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Shashi Tharoor, UN
"We do our best and our best is what member states allow us to do"
 real 28k

Fermin F Torres, US
"I think they're doing a good job"
 real 28k

Shashi Tharoor, UN
"The UN doesn't take instruction from the US"
 real 28k

Alex Mayer, Hong Kong
"A great waste of money"
 real 28k

Shashi Tharoor, UN
"In any organisation of this size there will be mistakes of judgement and perhaps occasional waste"
 real 28k

Kwame Rubadiri, USA
"The whole system is very slow"
 real 28k

Shashi Tharoor, UN
"We have fewer employees than Disney World, and I'd like to think we don't run a Mickey Mouse operation"
 real 28k

Sunhi, South Korea
"Pledges and declarations will only be worthy if they change peoples' lives"
 real 28k

Shashi Tharoor, UN
"Today we have a Security Council of 15 members out of 189"
 real 28k

Mohammed Ali Khan, US
"It's a good forum and we have to stay engaged"
 real 28k

Shashi Tharoor, UN
"We are constantly being obliged to send UN soldiers out under equipped, insufficient in strength, without adequate finance"
 real 28k

Meritab Belae, Sweden
"There is still a Cold War mentality in the UN"
 real 28k

Graham Wood, Uganda
"The UN has become an extension of the US state department"
 real 28k

Monday, 18 September, 2000, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Does the UN still matter?

The UN has a battered image - its successes in preventing war and restoring peace often eclipsed by more spectacular failures.

The task at the Millennium Summit in New York is to reshape the United Nations. What should the organisation's role be in the new millennium? Should it have its own army? It's a club of member states, but who really holds the power at the UN?

Shashi Tharoor, a senior advisor to the UN Secretary General, has been taking your questions and comments live on World Service Radio's Talking Point ON AIR programme.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme


    Your comments since the programme

    Speaking as an American taxpayer I don't want to see that $300 billion military fielded UNLESS it's defending our national interests.
    Peter Stern, New York, US

    The UN may appear ineffective but it remains a potential instrument for establishing a global tyranny. The USA and the UK must withdraw.
    Allan Robertson, London

    The UN would be much more effective if all participating countries paid it what they owe. It would also be better served if it were based in a country with a reputation for neutrality, such as Switzerland. By having its HQ in New York, it gives the impression, often exploited by despots, of being an arm of the US government.
    David Hazel, Fareham, UK

    I heard recently that the New York Police Department has a budget several times larger than that of the entire UN put together. That just about sums up the attitude of the US and the dominating members of the UN and how much priority it is given.
    Benj'min Mossop, London, Britain


    Cronyism is also rife and connections tend to be more critical than a solid professional track record in getting and keeping peace-keeping contracts

    Helen, East Timor
    I have been working as a civilian peacekeeper with multi-national peacekeeping missions for several years. In the field, I have observed how the UN controls costs by failing to offer the great majority of its junior staff long-term contracts regardless of performance. This short-sighted human resources development practice obviously does not bode well for retaining peace-keeping expertise and building leadership skills. Cronyism is also rife and connections tend to be more critical than a solid professional track record in getting and keeping peace-keeping contracts.
    Helen, East Timor

    Isn't it time the people of the world were given a break from all these interfering institutions and allowed to live their own lives? The record of governments over the past centuries suggests that a truly global power would probably soon turn into the most oppressive and brutal regime in history. Less government and more freedom please!
    David, England

    United Nations provide the opportunity to all the democratic, autocratic, civilian, military, good and bad leaders to grab an opportunity to shake hand with the god (USA president).
    Mushtaq Ahmed Memon, Japan/Pakistan


    It is probably time for a new organisation that actually promotes the ideal of improving the lot of mankind

    John, Canada
    It is probably time for a new organisation that actually promotes the ideal of improving the lot of mankind. Therefore a prime qualification should be that in order to be a member of this new organisation the country would have to be a democracy.
    The current mess with idiots like Castro, Mugabe and assorted loonies lecturing the world while they murder and pillage their countries is a joke. The UN desperately needs a new mandate based upon the principles of democracy otherwise it will rot away, as it deserves to.
    John, Canada

    With or without UN the miseries of many nations in the world will remain the same, unless they take care of their natural resources and use their money for building their own nations, instead of depositing it in US and European banks. They need also to give up their Anglophylic and Francophylic feelings (this is in particular essential for former colonies).
    Either they can make the Western countries to act on equal terms, or they must further suffer retaliations, militarily (such as by Nato) and economically (such as suctions imposed through the UN).
    Mahnaz Kazemi, Montreal, Canada

    It seems to me as a concept the UN is increasingly becoming similar with communism. On paper the idea seems really good but in practice it is hard to implement. There is greed and egoism every where, in the UN office and on every member country. Every member is looking at its own interest and as always the big fishes are the stars. Communism also had the same problems. So the sooner the organisation is dead the better, before the fall becomes harder.
    Dereje, LA, USA

    The UN is not perfect. This is a reason to improve it, not to abolish it. The alternative would be worse, unimpeded and pure power policy of single nation states, particularly the mightiest.
    Dr. Christoph Schmidt, Scotland/UK

    Why does it have to interfere all the time in lost causes? Let the countries resolve the issues themselves. Of course it will be messy, eventually they will succeed, or collapse and it will be determined by the people. Divert all the money that is wasted by the UN to charities.
    Chris, Germany


