United Nations second Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold once put it that 'the UN was not created to take mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell'.
His shared his dream in the political scenario that existed before the world completely recovered from the uncertainties spurred by the World War II. The UN doubtlessly, has been able to accomplish its goals to a great extent. The organization has been able to transform the lives of tens and thousands of people by saving them from all forms of hell on earth, including poverty and hunger imparting better education, health facilities and self confidence. The current Secretary General Ban Ki moon had also experienced the benefits of UNICEF’s educational program for children. The organization, according to the estimates, has spent over 3, 500 crore dollars in the areas like education, elimination of poverty and disease control. However, the setup as well as the functioning of UN is reminiscent of the political circumstances post World War II. The main political allies then comprising the US, Britain, France, Russia and China still control the organization. Questions arise as to whether the UN has been able to incorporate the global political transitions after the fall of Soviet Union and also to precisely identify the new economic powers.
As the 70th session of the UN General Assembly progresses in New York, it’s the drawbacks of the organisation that is being discoursed about, even though unofficially. Majority of the nations desire a change in the system while ensuring geographical balance at the controlling level and incorporating the trends in the political and economic sectors. Countries including India have been demanding, for years, a revamping of the UN Security Council that plays a vital role in the UN decisions. Prime Minister Modi during his visit to New York had urged Ban Ki moon to carry out the process within the specified time period. Even though the changes to the Council comes under the agenda of the current meeting, it’s unlikely that a final decision would evolve during the process. Increasing the number of the members in the Security Council, lifting the VETO power of the permanent members and ensuring regional representation in the Council are the changes intended through the revamp. These are, in other words, ways to reinforce the democratic character of the UN. There have been several transformations in the council in the past six decades like increasing the number of temporary members from 6 to 10. But matters including giving permanent membership to the new political and economic powers have not yet been realized. Germany and Japan which are the leading financiers to the UN after US had demanded permanent membership in the Security Council even before India. Same is the case with Brazil as well as the African Union that urged for a permanent membership in the Council on a rotation basis for two countries in their area.
There are three barriers to overcome in order to bring about the makeover of the UN. One is requiring two third of the majority in the General Assembly and the second is to retain this majority in the Security Council. The third factor is requiring the backing of five permanent members in the Council. It’s almost impractical to overcome all the hurdles as the existing members have been opposing the changes right from the beginning. Even though the US had welcomed India and Japans’ entry into the Council, China has already announced their opposition. Things are no different in the case of Germany and Brazil. No member wants to have the VETO power lifted. In such a case, revamping of UN becomes impossible. It’s the crisis faced by the UN that is reflected in these discourses. Ban Ki moon recently admitted that the UN Security Council has not been able to do much for the Syrian refugees. Russia vetoing the submission over the Syrian uprising in the Security Council rendered the UN intervention in the matter futile. Succumbing to the pressures of world powers in the case of Ukraine and Palestine was also attributed to VETO power. If UN is unable to transform itself into a more powerful democratic order, things would be more chaotic in future.