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Gerardo Kharriman

The importance and achievements of the UN on its 75th anniversary

- There is a long list of UN successes, verified through its mechanisms, forums, programs, etc.

The importance and achievements of the UN on its 75th anniversary

The United Nations Organization (UN) celebrates 75 years of its creation, which materialized in 1945, after arduous negotiations in San Francisco, United States, on the eve of the conclusion of World War II. The need for the success of these negotiations was obvious, after the failure of the former League of Nations, which could not contain the start of the largest global conflict in history, and which unfortunately brought with it the loss of millions of lives, including the risk it posed for humanity the use of nuclear weapons. Hence the importance of consolidating a collective security system that would avoid the horrors experienced up to that moment.

The adoption of the Charter of the United Nations, on October 24 of that year, once the hostilities had ended, gave rise to new hopes for humanity since the objectives of the new Organization included a more comprehensive perspective, since they not only contemplated a exclusively in the maintenance of international peace and security, but to promote the equal rights of both individuals and countries regardless of their size and influence. The new world entity was also entrusted with creating the conditions for social and economic progress, as well as strengthening the international legal framework in order to promote harmonious coexistence among the nations and peoples of the world. For this, the Organization was provided with different main bodies: The General Assembly (legislative and representative forum of all countries), the Security Council (mechanism in charge of ensuring international peace and security), the Economic and Social Council ( body responsible for promoting development), the Secretariat (made up of UN international staff), the International Court of Justice (legal body), and a Trusteeship Council [1].

However, over the years the Organization has faced different challenges. Little by little, the enthusiasm soon turned into a growing demand for issues to be resolved in all spheres, not only political and security, but also other aspects such as economic and social development and human rights. This was done based on the logic of rebuilding a new world where many efforts were required and some others would require more time than expected while other challenges arose that have continued to increase and in other cases evolve.

Beyond the academic or political circle, it is difficult for ordinary citizens to have a clear understanding of what the United Nations is and what it is not, from its functions, its operation, its scope and its limits. It is certainly not a simple subject, since understanding the operation of such a large and complex organization requires extensive knowledge of the subject. With the rise in the use of the Internet and more now of social networks, comments are often found that show how far society is from the important work of the UN and the favorable impact it has on the lives of many people, since either directly or indirectly. Another bias that is seen in the different current media is that ignorance of the subject leads only to focus on the list of failures and make negative comments a priori and without support.

It is true, the conflict in Palestine as well as others still unresolved, the different genocides that have taken place, such as in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the fight against social inequality in the world, the issue of reform of the Organization, cases of corruption in some programs and agencies, the politicization that has paralyzed other mechanisms and forums, as well as other unfortunate cases that have stained the work of United Nations peace operations, have diminished the image of the Organization. Despite this, and without underestimating the importance of making the adjustments, reforms and pertinent actions so that the United Nations can adapt to the needs of the new millennium, it is also important to highlight its achievements, progress and milestones for the benefit of the peoples and the countries throughout these 75 years.

First of all, it is important to dismantle the myth that the Organization "does not want to fulfill its duty or does not have the will to solve some or several challenges." This obtuse assessment is echoed in cases such as the unfortunate events in Rwanda, which led to a terrible genocide in 1994. While it has been recognized that more could have been done then (BBC News, 2014), the contingent cannot be blamed. of UN blue helmets since their mandate was limited, inadequate and insufficient, even to protect themselves (Gharekhan, 2007). The latter depended on the political will of the countries that made up the Security Council, the executive body of the organization where the countries deliberate to ensure international security and that determines the establishment of Peacekeeping Operations, as well as their nature. , scope and mandate. Whatever the reason or reasons, the responsibility fell, as can be seen, on the countries that make up the Council, not on the United Nations itself.

The first great success of the UN is in terms of decolonization. The 1945 world map has changed substantially since then. From having almost a third of the world's population living in Non-Self-Governing Territories or potential colonial dependencies, there are currently only about 2 million people in 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories. In other words, more than 80 former colonies have obtained their independence, undoubtedly a significant success (United Nations, 2020).

On the other hand, the United Nations has created important organizations, forums, mechanisms and specialized agencies to fulfill its core objectives. For example, through the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN has made significant efforts to address and eliminate diseases and promote health protection globally. There is a long list of achievements, most notably the intense 12-year WHO-led global campaign to eradicate smallpox, culminating in 1979. More recently, the WHO is also conducting a robust response to attack smallpox. outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014, and after two years the purpose was achieved with careful vigilance against possible outbreaks (United Nations, 2020).

