1. United Nations Charter:
The World War II ended in Europe on 7 May 1945, and the Charter of the United Nations was signed at San Francisco in June 1945.
The United Nations with its headquarters in New York.
UN was created for the maintenance of international peace and security, development of friendly relations among nations, achievement of international cooperation in solving international problems of economic, social or humanitarian character and the promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction of race, sex, language or religion.
There are two kinds of members of the United Nations. Some of them are original members but new members can be admitted by a certain procedure. The membership is open to all peace-loving states who accept the obligations contained in the Charter and who in the judgment of the organisation, are able and willing to carry out their obligations. The Security Council plays the most important part in admitting or refusing admission to any State. On the recommendation of the Security Council, the membership of a State can be suspended or the State can be outlawed by the General Assembly.
2. The General Assembly:
The important organs of the United Nations are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. As regards the General Assembly, every member-state of the United Nations is a member of this Assembly. As a rule, the Assembly meets once a year but there can be a special session under certain circumstances.
The General Assembly has been given powers of discussion, review, supervision and criticism of the work of the United Nations as a whole. It can discuss and recommend measures for the maintenance of international peace and security. It directs and supervises international, economic and social cooperation. It supervises the working of the trusteeship system. It controls the finances of the organisation.
It admits suspends and expels members. It adopts international conventions. It initiates, studies and makes recommendations for the encouragement of progressive development of international law. It appoints a large number of members of the various organs of the United Nations. It can debate amendments to the Charter of the United Nations Organisation.
3. Security Council:
The Security Council meets more often than the General Assembly. It consists of some permanent members and the others selected for two years by the General Assembly by a system of rotation. Regional considerations are taken into account at the time of electing the members. Each member of the Security Council has one vote and the approval of all the permanent members is essential in every case. Every permanent member of the Security Council has the power of veto. To begin with, the Soviet Union exercised the veto power on very many occasions and the same is being done now by the United States.
The veto power has been criticised but it appears that the Big Powers would not like to be members of the United Nations without the veto power. They would not like anything to be done by the United Nations simply because small states who may be in majority in the United Nations may decide to do something which is not approved of by the Big Powers.
As regards the functions of the Security Council, its primary duty is to maintain international peace and security. It has to submit annual or special Reports to the General Assembly. It can submit plans to the General Assembly for the regulation of armaments among the member-states. While doing so, it can avail of the help of the Military Staff Committee.
The Security Council has to establish regional agencies. It has to supervise and control Trust Territories, which are under the charge of the various states. It has to use its good offices to resolve international disputes through peaceful methods. Whenever it considers necessary, it can call upon the parties to a dispute to settle the same by negotiations, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and judicial settlement, action by regional agencies or under regional arrangements or other peaceful means.
4. Economic and Social Council:
The Economic and Social Council consists of members who are elected for three years by the General Assembly However, one-third of them retire every year. Its main function is to make or initiate studies and reports with respect to international, economic, social, cultural, educational, health and other related matters.
It can prepare draft conventions on the same subjects and submit them to the General Assembly It can coordinate the activities of the specialised agencies and also regulate the flow of the reports from those agencies at regular intervals. It has to perform those functions which are given to it by the General Assembly and also those for which request has been made by the member-states and the specialised agencies.
5. Trusteeship Council:
The Trusteeship System is an improvement on the Mandate System provided in the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Trusteeship Council is to be incharge of this work. It has to consider reports submitted to it by the administering authority. It has to examine the petitions in consultation with the administering authority.
It has to visit the territories under the Trusteeship System to see how their administration is going on. The Trusteeship Council can send a questionnaire to the states concerned with the object of getting information regarding the political, economic, social and educational progress of the mandated territories.
6. International Court of Justice:
The International Court of Justice is an improvement on the Permanent Court of International Justice. It consists of 15 members who are elected by the General Assembly It exercises two kinds of jurisdiction. It decides those cases which are the subject of dispute between two or more states. It has also been given advisory jurisdiction.
As regards the Secretariat, the Secretary General is the chief administrative officer. He is assisted by a large number of subordinates who have to look to the details concerning the various aspects of the activities of the United Nations. The headquarters of the Secretariat are in New York. The member-states have to foot the bill for the maintenance of the Secretariat.
