Monday, November 24, 2008

The Future of the United Nations

192 member states, a charter, a structure and a $3.8 billion budget: the United Nations is a body that represents nearly every nation and state on Earth. Yet is it strong enough to handle a new role, as the official governing body of human civilization? There is one thing that is absolutely clear: in a First Contact situation Earth will need a unified world government to deal with extraterrestrial concerns. There is no other way that will work. We can keep our unique cultures and keep our national identities, but some governing body needs to represent the human race with one clear voice.

Is the United Nations prepared to be that one world voice? The U.N. has many weaknesses:

-Lack of authority. It has very little recourse unless the member nations, and particularly the dominant Security Council, decide that the issue must be pressed. Even then authority is often weak and ineffectual, depending on actions of the member nations, not the U.N. itself.

-Lack of real representation. The people that represent individual nations are usually appointed by national leaders, not elected by the population.

-Corruption. There have been many scandals, including allegations of bribery and financial malfeasance.

-Bureaucracy. Even the smallest action can take forever, and involve incredible numbers of documents and meetings.

-Lack of purpose. The U.N has only a narrow range of responsibilities focusing on human rights, humanitarian concerns, International law and economic and social development. Even in these areas the power of the U.N. is questionable at best.

The United States helped to found the U.N. in 1945. However, the relationship since has been less than positive. The U.S. owed millions of dollars to the U.N. for many years, refusing to pay agreed upon levy assessments. There is also a movement in the United States to not only weaken the world body but to remove the United States from the U.N. altogether. Bills have been introduced in Congress. And while the legislation didn’t have much chance at the time, the small minority supporting it has grown more vocal.

Part of the concern is certainly issues already raised here: weakness and lack of purpose. There is another underlying theme to the opposition to the U.N. that takes on a more apocalyptic note. The vocal minority is very concerned with world government. Some consider world government to fulfill a satanic movement to bring about Armageddon. It isn’t the only conspiracy theory out there. Wikipedia lists ten or more just in recent years. And it isn’t just conservatives. Leftists often argue that world corporations are trying to form a system of world government by subverting the U.N. The result is the same: distrust of the United Nations and opposition to strong world government.

The debate is understandable today. We are still a civilization of many nations and many cultures. We hold our national identities closely and we fear being washed of our many differences and forced to be a homogenized people. But is this really what world government will do? Did the formation of the United States of America wipe all differences in this country clean? Are people from New Hampshire the same as those from Alabama?

We are rapidly headed into a new era of world cooperation in regards to economics. The recent crisis has joined nations, like never before, in actions of joint cooperation designed to restart a faltering world economic system. The Internet allows instant access to the thoughts and ideas of people across the globe. You can call anywhere in the world as quickly as you can dial the number. People in rural Africa talk on cell phones; people in rural China have blogs. It is a new world whether we like it or not. Technology has brought us closer together and started the process of humans becoming one people. The only question is how our governments will follow.

First Contact will make most of the arguments against world government irrelevant. However, it won’t make everyone happy about it. That is where the concern will lie. How will those conspiracy theorists react? How will fundamentalist religions across the globe react? World government may seem like a threat to many different people in many different places. This is part of the chaos that may follow in the days, weeks and months after First Contact. A strengthening of the United Nations will be necessary to deal with Extraterrestrial concerns and yet there will be a fierce opposition. It may get violent in some places. It could lead to the destabilization of nations. It may even cause unrest of some form in the United States.

Calm, intelligent leadership will be needed across the globe. Nations will have to build the new, stronger United Nations. That will take the courage and strong action of national leaders. It will not be easy, but it is critical to the future of our civilization. We cannot greet the larger universe as 192 states. We must say Hello as one people, joined under one government, and in pursuit of a better world for all of us.

No comments: