I think that a statement like, “the United Nations is a positive force in establishing diplomatic dialog and increased communication between disparate nations” would be agreed with by almost everyone.
I also think almost everyone would also agree with, “the United Nations is a worthless pile of crap.”
As you may note, I am somewhat a pessimist regarding the UN. It is not nearly proactive enough to be considered a factor in most cases. But that is beside the fact. My point of debate is this: The structure of the United Nations is antiquated, and crippled by this inability to adapt to the modern world.
Now, please note that I don’t see the UN doing a massive structural rebuilding any time in the future; I seriously doubt that China, Russia, the US, England and France would all be for taking off the mantle of complete veto power and dillute their diplomatic advantages so granted.
However, I think it is pretty clear that the UN isn’t cut out for the modern world. It worked great during the Cold War - it really did - but that was an age ago. The world doesn’t revolve around some of the 5 big guys at the center anymore. The world is catching up (well, the parts that aren’t cesspools of violence and corruption dating from poorly executed colonialism), and the UN needs to adapt to the change.
Until then, we’ll see continuing trends of continental unification (following my hypothesis of national expanding development; roughly, tribe, village, town, city, state, empire, nation, continent, wolrd) instead of global. Europe is leading the charge to continentalization.
I doubt we’ll see anything like a representation by population, because the US would never accept being overpowered by China and India. Similarly, China would never allow it to be overpowered by the US - so any resolution to change the structure would simply be vetoed. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any way around that stumbling block, and that is the nature of this post. How the UN can adapt and survive. If not, it will die off slowly from its inability to, well, do anything.
My requirements for the UN to adapt to the modern world are that it become less centralized around the 5 powers, that it maintain its own armed forces (not on a large scale, but for intervention. Any larger conflict would follow the modern example of countries volunteering participation). Basically, it needs to work more like a federalist government, treating each nation as a state, and being united in a parliament-type system with the various committees that exist now.
Now, before you leap at my throat, yes, this is globalization. My response is: tough cookies, it’ll happen eventually anyway. We might as well pave the road for it. I don’t think even an optimal plan can be implemented for another 50-100 years, since (as I hypothseized above) continentalization needs to take place first.
But until then, we have to look at making the UN less of a paper tiger.