8. Collective Security under United Nations:
Article I of the United Nations Charter calls for “effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace. Chapter VII of the Charter points out in deal what those “effective collective measures- can be.
It is provided that the Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression and shall make recommendations or decide what measures shall be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security.
In order to prevent aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it considers necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures will be without prejudice to the rights, claims or position of the parties concerned.
The Security Council shall duly take action in case of failure to comply with the provisional measures. It must decide what measures, not involving the use of armed forces, are to be employed to give effect to its decisions and may call upon the members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic radio and other means of communication and the severance of diplomatic relations.
If these measures are considered to be inadequate by the Security Council, it may take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade and other operations by air sea or land forces of the members of the United Nations.
All members of the United Nations, in order to contribute to international peace and security, have undertaken to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance and facilities including the right of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security. Such agreement or agreements shall govern the members and types of forces, their degree of readiness and general location and the nature of facilities and assistance to be provided.
The agreement or agreements shall be negotiated as soon as possible on the initiative of the Security Council. They shall be concluded between the Security Council and the members or between the Security Council and groups of members and shall be subject to ratification by the signatory states in accordance with their respective constitutional process.
When the Security Council has decided to use force, it shall, before calling upon a member not represented on it to provide armed forces, invite that member to participate in the decisions of the Security Council concerning the employment of contingents of the armed forces of the member.
In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures, the members shall make immediately available national air force contingents for combined international enforcement action. The strength and degree of readiness of these contingents and plans for their combined action shall be determined by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee. Plans for the application of armed forces shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.
The action required carrying out the decisions of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security shall be taken by all the members of the United Nations or by some of them as the Security Council may determine. Such decisions shall be carried out by the members of the United Nations directly and through their action in the appropriate international agency of which they are members.
The members of the United Nations shall join in affording mutual assistance in carrying out the measures decided upon by the Security Council. If preventive or enforcement measures against any state are taken by the Security Council, any other State, whether a member of the United Nations or not, which finds itself confronted with special economic problems arising from the carrying out of those measures, shall have the right to consult the Security Council with regard to a solution of those problems.
Article 51 provides that nothing in the Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.
Measures taken by the members in the exercise of the right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Experience shows that the system of collective security as provided in the United Nations Charter has failed to achieve its objective. In spite of the salutary provisions, there has been plenty of aggression in all parts of the world and the members of the United Nations have failed to come together to meet the danger.
9. Work of the United Nations:
The United Nations has done a lot of useful work in the political field. In January 1946, Iran formally charged the Soviet Union with interference in her internal affairs and asked the Security Council to investigate and effect a settlement. The Security Council asked the two Governments to settle their differences by direct negotiations. On 23 May 1946, Moscow and Tehran announced that the Soviet troops had evacuated from Iran.
After the World War II, the people of Indonesia proclaimed the Republic of Indonesia and declared their independence. Holland refused to accept her independence and there were armed clashes. The matter was brought before the Security Council which directed the parties to stop hostilities and issued cease-fire orders. It offered its good offices to settle the dispute and appointed a Good Offices Committee for that purpose. In spite of many ups and downs, the United Nations played an important part in the recognition of the independence of Indonesia.
In January 1946, the Soviet Union complained that the stationing of British troops in Greece and British interference in the internal affairs of Greece endangered peace and security in that region. The view of the Security Council was that British troops were called into Greece by her own Government. In August 1946, Ukraine alleged that the policy of Greece was threatening peace in the Balkans. The allegation of Greece was that Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria were provoking Communist guerillas against her.
The Security Council appointed a Special Investigation Commission which reported that Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria were actually aiding the pro-Communist revolutionaries of Greece. The General Assembly also appointed a Sub-Committee on the Balkans which reported that the Northern neighbours of Greece were giving large-scale aid to Greek guerillas. In December 1950, the General Assembly set up a Standing Committee to go into the matter.