    It's a shame many have lost faith in the UN when many others trapped in poverty, deprivation and wars can still do with the little help it offers

    Sherry Brimah, London, UK
    It's a shame many have lost faith in the UN when many others trapped in poverty, deprivation and wars can still do with the little help it offers. Perhaps to the people in the Western World, it's time to call it a day, when it's just the beginning of the journey for Third World nations. The UN can be a positive force if the international political and economic structure could be reformed and power and decision-making roles evenly balanced between nations. Until this is done there isn't much Kofi Annan (well done, you're doing a great job) or even any of his successors can do to unite nations.
    Sherry Brimah, London, UK

    The UN has become a common place for World Leaders to shake hands, engage in a tête-à-tête on world affairs, sometimes in topics of mutual interests and agree to disagree on vital and sensitive matters affecting their peoples lives and go back to dig the other. Later they will cry hoarse to take up the issues to UN which has no control or power over any member country. Ultimately World peoples' Taxpayers moneys are squandered serving no purpose.
    Ragavachari Komandur, San Francisco USA


    Countries like East Timor need assistance and the UN more than any other organisation has the mandate, ability and experience to do this

    Jon, Dili, East Timor
    I am working for the UN peace keeping mission in East Timor. Its interesting that there are two groups of people who would like to see the UN abolished: one group usually from the US arguing that the UN is wasteful and diverts to much money to 'dubious' countries, and the other group represented by USA's 'rival' countries - for example some Islamic countries who claim the UN is a tool of the US. Given these conflicting opinions, I think the UN probably has the balance just right (although clearly there is some work needed to be done to done in addressing the issues above).
    In the mean time countries like East Timor (now the poorest country in the world, average income 10 US cents per day), need assistance and the UN more than any other organisation has the mandate, ability and experience to do this.
    Jon, Dili, East Timor

    UN is doing a great job in Kosovo. Kosovo people are grateful for that. UN need reforms, that's for sure. Germany and Japan has to be a permanent member of UN Security Council as soon as it is possible. Peacekeeping missions have to be more efficient.
    Amir, Prizren, Kosovo

    Is there any doubt any more. The UN exists to rubber stamp US foreign policy to give legitimacy to most outrageous excesses of that policy like bombing of Serbia or Iraq.
    Will Kaploun, Australia

    The UN is so bloated with greed and self-important nobodies. There is no wonder some major players don't pay their share. Forget about some kind of Sovereign right the majority member states shout about, most of them contribute nothing in way of world-wide fraternity, because of the latter countries led by egocentrics, the UN has become a tedious joke.
    Harry, Tokyo, Japan


    The great need of the world is leadership, that can bring the people of the world together to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and unemployment

    Prof. MNR Udrabasavaraj, Singapore
    The great need of the world is leadership, that can bring the people of the world together to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and bring human security through education, employment and energising all the people of the world to realise their unique potentialities. We need a new model of leadership and growth that can change the world for better.
    Prof. MNR Udrabasavaraj, Singapore

    If the UN is but a "tool" for the "west", then it's a useless tool. It's embarrassing ineffectiveness is a result of unrealistic expectations as to how it should operate. It should function as an international governmental meeting place, not as a concentrated authority in it's own right. This is the only way to avoid the recent harmful transgressions it has been responsible for against the concept of national sovereignty.
    Michael Katter, USA

    The only thing the UN does well is waste the money of United States taxpayers.
    Michael, USA

    The best organisational structure for rapid response to an emergency, or critical situation is a hierarchy. The UN is a network of nations, which makes organisational communications more balanced and considered but is very sluggish to respond. The UN is an unsuitable organisation to be making military actions, but is better used as a global forum, where different countries can broadcast their different views and problems ... just like a computer bulletin board or news group. For a military organisation to be sponsored by the UN, it needs a decisive charter that is unanimously agreed on so that the organisation can respond quickly in a known way ... This may be an impossible task, as it is never really possible to forecast events reliably and accurately.
    John K, Melbourne, Australia


    The UN is supposed to represent and assist the countries of the world and certainly no decision should be made on the whim of just a couple of countries

    Evan Hynd, Australia
    While the UN may have good intentions, the process of taking action is often held up by the interests of the larger and more influential countries. The UN is supposed to represent and assist the countries of the world and certainly no decision should be made on the whim of just a couple of countries. Passing resolutions, for example, should be based on a more democratically styled arrangement and the right to veto should be abolished. In addition the UN should be prepared to take aggressive stands against atrocities that are being committed around the world. They should not be afraid to make a stand against tyranny and to use force to back themselves if necessary.
    Evan Hynd, Australia

    In spite of all the criticism and invective the UN plays a vital role. Who else eliminated smallpox? Out of all the reforms that I would advocate, the one that would transform the UN, would be that any country that had not paid its fees, could not vote. The USA withholds its fees so that it can bully the UN for its own selfish ends as usual. Last time I checked, the USA was responsible for 84% of the total UN debt - even countries as poor as Mozambique had paid, but not the richest country in the world.
    Dave Pearce, England

    The UN is the most important institution in the world. Each nation should give up a part of it's sovereignty to the UN and it should be a democratic body. It should be able to hold, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Cabinets, and Royal Families to account for their behaviour before all the other countries and have true sanction over them. Rather than waste so much time and money on institutions like the EU, the world should give more time and care to the UN
    Tim Coates, London

