Role of UN in Maintenance of International Peace and Security

by tybmmjourno

By- Ruchi Nandu

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose objectives are assisting cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions.

There are currently 193 member states, including every internationally recognised sovereign state in the world. The organization has six principal organs: the General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly); the Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the Economic and Social Council (for assisting in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development); the Secretariat (for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN); the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ); and the United Nations Trusteeship Council (which is currently inactive). Other prominent UN System agencies include the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

One of the primary purposes of the United Nations is to maintain international peace and security. Since its creation, the UN has often been called upon to prevent disputes from growing into war, to persuade opposing parties to use the conference table rather than force of arms, or to help restore peace when armed conflict does break out. Over the decades, the UN has helped to end numerous conflicts, often through actions of the Security Council – the primary organ for dealing with issues of international peace and security. The Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General all three play a major role in maintaining peace and security. United Nations activities cover the principal areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, enforcement and peace building.

General Indar Jit Rktye, 1 – the former President of the International Peace Academy defines peace keeping as being [1]“The prevention, limitation, moderation and cessation of hostilities between or within States due to the intervention of a third-party, which is organized and directed at the international level and which calls upon military, police and civilian personnel to restore peace.”

In 1948, the first peacekeeping mission was launched. This mission, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), was sent to the newly created State of Israel, where a conflict between the Israelis and the Arab states over the creation of Israel had just reached a ceasefire. The UNTSO remains in operation to this day, although the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has not stopped. Almost a year later, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was authorized to monitor relations between the two nations, which were split off from each other following the United Kingdom’s decolonization of the Indian Subcontinent.

In 1988, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations peacekeeping forces. The press release stated that the forces represent the evident will of the community of nations and have made a decisive contribution to the resolution of conflict around the world.

Since 1991, which is the end of the Cold War, a shift in UN and multilateral peacekeeping was noticed. In a new spirit of cooperation, the Security Council established larger and more complex UN peacekeeping missions, often to help implement comprehensive peace agreements between characters in intra-State conflicts and civil wars. Furthermore, peacekeeping came to involve more and more non-military elements that ensured the proper functioning of civic functions, such as elections. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations was created in 1992 to support this increased demand for such missions.

[2]The attack on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 ‘dramatized the global threat of terrorism’, while focusing attention upon ‘reconstructing weak or collapsed states’. The Secretary-General has also emphasized the need to replace the culture of reaction by one of prevention and by developing inter alia a thirty to ninety-day deployment capability.

Tools for peace and security

The United Nations has developed many tools for controlling and resolving conflicts between and within the States. The most important of them are preventive diplomacy and peacemaking, peace-keeping, peace-building, arms reduction, sanctions, and peace enforcement.

The first three instruments can be implemented only with the consent of the parties to the conflict. On the other hand, sanctions and enforcement don’t require the consent of the party concerned. Arms reduction can take place on an agreed basis forcefully.

The United Nations does not have or claim a monopoly of any of these tools. All, and most of them have been employed by regional organizations, but the United Nations has unparalleled experience of them and it is to the United Nations that the international community has turned increasingly since the end of the cold war. The United Nations system is also better equipped than regional organizations and they apply the broad, long-term approach, needed to ensure the lasting resolution of conflicts.

Specialized agencies under UN that contribute to peace

There are other UN organizations that help promote a culture of peace. [3]The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) helps to protect the rights of children. It carries out both preventive initiatives to help promote the education of children in developing countries and protective actions to help children in times of war, when they are often the most vulnerable victims. Indeed, if the future is to be ensured, it is important that children be educated and not be mistreated. Children ensure a country’s future. Ensuring, that children are not mistreated helps both to develop a country’s capacities and to prevent, as much as is possible, the outbreak of future conflicts.

In addition, [4]the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) helps to promote a culture of peace by developing information programs for women, especially with regard to sex education. It provides women with all the necessary information and resources. This allows them to make fully informed decisions and contribute to a better management in controlling population.

As well, the World Health Organization (WHO) promotes scientific cooperation in health matters, helps reinforce health systems and assists governments which ask for emergency aid.

The World Food Program (WFP) promotes better nutrition by using food aid to support economic and social development. [5]It is helped in this by the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which sets up programs to help foster greater agricultural productivity, thereby fighting hunger and poverty around the world. Hunger and poverty are two important factors in the outbreak of conflicts.

All of these UN programs are attempting to prevent conflicts and have a world that is free of violence. However, it will take some time before we reach this goal.


UN is playing a very important role on its part for maintenance of International peace and security, through its various agencies like UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO, UNDP, ILO, UNHRC which apart from peace keeping are ensuring general welfare. According to critics though UN is working but it is not an independent body in itself. In reality it is operated by various members nation which usually look after their interest first. Even the critics come to point out that there is no provision of peace keeping in the UN Charter. Although there are many criticisms against the UN but still we can observe that UN is working for the general welfare of the masses.


[1] Hoge, Warren. “Indar Jit Rikhye, UN Peacekeeping Adviser, Dies at 86.”  28 May 2007. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

[2] “Millennium Report of the Secretary-General, 2000.” UN News Center. UN, Web. 24 Feb. 2013

[3] “Children’s Protection and Civil Rights.” Web. 25 Feb. 2013. <;

[4] “Is Peace in the World a Utopian Dream? The Role of TheUnited Nations.” Peace: The Role of the United Nations.. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <;.

[5] “ Is Peace in the World a Utopian Dream? The Role of TheUnited Nations.” Peace: The Role of the United Nations. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <;.