The Rwandan genocide of 1994 showed the inability of the United Nations to carry out duty to maintain peace. In January of 1994, a cable was sent to the UN headquarters detailing the threat of genocide by Hutu mobs on Tutsi minorities. The Security Council never received the cable and the notice was ignored. Most shocking in this series of events is the abandonment of a school by Belgian peacekeepers after ten soldiers were murdered. Thousands came to the school for UN protection and Hutu supporters killed nearly all of them. Close to one million Rwandans were killed.
The United Nations Security Council consists of fifteen nations, five permanent: France, Russia, China, the United States and the United Kingdom. The other ten nations serve two-year terms. The five permanent members enjoy the veto power; when a permanent member vetoes a vote, the Council resolution cannot be adopted, regardless of international support. Unfortunately, in many cases nations used it to prevent help or humanitarian interventions. And as a consequence, suffering of civilians just get worse.
By 2005 in Sudan populated villages were attacked using artillery and helicopters. Despite criticism from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the UN did not enter Sudan instead asking members of the African Union to intervene. In seven years, an estimated 300,000 Sudanese civilians were killed.
At the creation of the UN in 1945, the United States was the only nation in the world to own and test nuclear weapons. In 1970, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was signed by 190 nations. Despite this treaty, numerous nations continue to develop these devastating weapons, including North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, and India.
With the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the UN finally took action, outlawing terrorism and punishing those responsible for the attacks. Unfortunately, nations that support groups that are widely linked to terrorism, such as Iran, are not held accountable specifically for these actions. To this date, the UN still does not have a clear definition of terrorism, and they have no plans to pursue one.
"The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is an opportunity to reflect – to look back on the UN’s history and take stock of its enduring achievements. It is also an opportunity to spotlight where the UN – and the international community as a whole – needs to redouble its efforts to meet current and future challenges across the three pillars of its work: peace and security, development, and human rights."-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message for UN70.
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