    The United Nations has lost the plot. It is not a forum for nations united for mutual benefit, but part of a game plan for its most influential nations.
    Colin Sky Godfrey, New Zealand

    Any organisation such as the UN will not flourish or be acceptable to the majority of the inhabitants of this planet as long as it serves the whims and desires of powerful western governments and doesn't implement and apply its resolutions on merit, but rather in the interests of the (powerful) few.
    Ishaq, UK


    We have lost sight of the biggest contributions made by the UN

    David Chong
    There are too many negative points raised about UN. True, in political terms, the UN has seen its fair share of failures, but it must be remembered that in the early years, the UN was very successful e.g. The Korean War, Congo and the Suez. We have lost sight of the biggest contributions made by the UN. In health, we are eradicating some major diseases and UNCHR has helped a lot of refugees like the boat people from Vietnam in the 70s and 80s.
    David Chong


    It seems to me that the UN practises band-aid politics

    Name Here
    Unfortunately it seems to me that the UN practises band-aid politics, or symptomatic resolutions. Its flaw is its inability, or lack of want to act until a situation has got completely out of hand. I think the UN delegates spend more time at dinner parties and in the company of escorts than they do discussing very pressing world issues.
    Earl Holoway, US

    I am a former employee of the UN. I was a member of an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Assistance Mission (TAM) to the Saudia Arabian Presidency of Civil Aviation. ICAO is an agency of the UN Development Program. International Civil Avaiation has flourished and safe international flights to many parts of the world are possible, in my opinion, because of the UN.
    David S. Penney, USA


    Having worked for the UN for 20 years - I finally left in disgust - I can't agree more with those who have criticised the phenomenal waste, corruption and inefficiency of UN bureaucracy

    Marjorie, France
    Having worked for the UN for 20 years - I finally left in disgust - I can't agree more with those who have criticised the phenomenal waste, corruption and inefficiency of the UN bureaucracy, which is anything but a meritocracy. It's absolutely true that most people who volunteer for UN peace-keeping missions base their decision on the amount of extra money they are going to get. They have no knowledge of or interest in the country concerned. I have personal experience of a high-level official who had been designated to head a mission being unable to find the country he was being sent to on the map.
    marjorie, Aix-en-Provence, France

    Why should economic and military power alone be the criteria for influencing the UN decisions? Why not people power? Why isn't the voting power of the countries weighted in proportion to their population?
    Mohansingh, India

    Your comments during the programme


    Without co-operation, the UN will only scratch the surface of the world's problems.

    Mick Boon, Australia
    The UN is good in concept, and often has the right intent and motivation, but when it comes down to it, the organisation does not wield an absolute power. Changes need to be made so that the member states should make a commitment to achieving appropriate levels of health, education, labour practices and human rights, and be held to these commitments as a condition of membership. Otherwise the UN will remain as a toothless tiger, only making recommendations, but not making any changes. Without co-operation, the UN will only scratch the surface of the world's problems.
    Mick Boon, Australia


    I agree with the principles of the UN, but I disagree with the total waste of money that occurs within

    Alex Meyer, Hong Kong
    I flew for a company contracted to the United Nations in Angola during 1995 and 1996. I must tell you I was very disappointed with the calibre of person employed by the UN, whom I met during my time in Angola. Everyone was there purely for the money, of which ridiculous amounts were wasted on a daily basis. I flew a bag of bananas between two towns, Urge and Mélange, a flying time of 1 hour, for a team of UN monitors, on one occasion. Having socialised on many occasions with the UN staff, I came away with the impression of Nepotism, back-stabbing and a generally unsavory group of "losers", earning disgusting amounts of money for doing basically nothing, except trying to look very important. I agree with the principles of the UN, but I disagree with the total waste of money that occurs within.
    Alex Meyer, Hong Kong


    Their presence in many parts of the world makes it a better place

    John Barrington, Johannesburg, R of SA
    I mostly support and admire the actions of the UN. It would be nice if they could be more effective but even hampered as they are by the many conflicting interests and opinions which must influence the UN, their presence in many parts of the world makes the world a better place than if there was no presence.
    John Barrington Johannesburg, R of SA

    The United Nations is certainly wasteful in my judgement. For example, in Norway, employees of the organisation, including such staff as an assistant librarian, were some years ago given a gratis junket tour of an East African country for up to two weeks without this having any professional function for the benefit of that country.
    Robert Priddy, Norway


    The UN is an American puppet. Disband it!

    Colin Gaunt, Bristol, UK
    Is Lawrence Budd of Colorado joking? As well as being arrogant enough to assume he can talk for 250 million Americans he is completely wrong. The UN is an American puppet. Disband it! And put a organisation together that has a genuine and unbiased attitude.
    Colin Gaunt, Bristol, UK

    I suggest that the UN should welcome Taiwan as a member. Taiwan has a defined population, defined territory, a democratic government and the power to enter into law with other countries. If Taiwan got into the UN, it could do a lot for it.
    lloyd Fan, Australia

