When people think of “international relations” or “political science,” many tend to think of the United Nations. The United Nations, originally founded Oct. 24, 1945 in San Francisco, CA, was meant for one purpose: unity and a goal towards peace. However, people all across the globe have skepticism that the UN doesn’t do as much as they claim they do. January 4, 2014, University of Minnesota Emeritus Professor Joseph Schwartzberg, a lifelong crusader for world federalism and a more effective United Nations wrote, “Nobody takes the U.N. very seriously because the distribution of power in the U.N. bears little relation to the distribution of power in the real world.”
Before we assume the UN’s role in the world, let’s take a step back to understand what the UN can and cannot do. Following the aftermath of World War II, global leaders formed the organization to ensure that another World War wouldn’t happen again. More than 70 years later, the overarching goal of peace has extended into hundreds of other organizations that make the UN as relevant as it is today. Although there have been occurrences where the UN hasn’t necessarily fulfilled their goal of peace, it is still an extreme privilege to take the organization for granted given that it positively affects billions of people around the world.
Kate Ryan, an L.A. based reporter for GOOD news writes, “As overarching as the U.N.’s goals may seem, its primary objectives outlined in the founding charter involve maintaining international peace and security, promoting sustainable development, protecting human rights, upholding international law, and delivering humanitarian aid,” said Ryan. “To do that, the organization relies on a governing body of representatives from 193 member states in addition to six main organs and a network of smaller agencies that attend to specific needs regarding security, aid, and global issues.”
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), helps governments across the globe manage disease control and led the research movement for the eradication of smallpox, saving 150 million lives this past decade. Another familiar agency that maintains similar goals on world health, UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), collects donations and resources that feed 80 million displaced people every year. Not only does UNICEF feed these people, but they also allow clean water access to 2.6 billion people, provide vaccines to over 400 million children and create water well systems in impoverished communities and villages throughout the world.
Although many of us expect the UN do more than just bring donations to people, the organization does so much to save so many lives. Given that it is an international entity – meaning that it cannot infringe on any state’s sovereignty – the idea behind intervention, peacekeeping and violence is not in the United Nations’ jurisdiction. The UN does the most it can, and although it may not do everything we expect it to do, it should still be appreciated as the closest symbol of peace and unity in the international community.