Criticism of the United Nations

Criticism of the United Nations

Criticism of the United Nations has been ideologically diverse, although much of it is focused on the UN's purported inability to handle international conflicts, even on a small scale. Other criticisms tend to focus on the UN's alleged elitism or its presumed support of globalist philosophies.


Philosophical and moral criticisms

Moral relativism

In 2004, former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold published a book called Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos. The book criticized what it called the organization's moral relativism in the face of (and occasional support of)[1] genocide and terrorism that occurred between the moral clarity of its founding period and the present day. While the UN during its founding period was limited to those nations that declared war on at least one of the Axis powers of World War II, and thus were capable of taking a stand against evil, the modern United Nations has, according to Gold, become diluted to the point where only 75 of the 184 member states during the time of the book's publication "were free democracies, according to Freedom House."[2] He further claimed that this had the effect of tipping the scales of the UN so that the organization as a whole was more amenable to the requirements of dictatorships.[2]

Allegations of globalism

There has been controversy and criticism of the UN organization and its activities since at least the 1950s. In the United States, an early opponent of the UN was the John Birch Society, which began a "get US out of the UN" campaign in 1959, charging that the UN's aim was to establish a "One World Government."

Charles de Gaulle of France criticized the UN, famously calling it le machin ("the whatchamacallit"), and was not convinced that a global security alliance would help in maintaining world peace, preferring that the UN direct defense treaties between countries.[3]

Debates surrounding population control and abortion

The United Nations Population Fund has been accused by different groups[who?] of providing support for government programs which have promoted forced-abortions and coercive sterilizations. Controversies regarding these allegations have resulted in a sometimes shaky relationship between the organization and the United States government, with three presidential administrations, that of Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush and George W. Bush withholding funding from the UNFPA.

The UNFPA provided aid to Peru's population control program in the mid-to-late '90s, when it was discovered the Peruvian program had been engaged in carrying out coercive sterilizations. The UNFPA was not found directly involved in the scandal, but continued to fund and work with the population control program after the abuses had become public.[4] The issue played a role in the Bush administration's controversial decision in 2002 to cut off funding for the organization.[5]

Administrative criticisms

Role of elite nations

There has been criticism that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Russia, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France), who are all nuclear powers, have created an exclusive nuclear club whose powers are unchecked. Unlike the General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council does not have true international representation. This has led to accusations that the UNSC only addresses the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members, especially in humanitarian interventions: for example, protecting the oil-rich Kuwaitis in 1991 but poorly protecting resource-poor Rwandans in 1994.[6] Similarly, UN was quick to take a military action through NATO against Libya in 2011 against repressive regime, but as on 1 Sep 2011 it still hasn't taken any decision on whether to take any action against Syria.

Membership in the UN Security Council

Any nation may be elected to serve a temporary term on the Security Council, but critics have suggested that this is inadequate. Rather, they argue, the number of permanent members should be expanded to include non-nuclear powers, which would democratize the organization.[7] Still other nations have advocated abolishing the concept of permanency altogether; under the government of Paul Martin, Canada advocated this approach.[8]

Veto power

Another criticism of the Security Council involves the veto power of the five permanent nations. As it stands, a veto from any of the permanent members can halt any possible action the Council may take. One nation's objection, rather than the opinions of a majority of nations, may cripple any possible UN armed or diplomatic response to a crisis. For instance, John J. Mearsheimer claimed that "since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members."[9] Since candidates for the Security Council are proposed by regional blocs, the Arab League and its allies are usually included but Israel, which joined the UN in 1949, has never been elected to the Security Council. The Council has repeatedly condemned the Jewish State. Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick declared that what takes place in the Security Council "more closely resembles a mugging than either a political debate or an effort at problem-solving."[10]

Fait accompli

The practice of the permanent members meeting privately and then presenting their resolutions to the full council as a fait accompli has also drawn fire; according to Erskine Childers, "the vast majority of members -- North as well as South -- have made very clear...their distaste for the way three Western powers behave in the Council, like a private club of hereditary elite-members who secretly come to decisions and then emerge to tell the grubby elected members that they may now rubber-stamp those decisions."[11]

Democratic character of the UN

Other critics object to the idea that the UN is a democratic organization, saying that it represents the interests of the governments of the nations who form it and not necessarily the individuals within those nations. World federalist Dieter Heinrich points out that the powerful Security Council system does not have distinctions between the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches: the UN Charter gives all three powers to the Security Council.[12]

Another concern is that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are five of the top seven largest arms exporting countries in the world.[13]

