Role of the United Nations in Global Conflicts, and Its Effectiveness

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Every day, I’ll glance at the news, and stories of war, terrorism, and corruption appear before me. What is shown on the news stations today, is nothing that hasn’t happened once before. From innocent civilians being caught in the crossfire of a war to sexual assault being covered up. At times you feel like the world stopped caring about human lives, and we as a society have become desensitized to violence. I was bothered by this realization, because I knew it was true from my experience of not blinking an eye when an atrocity strikes. This sparked an interest in me for international affairs and conflicts, leading me to the United Nations.

My interest about the United Nations grew once I had to begin thinking more about my future, and what occupations would interest me. I’ve always had curiosity about foreign affairs, conflicts and different languages, so the United Nations came to my attention. The thought of working for an organization that helps those who desperately need it and can solve and prevent conflicts fascinated me. I wondered if this could be a possible career path for me. I decided to explore the question of: what role has the United Nations had in global conflicts, and is the UN still effective? Although, once I looked closer, I realized it was too good to be true.

The United Nations, was born from the rubble after the world witnessed the horrors of World War ll and decided they wanted to prevent such an event from happening again. The U.N. is an intergovernmental organization meant to secure and promote international order. The moment tragedy and terror strikes, the organization is to act upon it and help in whatever way is best. SOURCEE That is the goal and purpose of the United Nations, but there have been many instances where the UN has fallen short. The United Nations struggles with inaction and quick responses to conflicts, as seen in the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides. Along with that, the organization has internal complications, such as the Security Council and abuse by UN personnel.

INTRODUCING SENT The order and structure of the U. N limits its ability to fully help those who need it, specifically the setup of the Security Council. The Security Council makes the rules that countries are to abide by, and they have responsibility of determining when and where to deploy a UN peacekeeping operation, making them a vital part of the U. N (Sengupta). There are a total of fifteen members on the Security Council, ten seats are held for two-year terms by different nations, but five countries — the United States, Russia, China, France, and Great Britain— have permanent seats on the council (Karaim). A permanent seat on the council has the power to veto any U.N resolution, blocking all action. Now, this is where problems can begin; these permanent seats can use this power in favor of their own economic or political beliefs (Karaim). Many see this as the most undemocratic character of the UN (Wilcox).

In particular this can be seen happening in the Syrian conflict, where the government of Bashar Assad has slaughtered thousands of civilian protesters, but the United Nations stands powerless— blocked from intervening by Russian and Chinese vetoes. This stems from the fact that Russia supports the Syrian regime, along with that Russia is partially involved in the war itself. For most cases similar governments that aren’t democratic, like Russia and China, tend to stick together and veto anything that goes against their political beliefs. There has been numerous times both Russia and China have vetoed proposed resolutions that in their eyes threatened the Syrian government. On February 2017, a UN resolution was drafted by Britain, France, and the United States, but was vetoed by Russia and China. This resolution would have forced sanctions on Syria over the use of chemical weapons (Russia’s 12 UN).

Russia has vetoed suggested resolutions since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, when a UN resolution condemning grave human rights violations in Syria and threatening measures against President Bashar al-Assad’s government (Russia’s 12 UN). The inability to help civilians and provide aid has been halted because Russia’s and China’s use of the veto power given to the permanent nations on the Security Council. The use of the veto power has caused inaction, which has led to casualties, over 400,000 civilians have been killed in the Syrian conflict. SOURCSEES As stated by Banbury, change will be difficult to come by. He talked of an initiative that member states brought forth, which vocalized that the veto should be regulated and reduced. They proclaimed that the veto power should not be able to be used in case of genocide and humanitarian emergencies.

Though much to their chagrin, it was not accepted by the permanent member states. Mr. banbury stated that “particularly the US, Russia and maybe China they will not do anything to diminish their rights on the veto”. The US, Russia, and China aren’t willing to give up any part of their right to veto any UN resolution, they don’t want to surrender the power that can benefit their own economic or political agenda. This power given to the permanent states has negatively impacted the UN’s response to conflicts and will continue to in the future if there is no change.

There is a lot of inaction prevalent in the United Nations, seen in conflicts such as genocide to sexual abuse from UN peacekeepers. Sexual violence and assault have been covered up for many years in the organization, and it continues to this day. According to the Washington Post, reports of sexual abuse have come from “U.N. officials, internal U.N. documents, and local and international human rights organizations that have tracked the issue”(Lynch). Which tells how large and well know of a problem it is in the UN. Information from UN officials and outside spectators say that there have been cases of sexual violence of civilians at nearly every U. N operation, such as missions in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Kosovo.

