Panel Discussion Report 69: The United Nations – Success or Failure?

The United Nations is an organization formed out of the horrors of the Second World War with the overarching purpose of preventing this kind of total war from ever happening again. Its formation came after the failures of the League of Nations, an international organization that had the same lofty goal of preventing war. The UN sought out to overcome the Leagues failures by through embedding itself into all aspects of the international community setting up organizations such as the General Assembly, Security Council, International Court of Justice, the World Bank and many more.

The UN has changed the international community as a whole, through its work in peacekeeping, the establishment of human rights, the list goes on. However, in all this change some negatives have arisen, the decision making process is considered very slow and many institutions like the Security Council have been labelled reactionary, and very easily caught up in power politics, rendering them useless at times. This raised the question that our panel discussion was focused on – the UN a success or a failure?

The group consisted of five members, one moderator and four panelists. In order to maintain some sort of balance so as not to incline to one side of the topic, we decided to have two panelists to talk about the successes and the other two to talk about the failures of the UN. In addition, we decided to take roles that were somehow connected to the discussion at hand for example human-rights-activist.

Points such as the inability and unwillingness of the UN to enforce resolutions, its lack of clear motive as well as failures to successfully deliver food to starving people in Somalia as the food was being seized by local warlords were discussed. This failure showed that the UN’s decision making procedures are inefficient and that many UN bodies are corrupt or compromised.

The main positives of the United Nations mentioned during the discussion were the UN’s role in humanitarian acts such as assisting refugees, helping disaster victims as well as making peace between countries that have broken down relationships.

The main goal of the UN was found out to be to make peace but a clear contradiction was evident during the discussion whereby the UN successfully found solutions to broken down relationships between some countries while in other countries such as Somalia, there were reports of mass raping by UN officials. The mass raping experienced in Somalia showed that the UN ignores and enables human rights abuse.

The most satisfying thing about our panel discussion was the enlightenment about the United Nations with a more open mind. On the other hand some dissatisfaction was present and this included the lack of preparedness. Group meetings were limited to a minimum as the schedule was really exhausted with a large number of other more demanding assignments.

The panel discussion taught me that any organization has failures as well as successes, even one of the largest organizations in the world, the UN, has got successes and failures. In other words, successes and failures are two sides of the same coin meaning they exist and are somehow complementary to each other as there is no perfect organization no matter how much the organization strives for perfection and excellence. In my view, the best way to handle the failures is to try and improve or use another approach. According to Ritu Ghatourey (1994), “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal.

In conclusion, the panel discussion was a success as my group members and I managed to discuss the topic as much as we could in the allocated time. Although the time to rehearse for the panel discussion was limited, we were able to discuss all the points planned and the questions were appropriately handled by all panelists.

References

  1. UN admits Rwanda genocide failure. Online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/714025.stm

  2. MacFarquhar, N. (September 2011). Peacekeepers’ Sex Scandals Linger, On-Screen and Off. Retrieved June 28, 2013 from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/world/08nations.html?pagewanted=all

  3. Membership of the Human Rights Council. Retrieved June 28, 2013 from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/membership.htm

  4. Corruption at the Heart of the United Nations. Retrieved June 28, 2013 from http://www.economist.com/node/4267109

  5. Harrison, M. Wolf, N. (2011). The Frequency of Wars. Retrieved June 28, 2013 from http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/academic/harrison/public/ehr2011postprint.pdf

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