Ongoing Conflicts challenging Global Peace &Security: Is United Nations just a Talk Shop?

The dynamics of contemporary conflicts including the most pervasive one, the armed conflict, not only shape but also constrain the efforts for humanitarian action thus posing threatening challenges to peace and security. There is no doubt that the world we are living in is a dangerous one. The drivers for most of today’s wars are not only grievances but a war economy that benefits a few actors on the cost of global peace and security. For instance the Yemen Crisis is no exception that has pulled in numerous countries in the region into this conflict causing humanitarian crisis. The external financial support to the indigenous conflicting parties has escalated the conflict in Yemen.  So basically it is greed and not the grievance that has changed the dynamics of conflicts that the world is faced with in 21st century thus causing severe humanitarian crisis. Apart from armed conflicts, the climate change, economic inequality, water scarcity, food insecurity, gender inequality have emerged as growing concern for challenging global peace and security.

Inherently the most important purposes behind the establishment of the United Nations was the maintenance of peace, contemplation over state to state affairs, for securing the future generations of the ills of war and for prevention of arising conflicts which eventually mushroom into bloody wars. But in the light of the present day global conflicts may it be the worst ever humanitarian crisis in Yemen or the devastating Nagorona-Karabkh conflict. May it be the atrocities by Boko Haram, the injustices of Israeli defense forces against the Palestinian civilians or the plight of Rohingya Muslims, or may it be resolving Kashmir issue that has been the bone of contention between Pakistan and India for ages. UN has completely failed to make its presence feel effectively in the present status quo of on-going global conflicts.
It is an alarming situation for us to observe the thrashing defeat and inability of the world’s chief institution, UN, in resolving all these ongoing devastating conflicts.

UN has failed in the key purposes for which it initially came into existence. UN portrays more of a monopoly structure which is basically run by the five big countries that exercise the ultimate power by using veto when deciding the fate of the rest of the world. With this disappointing performance by UN, it can be inferred that the world could have run very well even without the formal existence of UN since UN only intervenes in the conflicts where the Big five (the countries with the veto power) have their vested interests. So for the rest of world and its on-going conflicts, the picture is pretty much the same, with or without the United Nations. For instance, in case of Syrian conflict, UN could have exercise its power of discretion and easily demanded a ceasefire in Syria by imposing strict sanctions on anyone breaching it but the lack of will power overshadowed the main objectives of UN which is to administer global peace.

In the light of today’s armed conflicts and other various situations involving violence especially the humanitarian crisis of Syria, Yemen, Azerbaijan and Armenia have somehow redefined the idea peace and security in the twenty- first century. In the present status quo, we do not only come across the quantitative but also the qualitative aspect of threats to international peace and security. The quantitative aspect of peace portrays no killings, no use conventional means of war, absence of armed conflict and crime while the qualitative aspect incorporates the perceptions and values of leading a peaceful and contended life. The qualitative aspect of peace is related to the idea of ensuring human security while quantitative aspect only includes the maintenance of state security.

Similarly, when it comes to administer and reaffirm the fundamental human rights, the UN has not been able to live up to its guiding principles. We see the infringement of human rights on daily basis in Kashmir, in the US with specific reference to Black population, in case of Syrian refugees, in Rohingya crisis, in Yemen but no major steps had been taken on part of the UN, the major custodian of human rights. So that leads us in believing that UN is biased when it comes to taking action against the violation of human rights. The failure in the proper functioning of UN lies in its structure making it more of a hegemony than an institution to maintain peace and order in the world. The permanent members of the Security Council and their power to veto on any issue for which they might prefer their vested interests over the greater good of the common man. Whenever important decisions regarding a country’s fate are to be decided, the stakeholders are never included in the decision panel. This is indefensible. However, it’s their basic right to be included in the decision making procedure so that they could raise their apprehensions and bring their solutions to the problem on the table.

This implies that it is high time for the international humanitarian system to undergo a policy shift for combating the changing dynamics of conflicts and humanitarian crisis that has posed a threatening challenge to peace and security. The new policy has to adapt to the changing realities warfare. The changing nature of conflict means rethinking our approaches – which needs to be coherent, coordinated and context- specific. The absence of UN would not make a major difference with reference to the administration of peace and conflict since its presence is also not making any difference in the world. The decision makers are the five big powers while the rest of the member countries sitting in the UN, debating on various issues are nothing but dummy representatives to cover the hegemony of decisions taken. Is UN just a talk shop?

Also one of the chief purposes of weaker countries joining UN was to make sure if a comparatively stronger country threatens the weaker country, the rest of the international community would not be indifferent and would take some effective action. On the contrary what we have observed in the past is completely opposite to what we expected, may it be the US invasion of Iraq based on the faulty reasons of the presence of weapons of mass destruction or the war in Afghanistan. Even the states being the members of UN couldn’t stop foreign invasion and couldn’t gather support from other member states, so what is the point of having UN when the issues can’t be resolved peacefully through dialogues. In fact in the absence of UN the world could have come up with an alternative to the UN with a better structure having power equally distributed across all the countries. I am leaving all of you with this question as a food for thought;

Is UN really necessary or could the world have gone on without it?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.

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