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Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentInternational Organizations · 3 years ago

why can't the United Nations prevent conflict?

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  • Anonymous
    3 years ago
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    As usual, Adamo has given a good answer. This time I have to disagree a bit, however, because I don't think s/he has directly answered the question you asked. S/he gave great answers as to why UN peacekeeping often runs into problems, but not why the UN cannot prevent conflict. Here are my responses to that question (my first two points deal with problems with the military aspect, then I move on to other aspects where I believe the UN does prevent conflicts):

    1. UN peacekeeping was originally designed to go into conflict zones after a peace treaty between two warring states had already been signed (thus peaceKEEPING). Peacekeeping therefore aims to prevent an already existing conflict from breaking out again. Many conflicts that should be prevented are breaking out for the first time, however. UN peacemaking and peace-enforcing are becoming more common, but even they can only be deployed after a conflict has already sprung into existence.

    2. For the UN to go into a country, it must have that country's permission. The details of this get a little hazy when a civil war is going on (who has permission to invite the UN in? only the previous government or also the rebels if they temporarily take control?). That would mean that a country would have to recognize that it is on the verge of civil war and then invite the UN to come in to prevent the conflict. The problem then is that the Security Council has to agree that a war is inevitable and agree to send troops. Then the troops have to be raised and sent. This all takes quite a bit of time and, honestly, many countries don't want to "waste" their soldiers by sending them someplace where there's no conflict (yet).

    3. Conflict prevention is typically not the task of a military. Instead, conflict prevention is usually conducted using much less spectacular measures such as diplomacy. The Sec-Gen of the UN uses his "good offices" (the official term in mediation studies) to prevent conflict, in other words when he sees there is a problem, he can talk to the parties involved in his role as Sec-Gen and, in the ideal situation, help them to find a solution. That certainly counts as conflict prevention.

    4. Another way the UN helps prevent conflict is by writing and monitoring international agreements. The International Atomic Energy Agency, for example, was set up by a UN treaty meant to hinder the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology. Countries without nuclear weapons agreed not to try to obtain them (although civil nuclear technology is fine), and countries with nuclear weapons agreed not to be the first to use them. The IAEA then monitors countries to make sure that they are abiding by their commitment. There are also agreements about territory in Antarctica, in Earth's orbit, and many other places designed to prevent future conflict (if it is already agreed upon who gets what parts of orbit to use for stellites, etc, then it's less likely there will be wars over it). I would also call that conflict prevention.

    5. Finally, the UN tries to improve itself through processes of "organizational learning," meaning that mistakes from the past are analyzed and they try to avoid making them in the future. One major project right now are early warning mechanisms for many different things including civil wars and famines. These mechanisms are designed to alert the UN / member countries when the danger of a civil war or other catastrophe arises somehwere. The goal is that this will allow the UN or other organizations to act quickly enough to head off the problem. Civil war studies have found, for example, that a sharp drop in income is a fairly good indicator that a civil war could happen. If a country's per capita income level drops sharply, the early warning mechanism would send an alert and - in the ideal situation - the UN or other organizations would focus on the country and either give some sort of assistance to alleviate the crisis and prevent an outbreak of civil war.

    So, those are some of the problems with using the military to prevent conflict and some of the other ways the UN prevents conflict that don't get as much attention!

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  • 3 years ago

    It is because of UN, the level of conflicts is at rock bottom.

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  • 3 years ago

    Because the UN as an organization has no means to do so. It does not have an army, it does not have the ability to punish, it is merely a meeting place.

    It is up to the members of that meeting place to use it wisely and productively. Blame the members with the power to actually prevent conflict, the permanent members of the Security Council.

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