The United Nations or the irony of a name

February 19, 2007

Who chose that name, United Nations? There was a time when what existed was the Society of Nations, another name that implies unity, but in actual fact neither name essentially reflects the actual situation in the international organism.

Apart from having been so far an instrument at the complete disposal of just 5 countries : veto-holding China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States; it has also been all the time a nest of conspiracies, a waste of money and a useless tool for all those countries with no right to veto.

Should the United Nations be the international forum where all nations have the chance of exposing their divergences, their quarrels, their predicaments, with no other option than awaiting in fundamental cases for the unison agreement in the Security Council whose power is really in the hands of those five countries I mention above?.

Or rather should the U.N. be the mother organisation where all elements concerning world peace, development, poverty, education, health, etc would be housed?

Peace is the most fundamental of all reasons for the U.N. to be, but this peace should be controlled in the proper way, not as it is now in cases of resolutions which have to be sifted in the S.C. (Security Council) with real chances of being vetoed as has happened on multiple occasions as in the case of Israel, or in the cases of Serbia, or Iran, or Iraq, where no real unanimity was achieved to solve the problems once and for ever?

Development is also a fundamental part of the mission the U.N. should have, development and eradication of poverty should be a continuous target and the implementation of this development supported by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which would also be inside the organisation with full responsibility for the Secretary General as Head of the Organisation. Today we all know how these organisations work and at the call and beck of whom they work.

The right to veto is one of the most flagrant violations of the democratic principles, principles which are so much boasted by countries that do not respect them.

Education. Why the world cannot have a unitary education with the same subjects for everybody, an education that encompasses all aspects of our lives and teaches each and every one of us how to consider the world, democracy, corruption, etc in its proper terms, is something that has never been explained and something that should be addressed with a maximum priority.

Health. The enormous profits that Pharmaceuticals return to the big corporations of that sector are the consequence of exploitation of our health by them. Prices of the medicines are, as everybody knows, extremely costly to the Health Services of all countries let alone the pockets of citizens who have not been covered by the benefits of sanitary services. The excellent services provided by the professionals of Medicine are nothing if those medicines they prescribe are too dear and if the said corporations are not duly controlled and their profits duly dealt with by the Fisc. I wonder whether taxes on those profits could help some countries give sanitary coverage to their citizens.

Against my will this post has become too lengthy and I am not for long posts when readers’ time is one of the most important factors to be taken into account nowadays.

There is much more that can be said about the U.N. but my last commentary in this post is just to sum it all up in few words: It is a completely ineffective organisation whose running costs us – tax payers – so much that the money employed in it could serve to give remedy to many ills that are overwhelming the world.

Sheer shame!


21 Responses to “The United Nations or the irony of a name”

  1. Richard said

    I’s all we’ve got, Jose – for all its faults.

    What is the alternative ?

    Disunited Nations…divide and conquer..and who are you left with – those with the power of a global bully eg Gangster US mafia-like Capitalism or Monster China, mafia-like Communism.

  2. MerkinOnParis said

    Jose, the link I am giving is to a short article I did for Pikey.
    I am definitely with you on this one. Who speaks for us?

  3. anticant said

    As always, the paying piper calls the tune. The veto exists because the Soviets wouldn’t have joined without it. [They were bribed with a further half-dozen “independent” votes – Ukraine etc. – too.] Of course the veto should go, but some form of global proportional representation based on population size is also required. It would be absurd for Andorra or Luxembourg to have an equal vote with the big powers.

    But be realistic – the USA isn’t going to belong to any international body it doesn’t control; so who will bell the cat?

  4. Boldscot said

    ‘It would be absurd for Andorra or Luxembourg to have an equal vote with the big powers.’
    What if either had the bomb?.
    ‘Who will be the cat?’ is the question.

  5. Jose said

    Merkin. My experience matches what you say in that article. I have had to do with shipping during all my working life(47 years). I have had to deal with any nationality you may imagine in that long career and I can tell you it is not so difficult to get results. Very many times I had to reach agreements with them: those agreements never were onerous for either side. Generally speaking the relations were quite cordial and productive. If we extrapolate it to nations we see how it all works. Why?