Effectiveness criticisms

Some have questioned whether the UN might be relevant in the 21st century.[14] While the UN’s first and second Charter mandates require the UN : “To maintain international peace and security.... (and if necessary to enforce the peace by) taking preventive or enforcement action,”[15] due to its restrictive administrative structure, the permanent members of the Security Council themselves have sometimes prevented the UN from fully carrying out its first two mandates.[16] Without the unanimous approval, support (or minimally abstention) of all 5 of the permanent members of the UN's Security Council, the UN's charter only enables it to "observe", report on, and make recommendations regarding international conflicts. Such unanimity on the Security Council regarding the authorization of armed UN enforcement actions has not always been reached in time to prevent the outbreak of international wars.[16] Even with all of these restraints and limitations in place on the UN’s abilities to respond to situations of conflict, still various studies have found the UN to have had many notable successes in the 65 years of its existence.

In 1962 UN secretary general U Thant provided valuable assistance and took a great deal of time, energy and initiative as the primary negotiator between Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, thus providing a critical link in the prevention of a nuclear Armageddon at that time.[17] A 2005 RAND Corporation study found the UN to be successful in two out of three peacekeeping efforts. It compared UN nation-building efforts to those of the United States, and found that seven out of eight UN cases are at peace, as opposed to four out of eight US cases at peace.[18] Also in 2005, the Human Security Report documented a decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuses since the end of the Cold War, and presented evidence, albeit circumstantial, that international activism – mostly spearheaded by the UN – has been the main cause of the decline in armed conflict since the end of the Cold War.[19]

Diplomatic and political criticisms

Inability to prevent conflicts

Other critics and even proponents of the United Nations question its effectiveness and relevance because in most high-profile cases, there are essentially no consequences for violating a Security Council resolution. The most prominent and dramatic example of this is the Darfur crisis, in which Arab Janjaweed militias, supported by the Sudanese government, committed repeated acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous population. Thus far, an estimated 300,000 civilians have been killed in what is the largest case of mass murder in the history of the region, yet the UN has continuously failed to act against this severe and ongoing human rights issue. Another such case occurred in the Srebrenica massacre where Serbian troops committed genocide against Bosnian Muslims in the largest case of mass murder on the European continent since World War II. Srebrenica had been declared a UN "safe area" and was even protected by 400 armed Dutch peace keepers, but the UN forces did nothing to prevent the massacre.

Handling of the Cold War

In 1967, Richard Nixon, while running for President of the United States, criticized the UN as "obsolete and inadequate" for dealing with then-present crises like the Cold War.[20] Jeane Kirkpatrick, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan to be United States Ambassador to the United Nations, wrote in a 1983 opinion piece in The New York Times that the process of discussions at the Security Council "more closely resembles a mugging" of the United States "than either a political debate or an effort at problem solving."[21]

Attention given to the Arab-Israeli conflict

Issues relating to the state of Israel, the Palestinian people and other aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict occupy a large amount of debate time, resolutions and resources at the United Nations. Critics such as Dore Gold, Alan Dershowitz, Mark Dreyfus, Robert S. Wistrich, Alan Keyes, and the Anti-Defamation League consider UN attention on Israel's treatment of Palestinians to be excessive.[22][23][24][25][26][27] According to Wistrich, "a third of all critical resolutions passed by [the UN] Human Rights Commission during the past forty years have been directed exclusively at Israel. By way of comparison, there has not been a single resolution even mentioning the massive violations of human rights in China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Zimbabwe."[28]

The adoption of UNSCOP's recommendation to partition Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947[29] was one of the earliest decisions of the UN. According to political commentator Alan Dershowitz, after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the UN defined the term "refugee" as applied to Palestinian Arabs fleeing Israel in significantly broader terms than it did for other refugees of other conflicts.[30]

Professor Don Habibi of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington lamented the limited reports on Sudan and Darfur, in contrast to reports on Israel. He criticized the United Nations, among other organizations, for their “obsession” with Israel, to the exclusion of other human rights violators. Habibi wrote: "This obsession would make sense if Israel was among the worst human rights offenders in the world. But by any objective measure this is not the case. Even with the harshest interpretation of Israeli’s policies, which takes no account of cause and effect, and Israel’s predicament of facing existential war, there can be no comparison to the civil wars in Sudan, Algeria, or Congo."[31]

In 2007, UN Human Rights Council president Doru Romulus Costea said that the UNHRC had "failed" in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[32]

