8 Reasons Why Some People Hate The United Nations

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The United Nations is the largest international organization in the world. Its objective is to maintain international peace and security by fostering cooperation between countries.

Every year the UN helps millions of people around the world through its humanitarian and development programmes. The UN also leads on many global challenges such as climate change and HIV/Aids. However, there are some people who are strongly opposed to the UN. But if the UN does good work, why do some people hate it so much?

They See The United Nations As Ineffective

A first reason why some people hate the United Nations is because they see it as ineffective. There are some legitimate criticisms of the UN and its failings.

There are those who feel that the United Nations is unable to achieve its mandate. The aim of the UN is to bring nations together to work towards global peace and security. People who dislike the United Nations often say that it is unable to stop many conflicts.

Those to criticise the UN and say it is ineffective have a number of examples they can point too. Some examples given of the UN’s lack of effectiveness include:

  • Failure to stop the 2003 US invasion or Iraq
  • Inability to stop the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and
  • Continuingly not being able to end the Israel-Palestine conflict
  • Failure to prevent the 2017 Rohingya genocide in Myanmar
  • Not doing enough to end the genocide in Darfur, from 2003 onwards

People who have a real hatred of the United Nations often feel passionate about failures such as these. They see the UN as having the power to save lives and stop atrocities, but that it is ineffective and unable to do so.

They Think The United Nations Is Biased

A second reason why some people hate the United Nations is because they think it is biased. There is some evidence for this but it’s disputed.

The United Nations is supposed to be an impartial organisation. One of its key aims is to mediate between countries and find peaceful solutions – avoiding countries resorting to conflict. However, many dislike the United Nations because they say that it fails to be neutral and is biased towards some countries and discriminates against others.

An example often cited by critics is the position the UN has taken on the Israel Palestine conflict. Israel is the country in the world with the most UN resolutions against it. Although many would say Israel’s actions could deserve condemnation, it’s hard to see how Israeli governments deserves more UN attention that the horrific regimes in North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, the regimes involved in the Second Congo War or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The UN’s stance on Israel is just one example people who don’t like the UN give to show that it is biased. However, the UN’s failure to be seen as a neutral and impartial organization is a major reason why some people hate it.

Hating The United Nations Helps Them Politically

A key reason why some people are against the UN is because it benefits them politically.

Stoking divisions and distrust in the current global political system is a proven political tactic. There are many politicians around the world who have used a hatred of the UN to boost their political support.

Some politicians, and political commentators, highlight legitimate grievances with the UN and amplify these for their own narrative. Others claim the UN does not act in their interests, or is openly opposed to their country, and use this to call for changes in the current global political system.

The United Nations is far from perfect. However, there many political leaders who promote a hatred of the UN, highlighting its weaknesses and potential biases, because it helps them politically. This is a trend that has increased in recent years and the United Nations must actively promote a message that counters it if its global position is to be maintained.

They See The UN As Too Bureaucratic

Another reason why some people dislike the United Nations is because they see it as too bureaucratic.

The United Nations is an enormous organization. It employees 37,000 people across 193 countries. It is a highly complex organization, working to address many challenges often in difficult contexts such as disaster and conflict zones. However, many people criticize the UN because they say its bureaucratic mechanisms slow down its decision making, reducing the impact it can have.

Many people who hate the United Nations see it as too slow to make a difference, to focused on internal processes and unable to adapt quickly when situations need it. Some of these criticisms could be correct, however, supporters of the United Nations would dispute them saying that the way the UN works helps to ensure accountability and inclusion.

An organization as large and complex as the UN needs a range of bureaucratic mechanisms in order to function properly. People who hate the UN say it has become too bureaucratic, and this is a major reason why it does not achieve as much as they feel it should.

They Don’t See The Good The UN Does

The United Nations may not be perfect, but it does a lot of amazing work around the world. However, many people who are against the UN highlight its negative aspects negating the good it does.

The UN does hugely important work. A few examples include:

  • Helping millions of refugees
  • Coordinating the global response to climate change
  • Providing essential humanitarian aid
  • Leading on key development assistance to poorer countries
  • Coordinating global communications and aviation
  • Protecting world heritage sites

This type of work is vital and helps millions of people around the world each year. The United Nations in uniquely placed – as a global and neutral organisation, to act on these types of challenges. However, people who hate the UN either do not know much of the good work it does or choose to ignore it.

A fair criticism of the United Nations is that it could better promote its work. It also could be more transparent and adapt better to criticism. However, the UN does a lot of great work and many people who have hostility to the UN do not recognize this.

They See The UN Is Often In Deadlock

People who hate the UN often say that it cannot take effective action due it’s pollical deadlock. In some ways this is true, in others it is unfair.

The United Nations has many different parts. As well operating 15 specialized agencies, the UN is made up of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, and many other bodies.

Those who criticise the UN often highlight that bodies such as the General Assembly and the Security Council are regularly politically deadlocked. This means they can be unable to take decisions, which can result in the UN failing to act, allowing atrocities to continue almost unopposed.

An often-cited example of the UN’s political deadlock is the Security Council and the role of the veto. The UN Security Council has five permanent members – these are China, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and France. Each of these countries can veto any Security Council resolution. As they often disagree, it means the Security Council is regularly unable to act. This fact is key to many people’s arguments against the United Nations.

They Highlight The Bad The UN Has Done

Those who are against the UN often highlight the bad things it has done. Sadly, the United Nations has not always acted correctly.

There have been occasions where actions by the UN have done harm. Although these were often unintentional, people who dislike the UN cite them as part of their arguments against the organisation.

Examples of some of the negative things the UN has done include:

  • Accused of spreading cholera in Haiti, 2010
  • Claims of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers
  • Oil for food scandal

Some of the negative actions related to the UN have been done by individuals or groups working for or affiliated with the UN, others have been organizational failings. However, people who hate the UN often highlight how it has failed to properly address its actions or make appropriate remedies for the harm it has done.

They Say The United Nations Does Nothing

A final reason why some people hate the United Nations is because they say it does nothing.

The United Nations is one of the most powerful organisations in the world. However, people who criticise the UN often say that it does not act and that its power is useless if it cannot, or will not, use it. They see times the UN has failed to act and use these as examples for how the UN often does not appear to respond to world events.

In some ways this is unfair. The UN is a political organization and can only act as member states allow. It cannot take action on its own decision. This limits how the United Nations can respond. The limits of the UN’s power become especially clear when countries cannot agree on what action, or if any, should be taken.

It is correct that sometimes the UN appears not to do anything when horrible events occur. However, often the UN’s actions are either ignored or fail to be highlighted. This fuels the arguments pf people who are against the UN.


Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over ten years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.