Is the UN as we know it over?

The UN was created with one goal in mind: prevent World War Three at any cost. There have been many things the organization has done, but that was it's founding goal and it remains its most fundamental one.

But as an organization to be used as a tool to uphold international law, which is most of what it does and has done since it started (outside of charity work) no longer feasible? Think about it, sure minor wars have occurred, some involving the major powers, but until now all major powers have always at least tried going threw the UN before going into their wars. They may have ignored its verdict, but they brought it before it for the legality of it to be determined.

But not anymore. With Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the formality of the UN security council, one of the few things people gave any legitimate credit to (the inability to get slavery abolished until 2007 being an example of parts of the organization that are already paper tigers) has now been shoved aside and turned into the same, threat less paper tigers that the bulk of the organization already is.

With this gone, is there anything the UN does that isn't charity work that can be taken seriously now? Can we really pretend it is anything more then just a place for the officially recognized nations to bicker while donated money is used for food and schools in impoverished nations? Is it anything more then that?

Zontar:
Can we really pretend it is anything more then just a place for the officially recognized nations to bicker while donated money is used for food and schools in impoverished nations? Is it anything more then that?

Was it ever really anything more than that? Does it need to be?

And, well, WW3 hasn't started. I'm happy with that.

The UN has always been what it is now. If any major world power wanted to start world war 3, it would have started by now. There is nothing a flag and a small office building can do to stop that. It can however allow the countries of the world a place to peacefully reach agreements. Thats all it ever has done and ever will do.
Take the disputed islands near japan. Since it isn't in the news anymore, I assume they reached a resolution. Take the territorial problems between israel and palestine. Israel could conquer all of palestine whenever it wants, the only thing stopping them is organised international pressure, which would be much harder to orchestrate without something like the UN where diplomats can talk to each other.
If Putin has truly gotten bored of the dictator life and wants to start a war, there will be a war and noone can stop it. If a peaceful resolution can be reached, I can't think of a better catalyst than the UN for finding it.

mathsisfun:
The UN has always been what it is now. If any major world power wanted to start world war 3, it would have started by now. There is nothing a flag and a small office building can do to stop that. It can however allow the countries of the world a place to peacefully reach agreements. Thats all it ever has done and ever will do.
Take the disputed islands near japan. Since it isn't in the news anymore, I assume they reached a resolution. Take the territorial problems between israel and palestine. Israel could conquer all of palestine whenever it wants, the only thing stopping them is organised international pressure, which would be much harder to orchestrate without something like the UN where diplomats can talk to each other.
If Putin has truly gotten bored of the dictator life and wants to start a war, there will be a war and noone can stop it. If a peaceful resolution can be reached, I can't think of a better catalyst than the UN for finding it.

The Senkaku islands thing is still happening and will likely continue to be an issue for a loooooooooooooooooooong time. It's just probably not going to bust out into war (they're literally just rocks with no real value).

As for the UN, it definitely has a role to play. True, it's unlikely to stop a war if anyone actually WANTS a war. But it's a pretty significant force in the world either way, at least in the realm of soft power. North Korea and Iran are suffering hardcore under their sanctions. The UN is a tool for a long game against tyranny and war, but in the short term it can't do much. That's what NATO is for. :P

Kolby Jack:
North Korea and Iran are suffering hardcore under their sanctions. The UN is a tool for a long game against tyranny and war, but in the short term it can't do much. That's what NATO is for. :P

The UN doesn't actually enforce sanctions. They preserve the DMZ in korea, but otherwise only the US really does trade embargoes. North Korea still has some semblance of trade with china, and the only reason they don't have trade with anyone else is noone wants to trade with them. The US has had sanctions against the iranian government since 1979, and the UN only threatened iran in 2006 with regards to their nuclear weapons program, and even then only through member nations.

