Disunite the UN

  • Atul Sobti
  • India
  • Jan 16, 2015

It’s been almost 70 years of the United Nations, a world body formed in the US after World War II. There are currently 193 member countries that are a part of the General Assembly, and 15 special countries that from the Security Council – with 5 permanent ‘superpowers’. An International Court of Justice (ICJ), with 15 judges, operates from the Netherlands. The UN was primarily set up for saving the world from any further wars, and ensuring respect for international regulations & laws and fundamental human rights. The aim was also to ensure social progress and a better standard of life for the peoples of all nations.  

What have the nations of the world actually done together? Isn’t it just the US getting its way all the time? As would China soon. When the US does whatever it wants, they all just fall in line…led by UK. Russia perhaps forgot that it is no longer a superpower, and paid the price. The UN hasn’t helped settle any of the world’s disputes. And despite terrorism now having become global, there is no united urgency - presumably because the US has not been hit after 9/11. 

The role and responsibility of the United Nations has become too wide and ambiguous…while its authority remains toothless. It’s ended up being neither efficient, nor effective. Where it works well is in setting and monitoring international regulations – for Maritime, Meteorology, Civil Aviation, Atomic Energy, Chemical Weapons, Telecom, Trade, Intellectual Property etc. Within its social charter it has probably made its best contribution in disaster relief and health (through WHO), though here also it has but scratched the surface - even after 70 years, and despite millions of affiliated NGOs.

It’s time to break up the United Nations, to especially let its social charter organisations run independently, and for the genuine good of mankind. On food, education and health, we need to see substantial global progress, if not ‘closure’, within 5 years (10 year plans have little meaning when one is talking of basic life rights). Let the new entity set up a global CSR Fund and a global PPP network for this, rather than having individual companies disparately working in different areas. Companies could still choose which area they would like to be associated with. By the end of 5 years:

  • No person in the world should go thirsty or hungry. There is always surplus of something somewhere, which someone in another country needs   - but it is rather left to rot. Unfortunately, the UN affiliated World Food Programme, started in 1961, and operating with a 36 member Board and 11,500 employees, has still not been able to help end hunger in any country.
  • Every child in the world should have been inoculated (as required).
  • Every child aged 6+ should be in school.

And, preferably, a universal Waste Treatment system should have been rolled out in all towns and cities worldwide.

While there could be debate on what a country’s govt. should do and what the UN can/should do, for such basic life rights the UN must be allowed to step in and deliver (for at least one ‘closure’) – and charge from countries accordingly.

There is a good case for the UN to be split into 4 independent bodies:

 - For global security and peace (an expanded Security Council) 

 - For framing and checking the implementation of international regulations & laws – including those impacting the environment (can be based in the Netherlands, along with ICJ)

 - For life/human rights, & in times of natural calamities (preferably based in Africa)

 - For economic development (there is great scope here to look beyond the IMF - for example, at multinational trade treaties; alternatively, it can all be left to the market!)


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