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ISSUE 116 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/21/2003

Speakers debate relevance of UN

By Julie Gunderson
News Editor

Friday, March 21, 2003

On Tuesday evening, the day after Britain, the United States and Spain pulled their latest Iraq resolution off the U.N. table, students gathered to hear a discussion on the relevance of the United Nations.

Kathy Kersten, from the Center for the American Experiment, presented her views on the shortcomings of the organization. David Sutton, from the United Nations Association of Minnesota, defended the U.N. as an essential player in international diplomacy.

Kersten began the dinner by saying that the U.N. was incapable of enforcing its own resolutions. Kersten cited the 17 Iraq resolutions the organization has yet to demand that Hussein comply with.

Kersten also put the U.N.’s failures in a historical context, citing examples of U.N. appeasement that led to mass killings in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo.

"The U.N. has only acted with authority in two cases: The first Gulf War and the Korean War, both which were spearheaded by the United States," Kersten said.

Sutton reminded the audience of important functions of the U.N. that make the organization relevant for today’s world. Sutton cited U.N. branches such as the Human Rights Organization, the World Hunger Organization, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization.

"If the U.N. didn’t exist, we would have to reinvent it," Sutton said, "because its goals are essential."

Kersten said that massive restructuring of the U.N. was needed for it to become a vital entity. Kersten called the current structure "a snapshot of 1945," the year the organization was created. She suggested changes such as expanding the U.N. Security Council and having other nations spend part of GDP on their militaries so the U.S. wouldn’t have to bear the financial burden of the organizations decisions.

Kersten also questioned why nations such as Libya, with a history of human rights violations, were heading up the U.N.’s human rights organization.

Kersten said that the fundamental problem with the U.N. was its utopian world view.

"The idea that war is always a failure of the imagination, that aggression is always negative," Kersten said, "is wrong. In certain cases, aggression is important when confronting threats. The policy of appeasement, as we saw with World War II, showed that terrible consequences can result."

Sutton said that the essence of the U.N. laid in the discussion of the international community that came from the body.

"Nothing is going to happen unless everyone wants it to happen," Sutton said. "You can’t just say that the U.N. didn’t do this or they didn’t do that. You have to say that these members didn’t do this or they didn’t do that and then look at the reasons why they acted that way."

Sutton also said that with the U.S. as the lone superpower in the world, it would be reckless for our country to abandon the U.N. altogether.

"It’s irreplaceable. We shouldn’t just trash it and walk away like a little kid who didn’t get their way," Sutton said. "The role of the U.N. is essential; without it, what vehicle would we have for addressing world concerns?"

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