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The United Nations’ Strengths and Weaknesses


Operating since 1945, the United Nations is viewed by many states as an instrument to address the most pressing issues all over the world. Throughout the years of its existence, the UN has been successful in tackling an array of globally-essential issues such as transnational and environmental threats, violence, and global poverty. UN is involved in promoting democracy and human rights in many countries. Out of all the activities that the UN is involved in, maintaining peace and security still remains the UN’s fundamental mission. In fact, the word ‘peace’ is repeated five times in Article 1 of the UN’s Charter (United Nations par.1).

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Everyone will agree that the UN has contributed immensely to peace-keeping. According to the US Government Accountability Office, “more than 100,000 military and civilian personnel are engaged in UN peacekeeping operations in 15 locations in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East.” (US Government Accountability Office 2). The UN’s total budget for peacekeeping operations amounts to $5.5 billion. The UN peacekeeping activities remain a key instrument in maintaining a secure international environment (US Government Accountability Office 1).

One of the UN’s strengths is helping entire nations to save millions of dollars on conducting peacekeeping operations. To compare, the UN mission in Haiti cost $428 million whereas a similar U.S. operation would have cost twice as much (US Government Accountability Office 7). The UN’s budget and spending are more streamlined, and the practice of employing international staff allows for considerable savings in operations.

Aside from resolving regional conflicts, the UN’s main achievement is helping the international community to resolve the worst crisis of the late 20th century when the escalation between the US and USSR was high as ever. The UN has played a vital role in averting the third World War (Villani par.2). If it wasn’t the UN’s contribution to easing the heightened tension, we would probably not be living in a world as we know today.

Despite the UN’s efforts, there are still many parts of the world ravaged by war, and in some cases, the UN seems powerless in altering the situation. Recent events have proved that even such a powerful organization as the UN has its shortcomings and deficiencies. The Member States realize that a comprehensive reform of the UN is needed in order to streamline and enhance its activities in achieving its mission (Villani par.1).

Although the UN puts forward the central principle of national independence, it fails to ensure that nation remains independent and sovereign. Recent events relating to the annexation of Crimea by Russia illustrate the UN’s inability to ensure the nations’ sovereignty. Speaking at the 20th General Assembly in New York in 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that “his country became the object of external aggression.” (teleSUR English). Poroshenko emphasized that the UN today is unable to address some of the most pressing issues; he also added that the UN Council requires reforms to reflect the realities of the 21 century (teleSUR English).

The main weakness of the United Nations is the lack of its own army. Initially, a military unit was planned to be added to the Security Council in order to tackle problems more efficiently, however, the idea remained on paper only (Villani par.5). Currently, the UN is comprised of international military staff, each with its own rules and standards. The main weakness of this is that soldiers from various countries are equipped and trained in their own way, according to their country standards, and when they embark on a joint operation, the divergence in training and orders results in collaboration difficulties (US Government Accountability Office 9). This ramification may be easily tackled if the Member States agree to the creation of the common army that would have its uniform military code, thus enhancing collaboration between soldiers and units.

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The UN and its promotion of democratic values may present a rather intriguing contradiction. Although it has been more than 70 years since its creation, the composition of power is the same as it was back in 1945 with five countries having more power and prerogative than others (Villani par.6). The distribution of power today does not reflect the needs of the current global community. In order for the UN to be more flexible and instrumental in tackling global challenges, more member states need to join on a permanent basis. Europe is more diverse, there are a lot of Asian and Latin countries that also need to have their say in the UN.


In my opinion, the employment system in the UN needs to be reformed as well. The UN is comprised of people mainly over 40 or older. The staff of the UN needs to be comprised of at least 30% of the younger generation who might bring their fresh insight and modern-day expertise into the core of the organization.

There is no denying that the UN’s efforts in peacekeeping have helped many countries in establishing security, and millions of people feel safe now. However as everything is evolving, the UN should do too, and the above deficiencies need to be addressed within the UN, and reforms, perhaps dramatic, need to be adopted in order to streamline and align its actions with the realities of today.

Works Cited

teleSUR. “UN Speeches: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko English.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 2015. Web.

United States Government Accountability Office. PEACEKEEPING Observations on Costs, Strengths, and Limitations of U.S. and UN Operations. 2007. 

United Nations. Charter of the United Nations. 1945. Web.

Villani, Chiara. The United Nations: Strengths and weaknesses. 2014. Web.

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