    The UN should be an indispensable force, building and if need be, enforcing peace in many parts of the world. From my experience - as a reporter - with its peace-keeping work in Angola and Mozambique, I have concluded that the UN should get rid of three syndromes: Its unwieldy and absolutely stifling bureaucracy, its self-delusional nature and the fact that it is, unfortunately, the hostage of the five nations that among them dominate the Security Council and - incidentally or not? - sell most of the arms in the world.
    Bram Posthumus, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Those countries clamouring for permanent places at the security council should remember this position comes with responsibilities which cannot be left to any unstable third world state. Secondly, because most permanent members of the security council were the victors of the Second World War and mostly European, it is time the permanent membership reflected today's world situation.
    Mike


    I would be happy to see the UN dissolved

    Laurence Budd, Colorado, USA
    I believe I speak for the average working American when I say that we feel the UN has become very ineffective. Even minor disputes between nations are seldom resolved by the UN. Worse, we are given the impression that many nations see the UN as a pipeline for money and support from the USA. I would be happy to see the UN dissolved.
    Laurence Budd, Colorado, USA

    There will always be a need for the UN in the world, but a much more efficient, refined and decisive one. Whether people like it or not, it is painfully obvious that many developing countries are incapable of running their own economies and are therefore reduced to mass corruption, abuse of power, with displays of total lack of regard for the lives of their own populations. It's not the fault of the UN that these events are so common place, but these events do highlight why the UN is needed.
    Russell, Hong Kong

    The UN's emphasis on "sending in the troops" is unfortunate since it supports the idea that military troops can actually solve these problems. There should be much more discussion on the issue how CIVILIAN peace-keeping and peace-building strategies could in fact support the peaceful settlement of conflicts and the reconstruction of communities. And of course such civilian activities on a community or societal level need clear mandates, structural and financial support and a clear middle or long term commitment.
    Denis Dressel, Berlin

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    The United Nations, whatever its limitations, is one of the few significant forums in which smaller and particularly poorer nations can plead their interests versus the more typical domination of the wealthy nations.
    Jeff Saviano, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA


    The UN is a big organisation that is completely useless and absolutely corrupted.

    Sasha, Yemen
    The UN is a big organisation that is completely useless and absolutely corrupted. There is nothing that they have done in this world that counts for anything, but destruction.
    Sasha, Yemen


    While the world turns there will always be injustice the important thing is not to stop trying to prevent it.

    Sarah, England
    While the world turns there will always be injustice the important thing is not to stop trying to prevent it.
    Sarah, England

    The UN will only be taken seriously if it identifies a role of which it is capable as an unbiased world power for the benefit of mankind, and restricts itself to that role while performing the duties of the role to the full. The problem is to define the role, mankind, the good of mankind and the capabilities of the UN. Without such definition and lack of bias the operations of the organisation are bound to be chaotic.
    James Bruce REID, Aberdeen, Scotland

    Every institution has its short-comings as no man is infallible. The UN's main short-coming is a veto power that is inconsistent with equality.
    Lucky, Okayama Japan


    The body has lost its legitimacy and should be dismantled

    Syed Mansur Hashim, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    It is a pity to see an organisation such as the UN be at the beck and call of USA. I believe that the body has lost its legitimacy and should be dismantled.
    Syed Mansur Hashim, Bangladesh

    The UN is a racist driven institution which does not reflect the realities of the new millennium.
    Kebby Mainga, Zambia

    For the UN to be truly effective, the Security Council requires a major overhaul. The concept of permanent membership and VETO power should be removed from the council, and the number of members should be increased. Furthermore, all member nations should work towards the implementation of all resolutions, not just some of them. Only when these changes are made can the UN re-establish its credability.
    Hosam Badr, Toronto, Canada


    Can anyone honestly remember a single success that can be accredited to this outdated organisation?

    Alex, , Scotland
    I believe that the United Nations should be abolished, as quite basically it's only function is to serve as a mouthpiece for the USA. Secondly, as so many other contributors have already mentioned - Can anyone honestly remember a single success that can be accredited to this outdated organisation? After ten years of UN imposed sanctions, Saddam Hussein is still in power in Iraq - Need I say more?
    Alex, Glasgow, Scotland

    The UN is NOT a democratic organisation. Whenever a majority wants to put something on the agenda there is always a veto by one of the permanent members. Therefore many issues are not discussed and many conflicts go on without any hope of intervention. One bloodchilling example: For the last 20 months there has been ethnic cleansing going on in Indonesia, on the Moluccan islands, resulting in tens of thousands casualties, half a million refugees, villages completely destroyed. Many plead for international intervention, but the Indonesian government refuses entry to any foreign forces. Myself and others are trying to get Maluku on the UN agenda but there is no chance of that, as China and/or Russia will veto it. So, the lives of millions of people are in danger and the whole world just sits back! If it was not so tragic, I would have a big laugh at the UN. It is a comedy without a happy end.
    Arie Drentje, Wageningen, Netherlands


    It is crystal clear that the UN is a tool of the west - serving rich countries by manipulating the policies and resources of poor countries.

