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Is the UN weak and useless?

Issues of corruption, permanent members’ veto and failure to comply with its goals must be addressed when talking about the UN

By Sebastian Vanhoonacker


Photo via Flickr


One only needs to look at many of the issues in the world such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Palestine-Israel conflict, global starvation and the dire covid situation to realise that the UN is a half-hearted organisation. That said, the idea of a global enforcer of justice and peace sounds romantic to any reasonable empathic human; I strongly believe that the UN could be a force for good, but what needs to change?

Veto has allowed the UN to become a wishy-washy organisation that bends over for any global superpower

The first issue within the UN is the veto power held by all of the five permanent members of the UN (Russia, China, France, US and UK). Essentially, the veto allows these nations to have unlimited power, if 99% of the UN believes that there is an infringement on the justice of people but one nation practices veto, the whole resolution would not be passed. A great example of such a failure is the situation of Uighur Muslims in China. It has been well-documented that Uighurs have been put in concentration camp circumstances not too dissimilar to Nazi Germany. But the unlimited power held by these 5 countries in this case China has resulted in China being able to stop all talk regarding a resolution on Uighurs and furthering it by using veto if anything does happen. Veto has allowed the UN to become a wishy-washy organisation that bends over for any global superpower.

Any organisation that promotes international peace yet lets national interests and sovereignty reign supreme is no better than the country which carries out the crimes.

Any organisation that promotes international peace yet lets national interests and sovereignty reign supreme is no better than the country which carries out the crimes.

Secondly, one can question the effectiveness of the UN. The 17 sustainable goals was an initiative made by the UN to build on the idea of millennium goals and take it one step further. Though utopian in principle, its actual success has been alarmingly shocking: around 71 million people have been pushed back into extreme poverty, school attendances have decreased considerably and unemployment has sky rocketed. The UN will probably like to hide behind the fact that they have had the covid crisis, but in all honesty covid has killed less people than die from hunger per year. So, the UN is clearly failing to ensure the end of poverty, education and food for all program, but maybe understandably as it is a huge challenge. However, one pressing issue is the response that UN has to conflict. When looking at the situation in Ukraine, in which a totalitarian tyrant, Putin, has single-handedly waged the biggest conflict in Europe since World War 2, where was the UN? Okay, yes the UN were against and drew up a resolution to solve it but this wishy washy organisation got outplayed by Russia simply using veto against the resolution. Which begs the question: if the UN can allow Russia to behave this way, then simply what is the point in this NGO which tries to be friends with everyone including the bully?

The UN has been repeatedly accused of corruption.

Finally, you may ask why I am attacking an NGO which strive for a better world. The reason is that I don’t think they are that saintly; the UN has been repeatedly accused of corruption.


In 2004, the UN faced accusations regarding its recently ended Oil-for-Food Programme, in which Iraq had been allowed to trade oil for basic needs to relieve the pressure of sanctions.

To further add to the corruption scandals, a more recent example is the United Nations Development Programme, which is facing several allegations of fraud and corruption linked to the multibillion-dollar Global Environment Facility. An investigation by Foreign Policy in 2019 published whistle-blower accounts alleging the misappropriation of millions of dollars at a UNDP-run GEF project in Russia.

The UN can be a force for good but there are some serious questions to be asked about the veto powers held by the five permanent states, the effectiveness of the UN in dealing with global issues and also dealing with corruption

So, the corruption of the UN is not a rare occurrence, nor is it a mafia led organization but questions can be asked about how transparent and how well the funds are used. It is crucial that the UN do what they say, otherwise, what’s the point?

The world cannot simply glorify this NGO without knowing what its flaws are.

In conclusion, the UN can be a force for good but there are some serious questions to be asked about the veto powers held by the five permanent states, the effectiveness of the UN in dealing with global issues and also dealing with corruption. The answers may come from within, but the world cannot simply glorify this NGO without knowing what its flaws are. The UN needs change and I think incidents like in Ukraine only show the need for it to reform.


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