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The United Nations vs Imperial Systems

With the continuous course of history, the forms of leadership, the level of effectiveness, and the methods and values of governance have constantly been changing. A similar trend has emerged in international cooperation and governance, where the once imperialist area has been replaced by the image of the United Nations today. There are different opinions on the topic under consideration of which system, empires or the UN, is more effective. Some argue that empires had much greater centralized power and were more successful and efficient than the United Nations system. Some believe that the ties under the leadership of the United Nations are much stronger than those under empires. This paper agrees that the UN system is more successful than that of the empires because, unlike empires, the UN respects fundamental human rights, has friendly relations with allied nations, and respects different standpoints within the system.

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First, the formula for the colossal success of the United Nations is the recognition and respect of human rights and freedoms, the lack of which has always been palpable in empires. World history holds numerous examples of the inhuman treatment of certain groups by empires. The discussion of the latter is no longer a surprise but a universalized characteristic of this style of international cooperation. For example, under the Qin dynasty, people and their families were often enslaved as punishment, and slaves were also actively exploited at many construction sites throughout the empire (Van Dinh 81). By contrast, “all human beings are born free and equal” is a motto of all international organizations operating under the UN’s umbrella (UN General Assembly Article 1). While the repression, the disregard for human rights, and the imperial suppression have been accompanied by temporary success, it has never worked in the long run. On the contrary, the United Nations’ leadership is based on respect for human rights and strict protection. All this clarifies why the UN system proved to be more productive than that of the empires’.

The second important factor that must be taken into account when comparing the UN and the imperialist international systems is the situation of the countries under the latter and the approach to them by the centralized main force. The Qin dynasty, for instance, had forcibly subjugated six smaller states- Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, and Wei- which were perceived as inferior to Qin China and treated accordingly. Conversely, the United Nations is “… is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” (UN General Assembly Article 2). The fundamental difference between the two systems becomes apparent. Although empires often had more influence over subordinate countries, they always had an expiration date. In the case of the UN, the number of member states has increased from 51 to 193 since 1945 (The United Nations, 2021). This is due to the fact that cooperation in the UN system is based on desire and takes care of the maximum well-being of member states and peoples, which gives this union exceptional strength.

The success of any system and union requires the harmony of its constituent components, which is another reason for the success of the UN system over its imperialist partner. Respect for dissent was not surprisingly characteristic of empires. The rule of the Qin Dynasty, which is the focus of the work, had an aggressive appearance. The first emperor of the Qin Dynasty destroyed all the books he deemed useless and the writers too (Pancella 67). Such actions are not unacceptable in the UN system but are strictly prohibited, and the structure is based on other values. The purpose of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace” (UN General Assembly Article 1). The concept of self-determination plays a significant role and includes not only the right of a country to form its own government, but also the right to have full right to identity, freedom of opinion, and expression, without censorship. The exchange of views in the UN system continuously strengthens the latter and leads to a more advanced level of cooperation.

In conclusion, the United Nations system is stronger and more successful than the imperialist alliances. The reasons for this are many, but three essential components make an outstanding contribution to the development and strength of the UN, in contrast to the imperialist alliances. These include human rights, respect for member states or nations, friendly relations, and tolerance for dissent. In the long run, these elements contribute to the gradual effective and successful integration of the system, stirring up a sense of belonging among members within a single system and ultimately creating a win-win situation. The absence of these elements and their use of repressive forces undermined the imperialist system. At the same time, the gathering of such ideals under the umbrella of the United Nations contributed to the formation of the latter in its present excellent form.


UN General Assembly. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations, 217 (III) A, 1948, Paris, art. 1. Web.

Van Dinh, Trinh. “Infrastructure Construction as Empire Consolidation in Chinese History.” Critical Reflections on China’s Belt & Road Initiative. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, pp. 81-93.

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Pancella, Peggy. Qin Shi Huangdi: First Emperor of China. Heinemann-Raintree Library, 2003.

The United Nations. “About Us”. n.d. Web.

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