    Name Here
    It is crystal clear that the UN is a tool of the west - serving rich countries by manipulating the policies and resources of poor countries. Poorer nations will benefit if we dissolve UN, IMF and World Bank.
    Tahir Jamil, USA

    The UN has been playing the role of an American agent since 1946. It has become a useless organisation for small/weak nations and should be abolished.
    Salman, Karachi,Pakistan

    The United Nations cannot be a world policeman. Rephrasing Rousseau, I'd say: the world gendarme would work if he were a.) perfect, and b.) immortal. Unfortunately, no single nation or commonwealth is unbiased and doesn't last forever to perform the functions we attribute to the UN and which NATO tries to perform now. But we must appreciate its achievements: universally accepted Declaration of Human Rights and overall respect to the International Community. The UN has fared much better than the League of Nations.
    Andrej, Russia


    Despite its shortcomings, the U.N. is still the best bet for humanity

    Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India
    Despite its shortcomings, the U.N. is still the best bet for humanity, not just to merely listen patiently to arguments and counter-arguments on any political issue between two or more member States, but more so to fight graver issues like poverty, AIDS, the threat of environmental disaster and, last but not the least, to promote democracy at the global level.
    Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India

    The money spent on the UN peace-keeping force should be spent on refugees who don't have food, clothing and shelter. It would have given the UN a good name instead of humiliation from the smallest fighting force in the world. The UN's whole theory for peace is wrong. Peace only comes peacefully not forcefully.
    Olatayo During, Dallas

    So, what's the alternative the UN? Better the devil you know I think. Keep countries in a forum where they can talk and sort out their differences. They have made mistakes and need to cut red tape, but they have also saved lives. Give them credit where it is due.
    Phil W, Swindon, UK


    What is the point of making laws and regulations that the countries don't have to follow?

    Vivien Cooksley, Cyprus
    The UN has been making resolutions and decisions about Cyprus for a quarter of a century. Since the invasion of northern Cyprus by Turkey in 1974 the UN has repeatedly called for the occupation powers to leave the island. Turkey just ignores these decisions and the UN cannot or will not implement these decisions. What is the point of making laws and regulations that the countries don't have to follow?
    Vivien Cooksley, Cyprus

    The theoretical basis for forming the United Nations made sense, and the UN's goals are noble. But in practise, with the way the veto and the Security Council work, things aren't fair. You have a handful of countries making world decisions. And the Security Council seems to ignore its own resolutions when it's convenient, and use them as a justification to use military force when they want to. I think if there was some more democratic way of decision-making, the UN is definitely worth saving.
    Fermeen Fazal, Houston, Texas, USA


    The U.N. is a racist driven institution which does not represent the realities of the new millennium

    Kebby Mainga, Zambia
    1.The U.N. is a racist driven institution which does not represent the realities of the new millennium. It is always slow and unwilling when it comes to sorting out Africa's problems. 2.Its set up is no better than the structure set up by Saddam in Iraq or Castro in Cuba. Do away with the veto and the security council. 3.Notwithstanding this we can reform it to meet today's challenges like robust peace keeping.
    Kebby Mainga, Zambia

    The United Nations is as necessary as God is to Believers. We have different nations exploiting and using the United Nations in different ways just as different faiths use religion. We also have the dominant powers in both. Our focus should be on relations between the different components of the United nations and how we perceive the source of conflict and the best way to end the same
    Rita Erne, Dar es Salaam Tanzania

    Can anybody please tell me what dispute has ever been solved solely by the UN itself, i.e. a decision made by all the countries collectively and not just by the orders of the United States?
    Rima Hyder, London, U.K.


    The UN has become a meeting of cliches to rattle forgettable speeches and promises of fine things

    Sunhee Oh, South Korea
    The UN is the largest assembly by far of world leaders. Unfortunately, it has become rather a meeting of cliches to rattle forgettable speeches and promises of fine things that will soon be forgotten. I also have serious doubts of its original role of maintaining peace and promoting global humanism which seems at the moment dominated by only a few countries who have the economic power. I think the U.N. has to do some waking up and face the fact that decades of littered pledges and declarations will be worthier if it really results in changing the people's lives, too.
    Sunhee Oh, South Korea

    The UN is the greatest creation to impose control upon the average world citizen by the hegemonists who run the globe.
    Stephen B, US

    The United Nations is one of the world's essential tools for the survival of human beings and their planet: The beginnings of a world government which is a confederation of nations who do not surrender their identity, but do surrender a critical aspect of their state power: the right to behave aggressively against other nations, or their own defenceless populations. We, the U.S., have been irresponsible members of the U.N., complaining about its faults while starving it for the dues we owe it. But sooner or later we will be chastened, like all imperial nations in history. Then we will see clearly that, as Bertrand Russell pointed in 1959, all the nations of the world will have to "live together, or probably die together."
    Louis Massano, New Jersey, U.S.A.

    I wish the UN to be abolished, for simple reason that in the nature of its organization it is not designed to protect the interests of the weak nations. Dealing with Britain, France, and US is a predicament which brings more impoverishment to those nations rather than growth and stability. The governments of the three nations mentioned are very well versed in tricks, dishonesty, and blackmailing. Through the UN they still target the weak nations, but in much cleverer way to maintain their own interests.
    Dr. Mirabotalib Kazemie, Montreal, Canada


    . We are no longer going to kill innocent people for Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan

    Rebecca, Phoenix, Az
    Hopefully the U.S. will soon be out of the mess. We're going to take care of our own homelessness, poverty, and cultural differences before we become a third world country. Americans do not want to fight religious wars. We are no longer going to kill innocent people for Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan. Our American soldiers will never be tried by foreign governments or the U.N.
    Rebecca, Phoenix, Az

    This step taken by the UN is a start for them to form a world government. United States citizens should be made aware that we are about to lose our rights if our leaders agree with this. Our constitution and laws and rights will be given away. Lets remain a free and independent people.
    Ernest, Frankfort, Me USA

    So what do these people who don't see the value of the U.N. suggest then? What alternative do we have?
    Julie Bouvier, Ottawa, Canada

    The UN is a collection of the wealthy, corrupt elite of the world. Despite the fact that most of the countries from which they come are violent, corrupt, and cruel, we are now supposed to accept these "leaders" as having the formula for governing a whole world. If we, as people, follow along that path we deserve the gross failure of which we can be assured.
    Theron Pogue, San Jose, USA


    For those who want to abolish UN: would the world become better place to live without UN?

