These days many people are saying that the United Nations is overburdened and powerless. At the heart of this crisis is the sudden expansion of UN involvement in hot-spots across the globe, coupled with a growing number of embarrassing failures in the international arena.
This research examines the relative degree of success or failure of the United Nations in its missions to keep the peace and ensure the protection of basic human rights. The ability of the UN to meet these objectives will be highlighted by the organization's activities in four countries in particular: Kampuchea; Somalia; Bosnia-Herzegovina; and Haiti. The reasons behind UN successes and failures will be scrutinized, and ways in which the United Nations could optimize its performance will he discussed.
Following the end of World War II, many members of the international community set down in the Charter of the United Nations principles for the organization of world peace and security based on respect for basic human rights. The charter established human rights as a matter of concern for the Western nations and sought to "reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." Every nation joining the United Nations pledged "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion." Furthermore, the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For the first time, human rights granted to every individual on Earth were defined by an international consultative organization (Boutros-Ghali, 1992).
Just a few years ago, international diplomats were rejoicing over the end of the Cold War. Expectations for world peace grew phenomenally with the collapse of the bipolar global conflict. At about the same time, the United...