Supported and incited by the Government of Pakistan, the tribal’s launched raids upon Kashmir in October 1947. On 1 January 1948, India lodged a complaint with the Security Council that the Government of Pakistan was assisting the raiders who were attacking the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Security Council set up a United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan.
The Commission asked the two Governments to stop fighting, withdraw their troops from the State of Jammu and Kashmir and to plebiscite be held to determine the future of the State. India and Pakistan agreed to those proposals and cease-fire became effective from 1 January 1949. The United Nations appointed Admiral Nimitz, Sir Owen Dixon and Dr. Frank Graham to mediate between the two countries.
The Security Council also discussed the Kashmir issue on many occasions but nothing has come out of that. When there was a war between India and Pakistan in 1965, the Security Council issued several calls for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of armed forces. The efforts of the Security Council succeeded in bringing about a cease-fire between the two countries. When Pakistan attacked India in 1971, the Security Council asked both the parties to stop fighting. In spite of all the help given by the United Nations, the question of Kashmir remains unresolved.
When Britain announced her intention to terminate her mandate of Palestine, the General Assembly appointed a Sub-Committee on Palestine. The United Nations also appointed a mediator for Palestine.
It also appointed a Truce Commission in April 1948. When Israel was attacked by the Arab States, a cease-fire was ordered by the Security Council and a truce was brought about. The United Nations appointed Count Bemadotte and Dr. Ralph Bunche to act as mediators. The General Assembly appointed a Conciliation Commission. It also established the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine a refugee which has done a lot of useful work.
In 1946, India complained to the General Assembly against the discriminatory policies of the Government of South Africa which violated the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The General Assembly took up the issue. Many resolutions have been passed by the United Nations against the Government of South Africa. It has also recommended mandatory sanctions against South Africa.
In June 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea. The matter was brought before the Security Council which directed North Korea to withdraw her troops. North Korea refused to withdraw. The Security Council branded North Korea as the aggressor. The United Nations appointed General MacArthur as the Supreme Commander of the forces sent to fight against North Korea. The offensive of North Korea was halted. The United Nations took keen interest in bringing about peace. In July 1953, a truce agreement was signed and hostilities ended.
In 1948, a complaint was made that a serious situation had arisen as a result of the unilateral imposition of restrictions by the Soviet Union on transport and communication between Western Zones of occupation and Berlin. The President of the Security Council played an important part in the lifting of the Berlin blockade.
The United Nations played an important role in dii3using the situation created by the nationalisation of the Suez Canal in 1956. The General Assembly called upon France, Britain and Israel to withdraw their troops from the Egyptian territory. Ultimately, a cease-fire was arranged. Egypt agreed to the stationing of a United Nations force on her territory. The General Assembly authorised the Secretary- General of the United Nations to go ahead with the plan to clear the Canal area under the auspices of the United Nations and make the Canal ready for navigation. The United Nations played an effective role in the Suez crisis of 1956.
When the Soviet Union sent her troops to Hungary in 1956, there was criticism of her action. The Soviet Union continued in Hungary in spite of protests from many countries. The General Assembly called upon the member states to recall their ambassadors and ministers from Franco’s Spain. In spite of that, the United States entered into a treaty with Franco’s Government on account of the strategic position of Spain in the world.
When there was trouble in the Congo after her independence in June 1960, the Secretary-General of the United Nations organised a United Nations operation in the Congo. The Congo question was referred to the General Assembly after its veto by the Soviet Union. The General Assembly directed the Secretary-General to continue his efforts “to assist the Central Government of the Congo” and created a Conciliation Commission of Asian and African representatives. A nominee of the Secretary- General of the United Nations visited the Congo. Dag Hammarskjold was killed while bringing about peace in the Congo.
The General Assembly authorised the establishment of the United Nations temporary executive authority under the ultimate authority of the Secretary-General to take over West Irian and hand over the same to Indonesia.
On the occasion of the Cuban crisis in 1962, U Thant, the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, took the initiative and ultimately succeeded in diffusing the situation. Both the Security Council and the General Assembly took keen interest in maintaining peace in Cyprus after her independence. In December 1966, the Security Council applied selective mandatory economic sanctions against Southern Rhodesia. In May 1968, the Security Council imposed comprehensive military sanctions and also set up a Sanctions Committee to enforce them.
