Which efforts of the United Nations are considered successes?

United Nations

The consequences of the First and Second World Wars clearly showed that lasting peace and the sovereignty of states must be linked. Since it was founded in 1945, the United Nations has dedicated itself to this difficult and revolutionary task.

At the UN General Assembly's special session on Palestine in Flushing Meadow Park, New York, its President, the Brazilian Dr. Oswaldo Aranha on April 28, 1947. (& copy AP)


On April 25, 1945, in the final phase of the Second World War, a conference began in San Francisco that was to last until June 26, 1945. On it, the representatives of 50 war opponents of the German Reich and its allies came together to found a new organization and to work out its basic document: the United Nations (short: UN, United Nations Organization, UNO) and its charter. Poland was unable to participate at this time due to the war and joined on October 24, 1945 as the 51st founding member.

The United Nations Charter was signed on June 25, 1945 and entered into force on October 24, 1945 after ratification. It and the organization that was founded on it were a consequence of the disturbing experiences from the Second World War: the dimensions of this war and, above all, the genocide of European Jews committed by Hitler's Germany as well as the German crimes against humanity in Poland, in the Soviet Union and in Southern Europe had shown the world community the need to forbid states to use military force and to transfer responsibility for peace to a strong international organization.

The "preservation of future generations from the scourge of war" is therefore the first and most important of the objectives set out in the preamble to the Charter. The Charter obliges all member states to settle disputes peacefully (Article 2, Item 3) and to recognize the general prohibition of violence (Art. 2, Item 4). According to Chapters V to VII of the Charter, the Security Council oversees these norms. The Charter thus forms the foundation of the modern international legal order to this day.

More than 65 years after its founding, the United Nations can look back on an eventful history. They are an institution in which many opinions continue to differ: their advocates see them as the indispensable heart of an international system that is increasingly in need of cooperation and want to give it new tasks to guarantee global collective goods such as peace, human rights and the environment. Skeptics, on the other hand, complain about their lengthy decision-making processes and accuse them of continuing inability to act and of being overly dependent on the interests of the great powers. It is undisputed, however, that the United Nations, with all its strengths and weaknesses, is a unique institution in many respects and of considerable importance for the development of international relations.

The United Nations currently (as of April 2011) consists of 192 countries. Montenegro most recently joined in the summer of 2006. The Republic of South Sudan, which split from Sudan in January 2011 due to a UN-backed referendum, is likely to look forward to rapid acceptance, while Taiwan is part of the "One China Principle", which is powerfully represented by the People's Republic of China and accepted almost worldwide China has no prospect of membership until further notice. With the exception of these special cases, the Vatican State and (still) Kosovo, all countries in the world belong to the United Nations. As the only international organization, they can claim the universal validity of their goals, norms and principles and their consideration by the member states.

In the decades of its existence, the United Nations has almost quadrupled its membership. After the first blockades caused by the antagonism between the great powers USA and Soviet Union in the "Cold War" (only nine states were admitted by the mid-1950s), decolonization in the 1950s to 1970s and the reorganization of the state landscape after the end of the East were the main reasons -West conflict for a steady increase in member states. Since only sovereign states can belong to the United Nations, nations that have emerged to this day regard their UN membership as a particularly conspicuous symbol of their international recognition and endeavor to be accepted quickly.

However, a new member is only accepted on the recommendation of the Security Council and a subsequent decision by the General Assembly (Art. 4, Paragraph 2 of the Charter). In both bodies it was repeatedly controversial which requirements qualify a country for joining the UN and which state structure is entitled to a right of representation in the organization. The Republic of China named in Article 23 (1) was represented by the government of Taiwan until 1971; the People's Republic of China has been playing this role since then. The then GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany were only able to join the UN in 1973 after the two German states had agreed on their mutual acceptance in the basic treaty. At the present time, a recommendation by the Security Council for the admission of Kosovo to China and Russia in particular, which did not accept its 2008 secession from Serbia, has failed.

Source text

Peace - an old human dream

[...] There were already ideas for peace in ancient times. [...] In ancient Greece you can already find a kind of temporary peace order, because during the Olympic Games all fighting was forbidden and the opponents of the war had unhindered access to the arenas in Olympia. [...]

In the 17th century, when the medieval empire was gradually replaced by the Europe of nation states, which was shaped in terms of power politics by the predominance of France, new considerations arose in connection with the idea of ​​peace: under the impression of permanent wars, one strived for the realization of a European one Peace League. [...] Thus the French Duke von Sully (1560-1641), minister under Henry IV, presented his Great Plan (Grand Dessein) around 1640, in which he was the first to formulate a concept for shaping a European unification a federation of Christian states under the leadership of France. [...]
In 1693 [...] [the English Quaker William who emigrated to America] Penn (1644-1718) presented a clearly defined concept for a European peace order. It was aimed at the creation of a Society of Nations in the form of a joint European congress of states, to which all intergovernmental disputes should be submitted for decision. This "sovereign assembly" with the right to take coercive measures against recalcitrant members should, in contrast to similar French proposals of the time, already have a parliamentary character. [...]
The German word League of Nations appears for the first time in the writings of the Königsberg philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) [...]. More than 200 years ago, in 1795, Kant published his philosophical draft "For Eternal Peace", in which he called for the establishment of a federation of states with equal rights in order to secure peace. [...] This "peace alliance" [...], to which all states in the world would join in the course of time, should not become a new power factor, but should merely be the guardian of the international order of world peace.
After Kant, only his pupil Friedrich von Gentz ​​(1764-1832) made a constructive contribution to the topic of lasting peace, at least in theory. The romantic-religious, cosmopolitan utopias that followed did not do justice to the problem. During the formation of peace societies in many states of the 19th century, especially through the initiative of the Quakers, and in the further development at international peace conferences, it became increasingly clear how much the emphasis shifted from the ethical motive of creating peace to the utilitarian purpose of peace relocated, which could not be compensated for even by well-organized congresses, the task of which was in fact exhausted in anti-war demonstrations. It was indeed thanks to the Geneva Convention (1864) and the Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907) that, based on the fact of the war, they were forced to at least verbally limit war, to humanize it - and this attempt should not be devalued here - but the resolutions passed were basically too non-binding to guarantee compliance by all those involved. Only after the turn of the 20th century did the world seem ripe for the creation of a permanent world peace organization.

Günter Unser, Die UNO, Munich 2004, p. 2 ff.