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The United Nations is the most powerful and important international organisation in the world. It has significant influence over global affairs. The aim of the UN is to promote global peace and security. However, many criticise the UN and some highlight that it can actually do terrible wrongs. There are a few people who even believe the UN is a force for evil, but could this really be true?
The United Nations is not evil. Although there are legitimate criticisms of the UN, it cannot be said its action are malicious or wicked. The UN has done some things that are wrong, but the institution of the UN, and the people who work for it, cannot be described as evil.
Now we know the UN is not actually evil, let’s look at why not and address some of the main criticisms people have against the UN that make them think it could be a wicked organization.
Why the United Nations Isn’t Evil?
Before explaining why the United Nations is not an evil organization, we need to agree on the definition of evil. The Oxford Dictionary defines evil as…
‘a force that causes bad things to happen; morally bad behavior.’
There are many people who think the UN has done things that are wrong. There are also many who criticize how it is ran, funded and the people who are given power in the organisation. However, it cannot be said the UN is evil. Let’s take a quick look at why.
The objective of the United Nations is to work towards global peace and security. It does this by bringing nations together to resolve their disputes without resorting to conflict. It also runs specialist agencies which aim to improve different aspects of life around the world. The objective of the UN is definitely not malicious, and this is a major indicator that it is not an evil organization.
The United Nations is one of the largest and most important organisations in the world doing humanitarian and development work. Each year, the UN helps millions of people affected by crises, conflicts, and disasters. It also spends millions of dollars running projects to lift people out of poverty. This work highlights how the UN is far from a malicious organisation.
Promoting human rights means ensuring everyone in the world has knowledge and access to their inalienable rights. The UN does vital work in ensuring human rights are protected around the world. Although the United Nations has been criticised for giving prominence to regimes that commit human rights abuses, the huge amount of work the UN does to promote human rights shows it is not inherently evil.
The UN currently has 13 active peacekeeping missions. Peacekeeping missions are the UN deployment of armed forces from member states to ensure peace agreements, protect civilians and create the conditions for lasting resolutions to armed conflicts. UN Peacekeeping has been credited with ending several conflicts – showing that the UN does not have wicked intentions.
UNSECO is the United Nation’s cultural and education agency. It does vital work protecting cultural sites around the world and ensuring their legacy for future generations. UNESCO also funds vital research that helps us better understand the world and its history. This works shows how the UN is not evil in it’s aims and actually does a lot of important work.
UN agencies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization, Universal Postal Union. International Telecommunication Union, and International Maritime Organization do crucial work in coordinating global transport and communication. Put simply, this isn’t work an organisation with bad intentions would do. This work helps create more coordinated and efficient communications and movements globally and definitely isn’t the work of a wicked organisation.
Is the United Nations Ran by Wicked People?
So, we know now that the UN isn’t an evil organisation. However, what about the people who staff the United Nations. The organisation may not have evil aims or do evil things, but if the people who work there are wicked, it could still make the UN a terrible organisation.
People who work for the UN are generally not wicked. The UN has 37,000 staff member across 193 countries and these staff work tirelessly to improve human lives, end violence, and promote human rights. Although there are some bad people who have worked for the UN, and who have done terrible things, they are a tiny fraction of UN staff.
Let’s take a look at a few examples that show that although some bad people may work for the UN and be given influence by it, it doesn’t make the United Nations evil.
The United Nations has more than 100,000 personnel deployed as peacekeepers around the world. There have been instances where UN peacekeepers have been accused of serious misconduct, including sexual assaults and violence. However, this tiny minority does not detract from the achievements of all UN peacekeepers – some of whom have fought and died to bring peace to areas of conflict.
A commonly sighted example of the UN promoting bad people to positions of power is allowing countries with dictatorial regimes to sit on key UN Councils. Saudi Arabia – a country with a terrible human rights record, was nearly appointed chair of the UN’s Human Rights committee. This is definitely unfortunate, but it does not completely void the good work the UN does on key issues such as human rights.
Many people criticise the United Nations for giving too much influence to major world powers, such as the US, China and Russia. Often these countries use the UN to forward their own interests. The United Nations is definitely in need of reform to resolve this issue. However, it does make the UN an evil organisation.
