When considering the alternatives to American global leadership, the United Nations is often offered as a desirable alternative. Inevitably, however, the UN embodies the flaws of the nations that make it up.
UN has proved unable or unwilling to authorise efforts to prevent genocide and ethnic
The UN structure requires such a broad consensus before authorising action as to make international intervention almost impossible. The UN requires for the authorisation of force a majority of members on its security council, and the unanimous agreement of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members – two of which, China and Russia, have well-documented shortcomings when it comes to human rights and democracy. UN ethics inevitably descend to the principles of the lowest common denominator. This has the practical effect of preventing UN authorisation for international intervention in even the most pressing cases. In the case of Kosovo, the UN Security Council attempted (and failed) to block intervention by America and British forces. China and Russia used their seats on the UN Security Council to veto sanctions against Robert Mugabe. Efforts to act on Burma and end the ongoing genocide in Darfur through the UN are being prevented in the Security Council by China. Whenever the United States does not act, the United Nations proves unable to do so.
UN has no armed forces of its own and no money of its own
The global leadership of particular nation states cannot simply be replaced by the United Nations, as the UN is entirely dependent upon nation states. UN ‘blue helmets’ can only be sent as peacekeepers with the authorisation of the UN Security Council, with the peacekeepers themselves contributed by national governments. The UN budget comes entirely from national governments, with over 40% coming from the top two contributors, America and Japan. America pays 22% of the UN’s annual budget. The world’s leading nations, coalitions of the willing, regional alliances and strategic alliances such as NATO have all proved their ability to confront problems of global security. The UN has none of the required means at its disposal to do the same.
UN cannot be counted on to promote international peace and security
The UN Security Council itself is composed of a mix of democracies and dictatorships. This faustian bargain struck in the aftermath of the Second World War was a moral compromise that has crippled effective action against dictators ever since. Because Russia, for example, is a permanent member of the Security Council, she can always veto any UN resolution passed in response to Russian aggression, as with Georgia in 2008.
UN has a long record of failure on human rights
In 2005 the UN Secretary General acknowledged of its Human Rights Commission: “[T]he Commission's declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole … piecemeal reforms will not be enough”. The Human Rights Council replaced the Commission in 2006, but bizarrely, no amount of abuse of human rights is a barrier to membership, meaning such documented human rights abusers as Algeria, China, Cuba, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been elected to the Council. As a result, the Council in its first year passed no resolutions against 19 of the world’s twenty worst human rights abusers, as identified by Freedom House, but passed 12 against Israel.
United Nations conferences have a history of being hijacked by extremist
dictators with radical agendas alien to most of the democratic
In 1975, the UN General Assembly voted for Resolution 3379. This resolution, introduced by the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, declared Zionism - the belief that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state - to be a form of racism. At the 2001 Durban Conference – aimed at combating racism and xenophobia – this message was repeated, with further demands including reparations for slavery and the abolition of sections of the United States constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech.
United Nations staff have consistently struggled to prove their
UN officials, from accountants to computer analysts, earn salaries approximately double the norm, entirely tax-free. Further perks include monthly rent subsidies of “up to $3,800” and annual education grants of “up to $12,675 per child”. United Nations personnel and their families are also exempt from parking laws and fines owing to diplomatic immunity, and in a five year period accumulated over 150,000 unpaid parking tickets, worth more than $18 million, in New York alone. Despite these generous benefits, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali admitted that “perhaps half the UN work force does nothing useful”.
Corruption by UN officials has undermined its most serious
The Financial Times found that "as much as a third of the money raised by the UN for its tsunami response was being swallowed up by salaries and administrative overheads", while the equivalent figure for Oxfam's relief efforts was a tenth. The UN Oil-For-Food programme was manipulated by Saddam Hussein to ensure billions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks went personally to him. The UN administered the programme and apparently did nothing to prevent its abuse. When the scandal was uncovered and an inquiry began, the Chief of Staff to the UN Secretary General spent months shredding thousands of U.N. documents relating to the Oil for Food programme, ensuring the evidence would not be there for a full investigation.
United Nations peacekeepers and officials have been guilty of sexual abuse of the
most vulnerable people in four continents
Nations affected include Congo, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Guinea, Liberia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, the Ivory Coast and Cambodia. In response to the latter allegations, the UN’s top official in Cambodia initially responded: “Boys will be boys”, although the UN eventually adopted a zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse by peacekeepers. Since then, however, more UN peacekeepers in Southern Sudan are alleged to have raped girls as young as 12.
a forum, the UN offers members opportunities to evade accountability and
Many meetings take place in private and without any official record being taken of statements made and decisions taken. There is no Hansard for most meetings, and NGOs and independent observers can be excluded. Bureaucrats and ambassadors who in a democratic assembly would be subject to the normal pressures of openness and accountability can avoid them through the United Nations.
UN does some things well, whatever its overall shortcomings
Founded on the highest principles, it provides a regular forum for all nations’ leaders to discuss and debate – a particular advantage for smaller nations unable to afford embassies in every country in the world. UN peacekeepers have been able to uphold some agreements between parties that would not have trusted the troops of a single nation state to keep the peace neutrally. What the UN lacks is the moral or material capacity to take on the responsibilities of global leadership.
Delusions of Grandeur, Edited by Ted Galen Carpenter
Cultures of Corruption: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets, Ray Fisman & Edward Miguel, University of Southern California, 28 April 2006
The Decline and Fall of the United Nations: Why the U.N. Has Failed and How It Can Be Reformed, Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., 13 October, 2006
Senator McCain Makes the Case for a League of Democracies, John McCain, May 2007
Heritage in Focus: Why We Should Be Suspicious of the UN
Proceedings of the UN Human Rights Council - What is and is not admissible
Eye on The UN YouTube clips
UN Watch YouTube clips
 Secretary-General's Address to the Commission on Human Rights, Office of the United Nations Secretary-General, 7 April 2005 (quoted in Schaefer, below)
 The U.S. Is Right to Shun the U.N. Human Rights Council, Brett D. Schaefer, 2 May 2008
 The United Nations Human Rights Council: A Disastrous First Year, Brett D. Schaefer, 1 June 2007 (see also the table of countries elected to the Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Council, 2005-2007, and their ratings by Freedom House, in the table at http://www.heritage.org/Research/WorldwideFreedom/images/b2038_table1_lg.gif; Freedom House rankings are at The Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2007, Freedom House
 Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly 3379. Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, United Nations, 10 November 1975
 Cato Handbook for Congress 105th Congress, The United Nations, Stefan Halper, The Cato Institute
 Cultures of Corruption: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets, Ray Fisman & Edward Miguel, University of Southern California, 28 April 2006
 Little Clarity on How Aid Gets Spent, Shawn Donnan, Financial Times, December 23, 2005, p.8, quoted in The Decline and Fall of the United Nations: Why the U.N. Has Failed and How It Can Be Reformed, Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., 13 October, 2006
 Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme, Second Interim Report, 29 March 2005 (quoted in Gardiner, above)
 Sex and the UN: when peacemakers become predators, The Independent, 11 January 2005; U.N. Faces More Accusations of Sexual Misconduct, Colum Lynch, The Washington Post, 13 March 2005 (quoted in Gardiner and Groves, below); Peacekeepers ‘abusing children’, BBC, 27 May 2008
 The United States Must Act to End Abuses by U.N. Peacekeepers, Nile Gardiner, Ph.D. and Steven Groves, 16 January 2007