    Harry Zhang, Bradford, MA, US
    The UN is not perfect. It has never been. But we should be pleased that now all 180+ countries can sit together to at least "discuss" things, rather than having wars. For those who want to abolish UN: would the world become better place to live without UN?
    Harry Zhang, Bradford, MA, US

    Until the UN listens to all nations and their peoples regardless of their financial or military power, world peace and development for which the UN stands for ,will be unattainable. Allow the poor and the rich to speak their minds freely and the result will be a fertile ground to build world peace.
    Musa Kora, Banjul,The Gambia

    Of course UN matters. It's a business. What do you think, these people that make good money should just go away? HA!
    Bob Jackson, USA

    I agree the UN should have its own army, air-force and navy for intervention. I also think it might be good if the UN was used in the future to govern all the countries of the world, with all countries pooling their wealth and resources and sharing them out equally according to need.
    Anthony, London,UK

    The UN guards and symbolises the hope of humanity for a better future. The UN needs much reform to make it more effective but it's goals-a united and peaceful world where humanity can progress- remain the same. A neutral, effective organisation which acts without the domination of single countries and which enforces international democracy is more needed now in the 21st Century than ever more and this need will not disappear.
    Benj'min Mossop, London, UK

    To say that the world "plunged into war" as a result of the closing of the League of Nations is as asinine as saying that WWII was caused by Lindberg's transatlantic flight. Yes, the war followed that flight, but that hardly proves the flight caused the war, to put it mildly. If the UN were to shut down, it is far from 'inevitable' that a war would break out. The UN was meant for a platform, a meeting place. It was not intended to be a world governing body. If there are any attempts to make it so, that WILL lead to a war. I promise you that.
    Diana Anderson, Kansas City, MO, USA


    The UN is a place of good intentions but little action

    Casey, USA
    The UN is a place of good intentions but little action. When action does take place it's either too little or too late. Unfortunately there are too many bureaucrats taking up seats which usually means they don't look out for what's best for the world. Rather, they look out for what's best for themselves. This type of formula will always add up to failure.
    Casey, USA

    In June, I visited a small Balkan country that has an extensive UN presence. The local people 'felt safe' with the UN around as they felt threatened by the unrest and recent war in the neighbouring country. While travelling around I noticed 4x4 UN vehicles parked outside the most expensive hotel in the country. Out of curiosity I went in the hotel to find out the cost of a room. It was just under £200 per night. After speaking to the local people I discovered that the most expensive restaurants in the capital city are only visited by UN staff because they are the only ones that can afford it. Out of curiosity I did go to a few of these restaurants and saw it for myself. Eating out was as expensive as London. It seems like the UN staff know how to make most of it while on 'duty' especially when someone else is paying. I actually felt embarrassed when I saw the way the UN staff were spending the taxpayers money (including mine!).
    D Sima, Bristol, UK

    The UN should not have any military authority, it should just be a talking shop.
    Richard Dale, Horsham, UK

    Many people seem to be calling for the abolition of the UN but when the League of Nations collapsed the world was plunged into war. The abolition of the UN would surely plunge the world into another dark age.
    Alex Trott, England

    The UN cannot solve all the problems of the world, in all the countries in the world. We often see how Security Council Members entrust it with huge missions, but do not provide it with the legal, political, and financial resources it needs to fulfil its mandates. We need the UN to promote development, to foster friendly relations among nations and to provide its mediation resources in case of conflict.
    Fernando Gonzalez Saiffe, Mexico City

    I think the UN goes in the disguise of peacekeeper but upon arrival in the country concerned it takes over and rules like it owns the place.
    Adam, Jerusalem

    As long as those without power are taken advantage of, the world will need a force to stand up for them.
    Peter Frost, Cape Town, South Africa


    The UN lacks power, funds and organisation

    Sally Bay, New York, USA

    The UN is just face of a powerless organisation that is operated under the strict US orders. We hear about diplomats visiting the UN having troubles at JFK airport from the US immigrations simply because their countries oppose the US policies or the US government calls them unfriendly countries. The UN lacks power, funds and organisation.
    Sally Bay, New York, USA

    The UN may not be perfect and it may not always be effective, but at least there is one organisation in the world that tries to solve problems in the world today. Establishing a UN army could improve efficiency and response times because there would be one command structure and all personnel would be identically trained, not like the current mix of differently trained troops and different equipment.
    Jonathan D, Nottingham, England

    It looks like the UN is failing - just like its predecessor, the League of Nations, did in the 1930s. In any case, I think the UN is just an undemocratic body that is out of touch with normal people.
    Matt, UK

    How can we have a unified body of countries when one and all are following their own political agendas?
    Andrew Cleator, Isle of Man

