The United Nations founded in 1945 just after the Second World War; was formed to maintain peace and harmony across continents. The five permanent members of the United Nations are the United States of America, France, China, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. They exercise the right to participate in the democratic methods of decision making as carried out by the United Nations.
All one hears about is how miserably the United Nations has failed to ensure world peace and security is maintained and how there have been more and more violence and bloodshed; be it millions of Iraqis being killed by America’s agenda of ‘war on terror’ or be it the Israel-Palestine conflict. Criticism is always at the forefront but here, we are going to look at the success achieved by the UN in bringing peace and security to the countries.
UN has built up an impressive record of peacekeeping achievements over more than 60 years of its existence, and also won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for the same.
Since 1948, the UN has helped end conflicts whose consequences could have been catastrophic and also in fostering reconciliation by conducting successful peacekeeping operations in dozens of countries such as Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mozambique, Namibia, Tajikistan, and Timor-Leste. It has also made a significant difference in places like Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Haiti and Kosovo by providing the basic security guarantees and responding to them in situation of crisis. Through these, UN operations have supported political transitions and helped establish fragile new state institutions and have helped countries to overcome the state of conflict and have a real chance at normal development of the nation at a whole; even if major peace-building challenges within the country remain.
By May 2010, UN Peacekeeping operations had more than 124,000 military, police and civilian staff and there are currently 14 peacekeeping operations and one special political mission the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
In other instances, however, it can be debated that peacekeeping strategies and help from the UN peacekeeping and by the international community as a whole have yet not reached places such as Somalia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. But these setbacks provided important lessons for the international community for deciding how and when to deploy and support UN peacekeeping as a tool to restore and maintain international peace and security.
Recognizing the need to better prepare and respond to the challenges of peace building, the 2005 World Summit approved by the United Nations encourages the creation of a new Peace-building Commission in which the resolutions such as resolution 60/180 and resolution 1645 (2005)can come into play. The measures decided upon by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council included the mandatory as well as collective effort on the part of all participatory nations to advise on the proposed integrated strategies for post conflict peace-building and recovery; to marshal resources and help ensure predictable financing for these activities; and to develop best practices in collaboration with political, security, humanitarian and development in such countries.
There are certain guidelines/factors that the UN came up with, in order to ensure a fair and successful peacekeeping operation across countries worldwide. It must ensure the following:
- Every step or measure of the UN should be guided by the principles of consent, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate;
- To be perceived as legitimate and credible, particularly in the eyes of the local population;
- To promote national and local ownership of the peace process in the host country.
Unique global partnership
The first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, when the Security Council authorized the deployment of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to the Middle East to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Since then, there have been a total of 64 UN peacekeeping operations around the world.
UN peacekeeping is a unique global partnership which brings together the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, troop and police contributors and the host governments in a combined effort to maintain international peace and security. Its strength lies in the legitimacy of the UN Charter and in the wide range of contributing countries that participate and provide precious resources.
Other achievements of the United Nations:
- The First and foremost achievement of the United Nations is that it has prevented the occurrence of any further world wars and has been instrumental in the maintenance of international balance of power till date.
- It has managed to more or less eradicate Apartheid and colonialism and imperialism.
- It played a Significant role in disarming the world and making it nuclear free. Various treaty negotiations like ‘Partial Test Ban Treaty’ and ‘Nuclear non-proliferation treaty’ have been signed under UN.
- The UN Acted as vanguard for the protection of human rights of the people of the world, through the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
- Despite being crippled by the Bretton Woods Institutions, UN played limited but effective role on economic matters and also supported the North-South dialogue, aspiring for emergence of new international economic order.
- Agencies of United Nations like WHO, UNICFF, UNESCO have keenly participated in the transformation of the international social sector.
- Peace keeping operations, peaceful resolution of disputes and refugee concerns had always been on the list of core issues.
- Since 1945, the UN has been credited with negotiating 172 peaceful settlements that have ended regional conflicts.
- The UN world body is also instrumental in institutionalizing international laws and world legal frame work.
WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY
Women may not be the main combatants and perpetrators of war, but they are the ones who have and continue to increasingly suffer the greatest harm in the process. In contemporary conflicts, it is alleged that among the 80-90 percent of the civil casualties of war, most lives lost are those of women and children. Women in war-torn societies have faced horrific forms of sexual abuse and violence, which have sometimes been carried out for achieving military or political objectives. Moreover, even in today’s age and world, women continue to be poorly represented in formal peace processes and decisions, even when they play a very integral role (direct or indirect) towards contributing and resolving conflicts.
However, the UN Security Council has come to recognise the importance of including women and gender perspectives in decision-making, which can further strengthen prospects for sustainable peace worldwide. This recognition was formalized in October 2000 with the landmark unanimous adoption of Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which specifically addresses the situation of women in armed conflict and majorly focuses on two key goals, i.e. to strengthen women’s participation in decision-making on conflict resolution and ending sexual violence and impunity.