Save The United Nations

By: Douglas Mattern

Confronted with a major escalation of high-tech weapons, including new nuclear bombs and the planned militarization of space, humanity stands at a pivotal juncture in history. It is imperative that we rapidly achieve very dramatic changes in national priorities and policies if we are to end the mass violence that now threaten the very fabric of our civilization. 

A high priority in this challenge is to counter the new right wing campaign to denigrate the United Nations and withdraw from this vital world organization. Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) has reintroduced a bill in Congress (H.R. 1146) that would end U.S. involvement in the United Nations. The national "Get the U.S. out of the UN" organization distributes literature with such ludicrous claims that the UN is "beginning to take aim at the God-given rights enjoyed by Americans since our great nation was founded. The right to self defense, use of your own property, or even the right to have children may all be trampled if the United Nations is allowed to have the power it seeks." 

This anti-UN attack by conservative and right wing elements that have such a distorted view and appalling lack of knowledge about the UN must be countered by a new "Save the UN" campaign that informs the American people about the crucial work of this world organization, and its vital role for the future. 

The mainstream media has abrogated its responsibility to present the daily work of the UN. The result is that most Americans are unaware that the majority of people in the world view the UN blue flag as a symbol of hope and people helping other people in need. As Miguel Albornoz, a UN delegate from Ecuador said, the UN "means environmental sanitation, agricultural production, telecommunications, the fight against illiteracy, the great struggle against poverty, ignorance and disease." 

World poverty, with half the world's people existing on an average of $2 a day, while the world spends over $840 billion annually on the military, along with our vast environmental problems, require global solutions that can only be achieved by cooperation and working together through the UN and other world institutions. 

The first step in this challenge is to end the foolish quest of those to want to establish an American empire. We must focus on strengthening and creating a new United Nations. The UN's original architect, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, understood this world organization would need to change and evolve over the years. In his last speech, made just before the United Nations Conference would meet to draft the UN Charter, Roosevelt said: "No plan is perfect. Whatever is adopted at San Francisco will doubtless have to be amended time and again over the years, just as our own Constitution has been. No one can say exactly how long any plan will last. Peace can endure only so long as humanity really insists upon it, and is willing to work for it, and sacrifice for it." 

Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali suggests the task is to establish a third generation UN. In this context the League of Nations can be viewed as the first generation UN, and it represented governments only. The current UN is the second generation, and it is also comprised of governments with all the authority, but today's UN also includes a tremendous input and dependence on Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). The third generation UN must be democratic and also include the representation of the world's people and NGOs, and with some corporate responsibility. This should include a two-tier parliament, with one tier comprised of governments, and the second tier comprised of civil society. 

The imperative change in the third generation UN must be the ability to resolve conflicts between nations and peoples through the framework of world law. There is no workable alternative to end the war system, achieve disarmament with security, and stop the planned militarization of space, which, if allowed to continue, will make disarmament virtually impossible and turn the heavens above into a permanent source of terrorism for humanity below. 

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." - President John Kennedy Speech to the UN General Assembly, 1961

Douglas Mattern is president of the Association of World Citizens (AWC); a San Francisco based international peace organization with branches in 50 countries, and with UN NGO status. The website for AWC is Douglas is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant.

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