The United Nations : A Multi Purpose Agency

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As described by Tim Dunne, the “United Nations is a multi-purpose agency directed to specific goals including collective security, peace-keeping, health, environmental and human rights concerns” (Dunne, 2007: 103). Although there are many concerns regarding the UN, there are two classical viewpoints which divide opinion on the UN’s effectives on the global stage; the realist and the liberal argument. The realists can point out that international organizations such as the United Nations are “of little help in channeling the perpetual power struggle between states, since they cannot change the anarchical structure of the international system” (Rittberger, 2006: 15). On the other side of the argument, the liberal viewpoint, strongly influenced by western philosophist Immanuel Kant, contends that “well-functioning international organizations contribute to the formation of peace” (Kantian project in IR, 2004). Taking into account that the United Nations is a ‘multi-purpose’ agency, it would be harsh to evaluate its effectiveness based on a singular goal, and thus this research paper will take into account all five major areas of the United Nations (environmental and humanitarian rights, collective security, health, collective security, and peacekeeping) which have been identified by Dunne. I will evaluate the effectiveness of the United Nations since its inception in 1945 and will agree with common liberal belief that the United Nations is an effective Institution. The United Nations had collective security at the top of its agenda after WWII. However, realists may have the edge when they debate that the “logic of collective security is contrasted with the difficulties of its application” (Weiss, 2007: 4). Unsurprisingly, distrust wa... ... middle of paper ... ...g “an effective institution”, we can analyze a variety of viewpoints and interpretations which can range from the common school of thought that one may follow. The realist argument one can notably see is linked to national self-interest and thus it is unsurprising that through a realist viewpoint, the United Nations has failed in assuring security to those nations affected by proxy wars since its inception. On a different note, the idea that “most states in the world have come to understand their interest include the fate of foreign nationals living abroad who are suffering gross and persistent systematic violations” (Baylis, 2010: 507) is by large a liberalist viewpoint, which has undoubtedly succeeded in shaping the UN’s response to Dunne’s ‘five goals’. It is therefore unsurprising that I conclude by acknowledging the United Nations as an effective institution.
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