The Security Council condemned the Government of Southern Rhodesia when it declared herself a Republic in 1970. It also called upon its members to cut off all diplomatic, consular, trade, military and other relations with the Republic of Southern Rhodesia.
When Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, Israel asserted her right of free navigation in those waters. The Security Council held an urgent meeting to consider the situation and was in almost continuous session for many days. It unanimously adopted a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire.
Similar resolutions were passed again. The Security Council also adopted a resolution asking Israel to “ensure the safety, welfare and security of the inhabitants of the area where military hostilities have taken place and to facilitate the return of the Arab civilians in the areas occupied by her.” The United Nations played its part in the crisis of 1967.
The Soviet Union intervened in Czechoslovakia first in 1948 and then in 1968. On 22 August 1968, the Security Council met to consider the situation arising out of Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia. A resolution condemning the Soviet Union was introduced in the Security Council but was vetoed by the Soviet Union.
When there was a war between Israel and the Arab countries in 1973, the Security Council called upon the parties to stop hostilities. The Soviet Union sent her troops into Afghanistan in December 1979. She vetoed a resolution of the Security Council calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. In spite of its efforts, the Security Council failed to prevail upon the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan.
The Security Council adopted a resolution on 18 August 1982 for maintaining an international peace force in Lebanon. In September 1980, a war started between Iraq and Iran and the same is continuing even now. The United Nations has not succeeded in stopping it.
The United Nations is concerned not only with the maintenance of peace but also with promoting the conditions under which genuine peace is possible. In the words of Philip E. Jacob, “In the long run, the United Nations leadership in the struggle for world welfare holds the chief promise of creating the underlying conditions of social stability and human satisfaction essential to a lasting peace.”
The Charter specifically provides that the United Nations shall promote “higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development.” The responsibility for implementing these goals rests on the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. All functional and regional commissions and specialised agencies and committees are seeking in various ways to carry out the mandate of the Charter in economic and social fields.
The United Nations is supplying vital information to various countries. It publishes annual reports on world economic conditions. Many agencies and commissions of the United Nations have prepared important studies in the field of technical assistance and economic development. The United Nations also provides funds and loans through the International Bank and the International Development Association. These loans are of great help to developing countries.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation has done a lot to meet the world food crisis. The International Labour Organisation has drafted scores of conventions and recommendations, collectively designated as the international labour code.
The United Nations is concerned with the furtherance of human welfare, social justice and aspirations of men for a better lot in life. It provides advisory and social welfare services such as public welfare administration, child welfare, social insurance, etc.
The United Nations is giving help to the physically handicapped. The World Health Organisation is the central directing and coordinating authority in international health work. It provides advisory and public health services to the member states. It administers health and sanitary regulations, maintains a medical library and an international centre for the compilation and analysis of medical and health statistics from all countries.
A large number of persons who have been uprooted in various parts of the world have benefited from High Commissioner for Refugees. The UNESCO seeks to stimulate a world-wide attack on illiteracy and raises educational standards. It promotes international understanding. The Commission on Human Rights gives considerable attention to the right of self-determination. The United Nations has been successful in securing equality for women.
It is true, the United Nations has failed in tackling successfully the problem of collective security in the world, but that is a problem which is difficult to be tackled by any international organisation. Every state, whether big or small, seems to be determined to do all that it can to promote its own interests, regardless of the interests of other states or mankind as a whole.
In an atmosphere where there is violence all over the world and each state is spending recklessly to add to its armaments, regardless of its costs and repercussions on its own economy or that of the world, peace in the world is a dream which no international organisation can achieve.
All that can be done is to lessen the prevailing tension in the world and undoubtedly the United Nations has played its part. It is true that the United Nations is not a perfect organisation but its utility cannot be denied.
Donald J. Puchala writes, “Despite the paralysis of the Security Council and the often times vitriolic clamour of the General Assembly, the UNO has acted to diffuse international tensions surrounding a number of disputes. It has even played a modest part in Super-Power disputes. Moreover, it has acted to impose non-military sanctions pursuant to the enforcement of its decisions.”