The UN has sponsored several peace negotiations between the Israel and its neighbors, the latest being the 2002 Road map for peace. The controversial Resolution 3379 (1975), which equated Zionism with racism, was rescinded in 1991. According to Robert S. Wistrich, "on the same day Resolution 3379 was adopted, the General Assembly decided to establish the 'Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.' With a large budget at its disposal and acting as an integral part of the United Nations, it has for more than thirty years done everything within its power to establish a Palestinian state in place of Israel."[22]

Allegations of anti-Zionism and antisemitism

The UN has been accused by Dershowitz, human rights activists Elie Wiesel, Anne Bayefsky, and Bayard Rustin, historian Robert S. Wistrich, and feminists Phyllis Chesler and Sonia Johnson of tolerating antisemitic remarks within its walls.[22][25][33][34] Israeli delegates to the UN "have been treated to a sickening litany of anti-Semitic abuse at the General Assembly, in the UN Human Rights Commission, and sometimes even in the Security Council" for decades.[22]

UN conferences throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s often passed resolutions denouncing Zionism. These conferences often did not have anything to do with Middle East politics. UN documents of the period denied the existence of the Jewish people, the history of ancient Israel, the Holocaust, and the notion that Jews deserve the same rights granted to other groups.[35] Wistrich described the 1980 World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women in Copenhagen in his book, A Lethal Obsession:

"Jewish feminists heard truly chilling comments, such as 'The only good Jew is a dead Jew' and 'The only way to rid the world of Zionism is to kill all the Jews.' One eye-witness overheard other delegates saying that the American women's movement had a bad name because its most prominent founding figures ... were all Jewish. The feminist activist Sonia Johnson described the anti-Semitism at the Copenhagen conference as 'over, wild, and irrational.' ... The psychologist and author Phyllis Chesler recorded the savage response when one Jewish woman mentioned that her husband had been shot without a trial in Iraq and that she had to escape to Israel with her children. The place went wild: 'Cuba si! Yankee no! PLO! PLO!' they shouted. 'Israel kills babies and women. Israel must die.'"[22]

The most infamous example of this trend was the passage of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism, on November 10, 1975. It was the first postwar ideology to ever be condemned in the United Nations' history. The resolution was internationally condemned in the media (especially in the media of Western countries). Many observers noted that the resolution was passed on the thirty-seventh anniversary of Kristallnacht, the pogrom historians agree marked the beginning of the Holocaust.

A UN sponsored conference was held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa. The conference was meant to combat racism, but ended up being a forum for world leaders to make various anti-Semitic statements.[36][37] Among the anti-Semitic literature freely handed out at the conference were cartoons equating the Nazi swastika with the Jewish Star of David, flyers expressing the wish that Adolf Hitler had completely killed every last Jew on Earth, and copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[38][39] Tom Lantos, Colin Powell, Charles Schumer, Elie Wiesel, Irwin Cotler, Alan Dershowitz, and Robert S. Wistrich condemned the entire conference, calling it hateful, racist, and anti-Semitic.[40][25]

Alleged support for Palestinian militancy

According to Dore Gold, Alan Dershowitz, and Robert S. Wistrich, the United Nations has a long history of elevating what it calls "national liberation movements," armed groups who commit violence against civilians to achieve political goals, virtually to the status of civilians.[41][25][42] In 1974 and again in 1988, the UN invited Yasser Arafat to address the General Assembly.[41][43][44][45] Alan Dershowitz accused the UN of allowing states that sponsor terrorism to sit on the Security Council.[46] These visits legitimized the PLO without it "having to renounce terrorism."[47]

In July 1976, Palestinian and German terrorists hijacked an Air France plane headed from France to Israel, landed it in Uganda, and threatened to kill the civilian hostages. Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada provided sanctuary for the terrorists in the Entebbe airport. After Israel raided the Ugandan airport and saved most of the hostages, United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim "condemned Israel" for the violation of "Ugandan sovereignty."[48]

Alan Dershowitz stated that while Tibetans, Kurds, and Turkish Armenians all desire "national liberation," the United Nations has only officially recognized Palestinian claims to "national liberation" and allows representatives of the Palestinian cause to speak at the UN.[49] The difference between the three groups and the Palestinians is that the Palestinians use terrorism as a tactic for getting their voice heard, while the Tibetans and Turkish Armenians do not.[49] The UN, according to Dershowitz, favors "national liberation" groups who practice terrorism above those who do not, including those people who have been under more brutal occupation for a longer time (such as Tibetans). Dershowitz has accused the UN of allowing its refugee camps in the Palestinian territories to be used as terrorist bases.[25]