United Nations Online Courses
If you want to learn more about the United Nations, and why the UN is not evil, we highly recommend the online course Global Diplomacy: The United Nations in the World offered by SOAS in London. We think it provides one of the best overviews of the UN and its role in the current global order. SOAS is also one of the top universities in the world for international relations and courses related to the UN.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) underpin all of the UN’s work. In order to fully understand the United Nations, and why it is not a wicked organisation, you need a basic understanding of the SDG. We think the online short course The Sustainable Development Goals – A Global, Transdisciplinary Vision For The Future offered by the University of Copenhagen is one of the best introductions to the SDG.
The University of Leiden in the Netherlands offers an online short course on The Changing Global Order. It includes a specific look at how shifting international power dynamics are affecting the current global system and the United Nations. For those wanting to understand the challenges the UN faces, this online course is a must.
Has the UN Ever Done Anything Evil?
Although the United Nations is definitely not evil, it would not be correct to say that the UN has never done anything wrong. We’ll take a quick look at few notable times the UN acted incorrectly and explain why these were wrong.
The Rwandan genocide took the lives of over one million people. The UN was highly criticized for failing to prevent the violence and for not bringing the perpetrators to justice. United Nations peacekeeping forces in the country proved to be weak and ineffective. Although criticism of the UN over its role in the Rwandan genocide are mostly correct, its failings could not really be described as evil acts.
In 1995, Serbian forces massacred 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys who were officially under UN protection. The Srebrenica massacre is generally agreed to be one of the UN’s biggest failings. Questions have been raised as to whether the UN’s failure to protect civilians ultimately made it culpable in the massacre. However, UN forces did not kill anyone, or purposely allow the massacre to happen, they only failed to prevent it. It could be argued the UN’s action at Srebrenica were evil, but this is open to debate.
Israel has occupied the Palestinian territory of the West Bank since 1967 – in clear violation of UN resolutions and international law. Some criticize the UN for giving too much attention to the UN-Palestine conflict and for having an anti-Israeli bias. However, the UN has continuously been unable to force Israel to withdrawal from Palestinian land and end its blockade of Gaza. It could not be said that the UN’s role in the Israel-Palestine conflict is evil, but it is controversial.
In 1975, the Cambodian Communists seized power. Between 1975 and 1979, up to two million Cambodians were killed in what is widely considered a genocide. The UN failed to act on reports of mass killing in Cambodia. The deaths only stopped when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, toppling the regime of Pol Pot. The UN’s inaction over Cambodia was tragic, but it was not malicious. The UN also later established a mission in the country and oversaw its transition to democracy – showing the UN’s good intentions can result in positive impacts.
The Somali Civil War has raged since 1991, claiming up 500,000 lives and plunging the country into decades of poverty. It is also another example of the UN’s inaction and inability to resolve conflicts. With that said, the UN’s failures in Somalia are not evidence of its evil doings but highlight how the UN needs reform if it is to achieve its aim of achieving global peace and security.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq was hugely controversial. It’s impact on the country has been catastrophic. The UN failed to prevent the invasion and has been criticized for not holding America and it’s allies to account. But again, the UN’s actions were not malicious here. The UN’s failures over the Iraq invasion show that it can be ineffective but does not show it is wicked or evil.
Why Do Some People Think the UN Is Evil?
Really, there are not many people who actually think the United Nations is an evil organisation. There are legitimate criticisms of the UN, and we have gone over some of these, but as we’ve said they do not show the UN as being malicious, more ineffective and in need of reform.
With that said, there are a tiny number of people who do believe the UN is evil. Mostly, these people subscribe to baseless conspiracy theories about the United Nations. The most prominent one is the New World Order theory. Believers say the UN secretly aims to form a one world government and remove nation states, and that it will do this through nefarious means if necessary. There is absolutely no evidence for this and most people disregard conspiracy theories like this about the UN.
As the most prominent and important international organization in the world, it is right that the UN attracts attention, and criticism. The United Nations for sure has its weaknesses, but people who believe it is genuinely evil should be easily disregarded.
If you want to learn more about the United Nations, and why the UN is not evil, explore our list of the top UN online courses here.