UN vs. NGOs: One Against Many
by Ivan Simic
Guyana Journal, September 2007
By some definition, the United Nations (UN) is an International Organization established in October 1945, by the five permanent members of the Security Council: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States and by a majority of the other 46 countries. The declared aims of the UN are to prevent war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, to provide an instrument for international law, to promote social and economic development, to improve living standards and fight diseases, and to offer freedom for all Nations.
On the other side; a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) is a private institution which is not directly part of the structure of government, but relies significantly on funding from governments, individual donors, foundations, corporations. NGOs are not legal entities under International Law, as States are (except the International Committee of the Red Cross).
Every day, dozens of NGOs are being founded; currently, there are more than five million NGOs around the world with most of them based in the US, India, Russia, Europe, among others, and only one UN. Looking at the lists of NGOs it is observed that since the mid nineties, the number of NGOs has been rapidly increasing. Why millions of NGOs now? The rapid increase could be explained with the numerous wars that were fought prior to this period, that aided in creating poverty, refugees, neglect of human rights, abuse of women's and children's rights, health and environmental problems, economical and political depression, among others.
There are many speculations concerning NGOs being tools of: domestic or foreign governments, private donors, corporations, organized crime, all of which to protect their interest in some interest zone. Also, NGOs are used for money laundering, as spy centers, drug smuggling, trafficking, and even tools for destabilizing countries, among others. It is unclear if all these are true or not, but one question arises from it: "How many individuals would give somebody or someone millions of dollars without asking anything in return?
Unfortunately, there are numerous NGOs that are confirming these speculations and even ones whose founders found good ways of making money and drying up Governmental budgets. However, there are a great number of good and uncorrupted NGOs which were/are willing to make a change and really help someone. Subsequently, what can we expect in the future from the UN and NGOs?
Regrettably, it looks like the budget of the UN is decreasing. Member States are late with payments, some members have big debts, and this generally affects the UN body.
Meanwhile, the budgets of NGOs are growing, with no debts and delay in donor payments, with more media attention committed to NGOs. Increasingly now, Governments are counting on NGOs more than on the UN, and if this trend continues, then NGOs will eventually replace the UN on the international stage, and, maybe, eventually come to power in some countries! Currently, we are evidencing a silent war among NGOs for leading positions in the international system, the end result of which cannot be predicted immediately, but it is obvious; there are too many hungry sharks in the sea. If we look through calculations: five million NGOs multiplied by ten people in every organization, we come up to the number of fifty million people working in NGOs worldwide, and the number is likely to grow.
It would be out of place to say that the UN is a perfect organization; we all know about manipulations of the UN system by some countries to get their will throughout, and because of that and many other things, the UN lost its respect on the international scene. Still, the UN is an International Organization; it has been helping and still helps people around the world; it was established for noble reasons to represent all Nations equally and fairly and it is expected that it will live up to its responsibilities and continue to do so.
by Ivan Simic
Guyana Journal, September 2007
In our World, there are lots of countries, nations, languages, religions, cultures, costumes but also lots of disagreements. History has it that there was never peace and respect among nations since the formation of the first State. From the beginning of the first conflict till this day, wars have been fought for the same cause: political differences, trade, religion, liberation, dynasty, seizure of territory, the annihilation of a rival State, the destruction of the enemy's ability to prosecute military action, revolution or genocide.
We can recall aggressive War of Alexander the Great, nine Crusade Wars, Spanish Succession, Hundred Years' War (France-England), American Civil War, or 20th century wars; World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iran-Iraq War, Gulf War, Yugoslav War, among others.
There was not yet a single year without war in history known to mankind; and it seems mankind was yet to learn bitter lessons from centuries of fighting and conflicts; wars had never brought anything good to nations and countries. Currently, in contemporary days there are thirty two (32) ongoing wars which are being fought around the World. These include: Sri Lanka Civil War, Second Chechen War, War in Afghanistan, Civil War in Cote d'Ivoire, Central African War, Iraq War, War in Somalia, age-old Arab-Israel/Israel-Palestine (including al-Aqsa Intifada) conflict, among others.
Wars are now being fought in under-developed regions without any serious threat of spreading to neighboring countries, though that may soon change. The World is altering, and countries are developing with the formation of new Unions, financial help and foreign investments. Very soon the World will be without the so-called Third World Countries, and without territories to start war. Would that signal the end of wars, or usher in new form of modern warfare into the World?
According to these facts and the enormous velocity and evolution of the World, in the future we can expect more wars; wars that will be fought between industrial countries. These wars may not take place in our lifetime, but it offers mankind some food for thought, which calls for critical thinking and preventive actions. It looks as though some countries are not recognized and their voices are not heard so they use all necessary means to be heard even if it means the use of force, start war and take some lives along that path. Consequently, it behooves the United Nations to get serious in its business and invite all countries to become members of the world body and make them discuss issues of concern in the diversified arena in peaceful and understanding ways, rather than sorting issues out in the battlefield.
The question which then arises is: which country will first start that war and on which ground it will begin? It is very hard to predict, but as before, it will most probably begin in Europe and not in the Middle East as many would think.
In Europe, the European Union (EU) is financially the strongest and one of the biggest multiethnic and multicultural community in the World. But because of too many differences and inability of some members to agree on future political and financial issues, the EU may become unstable, and eventually collapse. Since the EU has enormous influence on many countries, its collapse will start a chain of destabilizations and race for domination. It looks like that history will repeat it self, just that it will cost more.
Contrary to this, the main goal of every country should be to preserve national identity, culture, religion and of course, financial development, but as long as we have political differences and disrespect for other religions and cultures we will not have peace among nations. If we put these differences aside and focus on helping each other, perhaps there could be a chance to maintain stability in the World.
Time will come when all countries will get united for greater and peaceful goals, but that may come rather too late, though it will foster some degree of unity and understanding as never witnessed before.