Part-III: Major developments since the founding of the UN
The apprehensions of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp that the US and other imperialist powers would try and use the UN in their own interests, were proved true very early on. The imperialist powers refused to allow the government of the People’s Republic of China, following the victorious revolution of 1949, to occupy China’s permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and backed the claim of the defeated Guomindang government that had fled to Taiwan. In protest, the Soviet Union boycotted the proceedings of the Security Council. The US, backed by the UK and France, then took advantage of the Soviet Union’s absence to push through a resolution in the Security Council authorizing the use of armed force by the UN against North Korea, and supporting the US-backed regime of Syngman Rhee in South Korea, during the Korean War.
In the 1960’s, the Soviet Union began changing from a socialist country into a social imperialist country. It armed itself to the teeth and began colluding and contending with the US for world domination. This greatly affected the functioning of the UN. The Security Council and other agencies of the UN thereafter became an arena where the rivalry between these two superpowers played out. Although the fierce contention between the two superpowers did not result in another world war, the UN was powerless to take meaningful action to ensure peace and protect the independence and sovereignty of states wherever the interests of these powers was involved. This included the repeated attacks by the US-backed state of Israel against the Palestinian and other Arab peoples, the US invasion of Vietnam, the American threats and aggression against Cuba, and so on, as well as the building up of the deadly nuclear stockpile by both the superpowers.
Another major development has been the expansion in the number of member states. From just 51 states initially, the membership of the UN now stands at 193 countries. However, the structure and decision-making processes in the UN do not reflect this sea change in the composition of the UN. All decisions related to war and peace and the deployment of UN armed forces still require the consent of the five permanent members (US, UK, France, China and Russia) whose status was based on their having been the main victors in the world war that ended 75 years ago. The richer states with larger financial contributions to the UN also exercise much greater clout in the UN than the majority of states.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the emergence of the US as the sole superpower, the drive of US imperialism to expand its domination all over the globe has intensified. It has attacked and unleashed death and destruction on various countries at will, either unilaterally or along with its allies. The devastation wrought by its actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria and other places has no parallel. It continues to enforce inhuman sanctions against countries that oppose its dictate, like Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and so on. The UN has not been able to defend these countries. UN agencies like the Atomic Energy Commission have been used to intrude into the affairs of states like Iraq and Iran while turning a blind eye to the huge nuclear stockpile in the hands of the US and the other major imperialist powers. In some cases, the US has even been able to arm-twist the United Nations into passing resolutions sanctioning its acts of aggression and its interference in the affairs of other states. In the last 70 years, it has vetoed more resolutions in the Security Council than any other power.
In spite of this, a majority of countries in the UN have at different times got together to pass resolutions in the UN General Assembly opposing the American sanctions against Cuba, denouncing the US-backed Israeli Zionist strikes against Palestinians and neighbouring states, etc. Most recently, in August, a US resolution in the UN Security Council seeking to extend the arms embargo against Iran was defeated. The platform of the annual sessions of the UN General Assembly have been used by leaders of different countries to expose the violations of international law and acts of aggression against their own and other countries.
Next Part IV: What is the way forward for the United Nations?