United Nations Day will be celebrated worldwide on Friday – marking the 69th anniversary of the world body that is widely accepted but unfortunately not so widely respected because of several political, economic and structural factors.
Set up in the aftermath of the Second World War where millions were killed in one of humanity’s worst acts of madness, the UN indeed has played an important role in preventing a third world war which would be apocalyptic because at least nine countries have nuclear weapons to blast the whole world to smithereens. In today’s world, we see the latest discovery – the silicon chip. Computers and laptops, email internet and websites, facebook and twitter and search engines like Google, Wikipaedia and Yahoo have transformed the world and brought about a global village through modern information and communication technology. Yet in the past two decades we are seeing a replay of what happened with dynamite and atomic energy. Hightech atomic weapons are being widely used for immoral, sadistic or perverse and illegal purposes. The latest horror is that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is recruiting and brainwashing thousands of young people online to brutally slaughter people and boast about it on video.
The motto on the wall of the U.N Headquarters in New York states, “To turn swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks”. Though we have not plunged into an end-of-the-world war, there have been scores of bilateral or regional wars including the ongoing ISIS war with the terrorist group battling against the United States, Western and Arab countries.
On the socio-economic front, the UN initiated the formation of institutions such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. However, reports in recent years indicate that trans-national corporations (TNCs) – the modern civil armies of western economic neo-colonialisim – have infiltrated into many of the UN organisations. The western powers and the TNCs have done this in such a sophisticated way that the people of Third World countries do not even know that their wealth and resources are being plundered for the rich to get richer and the poor poorer. In addition, the Third World has become a dumping ground for fake food and processed rubbish, imitation milk, toxic agro-chemicals, non-essential medicinal drugs and other items.
As for the structural basis, many independent analysts say the UN cannot act effectively until the Security Council’s law on veto power is changed. The Security Council is the body that has mandatory or punitive powers, but the five permanent members – the United Stales, China, Russia, Britain and France – have the power to veto any resolution even if the other 14 members vote for it. That is why the world body was not able to take effective action in Israel’s war and massacre of the Palestinians this year and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s land grab in the Ukraine.
Most members of the UN want a change, but the General Assembly is largely a showpiece or talking shop. Just as the five permanent members have agreed on resolutions relating to ISIS because the terror group poses a threat to all of them, we hope the veto wielding powers would agree on structural changes and give up their veto for world peace.