Likewise, one of the best-known images of the United Nations is the logo of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In practically every conflict, migratory movement or natural disaster, we can find a team from both entities deployed on the ground to attend to children and refugees who flee their countries in search of protection. In the last 30 years, the Fund has managed to contribute significantly to the decrease in the mortality of children under five years of age by 60 percent and the proportion of children of basic school age who do not attend school has also decreased from 18 to 8 percent (UNICEF, 2019). The UNHCR for its part, created to help those displaced by World War II in the first instance, its mandate and challenges have been expanded to help a large number of people forced to leave their countries for various reasons. As of 2015, UNHCR had helped around 50 million refugees to successfully restart their lives (UNHCR, 2020). Last but not least, the World Food Program (WFP) was awarded this 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its important work against famine. This UN mechanism is the largest and most far-reaching humanitarian agency assisting 100 million people in 88 countries. In 2019 alone, the Program delivered 4.2 million tons of food (WFP, 2020). Now that the international community has adopted a New Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, these agencies, along with other organizations (for which it is not possible to add more examples due to space), will continue to do their bit to meet these objectives.

In terms of security, particularly where peace missions have been deployed, the United Nations has had various successes where it has contributed to the end of conflicts and subsequent national reconciliation in Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mozambique, Namibia and Tajikistan. Similarly, it has made a difference in countries such as Sierra Leone, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Haiti and Kosovo. In the particular case of Côte d'Ivoire, whose civil war divided the country, the United Nations established the peace mission (UNOCI) in 2004 and concluded its mandate in 2017, after significant progress in disarmament and reintegration was verified. to the society of ex-combatants, the return of around 250,000 refugees in 2016, the strengthening of institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission of that country, after an increase in its economy was registered and elections will be held in 2011 and a referendum in 2016 where the opposition participated for the first time (United Nations Peacekeeping, 2020).

After the horror of the atomic bomb, one of the main purposes of the United Nations has been disarmament. Outside the United Nations building it is easy to miss a curious monument: the sculpture of a knotted gun that represents peace and non-violence. What is not easy is to achieve a task as complicated as disarmament considering the powerful economic and security interests of militarily preponderant countries such as China, the United States and Russia. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), world military spending registered an increase of 3.6 percent in 2019, reaching 1,197 trillion US dollars (SIPRI, 2020). In the decades after its creation, the UN has promoted important advances such as the adoption of important legal instruments that have outlawed various types of weapons, such as the Biological Weapons Convention (1975); the Chemical Weapons Convention (1997); the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (1983) and its Additional Protocols; the Ottawa Convention on Antipersonnel Mines (1999), and more recently the Convention on Cluster Munitions (2008) (UNODA, 2020). In all these cases, the advances have certainly represented challenges for compliance with the provisions of said treaties, but it is indisputable that millions of lives have been saved by prohibiting the use of different types of weapons that are characterized by their indiscriminate nature. and inhuman. Likewise, we cannot forget the initiatives on nuclear disarmament. In this area we find the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which has more than 190 States Parties, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which although the latter has not been able to enter into force, It has a unique verification regime of its kind in which telluric movements resulting from nuclear explosions can be detected thanks to the 120 seismic monitoring stations located in various strategic locations in the world (CTBTO, 2020). It is not omitted to highlight the long-awaited entry into force of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. By the time these lines are being written, it is gratifying to note that 50 ratifications of this legal instrument have already been achieved, which will enter into force in January 2021, which marks a transcendental milestone in the fight against disarmament (ICAN, 2020).

In short, there is also a long list of successes of the United Nations Organization and that have been verified through its specialized agencies, forums, committees, mechanisms and programs that would not reach the time or space to number them and that constitute the collective and praiseworthy effort of officials, staff and volunteers of the United Nations, who often work with precarious resources to fulfill their duties and in many cases in risky conditions. Perhaps a better UN communication strategy is needed to publicize its progress and achievements, but it is also hoped that this type of writing can provide a simpler and broader perspective on what the Organization does worldwide and that many sometimes goes unnoticed for various reasons. What is sought is that, without detracting from the importance of possible and necessary reforms to it, since it is far from perfect, its important work is known and its achievements are promoted, which show that it is not only essential and that it will beyond diplomatic meetings and political expressions of good wishes and goodwill speeches, but at 75 years old, the United Nations celebrates that despite the challenges, which are many, they continue to fight to achieve their noble purposes.

[1] By 1994, all Trust Territories had gained self-government and independence, so the Trusteeship Council suspended operations on November 1 of that year.

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Kharriman, Gerardo. “La importancia y logros de la ONU en su 75 aniversario.” CEMERI, 25 jun. 2023,