The United Nations and international order

Essay based on the chapter 16 (The United Nations and international order) of the book ‘The Globalization of world politics’

“I like globalization I want to say it works, but it is hard to say that when six hundred million people are slipping backwards” Paul Wolfowitz.

If we come to talk about globalization, we must talk about international order and an organization that has played an important role has been The United Nations (UN), we should talk about how the UN tries to maintain international order, how it has acted when there were problems within the states, its involvement in world issues, how it has taken part on intervention and how it has become a national good for some states.

Let’s begin giving a brief history of the UN. The name “United Nations” was first used in the Declaration by The United Nations of January 1, 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of twenty-six(26) nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. There is a relation between order and justice and the UN was part of this relation, it was set up to preserve peace between states. The UN became a moral pressure for states to act well. The repuation in the UN context had become for some states an important national good, acting morally may improve states’ personal standard and give them the opportunity to be in the Security Council. The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by a majority of other signataries.

The predecessor of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the First World War, established in 1919, and in some ways the UN reflected lessons learned from its forerunner.

Now we may go further, the ending of cold war promoted the attitude of governments to be an active member of the UN. It was hard for them to accept that what happened inside a state was a concern of anyone else, but the lack of internal justice risked international disorder.

“After the Cold War ended, there was a rapid increase in the number of peacekeeping operations. With a new consensus and a common sense of purpose the Security Council authorized a total of 20 new operations between 1989 and 1994, raising the number of peacekeepers from 11,000 to 75,000.”

The ending of the cold war reduced the risk that promotion of justice could bring up a context of superpower rivalry, the conscience of the world needed an agent an the UN was it. It became a focus of global conscience.

Governance is an indication of a step towards a legitimate global government, the UN has become a legitimate government with its concerning about justice for individuals within the state, human rights, refugee problems, humanitarian crisis. Now what happened within states was linked to what happened between them.

There were three main ways the UN was trying to maintain order. First, with the promotion of international standards within states which included a regime restoration because for some states it was like being reborn when there were dictatorships and such. Second, with the promotion of international peace and security right to protect cultural life of peoples. Let’s say, for instance, the action in Kuwait in 1990 when Iraq invaded it and occupied it. On the same day, the Security Council adopted its resolution 660(1990) condemning the invasion and demanding Iraq’s immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its forces to the position they had occupied. Third, the promotion of order when sovereignty was contested by rival groups of citizens, often in civil war, the UN was willing to attempt solving disputes within states. Sovereignty was regarded as central to the system of states.

Intervention, there need to be reasons for intervention in states, and in the early 1990s were being considered new jusifications for this. We have the case of the intervention in Kosovo not by the UN but by NATO saying there were extreme transgressions of human rights. They wanted the return of the refugees. They said they wanted peace to come back. Most of operations of the UN were justified in the traditional way because there was a threat to international peace and security.

We must talk about a case that was not mentioned in the book, but has to be treated when talking about intervention, The Rwandan Genocide in 1994. It is said that the UN activities were meant to aid peace process between the Hutu-dominated Rwandese government and the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front, The UN said:

“In Rwanda in 1994, the United Nations had peacekeeping troops on the ground at the very place and time where genocidal acts were being commited. During the genocide, some of those peacekeepers lost their lives trying to defend the victims. But instead of reinforcing the troops, the United Nations witthdrew them, a decision made by Member States in the Security Council. Initially, the Security Council rejected the possibility of a military response to the crisis, and some governments refused to allow UN documents to use the word ‘genocide’ to describe the killings taking place in Rwanda.”

Back then the UN pointed out that their troops were not well prepared, that they did not have functioning materia, they did not have the capacity to prevent the genocide but a 1999 report commissioned by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, showed a UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda doomed from the start by an insufficient mandate and later destroyed by the Security Council’s refusal to strengthen it once the killing began. The UN and its member states failed Rwanda, ignoring evidence that a genocide was planned, refusing to act once it was under way and finally abandoning the Rwandan people when they most needed protection. In my view Rwanda needed intervention but when it got it that was not good enough, most of the people the UN helped were not actual Rwandan people. They were Europeans, Americans but not Rwandans. The UN failed a nation that really needed help and failed in deplorable ways.

The United Nations starts getting under the skin of sovereignty in order ro promote sovereignty, they gave and give humanitarian assistance. Armies in wars were vulnerable to accusations of infringements of human rights, the UN was fighting the threat to international peace, before intervention within states where said to depend on the government approval but that was chaging, there were born non-governmental organizations that were skilful at establishing a presence without government consent, some of these organizations being part of the UN such as the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).

Last but not least, we have the roles of the United Nations in 2000. In the first place, peace and security between states, they looked for peace enforcement,, they have the traditional peacekeeping with the cosent of the host states, treating developmen in cooperation with governments, some organizations like the World Healt Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) were workinng with the UN making cooperation in social and technical functions. Second, Justice within states, humanitarian assistance, the UN activities were to make states stronger not weaker. They work on the rehabilitation of states after crisis, promoting and enforcing firmer standards on the environmental protection, population control, human rights and so on, they also created the arms register to know who was giving what to whom.

Finally, the problems of global governance in the early twenty-first century deficiencies. The UN had continuing problems of coordination and planning, they had financial problems and there were problems of executive competence and legitimacy involving the restricted membership of the Security Council, in addition to that the UN lacked mechanisms for judicial review and supervision, that it will alway had to rely on other organization. The Un has the priority of peace, but they did not need only the willing to help, they needed also the tools and capacity to do it. And today the UUN deals with other problems, such as their peacekeeping troops being accused of sexual abuse in central Africa. The UN has taken action suspending their salaries and saying they are looking to give them rest and recreation the UN did not say how that would prevent sexual explotation and abuse.

In conclusion the governancec of the society of states could be carried out by the UN. We hope to find better governments with their help, people have expectations, it not only cares about commerce or the protection of states, the UN also care for the rights and protection of individuals. The organization have made mistakes, but we all have, and every single day we try to improve, that is what they do. Developed states are not the only ones the UN cares about. They want to help the little ones too. Most of the times the UN has intervened has done it in the right ways and for the right causes, it has become a national good for some nations, being member of the UN is something important. The UN tried and is trying to maintain international order, but I think they cannot do it alone, they need states’ cooperation, people’s cooperation, and not only the UN, also other non-governmental institutions like UNICEF, criticizing doing nothing else does not work. If we are going to criticize, let’s do it proposing solutions, changes to improve, all of this can start with every single one of us.

“Everything will be all right – you know when?  When people, just people, stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction and see it as a drawing they made themselves” Dag Hammarskjold

Daniela Toro Becerra


The globalization of worl geopolitics, chapter 16

The UN after cold war: 1989-1994: Rapid Increase in numbers


The New York Times

Kuwait Intervention, Kosovo Intervention, Rwnadan Genocide: United Nations: http:/// 

Rwandan Genocide:

Kosovo Intervention: ttps://



Author: Daniela Toro Becerra

My name is Daniela Toro Becerra, I am a student at University of Antioquia. I study Environmental Engineering in the Environmental School at the Engineering Faculty, and I am in a course called World Geopolitics where we have talked about topics such as: Geography and Politics, globalization, imperialism, patriotism, totalitarism, and so on. With geopolitics I have learned how important is to understand the world’s situation in the past, in the present and analyse how it could be on the future, how important is to have an opinion, we need to be a real thinking animal and not be going where everybody goes just because, and yes, I am not going where the river takes me.

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