United Nations: Looking at History, Structure, Purpose,
And the Rwanda Genocide Case to Understand Its Relevance
The United Nations (UN) is an international organization that plays the lead role in international security affairs and peacekeeping operations. The UN was created right after WWII in 1945 in order to increase international order and prevent another World War. State sovereignty is one of the primary reasons why an organization such as the UN is necessary. The fact that there is no world government to coordinate the actions of states demands that a world organization holds at least an advisory position in world affairs. However, it must be noted that sovereignty can limit the power of the UN because sovereignty dictates non-intervention in other state affairs. This can sometimes cause problems when there are violations of human rights and the UN must decide if they have the right to intervene and infringe on state sovereignty. Evidently, the UN has its strengths and weaknesses, but it focuses on facilitating the peaceful resolution of international disputes (Helms 3). Overall, the UN is relevant because it is the sole global institutional structure where states can resolve their problems without using force. At the same time, however, the UN needs to improve some of its operations in order to be more effective. Thus, this paper will discuss the purposes, structure, and history of the UN with a focus on its peacekeeping operations. The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 will be examined in detail to understand the shortcomings of UN peacekeeping operations in order to evaluate how it can be improved for future generations.
The history of the UN cannot be talked about without first discussing the League of Nations. The UN is the successor to the League of Nations, a similar international organization with aims to stop the occurrence of World Wars. Since WWII occurred, it is clear that the League of Nations failed in its primary task. The main reason for this is that the U.S., the world’s most powerful state, declined to join the League. Without U.S. membership, it was difficult to enforce League resolutions. The occurrence of WWII then prompted many states to not commit the same mistakes and persuade the U.S. to join the UN in order to increase international order (Goldstein and Pevehouse 214). In fact, the UN headquarters was chosen to be located in New York City to solidify U.S. interest in its operations.
The success of the UN can be seen in the amount of members it has. Between 1950s and 1960s, its membership more than doubled after Asian, and African colonies became decolonized and applied for sovereignty through the UN (Goldstein and Pevehouse 214). These new members of the Global South have different concerns from states in the industrialized Global North and are, therefore, collectively become key players in international politics. Additionally, the UN follows a principle of “three pillars”: security, economic development, and...