UKC

/ Is the UN broken?

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krikoman - on 10 Apr 2018

With Russia and the US seemingly opposing each other at every opportunity, is the UN broken?

Can it be fixed?

It appears the US, and the UK to some extent, will veto any resolution against Israel.

While the Russians are vetoing any resolutions against Syria.

Even when resolutions are passed they are often ignored, seemingly without consequences.

Since we, the public, tend to know what's wrong and what's right, why is it our countries seem to vote against these seemingly obvious opportunities?

I realise there's a lot of "politics" involved, but is politics getting in the way, of what the UN should be about?

summo on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

It has never been perfect, Russia and China have always vetoed western moves, on the full committee and the security council. 

MG - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

> Since we, the public, tend to know what's wrong and what's right, why is it our countries seem to vote against these seemingly obvious opportunities?

Do we?  I've no idea what's right in say Syria.  Any course of action or inaction seems hugely risky and problematic.

> I realise there's a lot of "politics" involved, but is politics getting in the way, of what the UN should be about?

I don't see how politics can be removed from the UN - it's the essence of it.  That said, right now it does seem to be particularly helpless.

 

summo on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Do we?  I've no idea what's right in say Syria.  Any course of action or inaction seems hugely risky and problematic.

Well we've meddled and made most other places worse, one more country can't make it much worse?. There is a wise old ex uk prime minister suggesting the UK attacks... his track record isn't great though.

> I don't see how politics can be removed from the UN - it's the essence of it.  That said, right now it does seem to be particularly helpless.

I think without the UN actions in countries would be even worse as there wouldn't be any accountability at all. 

Post edited at 10:58
Doug on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

Is it any worse now than during the Cold War ? Either the US or the USSR/Russia have been blocking action at the UN for as long as I can remember (some 40 plus years)

Eric9Points - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to summo:

> Well we've meddled and made most other places worse, one more country can't make it much worse?

 

 

Meddled? While we are continually reminded of the failures of intervention, the successes such as the Balkans or Sierra Leon are forgotten.

Eric9Points - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to Doug:

Well quite, we must remember that were never any golden days. Cold war II may kick off in the next day or two depending upon what Trump does and if that happens we'll be reminded of what real non communication results in.

krikoman - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Do we?  I've no idea what's right in say Syria.  Any course of action or inaction seems hugely risky and problematic.

I think stop killing people is the priority. How we achieve that is the difficult bit.

> I don't see how politics can be removed from the UN - it's the essence of it.  That said, right now it does seem to be particularly helpless.

I don't have any answers, more a cry of frustration really.  It would be nice though to see everyone voting with their conscience. Which assuming we all have one would mean Russia not vetoing investigations, into chemical weapons.

 

MarkJH - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Cold war II may kick off in the next day or two depending upon what Trump does and if that happens we'll be reminded of what real non communication results in.

 

I think that is unlikely.  It is certainly the narrative being pushed by Russia (along with vague threats of WWIII), but they are actually being quite measured when it comes to specifics.  Russia is not the soviet union; either in economic strength, financial independence, or military strength.  They would suffer far more from a second cold war than the west would.  They are obviously a threat, which requires careful handling, but this shouldn't be overstated.  Turkey (for example) shot down one of their bombers, and suffered almost no consequences (quite the reverse in fact if you look at their current influence in Syria).  Similarly, the US killed many (possibly 100+) 'unofficial' Russian soldiers in eastern Syria and the Kremlin tried their best to change the subject.  They are not going to risk their economy over any US action in Syria unless they are forced to, particularly if (as seems likely) the action will have no strategic consequences.

With regards to the original question, it seems to me that it is wrong to view the UN as an entity that can effect change on its own.  All it is, is a forum for traditional diplomacy.  It is good enough at that, and we should view its failures as failures of diplomacy rather than failures of the UN.  The world would be a worse place if it did not exist; and it is hard to see how any replacement would not be subject to the same limitations.

 

 

summo on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Meddled? While we are continually reminded of the failures of intervention, the successes such as the Balkans or Sierra Leon are forgotten.

I was being a little sarcastic and more referring to UK and usa's meddling, not the UN. I would judge the success of the Balkans in another 100 years, the problems there aren't solved. Plenty died in the Balkans whilst the UN was there because they weren't either in a position to act or didn't have the orders.

ian caton on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

No. 

The UN was constructed as a platform for vetos not for doing things.

When the great powers stop bothering with it will be when it is broken.


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