'The UN has only been successful in resolving conflict when one of the superpowers has intervened to support it.' How far would you agree with this view?

Published: March 19, 2017

After the WWII world witnessed two superpowers, the USA and the USSR. On geopolitical level, to resolve any crisis their support was necessary. The success of UN in peacekeeping and conflict resolution depended on their support.

  • The Korean War (1950-53) was supported by the USA, in fact, they contributed the largest number of troops and resources. Combined UN forces were commended by the US General MacArthur. The USA involvement was so large that critics point out that this was not a UN operation.
  • Not just successes but failures of UN can also be attributed to the involvement of one of the superpower. During Hungarian rising (1956) soviet troops entered Hungary to crush the revolt. The Security Council resolution demanding for withdrawal of forces was rejected by the USSR. Same resolution, when passed in the General Assembly, was simply ignored by the USSR. This was repeated in Czechoslovakia crisis (1968).
  • The success of UN in 1991 Gulf War was largely due to the overwhelming support of the West and especially the USA. They supported because of their energy security needs.
  • The UN failed in Somalia because the USA in 1994 withdrew its support and troops from the UN operations. This ultimately led the UN to withdrew all its troops by 1995.
  • The UN was helpless in Bosnia when the European community and the USA were reluctant to involve.

Thus from these examples, it is quite evident that UN was more successful in cases where one of the superpowers was directly involved. In fact, its opposite is also true when one of the superpowers calculate that the UN’s action might hamper its interest.