United Nations Class 12 | Political Science | CBSE | NCERT | TERM 1 |


United Nations Class 12 | Chapter 5 | Political Science |

United Nations

Origin Of United Nations
• The League of Nations was born in the tragedy of the First World War. During the first 10 years of its existence, the League of Nations worked well, but it failed when it had to deal with acts of aggression in 1930’s.
• In September, 1939 World War II broke out and the hopes that the League would be able to preserve peace were completely shattered.
• The United Nations Organizations(UNO) officially came into existence on 24 October 1945. But attempts of establishing organization had begun a few years before the end of World War II.
Deliberations began at San Francisco in April 1945 to finalize UN Charter. The UN Charter was signed by the fifty one participating Nations on 26 June 1946.

Reasons behind establishment of the UN
• Fear of death and destruction.
• Building a durable structure of Peace and Security in the World.
• Protection of Fundamental Human Rights.

Objectives of UN
• To save succeeding generations from the ‘scourge of war’.
• To maintain International peace and security and to take substantial steps to remove the threats to the peace.
• To develop friendly relations among the nations.
• To achieve international cooperation in solving the problems of economic, social and cultural character.
• To establish conditions under which justice and respect for ‘international law’ and ‘international treaties’ can be maintained.
• To promote and encourage respect for human rights and dignity of the individual.

Facts about UN
1. South Sudan joined United Nations in 2011 ,raising the membership of UN to 193.
2. The UN Charter makes provisions for the admission of new members. Admissions are made by the General Assembly on the recommendations of Security Council.
3. The United Nations has its headquarters in New York City, USA. The European Office is in Geneva.

Principal Organs of the United Nations

The General Assembly
1. All the members of the UN are members of General Assembly .
2. The assembly may discuss any question relating to peace and security. It elects the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of the Economic and Social Council.
3. It appoints the Secretary General upon the recommendations of the Security Council.
4. The members of the International Court of Justice are elected by the General Assembly and by the Security Council.
5. Each member state has one vote. Decisions on important questions require a two-third majority of the Security Council and other decisions require simple majority.
6. The decisions of General Assembly are not binding on the member states.

The Security Council
1. The council consists of 15 members, five being permanent members representing the ‘Big Five’- China, France, Russia, Britain and the USA.
2. The ten non-permanent one are elected by the General Assembly by a two-third majority for a term of 2 year.
3. Powers and functions of Security Council –
 It has the basic responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security.
 The Security Council asks the parties to settle the dispute through negotiation, mediation, arbitration or other peaceful means such as a judicial settlement.
 When peaceful means do not succeed, the Council may interrupt economic and diplomatic relations of the concerned state.
 When even these measures do not work out, the Security Council may resort to military action.
4. Security Council’s decisions are binding on all UN members.
5. Veto Power – each member of Security Council has one vote. A Negative vote by the permanent member is called Veto. By virtue of Veto Power, permanent members can restrain the Council from taking any decisions against them and their allies.

1.It stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
2. It was established in 4 November 1946.
3. It has its headquarters in Paris, France .
4. It is the body of the UN whose main objective is to promote education, natural science, society and anthropology, culture and commitments.
5. Its work has primarily been to promote literacy, technical and educational training and independent media etc. all across in member states.

1. It stands for United Nations International Children’s Fund and it was established in 1946 by the General Assembly.
2. It has its headquarters in New York, USA and it has been working successfully in 193 countries of the world.
3. It as a body whose main task was to collect emergency funds for the children and to help in their development work all across the world.
4. It helps and encourages the works that promote children’s health and better life in all parts of the world.

1. It stands for International Labour Organization .
2. It was founded on October 1919, with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
3. It aims to promote efficient conditions of social justice and work for workers through international labour standards at the global level.
4. There’s an incentive for women and male workers to engage in productive work and to create safety, parity and self-respected conditions for them at the workplace.

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
1. It is the principal organ to coordinate economic, social and related matters of the United Nations.
2. It coordinates the work of the UN Functional Commissions( on Human Rights, Narcotic Drugs and status of Women) and Five Regional Commissions( for Africa, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Western Asia).

Trusteeship Council
1. It was created to supervise the administration of 11 Trust Territories, which were not fully self-governing.
2. Since all these territories have now become independent or joined independent countries.
3. The Trusteeship Council was suspended in 1994 with the Independence of Palau, the last Un Trust Territory.

International Court of Justice
1. It is the principal Judicial Organ of the United Nations.
2. The Court is permanently in session at the Hague in the Netherlands.
3. It consists of 15 judges chosen by the Security Council and the General Assembly.
4. Jurisdiction- the disputes arising under various treaties would be submitted to the Court, disputes pertaining to interpretation of international law, settles the compensation to be made for breach of international obligation, it decides upon measures to be taken to give effect to a judgement of the Court.

The Secretary-General
1. The Secretariat comprises of a Secretary-General and such other staff as the UN may require.
2. Then Secretariat supervises UN administration and coordinates UN affairs.
3. The Secretary General is the highest functionary or the Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations. Antonia Guterres is currently serving this post.
4. He is required to submit an annual report to the General Assembly on the work of the United Nations.
5. He is elected for a term of 5 years and can be re-elected.
6. The Staff of the Secretariat is appointed by the Secretary-General under the regulations established by the General Assembly.

Reform of the UN after the Cold War

1. There was a great deal of enthusiasm when UN was established, but before it could do anything substantial it became victim of the Cold War Politics.
2. The Council could not take decisions in a number of serious crisis that were brought before it. And this led to decline of Security Council’s role and reputation.
3. Changes that have occurred 

• Disintegration of USSR.
• US hegemony in World Politics.
• Russia and US being more cooperative in the contemporary times.
• China and India emerging as alternative voices in the world politics.
• Expansion of UN’s membership
The world is facing new challenges , such as the acts of terrorism, race for armaments , Naxalite threat, ethnic conflicts, problems due to Globalization, environmental degradation and Global Warming.

4. Because of the changes during the Cold War many proposals have been made to reform the UN system.

Two Aspects of Reform

1. Reform of the Structure
A Resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly in the year 1992, which suggested the following complains with regard to the structure-

• The size and composition of the Security Council reflects the political realities of 1945 and hence there is a need for expansion of the Security Council to reflect the changes world has witnessed in all these years.
• All the decisions taken reflect the Western Ideology with a few countries responsible for all the decisions.
• The Council requires ‘Equitable Representation’, because the permanent members do not represent the majority of world’s population and Europe is overrepresented while Africa and Latin America do not have a single representative.

2. Reform of Processes
The world body needs to be more democratic. Each of the 5 permanent members have Veto-Power. That ensures their domination in the decision-making processes. The Security Council’s decisions indicate the interests and concerns of only a few powers.

Recommendations of UN on the issue
• UN General Secretary Kofi Annan on 1 January 1997 announced to initiate an inquiry into the reforms .
• The UN General Assembly had convened an ‘Open-ended Working Group’ on the question of Equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council. Proposals were-
1) The new Permanent member should be a major economic and military power.
2) It should make a substantial contribution to UN.
3) It should better reflect, ’GEOPOLITICS’, a large nation in terms of population.
4) It should respect democracy and the rights of Human.
5) It should make the council more diversified and more representative of the world population.

Difficulties involved in Reforming the structures and Processes
Its imperative to redesign the UN System. But there are difficulties involved in restructuring of the United Nations.

Question of Veto-Power
The non-permanent members are in an unprivileged position. Either the five members should renounce their veto or increasing the number of permanent members. But resolving this issue has proven impossible thus far.

No agreement on criteria to determine new permanent member.
The Working Group suggested the criteria to determine which states should be made the permanent members. Each of these criteria has its utility and shortcomings both. For example, if a country is economically strong, it does not mean that the country is militarily also strong. Japan has emerged as economic giant but militarily she is not a powerful nation. Respect for human rights and democracy was laudable objective , but violation of human rights is one of the commonest things in China, which is a permanent member. If geographic representation becomes the main formula, many problems would crop up.

In brief, the question of reforms in besieged by multiple problems at the moment. None of the existing members would never give up their veto power.

Jurisdiction of United Nations

In 2005, the UN completed 60 years of its existence. The heads of state or government, plus representatives of many countries met to celebrate the occasion. At the Millennium Summit and the Diamond Jubilee Meeting in 2005, the world leaders agreed on the following points 

• A Peace-building Commission should be created.
• To shut down Trusteeship Council.
• Achieving the Millennium Development Goals adopted at the Millennium Summit.
• A Democracy Fund should be created to promote democracy around the world.
• To establish a Human Rights Council. This Council has been working since June 2006.
• Suppression of terrorists Acts directed against heads of state and innocent civilians.
International Community taking coercive actions in case of the inability of some states to protect their citizens from atrocities.

