World Government—Is the United Nations the Answer?
IN RECENT years the United Nations has won renewed confidence and admiration in the world. To millions the abbreviation “UN” evokes heroic images: troops in blue berets bravely rushing to the world’s trouble spots to establish peace, relief workers bringing food to the starving refugees of Africa, and dedicated men and women working unselfishly to establish a new world order.
According to a nine-month investigation undertaken by The Washington Post, as reported in the International Herald Tribune, the reality behind the image is “an enormous, largely uncontrolled bureaucracy, subject to abuses and deficiencies that impair its effectiveness.” The study, based on thousands of pages of documents and interviews with current and former UN officials, revealed the following picture.
Aid to Africa: The UN has poured billions of dollars of badly needed aid into Africa, a continent wracked by war, famine, poverty, and disease. Countless lives have been saved.
Yet, thousands of lives and millions of dollars have also been lost because of mismanagement, negligence, and, at times, corruption. The UN has pumped relief aid into famine-stricken Somalia, where many people have been dying each day. But Aryeh Neier, executive director of the Human Rights Watch, is quoted in the Tribune as saying: “The United Nations and its various organizations have been so monstrously negligent and incompetent that they have played almost no role at all in alleviating Somalia’s misery.”
The report also charged that some UN officials have been implicated in diversions of food aid, embezzlement of humanitarian assistance, fraudulent procurement, black-marketing, and currency-exchange manipulation. UN investigators found evidence of such fraud in no fewer than seven African countries.
Peacekeeping: Keeping the peace is a primary goal of the UN, though in the years since its founding in 1945, there have been over a hundred major conflicts, and 20 million people have been killed in war. Since 1987, however, the UN has embarked upon 13 peacekeeping operations, as many as in its entire history before then.
While some might argue that the cost of these operations is preferable to the terrible price of war, many complain that things have gone too far. For example, peacekeeping operations drag on for decades, eating up hundreds of millions of dollars while negotiations remain deadlocked. The UN peacekeeping mission in Cambodia allocates more than $1 million for TV sets and VCRs for the troops and another $600,000 for magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
Reform: There are widespread cries for reform within the UN, but opinions vary as to what needs to be reformed. Developing countries are calling for a greater voice in the decision-making process and would like to expand economic and social programs. Industrialized nations want to cut back on these programs and end corruption, mismanagement, and waste.
Said a senior UN official: “To really reform, you have to do something that is absolutely undoable in a bureaucracy: You have to clean the place out. To do something meaningful, you have to scrape away 45 years of barnacles, and that’s a lot of barnacles.”
While Christians see the need for a single body to administer mankind’s affairs, they do not believe that the United Nations is the answer. Instead, they look to God’s Kingdom, the government that Jesus told his followers to pray for.—Matthew 6:10.