The UN is failing – states must back off and give its leader the power to act

Guardian: In a world facing many grave challenges across many spheres, people look to the United Nations to play a key role in resolving them.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark speaks after a meeting as a candidate for United Nations (UN) secretary-general on April 14, 2016 in New York City
 Photograph: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Yet there is broad appreciation that the UN is failing in vital areas, not least on peace and security. It is at its best in the development and humanitarian domain, where it works with and for people and gets results. But its seeming inability to act to end the protracted crises that have driven untold human misery – including the forced displacement of an unprecedented 65.6 million people – is an indictment of the organisation. It badly needs structures and ways of working that will address this century’s crises, not those of 1945.

Some of its constraints are structural, like the veto power on the security council given to five nations when the charter was written in 1945. That prevents effective action on peace and security – even when an overwhelming majority of the security council and member states wants it. That veto should be removed, and replaced by a qualified voting system that allows, at the least, for decisions to be taken on a near-unanimous basis.

2 replies

  1. The UN was created by the permanent members of the Security Council to control the world. Churchill said: ‘In the Security Council we control the world. Let the rest of the world keep talking in the General Assembly, it will have no effect on us’.

  2. The humanitarian agencies of the UN are theoretically ok. They are used to ‘white-wash’ the political decisions of the permanent members of the Security Council. – The honest thing would be for all countries to get out of the UN, and the UN humanitarian agencies too (as the permanent members have no wish to change the veto power thing)…

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