On January 6, 2017, we took a guided tour of the United Nations (UN) and learned about international peacemaking. We had the opportunity of seeing the inside of several chambers where UN members make decisions regarding international legislation and security, in addition to general peace talks between UN members.
There are five permanent members (United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia) and ten temporary members (Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Ukraine, Uruguay, Sweden, Senegal, Japan, Kazakhstan) who guide the majority of the UN’s actions in regard to military in the Security Council. However, there are also other assemblies that meet in more equitable circumstances that include other member countries where other important discussions occur. The UN serves as an institution where countries work to solve major world problems, offer assistance to each other, and hold each other accountable to international law.
I was especially intrigued by the conceptual symbolism behind some of the gifts member states contributed to the UN. For example, the tapestries in the main lobby symbolize war upon entry and peace upon exit of the UN. This is supposed to illustrate the idea that the world was broken with war before the institution of the UN, but the unity of member countries result in peace.
As a future lawyer who is currently most interested in human rights, I found our visit to the UN to be incredibly valuable and fascinating. The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides 30 statements that vest power in every citizen of UN member states that are meant to transcend individual member state policies and culture. While many of the UN’s declarations are not successfully implemented across the world, I greatly appreciate the international collective efforts to develop declarations, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because it demonstrates that the world has a common goal toward peace.
Because of the UN, individual states are limited in their abilities to assert themselves in the international community in certain ways. Regardless of power, size, or contribution, there are certain regulations that every member country must abide to in order to benefit from the UN’s privileges. So, for example, President-Elect Donald Trump will lead arguably the most powerful country in the world, but many of his political goals are contrary to the UN’s provisions and he will therefore be prohibited from instating many of his policies.