Question 1
Quick revise

Were the United Nations' organisational problems inherent from its foundation?

Paragraph One

  • The alliance of nations with different ideologies during World War II led to the belief that it would be possible to establish a general system of security
  • 1943 Moscow Declaration (GB, US, USSR, China) wanted ‘a general international organization based on the principle of sovereign equality of all peace-loving states and open to all’

Paragraph Two

  • League of Nations weakened by US non-membership and limited participation of USSR
  • Importance of the ‘Big Five’ (USA, USSR, GB, China and France) reflected in UN structure
  • 2 chambers, General Assembly of all members, and smaller Security Council made up of Big 5 as permanent members plus other countries on rota system
  • Reflection of the realities of world power structure – but annoyed smaller countries who doubted that they would be seen as equals

Paragraph Three

  • Of greater importance was clash between Soviets and the rest of Big 5 – former left isolated
  • This was foundation of long dispute over use of veto – ie right of one member to block the agreed resolutions of the majority

Paragraph Four

  • Such problems were masked by the joy of victory over the Axis
  • The problems surfaced after the war – basic issue: what resources should the UN have?
  • Well known that League’s lack of armed force made it unable to enforce decisions
  • It was clear that UN must have enough resources to keep peace
  • Great difficulties – realities of Cold War and colonial struggles against foreign domination, methods of raising armed force and its control
  • Negotiations 1947-8 brought a barely workable compromise i.e. no permanent UN force
  • Members were to contribute forces to serve under UN flag when there was a crisis

Paragraph Five

  • Each state joined to protect its interests despite all the idealism and optimism
  • Groupings and blocs developed in the UN:
    • USA and allies
    • Pro-Soviets
    • Non-aligned states
  • These reflected international politics at large

Paragraph Six

  • UN intensified international disputes
  • Assembly General provided platforms for propaganda and point scoring against other countries
  • Security Council discussions regarding world issues such as Greece, Germany, Korea etc became a struggle between Soviets (regularly using veto) and non-Communist members
  • USSR didn’t regard veto as last resort – it was their way of dealing with fact that proceedings would go against them (outnumbered)
  • Lesser disputes around form of Secretariat, and appointment of permanent officials – again dictated by political bloc

Paragraph Seven

  • Some agreement between East and West e.g. Arab-Israeli problem and state of Israel
  • US and USSR came to agreement involving criticism of Great Britain’s handling of mandate in Palestine
  • Superpowers presented common front on issue of Indonesian independence
  • Note – these were exceptions and didn’t ease the usual East-West tension
  • Relations in UN underscored by Cold War tensions
  • Some agreement over Berlin after failure of Communist blockade

Paragraph Eight

  • Greatest issue – China – Communist in power in 1949
  • Soviets demanded recognition of Red China and UN membership
  • Wanted Nationalist China thrown out
  • Failed so Soviets walked out of Security Council – big mistake
  • It meant that a UN force could be sent to help South Korea against Communist invasion (no Soviet veto)
  • First time UN had mounted armed intervention – because of USSR’s procedural oversight

Paragraph Nine

  • Led to reinforced demands from both sides for changes in UN’s structure
  • New arrangement pressed for successfully by US in the “Uniting for Peace” resolution – in deadlock an emergency session of General Assembly could be called
  • Kremlin objected – thought it was a plot to sidestep their veto

Paragraph Ten

  • A bond linked the big powers  - saw UN as organisation that would express their superior status
  • Gave a platform for assertion of their claims to world leadership
  • It was implicit in establishment of Security Council
  • 40s and 50s decolonisation – shift in UN balance
  • Superpowers could no longer rely on monopoly of support
  • Afro-Asia judged questions on 3rd World terms rather than on old East-West divide
  • Equality of representation irrespective of size and strength
  • Meant weaker states could challenge great powers
  • Could resist their influence through non-alignment
  • Could criticise power politics on floor of Assembly or in the Council

Paragraph Eleven

  • UN a theatre in which Cold War could be fought
  • UN unable to exert real authority in face of East-West antipathy
  • NATO and Warsaw Pact had the real power but few states refused to join or leave once admitted
  • UN seen as forum for promotion of national and ideological propaganda rather than as a peacemaking body
  • Also knew that they were safe from retaliation

Paragraph Twelve

  • UN not a force for change but a way of assessing pressures of international affairs
  • Thus ‘United Nations’ is a misnomer – irony is that it has survived because it doesn’t have to be united
No votes yet