Magazine article UN Chronicle

In Doing So, Should the UN Try to Be Popular?

Magazine article UN Chronicle

In Doing So, Should the UN Try to Be Popular?

Article excerpt

It is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations.

- Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The criteria for judging the popularity of the United Nations can differ widely at any time, depending on whether the assessment is made by the peoples of the world, the Governments of the world, or the global information media. The general public is more likely, especially when considering major concerns of an international nature, to be objective and compassionate in its evaluation. Governments and the media often have extraneous professional considerations to accommodate. Accordingly, the support of the peoples of the world is more readily forthcoming, provided clear conviction exists that the United Nations is acting without favouritism and in the best interests of the global community. From its very conception, the Organization received the overwhelming support and endorsement of a war-weary and cynical mankind.

The early arrival of the "cold war", revealing conflicts of ideology and political interests between the major Powers, placed a serious dampening effect on the work of the United Nations. Its ratings in the world began to suffer despite the dedication of the Secretariat. Fortunately, for the United Nations and its many supporters, the cold war unexpectedly and rather abruptly ended, thereby changing significantly the global political scene.

The entry into the membership of the United Nations of a large number of newly independent States afforded an opportunity for the Organization to regain momentum and popular support especially from those whose interests were directly or indirectly affected. For the United Nations, it meant placing greater emphasis on helping the newly independent and developing countries to help themselves in improving their economic, social and human rights conditions - a goal that could only bring commendation and support from all progressive peoples. The related expansion of existing programmes and the introduction of new ones, with their resultant increase in expenditure, drew criticism from some quarters, but, generally speaking, reaction was favourable and positive towards the United Nations in the humanitarian endeavours.

The example set by the Secretary-General in leadership, integrity, neutrality, dedication and diplomacy has always played a major part in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Organization.

The conduct of the Secretary-General percolates down through the Secretariat and influences the attitude and morale of the staff at all levels. …

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