Twenty years after the League of Nations was established, it was consumed by another war in 1939. The main reason for the formation of the League was to stop or prevent the occurrence of another war, after World War I but this was not to be as it was plagued by numerous problems. The main problem faced by the League was the refusal of some powerful countries to be its members. Some countries felt that the organization was established to avenge the fallout of the First World War that occurred between 1914 and 1918. So, they decided to stay away. This was even very obvious in the conduct of its activities; as France and Britain seemed to be at the helms of affair. And importantly was the USA non-membership though it contributed in no small way to its formation.
UNO and the cold war
Some of the foregoing culminated in the inability of the League to intervene in the situations involving the big powers. The United Nations Organization (UNO) was formed on the 24th of October 1945 to replace the moribund League; so it inherited some of its organs. The UN at its fledgling stage encountered a major problem of reconciling the two most powerful countries of the USA and the Soviet Union. This developed into a cold war that lasted for many years but kudos should be given to the organization that despite this, it survived till today. The credit might not be given to the organization but to the fear that if the two countries with such nuclear powers should collide there was the tendency for the total annihilation of each other. Thus, this created a balance of power between them.
The cold war wore thin as economic globalization took a significant part of the world activities. The reliance of countries on one another has obliterated the tendency for war. In global politics, national interest is always given pre-eminence. At least till now, the organization has been able to resolve issues from degenerating into a full-blown war. In terms of peacekeeping, the security council of the UN has been playing an important role. One can say that some of its resolutions must have served as an inhibition to belligerent nations. From the 1990s to early 2000, the gulf war almost split the UN. The resolution to use "..any means possible" to stop aggressive Iraq and Saddam Hussain from taking over Kuwait in 1991 and later used by the US in 2003 to flush out Iraq has been criticized by some experts.
Successes more than failures
Humanitarian efforts have yielded fruits around the world. Declaration of human rights and monitoring of elections around the world are some of the achievements of the UN. World food program and some other activities by its agencies are also some of the successes of the organization. We should not forget the great strides of the 1990s with numerous conferences which are impacting the organization positively now. The idea of gender equality and women empowerment has always taken center stage in most of the actions of the UN. The organization has been very supportive in tackling the current pandemic. This will bring us to the introduction of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the subsequent introduction of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015. How have we fared in achieving these goals?
MDG and SDG
From the 2015 MDG report, there were a lot of improvements especially in the achievement of the eight goals. The report concluded that after 15 years of the MDG, "unprecedented efforts have resulted in profound achievements." The Secretary-General, Banki Moon had this to say in his foreword to the report, "By putting people and their immediate needs at the forefront, the MDGs reshaped decision-making in developed and developing countries alike." Despite the achievements, the report identified four main persisting problems:
Gender inequality persists
The biggest gaps exist between the poorest and richest households and between rural and urban areas
Conflicts remain the biggest threat to human development
Millions of poor people still live in poverty and hunger without access to basic services.
The SDG was an enlargement of the MDG with 17 goals; it has been six years since the introduction of the goals, how have we fared in achieving them?
From a report released in 2019, three countries: Denmark, Sweden, and Finland scored very high in achieving the goals. The worst performers were on SDG 13 (climate change), 14 (life below water, and 15 (life on land). The target is 2030; which means we have a few years to go. The major way in achieving most of the goals is not to treat them as different entities but interconnected goals that must be achieved together.
There is no doubt that the UN has remained very tough and resilient and has achieved more successes than failings but there should be more efforts put in ensuring global collaborations and partnerships.
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