The resolution urged all states to "exercise vigilance" and prohibit the transfer of any materials that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. It also reinforced the authority of the IAEA in its work to clarify outstanding issues relating to Iran. The Security Council expected a report from the IAEA on whether Iran had complied with its requests by August 31, 2006; legally-binding "appropriate measures" would be adopted if the Council was satisfied that Iran had not met its obligations under the current Resolution 1696 in order to persuade it to co-operate with the IAEA.[8]

The UN never violates the sovereignty of nations, and doesn't go around forcing countries to do things. It only ever encourages other countries to restrict trade and requests permission.

mathsisfun:
Take the disputed islands near japan. Since it isn't in the news anymore, I assume they reached a resolution.

Holy cow. No. Nonononononononono. Seriously. No.

The news isn't talking about it because the news has all of the attention span of a puppy with ADHD in a room full of bacon balloons. Absolutely nothing has been resolved. All the territories previously disputed are still disputed, China still has it's unilateral ADIZ, and Japan is still trying to keep the US as a close military ally for protection while trying to grab islands that may not be theirs in the first place. The only movement to have taken place at all is that PM Abe has declared his government will not revise their apology to Korean comfort women, and that's only because pretty much every pundit, historian, and political ally in the entire world told them it would be dumb to do so, and they don't get anything out of it other than the opportunity for chest-thumping.

Even if Japan's territorial disputes were resolved, I doubt they would be resolved by the UN. The UN as far as I see it isn't even involved here. The only reason this issue hasn't blown up into actual fighting is because the Chinese and Japanese economies are so deeply intertwined that a conflict would be disastrous for both (plus bringing in the US under our mutual defense treaty would cause all kinds of trouble), while in the Japan/Korea disputes neither side wants a larger conflict with the other because their alliance is the only way either of them has a chance of competing with China. But the issues can't be resolved either, because belligerance on all sides is too useful to milk for political advantage back home.

I think the UN is useful, but it's just not useful in this case for anything other than maybe a peanut gallery from which the rest of the world can laugh at the governments of north-east Asia act simultaneously like spoiled children and impotent old men. But don't ever say, "I haven't heard about it, so it must have been solved."

Since dealing with the Ukraine situation probably WOULD probably prevent WW3, can we really say things are so bad?

Zontar:
But not anymore. With Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the formality of the UN security council, one of the few things people gave any legitimate credit to (the inability to get slavery abolished until 2007 being an example of parts of the organization that are already paper tigers) has now been shoved aside and turned into the same, threat less paper tigers that the bulk of the organization already is.

With this gone, is there anything the UN does that isn't charity work that can be taken seriously now? Can we really pretend it is anything more then just a place for the officially recognized nations to bicker while donated money is used for food and schools in impoverished nations? Is it anything more then that?

Well, this Ukraine crisis, serious as it is, is basically a squabble over territory. It's unlikely to escalate into a major conflict.
If you were going to use a particular conflict to claim that the UN was worthless and doomed as a mediator then Korea, Vietnam, perhaps even Soviet Afghanistan or Bosnia, would have been better contemporary examples. In fact I actually remember anti-war people lamenting the end of the UN after the US invasion of Iraq on the grounds that "The UN has lost all power, no one listens to it anymore". That was a decade ago and it's still here.

I dislike certain aspects of the UN, but it has, in part, prevented any major existential conflicts among world powers. It has always derived it's powers from the influence and might of the major members. It is a mediatorial organisation and generally it has demonstrably worked because we are still here. Rumours of it's demise are probably greatly exaggerated (again).

And frankly Russia's actions in Ukraine have been less controversial than those of the US against Iraq. Russia has vetoed Ukraine related resolutions (as is it's right as a permanent SC member) rather than actually breaking them or just outright ignoring the UNs actions.
Plus the Russians do actually have a case. Crimea is ethnically Russian and has historically been a part of Russia for hundreds of years, Ukraine has illegally ousted it's president with the support of the US and EU, and the Russians have a lot of important strategic assets there under prior agreements.

As an analogy, it would be like Hawaii declaring independence from the US after being riled into inter-ethnic violence by China. There's no way the US would risk Pearl Harbour falling into the hands of a new pro-China Hawaii government is there?