Criticisms of scandals

Oil-for-Food Programme scandal

In addition to criticism of the basic approach, the Oil-for-Food Programme suffered from widespread corruption and abuse. Throughout its existence, the programme was dogged by accusations that some of its profits were unlawfully diverted to the government of Iraq and to UN officials.[50]

Peacekeeping child sexual abuse scandal

Reporters witnessed a rapid increase in prostitution in Cambodia, Mozambique, Bosnia, and Kosovo after UN and, in the case of the latter two, NATO peacekeeping forces moved in. In the 1996 U.N. study The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, former first lady of Mozambique Graça Machel documented: "In 6 out of 12 country studies on sexual exploitation of children in situations of armed conflict prepared for the present report, the arrival of peacekeeping troops has been associated with a rapid rise in child prostitution." [51]

In 2011, a United Nations spokesman confirmed 16 Beninese peacekeepers were barred from serving with them following a year-long probe. Of the 16 soldiers involved, 10 were commanders. They failed to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse. Sexual misconduct by United Nations troops had earlier been reported in Congo, Cambodia and Haiti, as well as in an earlier incident involving Moroccan peacekeepers in Ivory Coast.[52]

See also

  • Defamation of religions and the United Nations


  1. ^ Gold, Dore. Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004. pp. 216–217
  2. ^ a b Gold, 31
  3. ^ Gerbet, Pierre (1995). "Naissance des Nations Unies" (in French). Espoir (102). 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Mosher, Steve (19 August 2002). "Bush stops funds for UNFPA abuses; the U.N. population fund supports forced abortions and sterilizations". Insight on the News.;col1. 
  6. ^ Rajan, Chella (2006). "Global Politics and InstitutionsPDF (449 KB)". Frontiers of a Great Transition. Vol. 3. Tellus Institute.
  7. ^ "India makes strong case for UNSC expansion". 13 November 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-09-08.,001600320005.htm. 
  8. ^ "Statement by Canadian Ambassador Allan Rock on Security Council Reform". Global Policy Forum. 12 July 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  9. ^ John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy". KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series. Harvard University. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  10. ^ The United Nations and Israel by Mitchell Bard
  11. ^ Empowering the Peoples in their United Nations - UN Reform - Global Policy Forum
  12. ^ Creery, Janet (1994). Read the fine print first: Some questions raised at the Science for Peace conference on UN reform. Peace Magazine. Jan-Feb 1994. p. 20. Retrieved on 2007-12-07.
  13. ^ Top List TIV Tables-SIPRI
  14. ^ "Bush Discusses Relevance/ Irrelevance of UN". 2002. Retrieved 14 January 2011.  George W. Bush addressing the UN, questioning the relevance of the UN if it will not authorize a US invasion of Iraq.
  15. ^ "Article". 1945. Retrieved 14 January 2011.  Excerpt of Articles 1 & 2 of the United Nations Charter
  16. ^ a b "The United Nations, Its Development During the Cold War". 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2011.  Political scientist Ragnor Muller summarizes the development of the UN during the Cold War years.
  17. ^ "The Cuban Missile Crisis Resolved: The Untold Story of an Unsung Hero". 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2011.  Recently discovered documentation of Secretary General U-Thant’s critical role in resolving the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis.
  18. ^ "The UN's Role in Nation Building: From the Congo to Iraq". 2005. Retrieved 14 January 2011.  A Rand Corporation historical comparative survey of UN peacekeeping work.
  19. ^ "The 2005 Human Security Report". 2005. Retrieved 14 January 2011.  A detailed historical analysis of UN effectiveness in preventing wars.
  20. ^ "The Nixon Administration and the United Nations: 'It's a Damned Debating Society'", Dr. Edward C. Keefer (PDF).
  21. ^ "UN Mugging Fails", Legitimacy and Force, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, p. 229.
  22. ^ a b c d e Wistrich, Robert S.. A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad. New York: Random House, 2010. pp. 471-483.
  23. ^ Alan Keyes quoted in Yohanan Manor, To Right a Wrong: The Revocation of the UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 Defaming Zionism (New York: Shengold Publishers, 1996), p. 171. qtd. in Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession, 484.
  24. ^ Gold, 20
  25. ^ a b c d e Dershowitz, Alan. The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
  26. ^ "Don’t be lynch mob, lawyers urge U.N.." JTA. 8 July 2009. 8 July 2009.
  27. ^ "ADL: UN Human Rights Council Resolution Reveals 'Cancerous Bias' Against Israel." ADL. 7 July 2009.
  28. ^ Wistrich, 487
  29. ^ Dynamics of Self-determination in Palestine, P. J. I. M. de Waart, BRILL, 1994, p. 121.
  30. ^ Dershowitz, Alan. The Case for Israel. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003. pp. 86–87.
  31. ^ Human Rights NGOs and the Neglect of Sudan
  32. ^ Shamir, Shlomo. "UN human rights chief: We failed in handling Israel-PA conflict." Haaretz. 30 September 2007. 7 July 2009.
  33. ^ "Transcripts." International. 6 August 2004. 7 July 2009.
  34. ^ Bayefsky, Anne. "Extra." 21 June 2004. 7 July 2009.
  35. ^ Rep. William Lehman of Florida, March 11, 1981, Congressional Record—Extension of Remarks, E993. Lehman incorporated a text by Harris O. Schoenberg, "Anti-semitism at the U.N.," first presented in New York on March 10, 1981. qtd. in Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession, 480.
  36. ^ Jordan, Michael J. "Jewish Activists Stunned by Hostility, Anti-Semitism at Durban Conference." United Jewish Communities. 5 September. 1 September 2009.
  37. ^ Spitzer, Maya. "Swiss Jews worried by pre-Durban II anti-Semitism spike." Jerusalem Post. 12 May 2009. 1 September 2009.
  38. ^ Wistrich, 486
  39. ^ Amiel, Barbara. "Fighting racism? This will have the opposite effect." 3 September 2001. 25 July 2009.
  40. ^ Wistrich, 207.
  41. ^ a b Wistrich, 468-469.
  42. ^ "The UN's new position could only be understood by those who regarded themselves as members of 'national liberation movements' as a license to commit murder in the name of the cause of self-determination. The UN ... had taken the first step toward legitimizing global terror" (Gold, 37).
  43. ^ Gold, 38
  44. ^ Israel Rejects UN Resolution on Yasser Arafat
  45. ^ Yasser Arafat, Speech at UN General Assembly
  46. ^ Dershowitz, Alan M. (2005). The case for peace: how the Arab-Israeli conflict can be resolved. John Wiley. p. 148. ISBN 978-1419357978. "The U.N. has allowed states that sponsor terrorism to sit on the Security Council and chair various important committees, while denying Israel these same rights." 
  47. ^ Wistrich, 483
  48. ^ Dershowitz, Preemption, 91
  49. ^ a b Dershowitz, Alan M. "Terror Stings Its Pal, the U.N." "Los Angeles Times", Thursday, August 28, 2003.
  50. ^ Oil-for-food chief 'took bribes'
  51. ^ The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children
  52. ^ UN peacekeepers 'traded food for sex with underage girls' in west Africa