    The UN was created to prevent wars and give some level of global stability. However since its inception there have been many wars and much instability all over the world. Even recently in Europe (Yugoslavia), Africa (Congo), Asia (India-Pakistan, Indonesia) and even in South America. In most cases the leading Nations do deals with individual nations that side line the UN like in the Gulf war or the UN does not have resource or will to sort be able to solve problems like in Bosnia or Rwanda. With this track record it may as well be abolished and the nations can continue on their own diplomatic tracks with each other. At least that way the countries in the still unelected Security C ouncil will not be able to bully the rest of the world so much.
    Abdel Kareem, Pakistan


    Kofi Annan's efforts to reform the UN should be supported

    JAB, Luanda, Angola

    The UN is imperfect, but like Winston Churchill's democracy, all the alternatives are worse. But the UN as an organisation does not deserve all the blame for the problems that beset it. The UN is a function of the international community: its failures are as much due to lack of political will on behalf of member states. Kofi Annan's efforts to reform the UN should be supported, but member states - and their citizens - should remember that they are responsible for the imperfect mandates and other decisions handed down by UN's bodies.
    JAB, Luanda, Angola

    The UN is not an independent actor, it never has been. It is a creation of states, with the USA being the most powerful. It was designated with other conflicts in mind than the ones it is faced with today, thus it has to adapt.
    Anne Carr, Norway


    Each and all of us must take the responsibility for the problems in this world

    Mark Stone, San Francisco, USA

    While the UN's lack of true leadership and money problems have plagued its reputation, it still retains one vital power that cannot be marred by the actions of poor politicians: it is a symbol of peace. A peace that sometimes has troubles because of the many opinions and too many egos in the way. But to those of us who hunger for a world of peace, where one person is not afraid to defend a stranger on the street, it is a standard. The UN is the idea that we, each and all of us, must take the responsibility for the problems in this world.
    Mark Stone, San Francisco, USA


    So much for UNITED Nations

    Ben, Eindhoven, Netherlands

    Much of the UN's ineffectiveness can be blamed on a lack of commitment from its various members as well as a "what's in it for us" mentality. If an individual member gains little from UN action, chances are it won't contribute at all. So much for UNITED Nations.
    Ben, Eindhoven, Netherlands

    I don't think that the UN should be scrapped. It's just got a problem. A very big problem! Western nations like the US and its allies only intervene in conflicts that serve their 'national interests'. Just have a look at Rwanda. Nearly a million Tutsi's were massacred. The UN was 'powerless' to stop it. It only shows incompetence and selfishness.
    Balraj S, Melbourne, Australia

    The UN specialist agencies such as WHO, the Postal Union and ICAO etc do a fine job but otherwise the UN is a dinosaur and an expensive talking shop. The peacekeeping operations only work if the US is involved so unless a true International Army can be developed then we should abolish the UN.
    G.S.Brown, Auckland New Zealand

    The United Nations is a novel concept, but in reality it is dominated by the wishes of the main powers. Getting rid of the veto powers will allow the United Nations to succeed in truly doing what it is theoretically supposed to achieve, however, it will be near impossible to wrestle away the dangerous and unfair toy (veto) that the 'select' nations hold.
    Michel Khoury, Palestinian in USA

    The UN today has become more of an ideal than a realistic matter. Sadly, the disputes within the system prevent the UN's aims being achieved. If we were to participate in the discontinuation of the United Nations then perhaps a more uniform and co-operative service can be put back in its place.
    Courtney Ayre, Brisbane, Australia


    The UN is a tool of a western countries

    Rai S. Regawa, Bali, Indonesia

    The UN is a tool of a western countries used to achieve their means. The countries sitting in the Security Council enjoy a never ending membership and some of them don't even pay their membership. So where is this organisation going and what good it can do? The UN is far from being unbiased. It needs serious re-organisation and steps toward efficiency have to be made since it is spending fortune but not doing much good anyway. Above all the veto has to be abolished. After that maybe, just maybe, the UN can become of some use to world nations.
    Rai S. Regawa, Bali, Indonesia


    It's time to change!

    Kaisheng Wang, Taipei, Taiwan

    Certainly the UN needs some kinds of reform since the organisation is the legacy of WWII. The privileges such as permanent Security Council membership and veto should only belong to a few countries. Taiwan as an independent state, conceived in liberty and democracy, has to apply for membership in the UN. But our effort were in vain because China would reject the proposal despite the rights of Taiwanese. Members other than 5 world powers in this organisation, in my opinion, don't have equal rights as they were promised. The UN has provided a place to promote dialogues that could have ceased conflicts and disputes. Unfortunately people only see little effects that the UN paid in maintaining global peace. It's time to change!
    Kaisheng Wang, Taipei, Taiwan

    I think the UN has lost its powers to keep peace in the world. Its decisions are dominated by superpowers, unless and untill UN get it itself out of the influential pressures of superpower countries and find its independent status its difficult that UN can solve any issue of the world.
    Saima, Pakistan


    I hope that the summit currently underway succeeds in its major aims

    Miland Joshi, UK
    The UN was founded on a high ideal. I have seen the memorial plaque in the Muir Woods, north of San Francisco where the idea was dreamed up after the Second World War. That ideal is worth preserving, but it is very difficult with national self-interests as strong as they are. I hope that the summit currently underway succeeds in its major aims, else the prospects for world peace may be worsened.
    Miland Joshi, UK

