Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 30, 2021

Let's build a "good" United Nations

By KAUSHIK RAO | February 8, 2012

People around the world that live in the midst of oppressive regimes have only a few options when it comes to gaining freedom. Often they organize protests against the government and wait for a response.

The knee jerk reaction of these regimes is to violently suppress protesters, and this violence captures the attention of the world, more specifically the United Nations. Just this past weekend, a U.N. resolution was drafted to condemn the Syrian government and to call for new elections, but it came as no surprise when Russia and China cooperated in a joint veto of the resolution.

Russia and China want to uphold the precedent that a country's government should have the right to brutally crush people who want freedom. Each country has "elections" fast approaching and do not want to be called out for hypocrisy if they decide to shut down protests through force.

And it is clear that Russia and China are working together to protect a regime led by Bashar al-Assad in Syria that is killing thousands of its own people. And due to this veto, the United Nations is now rendered useless in creating an appropriate response to Syria's actions. The free world lashed out against the veto with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron delivering scathing criticisms of the actions taken by Russia and China.

I see the veto by Russia and China as a travesty. It is counterintuitive to the role of the U.N. in world affairs. And it is easy to understand that the U.N. would encounter this type of paralysis from its inception. People with honest intentions have always had an idealistic enthusiasm for the United Nations.

But the United Nations is not organized in a way such that it would be a driving force for good around the world. The reason for this is that just about anybody is allowed to join this organization. The process for joining the United Nations simply consists of having a government, internationally accepted borders and a sponsored membership plea. In other words, this is a pretty low bar for admission standards into the United Nations. For example, the North Korean ambassador may come to the U.N. and claim that he is speaking on behalf of the people of his country but is in reality doing no such thing.

The entire structure of the U.N. is far from democratic. Russia and China received Security Council seats while they were totalitarian dictatorships simply because they were powerful and not because they were benevolent, wise or decent.

And there is no part of the U.N. charter that states that a country must be democratic or even care for the welfare of its people. Some might argue that the United Nations is an important place because it allows for a forum where America can engage the world on important issues. But there are better and more efficient ways for the U.S. to do this, such as NATO and bilateral relations with democracies around the world.

It is becoming clear that we cannot expect noble and ideal actions to be taken in the United Nations. Although there are moments when the United Nations decides to take actions that are benevolent and help people around the world, these moments only come to fruition when good nations want to see good deeds take place around the world. Forcing these good nations to negotiate with totalitarian regimes has been proven largely ineffective in the United Nations.

We should be giving good — or rather, democratic — nations another place to meet and take action on world affairs. These good nations should form their own international organization because they have shown a commitment towards supporting democratic reforms around the world. This new league of democracies wouldn't replace the United Nations, but it would create competition for the U.N. for effective benevolence.

Furthermore, this new organization of democracies based on similar principles would help to provide a more effective forum in which the international community can aid growing movements throughout the world. This new organization would be comprised of only serious nations who have earned their membership with higher admission standards rather than mere existence.

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