Magazine article UN Chronicle

A Strong, Transnational Coalition

Magazine article UN Chronicle

A Strong, Transnational Coalition

Article excerpt

PREVENT UNDEMOCRATIC REGIMES ACQUIRING ARMS

In the 54 years since its establishment, the United Nations has done outstanding work promoting peace, democracy and development. It has been a tireless advocate for human rights, decolonization and international understanding. The Organization has helped to bring peace to conflict-torn nations like Guatemala and Mozambique and has helped to oversee the transition to democracy in such countries as Nicaragua and Cambodia. It was the United Nations that brought together the nations of the world to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and, since then, it has helped to enact many international agreements on political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. Through the World Health Organization, the United Nations played an instrumental role in the eradication of smallpox, and through the United Nations Children's Fund, it ensures a brighter future for the children of the world. In these and many other ways, the United Nations has made the world a better place. And its successes have not g one unnoticed: the United Nations and its specialized agencies have won the Nobel Peace Prize five times.

By any standard, these are remarkable achievements. Unfortunately, however, the effectiveness of the United Nations was hindered by superpower rivalries during the first 45 years of its existence. When the cold war ended a decade ago, many people hoped and expected that the Organization would finally be able to realize its true potential as a forum through which the challenges facing the international community might be resolved. But over the past ten years, it has come under attack from short-sighted defenders of absolute State sovereignty, and it has often seemed that the United Nations is struggling to find a role for itself in a world increasingly racked by internal conflicts and ethnic unrest.

As the new millennium dawns, the United Nations must rededicate itself to the noble principles on which it was founded, and seek innovative and imaginative responses to the complex challenges of our day. And because the Organization is the world's foremost international institution, it must lead the way in crafting global solutions to global problems.

Atrocities in the Balkans point to the need for an international criminal court. Global warming and rising sea levels point to the need for coordinated action in defense of the environment. …

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