WHERE would the world be today without the United Nations, UN? Even though the UN is often derided as having failed the expectations of many, the world would definitely have been a much poorer place if we did not have the benefit of the moderating effects of this noble global organisation.
The UN has been the universal platform for the articulation of the governing principles of international relationship. As they say, adversity is the mother of invention.
Due to the First World War, there was a great clamour to ensure that a calamity of such a scale did not repeat in the future. Following the Paris Peace Conference of January 1919, the League of Nations was formed on January 10, 1920.
The League was unable to prevent the Second World War which was far more devastating, with the first deployment of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. It was the need to prevent the annihilation of life on earth through wars that led to the formation of the United Nations Organisation, UNO, on October 26, 1945 when representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco, the USA, and signed the United Nations Charter.
Wars have continued to erupt between and among nations since then, but none has involved the use of nuclear arms despite the Cold War between the Eastern Communist and Western Capitalist ideological blocs and nuclear arms proliferation.
Through diplomacy, international relations have flowered more inclusively than in the early part of the 20th Century when only the major Western powers along with former the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, took part in global meetings.
The coming of independence for the former colonised countries and the economic prosperity of Asian nations widened the focus of the UN which evolved its myriads of specialised bodies to tackle global issues in such areas as trade, health, environment and virtually every sphere of human concern.
As the UN marked its 75th anniversary on Monday, September 21, 2020 with the theme: “The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”, the importance of cooperation cannot be overemphasised in view of the immediate challenges that confront the world.
These include the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (with prospects of possibly more vicious pandemics in the offing), the highly-disruptive technologies that are sweeping the world by storm, the threats of terrorism and displacement of persons with attendant mass migrations, the precarious situation of global warming which threatens all life on earth and the need to pursue the Social Development Goals, SDGs, to their logical conclusion to raise the quality of human life even in low-income countries.
The United Nations also needs to beef up more efforts to ensure that elections in developing countries produce the will of the people and result in better governance to reduce internal conflicts.