The Drop-in Philosophy group has considered the question of whether the United Nations is still “fit for purpose”. It was a topic that required much unraveling of broad impressions and a rigorous analysis of what really is the mission of the UN. It was certainly not set up as a world government. It can only mop up after wars but not join them.
The suggestion was that the UN is failing to meet its founding charter requirements in not getting to grips with situations like Syria and Venezuela. It was also suggested that the UN is doing nothing to prevent present day (illegal?) immigration across borders that was said to threaten peace in some countries.
As Winston Churchill noted, the UN would never deliver our best dreams but it might save us from our worst nightmares. It was suggested that the UN has always had a rather mixed record from day one. Its presence in Korea around 1950 was only possible because the Soviets were boycotting the Security Council over another issue at the time; so they were not a position to exercise the veto they otherwise surely would have.
This led to group discussion about how so many much of the UN’s alleged impotence seems to arise from the fact that many war issues are caused by countries that are permanent members of the Security Council. Those who bombed the Rainbow Warrior meet that description. The burglars are, in effect, running the police force.
The cost of running the UN is around US$13bn per annum. That may sound a lot but it is roughly what the UK is currently spending on Brexit planning. The UN is actually badly strapped for funds given the huge demands on it.
The UN was set up after the world had suffered two wars that killed well over 100m and devastated Europe and other continents. The mere fact that there has not yet been another world word may be the ultimate success measure. (Maybe the H-Bomb itself has made nuclear war unthinkable anyway.)
Don Hunter drew us all back to a basic question. What is the United Nations.? Not only is it a political facilitator it is also a vehicle for disaster recovery (e.g. the Banda Aceh tsunami) and economic development in third world nations. It scores well on those aspects. Everything can be improved but the UN is more of a success story than is often portrayed.
Next time we look philosophically at the concept of progress. The following quotes give some favour of what we will be considering. All are welcome to join us!
- Change is inevitable, change will always happen, but you have to apply direction to change, and that's when its progress. Douglas Baldwin
- Do not confuse motion and progress . A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress. Alfred A Montagert
- A process that leads from the amoebae to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress ----though whether the amoebae would agree with this opinion is not known. Bertrand Russell.
- Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity. Thor Heyerdahl