By: Jozefien Van Caeneghem
On 24 October, the world celebrates United Nations Day, to commemorate 24 October 1945 when the United Nations Charter entered into force and so founded the United Nations. Also on 24 October, yet a few years later, in 1949, the first cornerstone of the present United Nations Headquarters in New York was laid. Originally counting 51 members, the international organization has grown over the years to include 193 members today, with South-Sudan being the last country to enter the United Nations in 2011. United Nations Day was declared to teach people around the world about the aims and achievements of the United Nations, which include among others: peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and economic development. While it is incontrovertible that the United Nations has managed to realize amazing achievements on a worldwide scale in a number fields–not the least world peace and the advancement of human rights–that no other organization has managed to ever do before, the United Nations has been increasingly criticized over the past few decennia for a variety of reasons, including inter alia for its bureaucratic inefficiency, the composition and functioning of the Security Council, and even corruption. With the United Nations approaching its seventieth anniversary exactly one year from today, one can only hope that the organization will manage to surmount the criticisms and retain its credibility and unique position on the world arena for many more United Nations Days to come.
Jozefien Van Caeneghem is a visiting scholar at Berkeley Law, a BAEF Hoover Foundation Brussels Fellow and a PhD candidate at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.