The UN struggles with combatting sexual abuse such as rapes, according to Anthony Banbury, a former Assistant Secretary General, this is partly because “the UN does not have any independent justice system or legal authority, the UN doesn’t have prosecutors or judges for these kind of crimes, they do for like the International Criminal Court, for big war criminals but not for rapists, so it’s a big problem.” The UN doesn’t have the legal authority to discipline those who do such crimes, which makes it a never ending cycle of abuse. As told by Anthony Banbury, if a soldier commits rape, they are subject to the legal jurisdiction of their own sending country, it’s only that country’s military justice system that can prosecute the person. Unfortunately a lot the of time those sending countries don’t have the willingness to carry out an investigation and a prosecution, mainly because they don’t have much of an ability because majority of peacekeepers come from poorer countries.

A proposition by Banbury suggested that UN should assist the offenders country’s justice system, and help them prosecute the person rather than trying to shield the UN staff. Along with that, Banburry said the UN needs to then help the victims, which has been a problem for the UN because victims assistance programs require money and UN member states were unwilling to give the UN money for that. A solution to this would be to prevent any assault from happening then there would be less who need assistance. Some countries like Brazil, Peru, Sri Lanka and Chile, have their soldiers stay in gated walled compounds and they aren’t allowed to leave at night and have an enforced curfew (Lynch). There are ways to protect and prevent assault, but the UN needs to make an effort to help combat the abuse and hold those giuly accountable, because when the UN soldiers are deployed they are meant to make things better not worse.

A repeated theme that resides within the UN is a lack action and this will always cause casualties, as has been seen in Syria and back in Bosnia. The atrocity that was the Bosnian war was commonly known for the many war crimes, mass graves and the Srebrenica genocide. It was an ethnically rooted war lasting from 1992 to 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was then the former republic of Yugoslavia. The conflict was fought between the Serbs, Croats, and the Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks.

To briefly explain the confusing conflict, there was tension and strife between these republics for many years before the war broke out (Lampe). The war all started when each republic wanted autonomy. The European Community, now the European Union, recognized the independence of both Croatia and Slovenia, which then caused Bosnia and Herzegovina to apply for recognition (Lampe). After a successful vote, their President officially proclaimed independence on March 3, 1992. This is where the casualties begin, Croatia was the first to have a full scale war break out, which began the fall of Yugoslavia.

After Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognized by the United States and the EC, Bosnian Serb paramilitary forces began to fire on Sarajevo, then later came the artillery attack of the city. A month later in April, towns in Eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina that had larger Bosniak populations, like Zvornik, Foča, and Višegrad, were attacked by paramilitary forces and Yugoslav army units.SOURCES Majority of the Bosnian population were removed from these areas, this was the first event of ethnic cleansing. There were various peace proposals set forth, but these all failed, because the Bosnian Serbs controlled over 70 percent of the land in 1994 and did not want to yield any of it. SOURCES

Western nations and organizations did eventually get more involved in the conflict, though the United Nations did not intervene for a while, it was only later during the conflict that the UN sent the UN Protection Force troops, which assisted with the delivery of humanitarian aid (Lampe).

The UN eventually increased their role in the conflict and provided troops to protect designated safe areas for the Bosniaks, however, this is where it all went wrong. The first mistake was that the UN did not supply enough troops to defend these safe zones, even though they received permission from the Security Council to have additional troops.SOURCES As stated by Banbury, the UN should have used the authority granted to them by the Security Council to work with NATO and use force against the Bosnian Serbs at a much earlier stage when the Serbs were violating Security Council orders. The UN tends to try to remain neutral in civil conflicts, but that position will not work for every situation.

Another detrimental mistake made by the UN was that they did not continually check up on these areas, they did not put in additional effort to make sure these zones were safe for the Bosniaks. The UN’s neutrality and lack of action costed them dearly, and led to the Bosnian Serbs invading the zones and massacring more than 7,000 Bosniaks (Crossete). They can save and protect thousands of lives, but they failed because of incompetence. One could speculate and say that they are partly responsible for these deaths. Neutrality is no better than those who commit such horrendous crimes, the UN needed to take a side and fight.

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Role of the United Nations in Global Conflicts, and Its Effectiveness. (2021, Jul 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/role-of-the-united-nations-in-global-conflicts-and-its-effectiveness/

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