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Why UN losing relevancy? R2P, resolutions & US factor

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The primary goal of the UN is to maintain rationality among all the nations and global peace. However, in recent times, things have turned out to be messy. Many times UN is perceived as promoting goals of the USA and consecutively failing to provide peace and security among various parts of the world.


R2P promotes preventive diplomacy. This concept rose post-cold war, preventive diplomacy is not only about preventing disputes that already exist from escalating into conflicts but also to destroy it even before it rises. Implementation of R2P must be under the umbrella of the UN Charter and should not escalate tensions besides maintaining peace and stability. R2P may not prevent conflict but can help to de-escalate the tensions. Article 51 of the UN charter says that a nation can revert back with force if there is an armed attack upon a state while informing UNSC.

On the other hand, according to article 41, steps should be taken to maintain peace without the use of force.  Whereas article 42 empowers UNSC to use restore peace through force. Only UNSC has the power to take action for world stability (Chapter 7 of the UN charter). What lacks is transparency, what constitute an attack? How UNSC determine if it is a threat or global peace or internal tussle? In 1994, the UN was informed that Rwanda is on the verge of genocide, the UN rejected the appeal stating a lack of official information. However, genocide took place. Army controlled by the Hutus community took complete control of the nation and mass slaughter of the Tutsi community took place, killing 1 million. UN showed regrets but failed to assist.

During brutal crackdown by the Syrian army upon protesters through Arab spring were not addressed as in order to intervene, the mandate of the state is required which is itself very much contradicts principles of self-determination. Arab spring itself was very much due to non-concern of powers. Before the crises, according to the UNDP report, countries like Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, and others involved in the Arab spring showed prosperity. But these were not true reflections of what was happening on the ground. These stats overlooked political freedom and the participation of a common man. Consequently, even after the crises in the MENA region, there is a need to address the root causes of the Arab spring-like UNDP helped to organize democratic election once Ben Ali’s dictator government was toppled in Tunisia.


The actions taken by the UN are through resolutions only. These resolutions can vary from economic sanctions to the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops. However, in recent times resolutions have proved to be somewhat ineffective. On 23rd of December 2016, UNSC passed resolution 2334 aimed to defy Israel’s actions in the Gaza strip with 14-0 votes (Where the USA abstained and did not use VETO because of International pressure. Israel was ordered to stop its settlement projects in the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. This resolution focused to maintain the two-state solution in Israel. But Israel continued its activities with strong support from the USA.

The international court of justice is also a vital organ of the UN. In February 2019, ICJ ruled over the Chagos islands dispute in Mauritius. The ruling was against the UK on the extended rule on the islands, hence the UK was asked to give complete mandate of Chagos islands to Mauritius. The UK ignored the ruling, and ICJ cannot compel member states to follow its orders. Only if both countries agree on the ruling, then the ruling is legally binding. In this case, the UK does not agree on the ruling, hence it is not legally binding. It defeats the sole motive of the UN which is to behave as the peace guardian of the world when nations do not respect its orders.

UN Funding: US factor

All 193 member states are subject to UN funding. There are two types of fundings- Assessed and voluntary. Assessed fundings are mandatory and each nation is made to pay a particular amount of money set by the UN unique for each nation as per country’s GDP, economic front, etc. Without a doubt, the largest funder is the USA. In 2017, the USA contributed more than $10 billion which is itself one-fifth of the UN’s budget. Hence a country like the USA is very important for the UN. Without US fundings, the UN can face crises, hence UN listens to the US. In recent years, according to Trump, the UN has gone anti-America and a large sum of money is dissipated in the UN.

Therefore, Trump decided to cut off the payments. In 2019, only 35 states out of 193 have made their payment, leaving the USA behind. And it very much looks like that under Trump administration the US just wants to abandon the UN. The USA also withdrew from UNHRC and UNESCO. There are payments yet to be made by the UN (sum of $265 million) to various countries, which they are not able to pay. These payments are primarily the UN peacekeeping forces in which different countries volunteer, as the UN does not maintain its own military.

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