The United Nations is an organization with many different functions. However, its primary aim at the time of its foundation was to prevent wars by providing a forum for nations to discuss their disagreements. Since then, it has earned a reputation for being as ineffective as the League of Nations before it. One of the reasons for this reputation is that the UN consumes substantial resources without producing much apparent output. The reason for this tendency is its structure, which comprises many mostly independent and frequently overlapping agencies. This paper will propose a reform that merges related divisions of the UN into singular and agile departments, saving costs and improving its productivity.
Consolidation efforts will reduce redundancy and make the UN’s operations more transparent. Schwartzberg highlights the existence of three separate agencies within it: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme (p. 153). A consolidation would improve the likely necessary communication between the three structures while reducing the number of workers needed to conduct their operations. As a result, the new organization would become able to achieve higher results over shorter periods, growing closer to achieving its objectives. The successes and improved organization would also enable further development and expansion of the United Nations to meet future needs effectively.
However, the drawbacks of the initiative should also be considered and addressed if possible. The consolidation of various agencies would also imply the accumulation of power in the hands of the top management. The situation would create a high potential for corruption, both for personal gain and as a result of clientelism. The United Nations is already at risk of abuses of power because of its weak autonomy, as it is dependent on financing from various nations (O’Neil, p. 320). As such, it is an area of particular concern if the potential damage done by individual leaders increases. To address the issue, strict transparency regulations will have to be implemented and enforced for the United Nations.
If any corruption is currently present in the UN, it will be a significant barrier to the implementation of the change. It will be particularly problematic if the current system benefits one of the Security Council’s permanent members, who can veto the initiative. However, Schwartzberg establishes a historical precedent for overcoming the resistance of these powers, and it is likely possible to do so again. With that said, these nations may also be agreeable to the change because of their significant monetary contributions to the UN. With their cooperation, it should not be challenging to formulate the new organization and conduct a successful vote in its favor.
An improvement in the United Nations’ efficiency would not resolve all of its issues, as it would still wield little to no political force due to its resolutions being nonbinding. However, it would contribute to the image of the organization, potentially changing the view various powers have of it. With increased importance and recognition, it could proceed to address its original task of de-escalating conflicts. However, even if it does not achieve this ambitious goal, it will become better at solving a multitude of other problems that it attempts to resolve. As a result, the lives of people worldwide would improve, and the importance of human rights along with other critical concepts would increase.
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- Schwartzberg, Joseph E. Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World. Brookings Institution Press, 2016.