitable that conflict will break out in the world, and when it does, the main goal of the UN is naturally to resolve this conflict and prevent as many deaths and as much damage as possible. The UN runs many peacekeeping operations in countries or regions with ongoing conflict or political tension. Peacekeeping is essentially when the UN sends trained operatives into areas conflict in order to prevent as much violence as possibly in a peaceful manner, as well as tending to those that have been affected by any violence and are in need of humanitarian aid.
Peacekeepers also help facilitate the political processes between two parties during conflict, protect civilians and innocent people from getting affected by the fighting, and try to uphold and promote human rights despite the fact that there is ongoing conflict in the area. So far the UN has deployed over 50 peacekeeping operations since its founding, and there are currently 16 ongoing, primarily in Africa and the Middle East. All in all, these peacekeeping operations have prevented many deaths (especially those of innocent civilians) and have made conflicts a lot less reckless and chaotic.
In conclusion, I personally disagree with the statement “The United Nations no longer fulfils its mission”, as the United Nations has done a lot of work since its founding to prevent conflict around the world and has had a significant impact globally doing so. The UN has also done a lot of humanitarian work in developing countries such as helping push local communities out of poverty, as well as standing up for those who’s human rights have been violated, which often the governments of these countries don’t even uphold themselves.
The UN’s global unifying power promotes peace among all nations and are responsible for unique operations such as the MDG’s and peacekeeping which has had a huge positive impact for all people regardless of their race, age, religion etc. , but based on the foundation that every human deserves the same human rights and to be treated equally. No organization has ever done what the UN has managed to achieve in its 70 years of activity, and the UN is still fulfilling its mission today, and will continue to do so for many years to come.
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