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Official languages of the United Nations — The official languages of the United Nations are the six languages that are used in UN meetings, and in which all official UN documents are written. They are: Arabic Chinese (Mandarin) English French Russian Spanish Contents 1 Description 2… …   Wikipedia

  • Soviet Union and the United Nations — The Soviet Union took an active role in the United Nations and other major international and regional organizations. At the behest of the United States, the Soviet Union took a role in the establishment of the UN in 1945. The Soviet Union… …   Wikipedia

  • Israel, Palestinians, and the United Nations — Issues relating to the state of Israel, the Palestinian people and other aspects of the Arab Israeli conflict occupy a large amount of debate time, resolutions and resources at the spinout/link|United Nations.The adoption of UNSCOP s… …   Wikipedia

  • Defamation of religion and the United Nations — Defamation of religion is an issue that has been repeatedly addressed by some member states of the United Nations (UN) since 1999. Several non binding resolutions have been voted on and accepted by the UN condemning defamation of religion. The… …   Wikipedia

  • Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations — United Nations Emblem …   Wikipedia

  • Criticism of the Israeli government — State of Israel …   Wikipedia

  • United Nations Security Council — Security Council redirects here. For other uses, see Security Council (disambiguation). UNSC redirects here. For other uses, see UNSC (disambiguation). United Nations Security Council مجلس أمن الأمم ال …   Wikipedia

  • United Nations — For other uses, see United Nations (disambiguation). UN redirects here. For other uses, see UN (disambiguation). United Nations الأمم المتحدة 联合国 Organisation des Nations unies …   Wikipedia

  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East — (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency, providing education, health care, social services and emergency aid to over four million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.It …   Wikipedia

  • United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories — United Nations list of Trust and Non Self Governing Territories (published in 2002) The United Nations list of Non Self Governing Territories is a list of countries that, according to the United Nations, are non decolonized. The list was… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”