Does the UN Still Matter?

The United Nations, with 192 member nations, has global authority to take action on problems ranging from climate change and famine to security matters. However, when corruption or problems emerge, such as former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein removing funds from the UN oil-for-food program, designed to protect ordinary Iraqis against international economic sanctions, many nations quickly blame the UN. The organization “is more an instrument of its member states than an independent actor in world politics,” according to Joseph Nye, Harvard University professor. Agreement among member and the willingness to commit troops to a cause lends the UN its strength. For example, a high point for the UN was when members joined to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991. Limiting the UN is its $20 billion budget, which funds peacekeeping forces and many specializing agencies. Many challenges require global cooperation: climate change, refugee populations, population control, poverty, epidemics and more. The UN is far from perfect, but as Nye concludes, without some global authority, the world would be a far more disorderly place. – YaleGlobal

Does the UN Still Matter?

Joseph S. Nye
Friday, July 27, 2007

Click here for the original article on Project Syndicate's website.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is a professor at Harvard and the author of “Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.”

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2007.