A Few Things I wanted to Know About UN but Afraid to Ask

I sat there mesmerized. Here is a man, Mr T.P. Srinivasan, who breathes UN in every breath. I think every little memory, every little incident has been permanently etched in this amazing mind. He has the capability to look at UN critically from India’s point of view, philosophically as a Global citizen and even though he is tree in the UN forest, is able to separate forest from trees. I would love to read his book “Words, Words, Words”. He got me interested in world bodies and their dynamics immensely. Previously the talk of UN, IMF, G20 would bring out a yawn. Not any more.

I learned a lot more about UN in less than an hour, than I ever knew. It came from an eminent Indian who was part of UN for over 20 years of his life.  It will be great to get 193 (the number of nations in UN now) views and look at them in a philosophical manner.

There is no way I can capture the breadth, depth and spirit of his speech. Here are the snippets as I rapidly tried to keep track a flowing river of knowledge 🙂

  • Goal of UN was to rid the world of scourges of war. Yet, after UN was formed there were more than 800 wars. So UN really did not do what it set out to do. However, they argue that they stopped the Third World War. Only history can prove that.
  • We need UN. It is the only truly global organization to look at world problems. It started with 52 nations. But now it has 193 nations.
  • The participating nations feel that it is a symbol of sovereignty. We need that.
  • How does India look at UN?  Taking Kashmir to UN was one of the biggest mistakes.  Since its initial idealistic model of UN, India has reset its expectations of this world body
  • Centers of power in the world are changing. The current permanent members have to rethink their position
  • US pays 22% of UN expenses while India pays only 0.4%. So we cannot justify being members based on our financial contributions. However, India’s contribution to UN has been enormous. It has been part of (almost) every peace keeping force UN has ever formed
  • On the future of UN – Unless the power structure of UN changes, UN will not be relevant in future

One warning, though. You need to apply a bias filter. These observations are from an Indian ambassador to UN. No single country can really be objective about UN or other global organizations. I wonder whether there are any true global citizens.

2 thoughts on “A Few Things I wanted to Know About UN but Afraid to Ask

  1. The UN does need changing but changing the power-structure now would be very very dangerous for world peace. There are too many power-blocks that have a vested interest and so vote together. Most of these are non-democratic.

    As one example (of many) – the UN has done nothing regarding the conflict in Syria. It’s done virtually nothing regarding the nuclear issue in Iran. The number of general assembly motions against Israel is out of ALL proportion to the problem in Israel compared to other trouble-spots. Had the power structure been different, with the US not having a veto, the chances are that the autocratic countries in the Middle East (e.g. Syria) would have been able to vote UN action that would have resulted in Israel being forced to revert back to the 1947 borders despite Israel being the only democracy and the position of Arabs in Israel being MUCH better than Syria (or Libya prior to the change)…

    Even now the UN vote on women castigates Israel despite the fact that women in Israel are much better off (including Arab women) than in most of Israel’s neighbors. Honor killing is a crime in Israel. The reverse is the situation in several Arab states.

    The UN will only succeed when it is impartial and national self-interest doesn’t play a part.

    If other countries want a role they should pay for it. It’s currently unjust that the 2nd biggest power in the world – China – pays a fraction of what the US pays. India is also a major power now…. Change that first.

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