United Nations - OK or U/S??

What do you think of the UN??

  • They are doing an excellent job in an everchanging world.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • They are doing an OK job - I mean, who else is going to do it?

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I don't care, it's not like we give anything to them.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • They are useless and need to stop pussyfooting around.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • A disgrace - the world should be ashamed.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
Have been thinking that the UN might actually be toothless and pathetic but not sure.

Please, sensible discussion, not "this tour is sh1te."


(MOD - If it needs moving, then please place it in a more suitable forum.)
I actually work for the UN.

Yes it does need a major over haul, but before that can happen the member states, all 180 odd of them, needs to decide exactly what it is they want to UN to do, and how it is all to be paid for. It is also important that the member states decide what the UN should not do. That way the UN could begin to cope with the continued cuts to its budget.

The UN does a lot of excellent work. Unfortunately the stuff it is good at, is not the sort of stuff you will see on CNN or BBC. Afterall, what sort of headline would "War Not Breaking Out in Ethiopia" be? How about "UN feeds 2,000,000 of Worlds Population Today"?

Personally I believe that ther UN is being used as a dumping ground for the hardest problems, in order that the rich nations can avoid having to take responsability for their own lack of actions. How many times do we see the UNSC deciding that the UN should do something, but those same countries are sorely lacking when it comes to supplying the troops, equipment or cash. It is easier to blame all on the UN. Remember the UN does not get to pick which missions it takes on the member states do that. Those awful mandates? Guess where they come from? That's right - the member states in the form of the UNSC.

The UN is an exceptionally cheap organisation, with a total operating costs of less than 1 day's worth or the world's annual defence spending. Yet somehow, it is expected to cope with just about anything that crops up. From humanitarian assistance, to peacekeeping, to international diplomacy. The list is enormous and too long for here. Just to note that there are more NYPD in NY than the UN has staff in its majors offices of NY / Vienna and Geneva. Also the annual budget of the FDNY is greater than those three offices combined.

For most on here, I suspect that it is the peacekeeping side of things that hold most interest. Therefore I recommend the following book as a not un-critical look at peacekeeping. It tells exactly how it all works and the gulf between, the words of the member states in the UNSC, their actions, and of expectations and realities on the ground:

Hillen, J. (2000): Blue Helmets: The Strategy of UN Military Operations, Washington, Brassey"s (2nd Edn).

Although I expect this thread to turn into a UN bashing session, if anyone does have any real questions I am happy to try and answer them.
An organisation run in large part by a group of thugs and dictators. May it disappear and rot in peace.
Another good UN book is called 'We did Nothing' by Linda Polman (Publisher: Gardners Books (January 31, 2004)
ISBN: 0141012900).

She was a journalist who followed the UN in the early 90's and takes in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda. A very good read and brings out the points made by INF/MP. Personally, I think that despite its many flaws the UN is certainly worth keeping but is in need of a fairly major overhaul. Be interesting to see how Bolton behaves in the coming months.
I habe read "We Did Nothing" too. It is a good book, with some excellent illustrations of the problems.

Personally I am not sure that Bolton is at all the man to the US Rep to the UN. His anti-UN rethoric gives the impression that he is not so so much interested in a greater efficiency or accountability of the UN, so much as to force it to comply with the wishes of the US and the US only.

I feel that there will be a lot of blood spilt on the carpet in the near future. After all if you listen to the stuff coming out of the right wing of the US, reform means destroy.
Is there anyone 'right wing' working for the UN in teh higher echelons? I see Bolton balancing things by a small percentage of 1%
By most peoples perceptions Right wing is bad and by inference Left wing is therefore good. We live in a skewed world.
Well I am considered by some to be slightly to the Right of Atilla The Hun.

There are a lot of the tree hugger types in the organisation as a whole. They soon become disillusioned with the UN when they realise they are not going to same the entire world's problems by next Tuesday.
What's that old saying?

"A camel is a racehorse designed by a committee."

Which seems to me to sum up most UN operations. Let's not mention "Food for Oil" and the sanctimony and the massacres in the Balkans that could have been avoided and the opposition to Kosovo and the representatives of third world dictatorships passing comment on UK domestic policy...

All true, but remember the UNSC and the General Assembly all operate on the basis of the lowest denominator. So you get the mandates that are only as strong as the UNSC is willing to accept.
I am currently working for the UN in Kosovo. The UN people I meet tend to fall into two catagories: pen-pushers and do-ers. The former outnumber the latter by several hundred percent. One reason for this is that the UN celebrates "strength through diversity". This asinine phrase means that they actively recruit from poorer countries to counter the affect of Americans, Brits, Germans, Scandanavians and South Africans (the majority of the effective people). Any complaint that Mr. Obutu from Ghana is a corrupt and useless twat is met with accusations of racism (a death sentance in the UN). A Nigerian was putting his dick where it shouldnt have gone (i.e. into wives of Albanian men!) and was murdered in a car bomb for ignoring warnings. The subsequent UN report ignored all of this, blaming Kosovo seperatists and criminals.

