At first glance, the United Nations is nothing more than a bunch of narcissistic, ethnocentric diplomats who sit around and read their prepared texts, which all basically say the same thing.
Even if a resolution is passed after many hours of discussion, it’s not binding because the UN does not have any real way to enforce the resolutions that they pass; they are more like strong suggestions.
The thing about diplomacy is that no one wins, because for there to be a winner, there has to be a loser. “Anybody can win, unless there happens to be a second entry,” said American playwright and author George Ade, and in this case there just so happens to be 192 entries.
The UN is a world forum that allows for a marketplace of ideas. Even though it seems tedious, all 192-member countries have the opportunity to have their voices heard, and are able to decide, after hearing all opinions, where they stand; alignment is a key word in the UN.
It is impossible for all countries to get along. The belief systems, upbringing of the citizens and history of each country are far too diverse for the world to ever be harmonious. Even though conflict in the world will inevitably continue to exist, the UN tries to make sure that those conflicts do not get blown too far out of proportion and turn into another world war.
Take the most recent conflict in the Gaza Strip. The UN held an emergency security council that passed a resolution calling for an immediate, durable, fully respected ceasefire in Gaza. Did that happen? Not at all — the Israelis and Palestinians just seemed to laugh at it and keep fighting.
What the resolution did do, however, was open doors that allowed leaders from countries like France and Egypt to go in and eventually help the negotiations that led to a ceasefire because the world was of a general consensus that the fighting there should stop.
Generally, it may seem the UN is all talk and little action, but at least all of that talking may hold back unfavorable action and create a starting point for the prevention and resolution of conflicts.
Spencer Shell is currently working as an intern for the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the United Nations during their six month presidency of the European Union.
He is a member?of the European Union Presidency, Press and General Assembly Coordinator?Teams.