Rethinking International Organizations

Posted by Tonali Windslor on

We now live in an age where international organizations have become prominent, playing an active role in many areas on the world stage. In the decades following the conclusion of the Second World War in 1945, many new international organizations were established or updated with a variety of different objectives. These included promoting peace, fostering economic development, managing disputes among nations, and dramatically strengthening international law. Some of the most visible of these international organizations include the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Criminal Court (ICC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to name a few. While many of these organizations were created with noble intentions, it is fair to say that the great majority of them have failed tremendously in their intended mandates, being plagued by both controversy and ineffectiveness.

The United Nations was created with the idea of promoting world peace among the nations. On one hand, it has prevented new global wars from emerging, as well as any major wars between great powers. It has also helped mitigate a number of conflicts in the developing world. However, the world undoubtedly remains a dangerous place, and genocide, terrorism, and other violent conflicts are far too present in the modern age. Many violent conflicts have sprung up throughout the world in the ensuing decades of its existence, and the UN has consistently failed to stop them. Some of the greatest failures that have happened under the UN’s watch are: the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, the inability to stop the 2003 war in Iraq, the Syrian Civil War that began in 2011, as well as the ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These are all perfect examples that show how the UN has failed to bring peace to conflicted areas, all while millions of innocent people have been killed or have had their lives severely devastated. Many of the UN’s greatest failures can often be traced back to actions (or inactions) of individual members of the permanent Security Council (consisting of the United States, Great Britain, Russia, France, and China), who have sabotaged or harmed efforts at peace. This has often been done through the power of veto, which only these five members have. A veto from any one of these members can effectively prevent the international intervention in a humanitarian crisis. This has been the case over the past several years as Russia has repeatedly used its veto power to prevent any kind of intervention in Syria during its long and horrific civil war. Therefore, it is ideal for the UN to end permanent membership in the Security Council, as well as to prevent any one member from holding the power of veto. Instead, all decisions should be made by the UN General Assembly, through a simple majority or two-thirds majority vote. This approach will give more parity to other countries, rather than having a handful of powerful countries control international affairs.

In other cases, organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF have consistently given loans to impoverished, Third World countries, usually with the goal of helping them develop their economies. In many of these situations, these countries were experiencing challenges that required these loans in the first place. However, many of these loans largely did not deliver the economic benefits that had originally been hoped for, while also infringing deeply upon the sovereignty of these countries. The end result of this has been many of these already poor nations becoming loaded with high levels of foreign debt that they were unable to pay off. While such loan policies are evolving and improving, and some have made a positive difference, many of the countries receiving these loans are struggling after decades of such policies and will end up having to repay this debt instead of being able to reinvest it back into their own economies, thus hindering growth.

So then, how should a modern nation deal with these many international organizations in the current age? The answer is as follows: a nation can join one of these international organizations if they choose, and they can remain an active participant. However, no nation should ever allow their sovereignty to be taken away by these institutions. All nations have the authority to manage their own territories, and they should never be told to do otherwise by an outside entity. These international organizations can create standards (non-compulsory, of course), establish programs, and offer assistance in disaster and conflict situations, provide a forum for conflict resolution, authorize military interventions, and provide technical expertise to the countries of the world. However, each nation retains the right to decide whether or not they will join these organizations, and to what extent they will participate, including in the area of funding. Nations also have the right to leave these organizations if they choose to do so.

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