The Day the Nations United

“War does not determine who is right — only who is left”

The world has changed a lot in the last century. We have stepped firmly into the technologically advanced society of the 21st century. But the cost paid by humanity and the planet was enormous.

At the advent of the 20th century, the spirit of nationalism was running rampant in Europe. Most European nations had fought wars with other European nations in the 19th century, but the conflict did not spill over and was contained in a limited area. At the beginning of the 20th century, European nations were ruling over most of the countries in the continents of Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America. This led to a competition to establish supremacy. But the growing spirit of nationalism and competition eventually led to the First World War, from 1914-1919. It was a conflict that involved the majority of powers and led to the widespread destruction of the civilised world and the heart-wrenching loss of human lives. Out of this destruction, the need for an international institution that will be responsible for maintaining world peace between nations was felt. A “League of Nations” came into existence to ensure that another world war never takes place.

However, the countries on the losing side of the First World War were heavily penalised and had to suffer humiliation and economic distress, as they were stripped of most resources by the victors. Resentment in Germany ran particularly high and the rise of nazism took place in this environment. The victors, on the other hand, had to deal with the cost of the war in the form of monetary debts. By 1930, almost all the countries in the world were experiencing economic distress. It was termed “The Great Depression” and the economic pain was felt all over the world. In the shadow of these events, the ugly head of conflict was rising again. The League of Nations tried to address the incoming threat but failed.

On September 1, 1939, the world woke up to find itself in the midst of the Second World War. The mindless destruction of nations and the insurmountable loss of human life shocked the world. The Second World War surpassed the First World War in all aspects. During the war, a need was felt by everyone to ensure peace at all costs. But to ensure this, an organisation needed to be formed on the basis of moral grounds accepted by all nations and not a select few, which was the case with the League of Nations.

This idea gave birth to the United Nations or UN on October 24, 1945. The UN grew from its original 51 signatories to 193 nations today. In the words of US President Harry Truman, the UN is

“a solid structure upon which we can build a better world…with this charter the world can begin to look forward to the time when all worthy human beings may be permitted to live decently as free people”

This institution has worked since its inception to make sure that peace prevails throughout the world and to prevent the outbreak of the third world war. It works to eliminate economic and social inequalities and provides a forum for international cooperation. It has worked through many crises during the late 20th century and now is working on expanding its mandate to elevate the people of the world to lead a good life.

The question that persists is if the UN is indeed a successful organisation and if it is carrying out its mandate for world peace.

by Jaskirat Singh

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