The Role of The United Nations

by tybmmjourno

By Shruti Parmar

“Eagerly, musician. 
Sweep your string, 
So we may sing. 
Elated, optative, 
Our several voices 
Not interfering 
But co-inhering, 
For all within 
The cincture 
of the sound, 
Is holy ground 
Where all are brothers, 
None faceless Others, 
Let mortals beware 

Of words, for 
With words we lie, 
Can say peace 

When we mean war, 
Foul thought speak- fair 
And promise falsely, 
But song is true: 
Let music for peace 
Be the paradigm, 
For peace means to change At 
the right time, as the World- 
Goes Tick- and Tock, 
Goes Tick- and tock
So may the story 
Of our human city 
Presently move 
Like music, when 
Begotten notes 
New notes beget 
Making the flowing, 
Of time a growing 
Till what it could be, 

At last it is, 
Where even sadness 
Is a form of gladness, 
Where fate is freedom, 
Grace and Surprise.”


This ‘Hymn to the United Nations’, written by poet W.H. Auden in the year 1971, rightly captures the spirit of the United Nations Organisation established on 24th October 1945 after two World Wars to address the widespread need to prevent a third global conflict. The purpose of the UN is further articulated in Article 1 of the UN Charter – “to be a centre for harmonising the actions” of states in maintaining international peace and security, developing “the principle of equal rights & self determination of peoples” furthering international co-operation in economic, social, cultural and humanitarian matters and “encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.” More than 30 affiliated organisations co-operate in this effort to form what we know to be the UN system.

Over the past 68 years, the international system in which the United Nations was established has changed. Its membership has expanded to 193 countries with a diversity of historical experiences and cultural traditions, economic and political capacities and hopes and aspirations and the world faces new dangers today in the form of climate change, depleting resources and unsustainable and non-inclusive modes of development. The UN has fulfilled its duties through two main methods – political discussion and diplomatic deliberation and humanitarian aid and social work. Since 1945, the UN assisted in negotiated more than 170 peace settlements that have ended regional conflicts, it has played a role in bringing independence in more than 80 countries that are now sovereign nations. It has also enacted over 500 international treaties on human rights, terrorism, international crime, refugees, disarmament, commodities and the oceans and reached an average of 90 million hungry people in 80 countries every year through the World Food Programme.  It is rightly said that to truly understand the contribution of the UN one has only to try and imagine how much hungrier, poorer and conflicted the world would be without the service of the UNO.

The quest for reform however remains never-ending. Thus, the gap between the expectation and capability of the UN highlights its inadequacies due to the greater opportunities and potential of its role in the 21st century despite the limited obligatory powers vested in it by the founding fathers and the complex administrative processes. While improvements in efficiency, fairness, financing and structural innovations are required to empower the UN, one must understand that its philosophy is rooted in the strength of moral forces, the efficacy of which has rarely been recognised in the world of politics. The role of the UN is not to impose immediate solutions after conflicts emerge, but rather to produce sustainable resolutions through the transformative channel of aid, discussion, debate, negotiation and diplomacy.

While it’s true that those who pay the piper like to call the tune, we must remember that the United Nations is an association of all the peoples of the world. In its survival can lie a brighter future for all of us and we must rise beyond apathy and skepticism to support and strengthen the work of the UN.