The United Nations: We Need It. But We need it to be Different.

I’m a big supporter of the United Nations and will remain so, probably, since it does far more good than harm. But its sprawling, badly organized affiliated activities are under-supervised, and can do real damage at times. Here’s an example: A UN force sent to Haiti to help a nation in crisis, accidentally–stupidly, as they should have known better– caused a cholera epidemic, and a great deal of needless death, because of irresponsible disposition of their base’s sewage. The UN so far is not taking responsibility. (Follow LINK for story.)

In other places, UN peacekeepers were under trained, inadequately overseen and some of them committed acts of outrage on women in Africa, and in other lands.

Yet the United Nations really has averted a good many wars, and saved millions of lives, and Unicef (a charity I regularly donate to) is effective in helping impoverished children. There are numerous other useful UN programs. The very *idea* of a United Nations is inspirational, has social value in itself.

Conspiracy theorists worry that the UN has or will have too much power. Sadly the UN in reality has very little power to help the world–it is run democratically, which is good, but it’s too loosely structured, and a great many of its outlying components run things their own way. Hence the Haitian disaster. If there was more intelligent, centralized oversight in the UN, there would be no cholera in Haiti now.

The UN needs to take responsibility when an associated group makes a mistake. It should tackle the health crisis in Haiti, and provide healthcare and clean water to all those people harmed its poor oversight–or to their surviving relatives and neighbors.

Ultimately, the UN needs to be more organized, more rule-driven, not less. Then we’ll see it it become a more effective force for good. Meantime, we cannot do without a United Nations in a world soon to be 8 billion strong; in a world challenged by climate change catastrophe, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and fanaticism. We need a UN more than ever. But we need a truly ethical, responsible UN.

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