    Anticant. In principle the veto is anti-democratic, the Russians may have demanded it, but what I have seen is that the veto of late is more used by the Americans than anyone else. Of course proportional vote is required, but I would add that perhaps we should consider the organisation to consist of continental branches, circumstancial representatives of each continent to deal with the other four in world related matters. This is a long thing and, as you say, we would need more blogs and more heads to reach a workable agenda.

    Boldscot. Of course the cat is the superpowers holding the veto right. Sometimes I think “the bomb” is not that important.

  6. Jose,

    Another great post. Thought provoking indeed.

    The ever shrinking world sees IGO’s come and go. Is it time for the U.N. to be disbanded because of its failure to facilitate peace, education and health? If that were to happen without internal consideration for an alternative ecumenical group (as the U.S. would probably like to see) I can’t imagine a new organization of nations being run any more responsibly.

    Perhaps a push from within the U.N. itself to reform under a new name with a new charter with principles such as you’ve mentioned as the main topics of renovation would be best.

    I think it would be wise to locate the headquarters of this new hypothetical organization on a parcel of non-nation soil. A place that belongs to no one and to everyone. This would avoid the obvious conflict of interests that now exists, no?

    Perhaps it should be placed on one of the tiny islands in the south pacific that the US used for most of their nuclear testing in the 40’s.

    And sure, the veto’s got to go.

    Check out Union of International Associations

  7. anticant said

    The representatives of nations are only people. It should be possible for them to get along as well as the averaqge mixed-race pub crowd, and to avoid brawls. The trouble is they – especially the bigger ones – think in terms of “prestige” and get a buzz out of playing Chicken games brandishing their fancy weaponry around like kids waving a box of matches in a gas-filled room. It’s playpen stuff writ large. But how to stop it?

  8. Jose said

    Indeed, Anticant. That’s how you describe it.

    1loneranger. I hadn’t the slightest that Association existed. The Media seem not to have given it any publicity, and I wonder what the outcome of its activities may be. It is true that every time the UN appears to be more Leviathan-like, more enormous, more incontrollable. The idea I hint above about continental unities could be a solution for the control of the UN. It would also spread it over the world giving the New York Headquarters a relative importance.

  9. Richard said

    I like your metaphor of the UN as a “average mixed race pub crowd”, but (as in all metaphors) it has its limitations – the most serious being that if a “brawl” breaks out in the pub, the police can be called in.

    In the UN, if a ‘brawl’ breaks out there are no ‘police’ to call in – only the ‘mafia gangs’ and associated bullies to restore (dis)order.

    Who guards the guardians ? well, it appears the ‘buck stops’ with the UN representatives.

    The UN – and its vision – must never, never be lost.

  10. earthpal said

    Warm wishes all.

    Another high class debate here on Jose’s site (well it was until I waded in!).

    It’s been said before and I agree that no international body is ever going to force individual nations to follow orders that they don’t wish to follow.

    And I agree with the others who say the veto thing is undemocratic as it just seems to negate the whole point of the thing. And let’s face it, the US will veto anything that moves if it’s not been US-initiated.

    And yet, in spite of that, I have to largely agree with Richard. It’s all we’ve got.

    The thing about today’s world is that politicians, officials, corporate fatcats and the like make important decisons that affect the whole of humanity and yet they remain largely unaccountable for those decisions which is of course, a democratic deficit (just had to get that phrase in somewhere!).

    Yes, the UN needs cleaning up, it needs more transparency and accountability and it certainly needs to learn to speed up its responses to troubles but I think Richard is right. The vision of the UN must never be lost. It just needs to live up to it’s name – United Nations.

