An Essay on the UN

The UN came into being in 1945. It was essentially set up to prevent global conflicts and maintain peace and accelerate socio-economic development. Various organ of the UN were structured to meet the existing requirements of the then world. Although no war of devilish dimensions has occurred between 1945 and 1997, but there have been regional conflicts that have left more than 20 million dead and many million wounded and uprooted. UN has its share of successes and failures in dealing with these regional conflicts. However, people in the third world feel that fruits of development have not reached them. They are also of the view that the present structure of the UN is not in keeping with the ground realities of the world today.

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The compulsions that led to its birth in 1945 have either disappeared or yielded place to new ones since then. Some of the old issues have become part of the history, whereas new problems have occupied the scene.

At the 50th UN anniversary at New York this issue was raised by leaders from all continents and they expressed their concern. A question keenly debated was to make the UN Security Council more representatives by inducting new countries as permanent members of the Security Council. It was said that all along, the five countries – USA Soviet Union, Britain, France and China – who become permanent members in 1945 have been enjoying the privileged position. At that time the UN membership was merely 51 and now it has risen to 186. Therefore, the base of the Security Council needs to be widened to accommodate the interests of countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Global decision making should not be so structured as to reflect the diverse interests of the world. It was also pointed out that one-fifth of the world’s 5.7 billion population still lives in extreme poverty, which justifies the restructuring of the World Bank and the IMF to accommodate the interests of the third world countries. An analysis of the pattern of the existing Security Council’s permanent membership will indicate its lopsided face. Europe with lesser population than that of Asia has 3 members – France, Britain and Russia – on the Security Council. Continent of Africa is unrepresented at the Council. So is the case with Latin America. Asia with such a large population has only one member on the Council. Therefore, people feel very strongly and there appears full justification for a rational territorial representation of the countries people. The UN Security Council as constituted today does not appear a representative body. There is urgent need to widen the base of the Security Council by increasing the number of its permanent members. Once the number is adequately increased, the idea of geographical and territorial representation may be brought into effect without which the Security Council will not look like a world representative body. Some formula based on the extent of area, volume of population and specific need of the territory, is evolved to increase and determine the strength of the reformed UN Security Council. The problems of the third world countries have so far not received adequate attention. The gap between the North and the South still remains unacceptably wide. Integration of the poor with mainstream should not be overlooked. There is a growing concern that the UN is being hijacked to sub serve the interest of the rich and unilaterally strong countries. So, there is a need for drastic reforms.


Strongly arguing an expansion of the Security Council, India stressed that the criteria for choosing new permanent members of the Council should be decided transparently and by consensus. India put forth its arguments candidly on behalf of the non-aligned and other developing countries. India said that considering its population and the distinct contribution it has made to the world body’s activities and ethos, it has a legitimate claim for permanent membership of the Security Council. India rejected the suggestions that different criteria be used for processing the claim of different member states. It pleaded that all candidates should be treated equally at par and put to the same tests.

India believes that the ratio between the general membership and that of the Security Council established in 1945 should be maintained. If accepted, the membership of the Council would go up and only then adequate representation could be given on the basis of criteria proposed by India and non-aligned world. Initially, the 5 Allied powers become the permanent members of the Security Council. But the situations have changed now. Why should the Security Council not be expanded? And why should it not be made broad based on the criteria of population and territory? In the changed circumstances the Council should not be a monopoly of big nuclear powers. Instead, it should have adequate territorial representation. These questions have agitated the world community for sometime and there appears a consensus on the major issues. Therefore, once the idea is accepted, the modalities may be laid down or sorted out. People are getting impatient. The change is inevitable. Better, if the restructuring take place in a just and fair manner to ensure better safeguard to the poor and neglected people of the world in the days to come.

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