In the previous two weeks, headlines broke of President-Elect Trump tweeting out, “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!” While earlier last week in an interview with Breitbart Daily News, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin called for Trump to withdraw from the United Nations. Despite appearing as a partisan issue, the role of the United States as a party to the United Nations is one of deeply rooted history. The GOP side only views the few flaws while overlooking the many strides for global unity, drops in global poverty and advancement for various historically disenfranchised populations like women along with several other benefits. It all surrounds the overall goal of the UN, which has been present since it’s inception.
In the wake of World War II, the United Nations formed under the pretense of being a peaceful global organization dedicated to the “never again” mentality. Never again would the world plunge into the destructive struggle of world war. It has developed different branches and organs over the past decades, of those, the Security Council has been considered the most powerful, and sometimes the most divisive.
The Security Council
Playing into Trump’s comments, the United Nations Security Council is composed of fifteen member states, ten rotating and five permanent which includes the United States and Russia. It is in the Security Council that Resolution 1441 was authorized in October 2002 that had ultimately been the launching point of international voices speaking out towards the invasion of Iraq in the following year. Beyond this matter which ultimately was and remains controversial, the Security Council has done a great deal of good for international peace and stability through the authorization of peacekeeping forces on the ground in states where conflict exists.
Looking outside the central organs of the United Nations, the Trump Administration failed to examine the subsidiary bodies that have been formed within the UN system and benefiting our global society.
Rising poverty and hunger levels have decreased, and the driving force behind much of the progress made towards adequate food security and nutrition has been the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UNWomen both organizations dedicated directly to the benefit and growth of children and women respectively. Failing to recognize the progress made by both organizations, as Trump has done, causes increased misinformation. These organizations have much sway and responsibility for the drops in global poverty, increased life-expectancy, and advancements for women around the world.
The fields of housing and urban development saw rapid growth through extensive work from the UN-Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). The UN organization held several meetings gathering state leadership to dedicate themselves to the growth of housing and other urban development projects such as access to water and adequate nutrition for a sustained period to ensure growth over time and secure human life.
Lastly, the coordinated efforts of the United Nations have led to developments being made in the international criminal justice system. Currently, the United Nations judicial arm, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) plays an essential role as a mediator between states over disputes and larger conflicts. It is a symbol of the UN’s broader message, to promote peace, prosperity, and a fight against war. Genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression, these are all crimes the International justice system fights against on a consistent basis. The organization has brought justice to the most dangerous offenders and prevented impunity and actors from walking away innocent from their crimes.
Despite President-Elect Trump’s remarks on the United Nations becoming just a place to socialize, it seems that he and his administration failed to examine the entirety of the United Nations and its complicated history to see that throughout the last seventy years, much of the growth and progress we have seen globally is due to the actions of the United Nations and each of the Member States who are the driving forces behind the policy. As we enter a new year, a new Secretary-General has begun the task of overseeing the United Nations leading the international community forward. We must pay attention to the United Nations closely; it will be a ‘Yuge’ year for them.