What Does the Future Hold for the United Nations?
THE United Nations is evidently entering an era of renewed vigor and prominence on the world scene. In the near future it will be involved in events of world-shaking impact. Why is this so?
The Middle East conflict in October of 1973 and its aftermath helped to restore much of the U.N.’s prestige. True, the big powers played dominant roles in the truce arrangements between Israel, Egypt and Syria. But as Finnish historian Max Jakobson writes in the Saturday Review/-World (March 23, 1974):
“Even the superpowers found that they could not do entirely without the United Nations. The cease-fire agreement negotiated . . . was legitimized by the [U.N.] Security Council. Supervision on the ground was provided by the United Nations. The sight of the blue berets along the banks of the Suez Canal revived faith among the believers: The United Nations was needed after all.”
Of U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim’s designation as chairman of the Middle East peace conference, U.N. reporter Anthony Astrachan says:
“His role as chairman of the opening peace talks in Geneva may be symbolic, but symbols develop importance, if not power. Moscow and Washington . . . now cultivate him to protect their options with the world.”
The more recent conflict in Cyprus also brought into sharp focus the peacekeeping role of the U.N.
PROBLEMS CLAMORING FOR INTERNATIONAL ACTION
But the Middle East is just a small part of the global picture. There is, world wide, a growing realization of the need for swift united action, internationally, to cope with the severe problems that now rise on mankind’s horizon.
Vast regions of the earth are now in dire need of food. But the grain bins of the world are virtually empty of reserve supplies. Meanwhile the world’s population continues its steady upward climb—seventy-eight million more last year.
Poverty deepens. According to World Bank President Robert McNamara, 800,000,000 people now survive on about thirty cents a day. In other wealthier lands, runaway inflation brings soaring prices, and national currencies generally face their worst time of instability.
The destructive power of weapons developed by the big powers in recent years makes the atom bombs of World War II seem small indeed. Now, by explosion of a nuclear device, India has become the sixth member of the ‘Atomic Weapons Club.’ The likelihood of other nations following this course increases the likelihood that some member of the ‘club’ will resort to nuclear weapons in a future conflict. The destruction that could develop staggers the imagination.
Demands for energy resources are outpacing available supplies. The energy crisis has shoved concern over pollution into the background. But the problem of contamination of earth’s air, land and seas does not thereby go away. It continues and worsens.
Speaking about these problems before the United Nations, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said: “Challenges of this magnitude cannot be solved by a world fragmented into self-contained nation-states or rigid blocs.” The situation calls for collective action on a world scale. But there are yet other factors enhancing the position of the United Nations.
OTHER KEY FACTORS
As Dr. George W. Shepherd points out, the world is no longer like a chessboard on which the two superpowers confront each other, with the European nations like knights and bishops, and the “Third World” nations like pawns. “That,” says this University of Denver professor, “is why we are seeing a revival of [the United Nations].”
Though previously the “Third World” nations were able only to make noise in the U.N. and pass resolutions that were never enforced, the big powers can no longer treat these smaller nations lightly. The recent Arab oil boycott showed the potential power that exists in the “Third World.” This is true not only of the oil-rich lands. Many of the basic raw materials and minerals—tin, zinc, copper, manganese, uranium, iron ore, bauxite (for producing aluminum)—that the industrialized nations depend heavily upon, come from these so-called “undeveloped” nations. What may this lead to?
An article in the German newspaper Schwabacher Tagblatt says it would be astonishing if these poorer countries were to resist for long the temptation to “throw down the gauntlet to the so-called rich nations and flex the muscles of their awakened self-assurance,” imitating the Arab nations. The article adds: “When we feel the grip of the awakened self-assurance of these countries around our Adam’s apple, then it is too late . . . social problems will arise in our industrial world with dimensions such as have never before confronted us.”
All of this adds to the insecurity that moves the political nations, large and small, to seek global agreements and action that will bring relief. Concern for peace and security grips the nations today as seldom before in history and has produced a dominant attitude or “spirit” that is moving the nations more and more to think and act on a global basis. Pointing out why they may be expected to turn increasingly to the United Nations as their instrument, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Charles W. Yost says:
“The U.N., despite everything, has one enormous advantage over all the other devices for the conduct of international relations—it is a permanent institution. Whatever may be the merits of summit meetings, regional conferences, bilateral and multilateral agreements, they all rest on the shifting sands of capricious and changing leadership and public opinion. Only the U.N., like national governments, is firmly based on a constitution and a bureaucracy which have lives of their own and which endure from decade to decade.”
WHAT BIBLE PROPHECY REVEALS
The conclusive answer as to what the future holds for the United Nations is not found, however, by analyzing world conditions or trends. It is found in the inspired Word of God, the Bible, and its prophecies. Present-day events and trends confirm the rightness of those prophecies.
In the Bible, political world powers are represented under the symbol of beasts. (See Daniel 7:17, 23; 8:20-22.) Re Chapter 17 of the book of Revelation foretells a composite political organization, combining in itself the remnants of the world powers of history. It is represented under the symbol of a seven-headed beast (each head representing a world power, as counted on the basis of its effect on the servants of the true God) with ten horns, the horns representing the totality of earthly political governments. This organization was to disappear from the scene for a time, falling as if into a pit of deathlike inactivity. Then it would reappear and move to its final destiny.
The United Nations, with its predecessor, the League of Nations (which entered into a period of deathlike inactivity during World War II), fits this symbolic description. Even as the governments represented by the “ten horns” gained increased authority on a world scale through association with the composite political organization, so too we see that even small nations have gained a voice, importance and power through their membership in the United Nations.—Rev. 17:7-13.*
As prophetically represented, these distinct symbolic kings “have one thought.” (Rev. 17:13) That is, even though they disagree on numerous proposals, they are united in their determination to employ a human scheme for establishing lasting peace and security on a global scale. In so doing, they reject God’s own provision for accomplishing this: his kingdom by means of Christ Jesus. Therefore the prophecy shows this international political organization as fighting against God’s appointed King and those on his side of the issue. This makes inevitable the ultimate destruction of that composite political organization and all its members and supporters, thereby making way for God’s own government of earth.—Rev. 17:14; compare Daniel 2:44.
But before it passes off the earthly scene, that composite political organization will fulfill another feature of divine prophecy. The Bible shows that the organization’s member nations have long been under the deceitful domination of worldly religious systems, these forming a world empire of false religion pictured in Revelation by a harlotrous woman named “Babylon the Great.” But prophecy shows that the political powers will tire of the hypocrisy, the meddling, the demands of the harlotrous religious systems and will turn against them, utterly devastating them.—Rev. 17:1-6, 15-18.*
Strange as it may seem, just when this global organization appears to reach the zenith of its prominence, seemingly on the threshold of establishing a political foundation for peace and security, it will simultaneously near the point of its own downfall. As the apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.” (1 Thess. 5:2, 3) And, although after such proclamation this world organization will engage in its most dramatic and world-shaking act—the destruction of the world empire of false religion—that act will not protect it from being destroyed itself by God as a counterfeit, a futile and rebellious attempt to substitute a political setup for God’s promised kingdom.
For this reason growing numbers of persons in more than 200 lands and isles of the sea, yes, people of many nations, now unite in placing their full confidence and hope, not in a political system of this troubled world, but in the heaven-based government of Christ Jesus, the true source of enduring peace and security for this earth.
For further information on this prophecy, see the book God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached, pp. 308-311.
See the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, pp. 598-603, for further explanation.