The United Nations in the 20th Century was set up as a forum and means to diffuse causes of war. We often only appreciate the effectiveness of a group long after events have transpired when information is put to the public for scrutiny, often many decades later.
The United Nations Organization has proven its effectiveness by following its principles and purposes of Article 1 of its Charter to promote and maintain peace and harmony among nations in various ways. I shall outline some approaches the U.N. has taken under the directive of Article 1 in its history to counter-act potential causes of war to demonstrate its ongoing effectiveness in peace keeping efforts. The United Nations Organization has met the multiplicity of the causes of war with a multiplicity of approaches. Each of the four points of Article 1 will be dealt with in turn.
Primary Purpose # 1:
Preserve and maintain international peace through collective security. (Rais A. Khan and James D. McNiven, An Introduction to Political Science (Nelson Canada, 1991) 494.)
The collective security of international peace is under the direction of the Security Council which is answerable to the General Assembly. This sector of the United Nations deals with various causes of war. Collective security deals with many issues which include the following: urban and rural class conflict which may spill over into international involvement, irredentist movements, flawed national tradition, and autocratic governments. (Robert Woito, To End War, (The Pilgrim Press, 1982) 64-66.) Each shall be dealth with in turn.
Urban and Rural Class Conflict
Class conflict states
that erect legal and social barriers to upward mobility may face class or revolutionary warfare. An example of this is the French revolution (1789), which resulted in class and subsequent international warfare (1791-1815). (Ibid., 65.)
The diffusion of this cause of war has been a matter for the Security Council. Although difficulty to persue as individual nations, protests to the General Assembly prove to mobilize public sentiment by publicizing certain practices being perpetrated by certain states (Leland M. Goodrich and Anne P. Simons, The United Nations and the Maintenance of International Peace and Security, (The Brookings Institution, Washington, D. C. 1955). The imbalance of internal power within South Africa was initially brought to the attention of the General Assembly in December 1946 in the form of a complaint of discriminary treatment of “persons of Indian and Indo-Pakistani origin by South Africa” (Carnigie Endowment for International Peace, Synopses of United Nations Cases in the Field of Peace and Security 1946-1965 (New York, N.Y., 1966), 5). The General Assembly recommended that the parties concerned negotiate. By September 1962 the General Assembly combines the Indo-Pakistani complaint with the inequality of apartheid (Carnegie, 5). The stated U.N. objective is “Creation of racial harmony based on equality and peaceful change” (Carnegie, 27). By November 1962, the General Assembly requested breaking off diplomatic relations with South Africa as well as recommending a total economic boycott. The Security Council studied economic sanctions and the General Assembly continued to call upon a total embargo against South Africa (Ibid, 28). There has been eventual success with this strategy and a peaceful transfer to equality of power among all peoples within South Africa continues to be a challenge although apartheid itself is finished as a legal venue. U.N. observers are working with the National Peace Secretariat to “reduce tensions, contain demonstrations, and stop clashes from getting out of control” (Boutros Boutros-Ghal, “An Agenda for Peace: One Year Later,” Orbis, A Journal of world Affairs, Summer 1993, 324).
Irredentist movements seek to unite in one state all people of a similar ethnic, national, or religious background, or to recover territory that was once part of an existing State. The best efforts by the United Nations Organizations has been to be a forum in which people can get to know one another and cease to fear or hate other people’s differences and to learn to live in peace with one another.
The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine was in place in 1949 to observe the cease-fire and to assist the implementation of Armistice Agreements. The General Assembly established U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East during the transfer of British rule over Palestine (Carnegie, 10-11). The United Nations was in the best position to facilitate this change both as a consistant forum for discussing conflicts between Palestinians and Israel and as a unified voice. This was a war which could easily have been fanned into a global war. The Gulf War illustrated the ease with which a multinational war might ensue when Israel was attacked with scud missiles to attempt to draw them into the Gulf War and enlarge the strife. It is a matter of much controversy whether Israel’s restraint was due to the U.N., the U.S. or itself.