A frequent question that society and citizenship make before any large or small conflict that occurs internationally or within a given state (civil war, famine, genocide, trafficking human beings, arms sales, anti-personnel mines, pollution, etc.) is: What is the UN doing to solve it? The immediate and simple answer of many, especially television or radio commentators, is: "The UN is useless." And they do not delve deeper into the issue. I just want to define and clarify some key points to the public opinion.
What is the UN? It is a voluntary association of sovereign states, founded in 1945 after the Second World War, with the primary objective, but not only, to avoid a third war and maintaining peace and world security.
What is the UN? It is not, therefore, a supranational world government with power over its member states or its people. It is not Lourdes or Fatima, and therefore we can not expect any miracles.
Who created the UN? The UN was encouraged and created by the victors of World War II (United States, France, United Kingdom, China, Soviet Union), that keep for themselves a decisive role and exclusionary in the functioning of the organization, and veto those resolutions that do not interest them (inside the Security Council). The UN reforms will necessarily pass through these five states (now Russia and not the Soviet Union).
What other objectives are pursued by the UN? What is perhaps not sufficiently known, but we live it every day, is how much the UN has done for human rights (Universal Declaration of 1948, and international treaties due to all), decolonization and independence of more than one hundred new states (in 1945 the UN members were 51 while today are 192), economic cooperation for developing countries, protection of children, refugees, technological advances, environmental protection, prevent desertification, combating discrimination, promotion of culture, health, communications, and especially the creation and consolidation of international law.
What is the army of the UN? The UN has no army, for this reason its forces are always borrowed and, therefore, any intervention by the Blue Helmets has to be paid. But to say that the UN is useless because of the belligerent or irresponsible attitude of the states is a simplicity like saying that the Bank of Spain or the European Central Bank are useless because the economy is bad or the financial system has been negligent in its actions and has fallen into the hands of unscrupulous speculators.
What we the citizens and the society have to defend and require from member states is that through the UN there must be a genuine change in the world and international relations. In short, defend the values, purposes and principles that inspired the UN and that belong to the people, people and society. The UN charter begins with the sentence that is still in effect "We the peoples of the United Nations, determined ... “, that is, it is the peoples who must promote peace, progress, tolerance and faith in fundamental human rights.
This is an obligation that we can not escape, because in the case that we don’t comply with this obligation those who will be failing will not be the UN but the governments of member states and the peoples, secondly, for not pressing in defence of world peace and security.
Eduard Sagarra i Trias
President of the United Nations Association in Spain