Most UN staff care about one thing, and one thing only: the renewal of their contract. If they actually do their job properly, then within a short time the need for their job should cease to exist. It is amazing that the more pleasant a location (e.g. Cyprus or Kosovo), then the longer the mission runs for. Most UN staff are terrified of making a decision. If they never make one, then they cannot be accused of making the wrong decision. This is a very depressing observation, and sadly is always rewarded in the UN. Look at the current SG, Kofi Annan. He was duty officer when Srebrenica was overrun (and refused to authorise an air raid in support that would have deterred the Serbs). He was head of all peacekeeping operations when Rwanda kicked off (and again did sod-all until forced) and each time he did nothing, he was promoted.

As Inf/MP said, the world does need to decide what it wants the UN for. One thing that seriously needs reform is the way in which every country is equal and gets treated as though they are grown up members of the international community. Countries without a recognised democracy (e.g. North Korea, Libya, etc) should only have observer status and no voting rights. They should be forbidden from having any of their nationals employed by the UN (except at local offices). For instance: yesterday I refuelled my wagon at the UN POL point. Who should be in front of me but a huge fat bastard from Zimbabwe, over here with the UN Police, responsible for teaching the locals how to impartially and correctly police Kosovo. Is there anyone apart from me who is appalled at this?

Rant over.

Disband the UN, kick the Frogs out of NATO and use NATO to kick the heads in of any Johnny Foreigner who looks at us in a funny way (including the Frogs).

Edited for spelling
Dread you sure you aren't a spam, you sound like a septicville neo-con??? :D

Not that there is anything wrong with that, at least in my humble opinion.
Jesus? Do I sound like a septic tank? Pass the Webley and a bottle of decent Scotch. Am really a retired (read quit) Gunner Capt.
Dread said:
is amazing that the more pleasant a location (e.g. Cyprus or Kosovo), then the longer the mission runs for.
Erh, Kosovo is bogging - Only good in the snow which hides all of the dirt.

I agree with a lot of what Dread says. Though before you disband the UN, do we have any idea who is supposed to pick up all the left over work? The UN also includes UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNICEF etc. Are we to close down the refugee camps? Stop feeding the staving, or promoting world health etc.?

Remember these is a lot more to the UN than just the headline grabbing stuff. Personally I think the UN should avoid any sort of peace enforcement operations and stay strictly within peacekeeping.
Very true about the less 'sexy' stuff. My experience with the sister organisations is limited, but somehow they appear to be much better than the main UN. The WFP does amazing things, as does IOM. Is it because they have concrete, physical and obtainable (in theory) objectives? i.e. feed people, move people, reconstruct bridges etc. The main UN doesnt do these things, but concentrates on non-physical results that are very hard to quantify e.g. stable political parties, rule of law. Problem is that for many UN employees the rule of law 'back home' is a dictatorship, and the political party is theirs (or belongs to their cousin/father). You are correct about 'war not declared in...' not making the news, but rarely is that because the UN has been involved!

The UN is a slow moving behemoth that gets caught with its trousers down on a regular basis. When it does respond, it is usually a cake and arrse party. In Sudan, 5 of my colleagues took up posts last month. 3 have already resigned because the organisation was dangerously inept. One classic example: someone in MT decided to strip all the vehicles of their toolkits so that they could be nicely stored on some shelving. The result? A puncture in Khartoum requires UN official to go into town and buy a jack and wheel brace, and even had to get some parts made by hand in a local metal shop. If the same puncture had happened in the middle of Darfur, then the results could easily have been fatal.

In Sri Lanka, the UN, when they eventually arrived, simply block-booked all the 5star hotels and restaurants. Most of the actual work was done by other agencies and charities (many under the UN umbrella admittedly). The result of this is that (once again) everyone in the country where the UN intervene ends up hating the UN. While good for restaurant owners, spending 80USD per head on dinner doesn’t endear the UN to people surviving on 30USD a month.
Have just been on the International board of arrse and spent 2 hours reading the subject entitled French Foreign Legion Paras about a 38 yer old jock who joined.
Well worth a read because it covers a lot of UN activity [a lot of it shameful and an eye-opener for those of us who don't really know from one who was at the sharp end but was able to see a broad overall picture because of his job.]

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