When the United Nations was created upon WWII, its major declared role was to perpetuate peace among countries worldwide. The horrors of the world wars have undeniably led to the creation of this institution. However, the international challenges to peace worldwide have evolved mainly in terms of the rise of terrorism. Peace in international relations seems hard to attain now, as there are conflicts worldwide. Hence, some scholars have started to question the relevance of the UN as institution that should endorse peace and stability.
A study into the efforts of the UN efforts at conversion – a term that denotes the shift from military to civilian production-, one of the areas that the UN has been working on shows that “the limited impact of UN meetings and reports on conversion has once again disclosed the “classical” limitations of the UN role in sensitive areas of international relations where consensus is often impossible to achieve”.
Such example puts the finger on an important issue which paradoxically shows that the UN, just like its ‘ancestor’ League of Nations faces somehow the problem of consensus. It is a critical issue because there are five countries in the Security Council with the power of veto; so if they do not agree on issue, pertaining to their organ, they may block finding a solution to the said issue. Another problem, yet, lies in the difficulty to insure follow up on resolution. In that sense, even if a solution is found, there may be lack of political will to implement it. Yet another problem which is peculiar to the 21st century is terrorism.
Terrorism now is not among state actors but rather non state actors. It is mainly between a group of people with particular agenda mostly ideological and political. That is the case for fundamentalist Islamic terrorism for instance. The UN, when it was created, it was set up on the assumption that war breaks out among countries. This Clausewitzian perception may no longer be relevant. There is violence in international relations but it is currently in the form groups of people against states.
Does this means that the UN is obsolete. A wise answer would be that it needs to changed but not necessarily removed. It is about the only overt place where countries debate their problem. Moreover, despite the fact that new forms of violence have emerged, it is important that there is a site where countries can always meet up and debate. The various plans of UN reform show that there is still faith in the potential of the UN. There is a particular insistence on the enlargement of the Security Council, in this regard.