After the First World War, people felt the necessity of an international organisation charged with the task of maintaining global peace. Thus, the League of Nations was the outcome of that feeling, after the 1st Great War. But it was found that nations were not willing to give up the jungle; whenever there was opposition to the expansionist designs of any nation, it ignored the mandate of the League.
It was thought that a resurgent Germany and a financially powerful Japan would be an effective check on Soviet Russia. But the result of this selfish policy was the Second World War. At the close of this Second catastrophe within twenty years, the minds of men again turned to evoking a more effective world organization, to establish peace on the basis of mutual understanding and toleration.
This organization was planned at a Conference of Nations held at Dumbarton Oaks, U.S.A., and at another held a few months later at San Francisco. It was named the United Nations Organisation (UNO) and was inaugurated on October 24, 1945.
Membership has doubled since its inauguration. The present strength is 180. New members are admitted if the five sponsoring nations, USA, USSR, UK, France and China agree among themselves.
The Organisation works in matters relating to threat to security and peace through a Council of eleven members (now raised to fifteen), called the Security Council, in which the sponsoring nations have permanent seats, the others are non-permanent and elected for two years.
The Security Council has very substantial powers, even of directly intervening militarily to stop warfares, to police peace by stationing an army of UNO, by applying sanction against errant and defiant nations. It elects for five years a person for the office of the Secretary General (from a neutral nation); it recommends the acceptance of new members and expulsion of existing members, if required.
The primary object of this organization is to maintain international peace, to develop friendly relations among nations, to solve economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems, to promote respect for human rights and freedom. As war is caused mainly by the jealousies and rivalries among the bigger powers, its rules require unanimity among these powers in carrying out the policy.
This means that any of the five permanent members of the Security Council may veto (i.e. cancel) any step, if it disapproves it. Apart from its political aims, the Organisation has an ambitious plan for promoting the welfare of peoples, and for this it has several subsidiary bodies, among which the more important are the International Monetary Fund (INF), the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), as also the Atomic Commission.
These bodies may not have achieved any spectacular success but they have helped nations to come closer for common humanitarian purposes. The goodwill fostered thereby has been considerable. There is the Trusteeship Council requiring a nation in charge of a Trust territory or under-developed area to make an annual report to the Council of the progress in the country under its care. Another important organ is the international Court of Justice (at Hague) which decides over disagreements between nations about boundaries or interpretation of treaties.
But the UNO suffers from several grave defects which cause apprehensions for the future. In the first place, some of its leading members, like the USA have not appreciated change in world affairs, their policies remain authoritarian still.
The UNO, in the name of global peacekeeping organisation, has permitted nations to enter into defensive alliance, which may easily degenerate into offensive alliances. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and South Eastern Asiatic Treaty Organisation (SEATO) were formed in this way to encourage the setting up of Power Blocks that indulged in cold war for a long time. This went on till the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1993.
Now USA has emerged as a unipolar super power. USA has practically monopolised the power of the UNO and now make polices of world peace in the name of UNO authoratively. Iraq challenged this power for a time and is now completely in the grip of UNO i.e. USA by proxy.
Finally, the Big Powers have done their best to command the votes of the smaller nations in various ways, preventing them from acting with the independence that the Constitution of the world body contemplated. Of late, there has been a growing realisation, since the admission of many new members from Africa and Asia, that nations, particularly those which have newly attained nationhood, should be duly represented in the decisive bodies of the UNO.
India, since her independence, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the principles for which the UNO stands. Her contributions in this regard have been significant. She took the first opportunity to carry her dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir to the UNO and has loyally stood by her commitments in spite of the provocation she has received. She took the leading part in bringing about an armistice in Korea and in Indo-China. Her services have been praised by many countries. She played no mean part in helping to break through the hostility that had long separated the two-blocks. She has steadily refused to be drawn into any international political organization outside the UNO; she has upheld the cause of peace against much criticism and her policy of neutrality is the only policy that is consistent with genuine loyalty to the UNO.
As the leading force of the NAM (non-aligned countries), India has resisted many arbitrary moves of big powers. The way for the Geneva Conference of the leaders of the Great powers — the ‘Summit’ Conference, as it has been called — was paved and made smoothly by Pandit Nehru’s activity.
There are reasons to feel optimistic about the ultimate success of the United Nations Organization in fostering peace and goodwill among nations. Long fifty years have passed since the UNO was founded, and nations are coming nearer to each other and are better able to face the challenges before them.
It should be said to the credit of UNO that the third World War has been kept off so far by its efforts, though the big guns are not all silent. Skirmishes flare up here and there, not infrequently. Instead of deepening distrust and rancour, nations are developing a spirit of reasonableness and tolerance that is an auspicious augury for the future-The prompt intervention of the UNO in different international conflicts is a signal that mankind is at last coming to its senses.
The decision to explore the conditions for a stable peace is another welcome sign. For all these India should be made a permanent member of the Security Council in deference to the cause of peace. It is also imperative that the arbitrary veto power, enjoyed so far by five big powers, should be abolished in the interest of permanent global peace.