The United Nations’ sixtieth anniversary summit in September reflected its strengths and importance in the many areas in which the international community must work together. Unfortunately, the summit also exposed the UN’s weaknesses and limitations.
Founded at the end of World War II to prevent another major disaster of that kind, the UN has now vastly expanded its mandate beyond peacekeeping, as important as that is. For instance, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), adopted at the UN Millennium summit five years ago, proclaimed the international community’s resolve to reduce poverty in all of its manifestations and set concrete goals to be achieved by 2015.
Reaching political consensus on such complex issues is never easy, given the diversity of interests that must be addressed. Success requires diplomacy and patience, and the UN’s latest summit continued the march forward in the creation of a community of nations responsible for the well being of all.
To be sure, the attempt by America’s new UN ambassador, John Bolton, to introduce hundreds of last-minute changes to the summit’s concluding declaration doomed the agreement – perhaps deliberately – to being less comprehensive and forceful than had been hoped. Indeed, Bolton even wanted to eliminate any reference to the MDG.