Since the end of the Cold War, the United Nations has been increasingly involved in complex peace operations raging from pre-conflict stability operations, through the low-intensity combat to post-conflict reconstruction. These operations have met with mixed success. Is there a realistic alternative to the United Nations for such situations? Why or why not?
In Rwanda, close to a million civilians were slaughtered. A year later, in Bosnia, thousand civilians were executed. In Congo, rebels killed one hundred and fifty civilians near where the United Nations troops were stationed. It is reasonable for people to think that the United Nations is an ineffective and irrelevant organization. Why was the United Nations failing in peacekeeping operations? Why it was not perceived doing better? It can be inferred that, perhaps the more important question is how can the international community improve the United Nations as a legitimate international institution?
Any suggestion may beg many other issues, in part because the United Nations owes its origin and inspiration to the system of sovereign states. However, in large measure, developing the United Nations into a more authoritative institution is the only plausible choice to protect not only the human rights of the people in desperate needs but also to secure peace all over the world and future generations.
Strengthening the United Nations with more authority and legitimacy must be worldwide commitments beyond national interests to resolve the security dilemma in the face of severe environmental pressure. Such commitments include consensus on the exercise of greater political authority beyond individual sovereignty and the establishment of peace enforcement units or of a United Nations standing army.
Fundamental challenges to these approaches are the perception of American people to the United Nations. Some American people criticize the United Nations for its role and function are uncertain so that the United Nations wastes the American taxpayer’s money. However, it is inconsistent with the evidence that because the United States is the nation that actually would not provide the United Nations with enough troops to effectively conduct peacekeeping operations. The United States currently holds about 700 million overdue payments and supplies only 29 troops. Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, also admitted that the number of complex challenges the United Nations is trying to tackle are far greater than its capability. She also stressed that there is a growing gap in supply and demand upon which the number and quality of troops and missions are overstretched. It seems evident that the United Nations is deeply in need of support from the United States and renewed commitment from member states to leadership.
Therefore, it is a false choice if we attempt either to create another institution or to close the United Nations. The only answer to this divided world must be improved the United Nations with stronger leadership and authority.