    A democratically elected federal United Nations Organisation, composed of autonomous political units, shorn of sovereignty, but bound together by the principle of subsidiary is a long-term objective worthy of striving for.
    Mohansingh, India

    Where the organisation has failed, it has mainly been due to inadequate funding or a lack of political resolve from larger nations. More of both, and it might become what it always should have been - an example of what humankind can achieve if it puts its mind to it.
    Tom Wilkinson, London, UK

    The United Nations is not being paid enough attention by members of NATO. It is a shame as this body is far more reasonable than for the world to be in the threat of war after war after war. If, the West wants peace it should be willing to support the UN.
    Dave Adams, St. Louis/USA

    The UN is simply an example of what I call "invisible hand" benefits. Although the powers behind the organisation may not always work with the highest moral standards in mind, the very fact of their existence benefits the lower reaches of society, their stated remit.
    Adam Smith, London, England

    The UN is a failed, bankrupt, socialist, utopian dream gone awry. Can anyone name one UN success?
    Joe Giardina, USA


    The UN was and is a good idea but it lacks power, authority and money

    Sue, Germany
    The UN was and is a good idea but it lacks power, authority and money. It should re-engineer itself to become more efficient and organised. Getting rid of the veto enjoyed by the "Superpowers" is a step in this direction. I mean, doesn't it believe in democracy?
    Sue, Germany

    We can't afford to abandon the UN. If the UN ceased to exist, who would wring their hands when faced with the atrocities committed by Slobodan Milosevic and his ilk?
    Tanya Smithson, England

    In my opinion, the UN are there to serve the agenda of the West. So called 'peace-keeping' is conducted on a very selective basis and the double standards of deployment are crystal clear.
    Mustafa, Reading, UK

    UK peacekeeping operations have failed the people that they have been intended to protect. In many instances it is not peacekeeping that is required but peace enforcement. What is the point of deploying an observer force if hostilities are raging around them and they are prevented from intervening or do not have the capabilities to do so?
    Mark Green, London, UK

    Sadly, the UN is well past its sell-by-date and needs abolishing at once. Its history of intervention in the last decade was pitiful and when it did intervene, the operations usually deteriorated into farce. The UN staff that remain today can be seen lording it up in spanking new 4x4's, eating in the best restaurants and playing golf at extreme expense on the only course. All this is paid by us, the world taxpayer, and might be more acceptable if we could see a reduction in poverty and suffering. Most UN officials are driven by private power and wealth agendas and should be stripped of rank.
    James Whitwell, UK

    Yes, the UN does need reform. I was involved with parts of the UN in the early 90s and saw the problems at first hand. But it is the member states that cause most of the problems, with their often-conflicting demands. If the US paid up its millions of pounds of arrears, the UN might be able to afford to do some of the things that are asked of it. And if we and France would accept that we are not world class powers anymore and gave up our Security Council seats, then some proper reform of that body, perhaps the UN's most important entity, would at last be possible.
    Martin Johnson, London, UK


    This costly organisation shouldn't be reshaped - it should simply be scrapped

    Paul R, UK
    The UN is completely incompetent, has caused many more problems than it was meant to solve, and its decisions are frequently ignored. This costly organisation shouldn't be reshaped - it should simply be scrapped.
    Paul R, UK

    As an ex-soldier and an ex UN official, I find the prospect of a UN army deeply unsettling. The UN is staggeringly expensive and inefficient, and a significant proportion of its staff is only interested in the acquisition of quite breathtaking salaries and allowances. Only the EU seems capable of eclipsing the UN in these respects. We already have an organisation, admittedly lacking in many respects, that can fulfil this role - NATO. Its original remit is restrictive but it can be widened and it is already demonstrating in Kosovo that it is effective and can integrate countries outside the alliance.
    David Taylor, Hereford, UK

    Perhaps it should be renamed the Disunited Nations as its record speaks for itself.
    Stephen White, Hull, East Yorkshire

    The 'true' power of the United Nations should be more representative of all member states and not just that held by the Security Council as is the case now. Either abolish the Security Council totally, remove the veto vote or include more member nations in the Council - increasing the numbers to 8/9 and introducing a 2/3 majority vote in place of the veto vote.
    Trudie Gunter, Swindon, UK

    Is it not better to have a humanitarian army free from the hindrance of national interests? Perhaps a UN Army could take a far more aggressive approach against those who commit crimes against humanity? It could also serve as a focal point for those who shake their heads while reading the morning paper, looking at the cruelties of the world while they say "something should be done about this".
    Roy McMichael, Chatham, UK


    The UN should be run with much less bureaucracy and personnel

    Mikko Toivonen, Finland

    UN operations should be based on efficiency in the future. With efficiency example we can take ex-South Africans being fully able to control mining area of Sierra Leone with 200 well trained and equipped "mercenaries" while UN cannot do it at all with 10,000 soldiers from developing countries. Generally the UN should be run with much less bureaucracy and personnel.
    Mikko Toivonen, Finland

    I think that the veto should be removed and resolutions passed based upon the number of votes, and not the unanimous agreement of the permanent members. The permanent members should also be widened in some way to include other nations.
    Hugh Gleaves, London, UK

    Given the "achievements" of the UN where it was really needed, I wonder if we wouldn't be better off if we just abandoned the whole thing.
    John B, London, England

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