  11. christianzionismexposed said

    Any group activity seems not to bring about unity (for long) but rather usually dissolves into factions, and rather quickly. Even in a group as small as three, it normally divides 2:1, with the one feeling underappreciated or left out. 🙂 Just roll that principle out into larger society and it’s easy to see why the world is in the mess it’s in and has pretty much always been in. We can’t come together. We’re just too different. People who think we can will be terribly disappointed, I’m afraid.

  12. earthpal said

    “We can’t come together. We’re just too different. People who think we can will be terribly disappointed, I’m afraid.”

    I’m pretty much coming to accept that conclusion myself. But I’m not ready to let go of the hope. Yes, we are different. But we’re also just the same.

  13. anticant said

    “We are different. But we’re also just the same.” As Churchill said, “Jaw-Jaw is better than War-War”. Not a fashionable view these days, but the alternative is unthinkable. If the United Nations did not exist, it would have to be re-invented. It does exist – it must be made to work better. How?

  14. Jose said

    The differences in education throughout the years may have meant “that” difference you are talking of. The human brain in normal circumstances has the same mechanisms everywhere, what is essential is that education, the same type of education, be spread all over the world, make it compulsory for everybody. Of course ethics should receive the best of attentions.

    It will take time but the generations that come out of that educational system may be better and make for the world to understand “itself” also better.

  15. Richard said

    I think it was Chomsky, the Philosopher of Language, who said that if aliens scanned the human species they would deduce that we all spoke variations of the same language.

    Those things that unite us are greater than those which divide us – and that gives cause for hope.

  16. Jose said

    And I wonder, Richard, why in fear “we” seek protection by our leaders instead of seeking protection among us, as it used to be in olden times.
    Solidarity among us is more effective than placing ourselves in the hands of leaders without scruples.

  17. anticant said

    Jose, when you speak of compulsory edUcation spread all over the world, I am bound to ask: who decides what the content of the education shall be, and who enforces its global teaching? The only plausible answer is a world dictatorship, which no-one in their senses wants. The nearest actual example is the international spread of Wahhabi’st Islam fuelled by Saudi petrodollars – an ominous prototype!

  18. LysySzkot said

    ‘I think it was Chomsky, the Philosopher of Language, who said that if aliens scanned the human species they would deduce that we all spoke variations of the same language.’ Excellent.
    Richard, I am a Chomsky fan and also a fan of Pinker.
    Just wondering, have you ever thrown that idea to the Swagman on The Pirate’s lair?
    He despises Chomsky with a vengeance.
    Just to show that all the Awkward squad affiliates do not have to agree on everything.

  19. Richard said

    Thanks for that LSSK – now I understand what ‘The Awkward Squad’ is all about ! I have lobbed a linguistic grenade over in that direction – let’s see if it ignites…

  20. In the Chomsky/UN universal education vain….
    Chomsky said when asked what he looked for in a student at University….

    “Independence of mind, enthusiasm, dedication to the field, and willingness to challenge and question and to explore new directions.
    There are plenty of people like that, but school tends to discourage those characteristics.”

    Not surprisingly Chomsky never received a sheepskin for his endeavours at university. Not that he needed one.

    Free universal education with Chomsky as the Head Master? Probably not.
    How could we possibly have “one system”?
    Perhaps using the separate “Continental” systems loosely linked together such as Jose suggested. Still, sounds like an amalgamation.

  21. Jose said

    Well, Anticant, I don’t think it should be so drastic as to impose a dictatorship to make good education spread over the world, not at all. It needs money, of course, but it doesn’t need a dictatorship.

    The great problem with education, in my view, is the Right’s system of private education, but if that could be dismissed and education approved by the UN after hearing a real expert committee, making it compulsory for all those up to 16 years of age, then we would be taking another step in the right direction. Work prohibited also for those under 16.

    Billions of Euros are wasted in corruption, as you know, everywhere, so one other question to be fixed is corruption. Fisc measures taken, corruptors and corrupted heavily fined with harsher measures to follow.

    Exchange of teachers through agreements is also a viable step.

    It seems hard to achieve, but it isn’t if there’s political will in that sense.

    It could all be started in Africa, the rich-poor continent and in Latin America.

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