I'm hoping that Ukraine will end up within the West's sphere of influence because that will probably benefit it's people more than ending up under Putin's, but that doesn't mean that Russia is acting particularly unreasonably given the circumstances.

the UNs main role is as "a talking shop" to keep the world talking to each other.
that alone, although it doesn't sound very much, is actually a highly powerful tool for "peace"[1]

also, as "a talking shop", the organisation helps bring about the consensus which some people call "international law".

but it is not, not has it ever been, an empowered enforcement agency of some kind.

it's job is not to "do stuff" but rather to facilitate other people coming together to decide that they will.

as such it's "works", such as they are, are undertaken by nations who have basically said "i like that idea...i'm in." and not actually "by the UN" as some separate organisation in and of itself.

in short, it's just a forum and a facilitator[2].

and basically "the UN" isn't doing anything about "Ukraine" because basically "the world" isn't really all that interested in doing anything.

sad and shameful maybe but true none the less.

[1] Japan-US relations in WW2 and the collapse of The League of Nations etc are the main historical reference point here as to why "not talking" or indeed not being able to is potentially a very bad thing when it come to geopolitics.

The UN has never been effective, its one of those ideas that only works if all members only have good intentions. If they only had good intentions then there would be no need for the UN. The UN human rights committee, which elected by by the general assembly, had Gaddafi's Libya and Assad's Syria as members.

The UN security council which the only thing that actually counts about the UN has been for most of its history polarized between the Soviet union and the US. THe UN resolution, that enable UN action in Korea, only came about because Stalin decide to boycott it because Taiwan was then recognised as the government of China instead of the communist government in Beijing. The first Iraq war got a resolution because it was the only time that Russia actually voted against murderous middle eastern tyrants. However during the wars in Yugoslavia, no resolution was possible because Russia supported the murderous regime in Belgrade.

albino boo:
However during the wars in Yugoslavia, no resolution was possible because Russia supported the murderous regime in Belgrade.

Hello, ex-Yugoslav ringing in, even if one that escaped the brunt of massacre in the Balkans.

Yeah, because Jasenovac never happened. There were mass killings of Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia. Seriously. The war in 1990 was a bloody carnage, and it wasn't just "the murderous regime in Belgrade" against good and innocent people of the rest of Yugoslavia. Milosevic and Karadzic weren't the only butchers.

The government in Zagreb was no less unsavory, and the fact that the West insisted on keeping the territorial borders as between the ex-Yugoslav republics, Bosnia is a powder keg waiting to blow even today thanks to its religious/ethnic divide. Currently the unrest has been repressed, but it will flare up again. About the time when Ukraine started making news the parliament building in Sarajevo was already burning.

Oh and by the way; the West, with the exception of Germany, was unwilling to recognize the seceding republics of Yugoslavia as independent states in 1991.

The situation in Yugoslavia was complex. The relations between Belgrade and Moscow are also often overplayed.

Vegosiux:

albino boo:
However during the wars in Yugoslavia, no resolution was possible because Russia supported the murderous regime in Belgrade.

Hello, ex-Yugoslav ringing in, even if one that escaped the brunt of massacre in the Balkans.

Yeah, because Jasenovac never happened. There were mass killings of Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia. Seriously. The war in 1990 was a bloody carnage, and it wasn't just "the murderous regime in Belgrade" against good and innocent people of the rest of Yugoslavia. Milosevic and Karadzic weren't the only butchers.

The government in Zagreb was no less unsavory, and the fact that the West insisted on keeping the territorial borders as between the ex-Yugoslav republics, Bosnia is a powder keg waiting to blow even today thanks to its religious/ethnic divide. Currently the unrest has been repressed, but it will flare up again. About the time when Ukraine started making news the parliament building in Sarajevo was already burning.

Oh and by the way; the West, with the exception of Germany, was unwilling to recognize the seceding republics of Yugoslavia as independent states in 1991.

The situation in Yugoslavia was complex. The relations between Belgrade and Moscow are also often overplayed.

