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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. As an international organisation committed to global peace, has the UN been able to ensure international ethics? Illustrate. (250 words)

    22 Oct, 2021 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions

    Approach

    • Briefly introduce the commitments of the United Nations in the context of global peace.
    • Outline the points of failure in the establishment of international ethics by the United Nations.
    • Suggest a Way Forward.

    Introduction

    International ethics concerns with ethical obligations between countries. Issues like wars, state backed ethnic conflicts, terrorist attacks, nuclear arms proliferation etc. involve questions of international ethics e.g. whether a particular war is ‘just war’.

    The United Nations was established in 1945 to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and one of its main purposes is to maintain international peace. Yet on many occasions it has failed in its mission as well as in ensuring international ethics for establishing peace.

    Body

    • Reasons for failure of UN to build International ethics
      • Competing blocks: UNSC at present is too undemocratic and the 5 permanent members use their veto power to satisfy their own and allies interests without any ethical considerations e.g. in Syria competing blocks are fighting for territorial control.
      • Lack of reform in UNSC: The Security Council's membership and working methods reflect a bygone era. Though geopolitics has changed drastically, emerging nations are demanding more representative quota in UNSC which is important for enhancing its legitimacy. Greater sharing of power would help in reaching consensus on common issues quickly and democratically. It will also ensure condemnation of unethical actions without any favours or bias, thus creating a moral pressure on the perpetrating state.
      • Failure to invoke R2P: In 2005, the UN and its member states collectively sanctioned ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P), R2P’s core tenant decrees on every sovereign state an obligation to safeguard its inhabitants from mass atrocities, and the duty may fall to the wider international community. In Rohingya crisis, the UN failed to invoke R2P.
      • Failure to convince P-5 countries: UN ability to tackle peacekeeping challenges and thus protecting human rights depends on its capacity to persuade big powers to take the UN seriously. However, the UN has failed in this pursuit to build a case for International morality vis-à-vis hard national interest.

    Way Forward

    • Reforming UNSC: As former UN secretary general noted that “No reform of the UN would be complete without reform of the Security Council”. Therefore, equitable representation as well as expansion of the UNSC is the desired reform that India envisages.
      • However, this would be the most challenging aspect of UN reforms, as the most permanent five are generally opposed to strengthening the institution and use their power to stop any significant change.
    • Engaging With Other Multilateral Forums For UN Reforms: Possible solutions to reform UN finances can be establishing a ‘reserve fund’ or even a ‘world tax’.
      • Also, in order to make UNGA more effective, India can propose a bicameral parliamentary assembly framework for UNGA.
    • Balancing National Interest and Multilateralism: The primary objective of India’s present multilateralism should be to ensure its territorial integrity, especially at a time when China has adopted aggressive posture on the border.

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