The United Nations' Attempt to Follow Universal Ideals

The United Nations' Attempt to Follow Universal Ideals

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The United Nations' Attempt to Follow Universal Ideals

The UN attempts to follow universal ideals, but at this point it is not fully universal and still reflects some great power interests because of economic situations. This can be clearly seen in the environmental issues. The problem is that the UN does not have enough power internationally to fully contain the issue. The trouble is that the developing countries and the developed countries do not agree on main points, and this leads to a division.
When the UN was first established, “the UN Charter makes no mention of environmental protection (Roberts and Kingsbury, 327).” One of the shortcomings of the League, which the UN was founded on, was the lack of environmental interest. The turning point was in the 1972 Conference of Human Environment. This conference stated that all human beings had the right to live in a clean world. This was the beginning of environmental awareness in the UN.
After this the UN attempted to integrate environmental concern into the system. The UN was equipped with five economic commissions for different regional areas; Africa, Latin America, Western Asia, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe. Along with promoting economic development they also dealt with environmental issues. The European branch has been the most active. This shows the beginning of great power interests.
By 1972 many countries had begun to establish their own environmental organizations. The separate states decided that at this time they should try to unite under the UN to make policies international. One of the main problems was that the governments had different thoughts on environmental concerns verses developmental concerns. The developing countries were concerned that the economic costs would slow their developments, along with the restrictions placed on them that developed countries did not have to deal with when they were developing.
In the past, the greater powers were able to develop more freely as there were no restrictions placed on them. They had the freedom to pollute the world, as they did not know the harm they were causing the environment. Now, because of greater knowledge and damage around the world, restrictions need to be placed on all the countries in the world. The problem with environmental issues is that one country can damage something like the ozone layer, which ends up affecting the whole world and not just that one country.

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The 1992 conference, UNCED, on environment was a landmark. It recognized dangers of deforestation and global warming. Both of these are global problems that need to be solved, making environmental issues international concerns. One of the main problems with the UNCED was that its sponsorship was by donor governments along with major companies and foundations. This gave greater powers more say as they donated more money, while the lesser powers disagreed with many of the issues.
The UNCED was not as successful as it had hoped to be. The main problem was that the greater powers saw environmental issues as not that big of problems, easily solved by restricting certain tests, chemical usage, and the destruction of nature. The countries had developed enough that they did not need to do extensive research in potentially dangerous areas. The developing countries saw these movements as a great threat on their advancements. Without being able to learn for themselves they felt that they were being treated unfairly. Along with that, they wanted to spend their money on furthering their country instead of helping solve environmental issues that did not need to be solved immediately.
These problems created a divide between northern and southern countries. The South felt that their sovereignty was being threatened by the North, as the North had more technology, more knowledge, more access to natural resources, and most importantly, more economic power. The lesser-developed countries did not see it as fair that they had to help and spend money on issues such as global climate control as it was the more industrial countries that created the damage. Also the developing countries have not had the chance to acquire the experience that the other countries have.
The latest attempt at universal environmental reform was at Kyoto. The countries gathered together and formed the Kyoto treaty. The treaty did not address issues such as when or where the clean up should start, nor did it give any suggestions on ways to cut emissions. There were ideas thrown out, such as the idea of each country having pollution credits or for the amount of CO2 released, a country has to replant forests. None of these ideas led to any agreements. There were still major issues between the developed and developing countries.
As one has seen throughout history, environmental issues are universal and have been ongoing for some time. What effects the environment affects the whole world. The problem is that separate countries cannot agree on different issues. Each country is working separately on certain issues, but the UN cannot bring the countries together. This is because of the divide between developed and developing countries. The developing countries prefer to spend their money on developing themselves first, then on helping to clean up the world. They also believe that since the developed countries had the choice to pollute the environment for their development, they should also have the same right, possibly to a lesser extent. The combination of these two problems has created a great divide when dealing with international policies on how to deal with environmental issues. The intent of the UN is to make environmental issues universal, and although the problem is widespread, the solutions are ruled by great power interests and their economic superiority.
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