The reason why the UN did not pass any resolutions with regard to Yugoslavia is because the Russians would veto anything hostile to Serbia. Most people would regard that as supporting mass in in Serbia. Invention would have been possible before that without Russian blocking for Belgrade. Why do you think no western government was willing to recognize the split, nothing at to do with Russian pressure.
I refer you to this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incident_at_Pristina_airport

albino boo:

The reason why the UN did not pass any resolutions with regard to Yugoslavia is because the Russians would veto anything hostile to Serbia.

Realpolitik. Kind of cynical, but Russia was more concerned with keeping NATO influence out of Balkans than actually exerting any of its own influence there. Contrary to the popular belief, Yugoslavia was never part of the Warsaw Pact/Eastern Bloc at all, and Russia and Yugoslavia were glaring at each other since 1948.

And don't even start me on the entire veto usage in UNSC. Sure, USSR has invoked it about 100 times by 1965, but since then USA has used it more than all others combined.

Most people would regard that as supporting mass in in Serbia.

That's because most people are ignorant when it comes to international politics.

Invention would have been possible before that without Russian blocking for Belgrade. Why do you think no western government was willing to recognize the split, nothing at to do with Russian pressure.

Actually, Kosovo is the only case in the entire breakup of Yugoslavia in which the west actually took the side of the seceding region as opposed to touting "territorial integrity".

As for why the West was unwilling to recognize, well. Geopolitical interests.

I refer you to this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incident_at_Pristina_airport

Your point?

The United Nations failed from the moment it was created. If you have countries that can veto the decision of others, there isn't a real community of nations, but rather an organized control of weaker nations by stronger nations.
As the world stands today WWIII will begin, probable not now, but in the future. As the population grows resources are more scarce, the economic competition will eventually lead to the first clashes and finally to open war.
I highly doubt that the current Crimean crisis will develop into a world war, but the first clashes for resources have already begin.
Full scale war will start as soon as the great powers are in direct competition for a particular resource, with no alternative but to attack one another.
The united nations could have prevented this, if all nations were equals, but that is not the case.

Eliam_Dar:
The United Nations failed from the moment it was created. If you have countries that can veto the decision of others, there isn't a real community of nations, but rather an organized control of weaker nations by stronger nations.

Well, yes, that was sort of the point. Stronger nations will control weaker nations, that's more or less the point of being a strong nation.

If every nation's vote is worth the same, then smaller nations would simply get bullied into voting the way more powerful ones wanted. Giving he most powerful nations explicit control was simply an acknowledgement of this.

thaluikhain:

If every nation's vote is worth the same, then smaller nations would simply get bullied into voting the way more powerful ones wanted. Giving he most powerful nations explicit control was simply an acknowledgement of this.

I'd actually suspect the opposite. The smaller nations would become the bullies, if it worked anything like, say, national politics work, when the government needs support to pass some legislation, and the smallest parties are going to try and squeeze disproportionate concessions regarding the popular support they have for their votes.

Basically, it doesn't matter how large or small you are - if you're the pivot, yours is the only opinion that matters.

It was always like this - during the Cold War, the Soviet Ambassador to the UN was nicknamed "Mr. Nyet", due to his constant rejection of anything the US proposed. The US did a similar thing to the Russians when the Cold War was around as well. It hasn't changed at all - The UN was purposefully set up to be toothless against the big countries. None of the powerful countries wanted to create a UN that had the ability to take action against them.

The UN, as a means of preventing WWIII, was always "over". WWIII will start when some leader of the US, Russia or China wants it to start, or a catastrophic error of judgement occurs (such as falsely detecting a US or Russian Missile Launch, which actually did occur a few times, but thankfully wasn't acted upon).

The UN as it currently present itself never was, never will be, and never should be.

It's little more than a debate forum for nations of varying power. Though each nation's power generally surpass that of the entirety of the dedicated UN military forces. It has no individual power to speak of, being 100 % dependent on and subservient to the realpolitik of its more powerful members.

It's a glorified aid organization and debate club with delusions of grandeur: Delusions which are increasingly falling apart for all to see, as reality continuously tests its strength, and find it sorely lacking.

 

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