Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The UN: Time for Reform

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The UN: Time for Reform

Article excerpt

THIS month marks the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the United Nations Charter. While some of the problems that spurred the UN's creation in 1945 have been resolved, many remain. And new global challenges have arisen.

In areas such as health and environment, human rights and peace-building, the world still needs the UN. The difficulty lies not in recognizing the importance of its efforts, but in ensuring it performs its tasks effectively.

Among the UN's main achievements are the process of decolonization, promotion of a universal declaration of human rights, provision of emergency humanitarian relief, technical monitoring and cooperation in health and agriculture, and active global efforts to promote child survival and set environmental and labor standards.

The post-cold-war years have led to an explosion of demands for UN action in response to international problems including the extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; peacekeeping in Somalia, Bosnia, Cambodia, and Mozambique; emergency, humanitarian, and refugee relief in Rwanda and elsewhere; election monitoring in South Africa and Haiti; and programs targeting overpopulation, environmental degradation, and more.

These increased demands are being made on an organization that has been neglected, misused, and excessively politicized by its member governments for years. It is showing the strain. The UN must be renovated and strengthened if it is to respond effectively and maintain member countries' support. Essential functions and agencies need bolstering; overlapping functions and programs need streamlining; and those activities and agencies that have not worked or are no longer necessary need to be terminated.

In addition, system-wide improvements are needed to reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies and raise personnel standards. …

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