Evaluation of issues
The Human Rights are not truly universal, Human Rights are based on Western Concepts should not be forced upon Socialist Societies.
UN intervention on Humanitarian grounds is controversial– such intervention would take place without the consent of authorities in the respective states. This could pose a threat to the national sovereignty.
We could have no mercy on terrorists, but selectivity has clearly been a problem– the US fought a war in Afghanistan but ignores acts of terrorism in Kashmir.
Millennium Development Goals– we cannot quarrel on Millennium Development Goals, such as eradicating poverty and promoting Sustainable development, but within resources that the UN have, these goals do not seem attainable by even 2050.

India’s role in United Nations

1. India has been a member of the UN from the very beginning.
2. India has fully supported United Nations on occasions of military and diplomatic action taken by the organization to restore international peace.
3. India actively helped the UN Peace Keeping Forces in all theatres of conflict namely, Korea , Congo, Cyprus, Lebanon and other countries.
4. India has always acknowledged the role of UN in development and cooperation in the international arena.
5. India has always raised its concerns regarding the unequitable composition of the Security Council and has demanded that there should be increase in permanent as well as non-permanent members in the Security Council.
6. India too aspires to become a permanent member in the UN.

Restructuring of the UN System and India’s membership of the Security Council
There are strong arguments in favour of India becoming a permanent member of the Security Council-

India’s population – it is the second most populous country, and a country , so extremely large in size should have a guaranteed role in the Security Council.
India’s World largest Democracy– promoting democracy has become a thrust area of the UN and so the world’s largest democracy should get a chance.
India as a major Economic power –India has made effective contribution to UN Funds. India also contributed an amount of 2 million dollars to the UN Peace Building Fund.
India and its nominees were elected to several UN and International Organizations– this signifies that India has the will and the capacity to take on major responsibilities at regards the maintenance of International Peace and security.
Peacekeeping Forces – India continued to participate in almost all the UN activities and helped in the UN Peacekeeping Forces in Korea, Congo, Lebanon and many other countries.

Disagreements over its over inclusion-
Pakistan obviously disliked India’s candidature.
• China may not have openly opposed India’s candidature but she is believed to be against it.
• The fact India’s a nuclear state might concern a few states and also if India’s given an opportunity to be included then other states will also demand the same.
• Others might argue that India is from Asia, which is already represented by China and hence its more important to include nations form Africa and South America , the two continents are not represented at all.

The United Nations in the Unipolar World

With the collapse of the Soviet Union the United States was the only superpower left in the world. The hold of UN on United States in this case would be very less and US will unchecked due to the following reasons-

The US on account of military capability can rudely ignore the international Organization –within 72 days of the invasion of Afghanistan, President Bush began planning for the war in Iraq. The UN never passed any resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq.
The US remains the single largest contributor to the UN’s budget. In 1990’s when the US was unwilling to pay her contributions, the UN faced by far its most serious financial crisis. Hence it has financial powers.
United Nations has its headquarters in New York City, which gives UN unmatched advantage and influence over UN. Most of the UN workforce is also made of US nationals
US also has a veto vote by which it has the capacity to reverse major decisions in its favour.
Because of the US military and economic power, all important UN decisions are made by the Washington-Admission of the new members to the United Nations, the choice of the General Security and the use or UN Peacekeeping Force, all these are now being determined by the US.

United Nations is an indispensable organization

The UN shortcomings are many. The war in Iraq caused a heated debate over the role of Security Council. Even prominent UN members, including US and Britain, undermined the credibility of the organization. But the world would be worse off without UN.

The UN serves as a regular forum where world leaders exchange ideas and discuss especially important issues.
• One of the greatest achievements of the United Nations was in the field of decolonization. National leaders in the countries of Asia and Africa drew inspiration from UN charter.
• The United Nations stood up for human rights everywhere. From time to time the United Nations made several declarations to enforce civil, political and economic rights.
• The UN Peacekeeping Forces have been active in many theatres of conflict. It is credited with restoring order in many regions.
• The UN activities devoted to economic and social advancement ( like providing food, shelter, medical aid and education) are really worthy of praise.
• The Challenges of Globalization and Interdependence of economies makes United Nations absolutely necessary for each other’s benefit.


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