In October 1945, after the world achieved victory in the Anti-Fascist War, to avoid another such disaster, the major countries proposed to establish the UN. Over the following decades, the organization has played an irreplaceable role in maintaining peace, promoting development, protecting human rights and boosting international exchange. It has also safeguarded justice and enhanced understanding among different countries. Broadly speaking, it has fulfilled the founding mission of being the coordination center of member countries.
Compared with the League of Nations, the first worldwide intergovernmental organization that was founded in 1920 and dissolved in 1946, the UN is far bigger, now with 193 members. It is composed of six major institutions, including the General Assembly and the Security Council, and dozens of funds and special organizations, with over 100,000 staff working for it. The past 75 years with the UN has been a relatively peaceful period, witnessing rapid economic growth and strengthened cooperation in most countries. Worldwide war has been avoided, regional conflicts mitigated and peace safeguarded with the UN’s efforts. It has creatively developed peacekeeping operations. Since 1948, when the UN Truce Supervision Organization was founded, hundreds of thousands of peacekeepers from more than 120 countries have participated in over 70 missions. Blue helmets have increasingly become a symbol of the UN and peace.
The UN has promoted education and the rights of women and children as well as poverty eradication. The UN Millennium Development Goals halved the number of the world population living in extreme poverty from 1990 to 2015. In 2015, a grander agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, was initiated. With some of its 17 goals already having made some progress, it is set to further promote sustainable development.
The UN adopted the Paris Agreement in December 2015, bringing major countries into a common cause to tackle climate change and respond to ensuing challenges. Looking through the UN’s efforts, it could be said that it is leading the world to a better future; a world without it might be poorer and more unequal and turbulent.
But despite the contributions and efforts, in today’s world full of uncertainty and turbulence, the UN is being increasingly questioned. With the expansion of human activity and new technology, it not only faces traditional threats such as regional conflicts, displacement and extreme nationalism, but also new challenges, including mass extinction of species, population explosion and aging. In addition, it is also troubled by difficult reform and arrears in member countries’ contributions.