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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

U is for United Nations


Recently, I was searching for the Harris poll for some reason, and the first hit I got was http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/. Looks like the home page, right? Nope. It was the results of a Harris poll reported December 17, 2008 about the United Nations: Majorities of Adults in Five Largest European Countries and the U.S. Believe United Nations Does More Good Than Harm. "Three–quarters of French adults (75%), two-thirds of Italians (69%), Germans (67%) and Britons (65%) and at least three in five Spaniards (63%) and Americans (60%) all say the UN does more good than harm."

Frankly, as an American, this surprised me. I hear a lot from the naysayers, not just in the media but even in my personal life, about what the survey calls "some of the harsher rhetoric towards the United Nations sometimes heard in the United States".

Interestingly, the only real diffence between the Europeans and the American POV is that most Europeans believe the UN headquarters should move out of the United States, while most Americans believe believe it should stay. again. Again, this is milldly surprising, because many Americans who complain the most about the UN kvetch about world leaders, such as Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad coming to "our" country with their anti-American rhetoric. Of course, UN territory is NOT US territory, though one has to fly into US territory to get there.


One certainly argue the efficacy of armed troops in the conflicts the world has had over the past 60 years or so. There's little doubt, however , as to the importance of programs such as fighting hunger and disease. Here are 60 ways the UN believes it makes a difference. 9 December has been designated as International Anti-Corruption Day to raise awareness of the issue. And, of course, there's a meeting going on in Copenhagen dealing with climate change.

As a librarian, I'm also interested in those less glamourous issues. The United Nations is cited as a great source for international data.

Also, WIPO Expands Searchable Patent Application Database
The United Nation's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva recently announced an expansion of its online free searchable patent application database. In addition to containing an existing 1.65 million international patents filed for protection under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) from 30 countries, the database now includes digital information for 1.49 million additional records from the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Israel, South Africa, Singapore, Vietnam, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), and Cuba.


I always wondered how the world would have turned out of the League of Nations, which US President Woodrow Wilsonb supported but which ythe United States failed to join, had been more successful, for instance, in treating the Weimer Republic more equitably. Could World War II been averted? Possibly not.

But I'm of tyhe opinion that nations need to keep talking, if only to try to stem the possibility of World War III.


*United Nations Suez Meeting (n.d., presumably 1956). Photographer: Carl Mydans
*Irish UN troops in the Katanga Province, former Belgian Congo, Africa. Date taken: 1961
*UN guard guarding the United Nations Building. Location: New York, NY, US. Date taken: July 1958. Photographer: Ralph Morse
*United Nations (translators?) Date taken: October 10, 1949. Photographer: Thomas Mcavoy
Pictures, again, from LIFE.com
ROG

18 comments:

anthonynorth said...

An interesting post. As for myself, I think the UN does a lot of good in their less public programmes, but in the main elements of world affairs it fails because of the post-WWII structure imposed on it. As for WWII itself, I think it was inevitable. I tend to call the period 1871-1989 the Philosophy Wars as competing world systems battled it out for supremacy. The central characters such as Hitler, etc, were incidental, and would have appeared in some form.

Uthaclena said...

Americans seem more inclined than many Europeans toward obvious interventions - military activity is more self-evident than vaccinations, education, or food distribution - and since the U.N. is not primarily a military mission, I think our countrymen tend to view that as "failure." We also think that we're the preeminent Leaders of the Whole Damn World, and if everybody else doesn't do it Our way, that is more "proof" that it's a failed organization. We don't much like negotiation (talking instead of acting) or compromise (Leaders don't have to compromise, damn it!!), either...

Sylvia K said...

Excellent post for the day and very interesting.

Have a great day!

Sylvia

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent post - as always this one is informative and full of provocative thought!

Rose said...

I'm not sure how effective the U.N. is in peace-keeping, but I certainly wouldn't want to see it disbanded. Trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement first is always preferable. I think we often forget the other worthwhile U.N. programs that don't get as much notice, like the ones you've mentioned here. Very thought-provoking!

magiceye said...

very interesting post.

Lily Hydrangea said...

I love all these old photos.
I'm not sure if there is any way to really know if the UN does more good than harm.
As for Ahmadinejad being allowed through our country to get to the UN-I just wish he didn't get so much attention for it. It made me sick listening to his speech every time I turned on the radio.
Thanks for the interesting post.

Gattina said...

Very interesting post. I am for the United Nations without any doubts !

Spiderdama said...

This is a great and interesting post for U!;-)
Have a nice day!

Autumn Belle @ KDP said...

I remember that UN should mean peace to the world, especially just after the World War. I hope we never have to live through another WW.

jabblog said...

Interesting post. I'm in favour of the UN - jaw jaw is to be preferred to war war.

Reader Wil said...

The United Nations are a necessity: after WWII we were bound to be united with all allies.It was good then, but the decisions taken now are often very wrong. It's understandable that the USA had the leading role and small countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Danmark... had to follow whatever the 5 largest countries decided. Yet I feel that our government is too obedient to what the USA government wants us to do. Fighting in Afghanistan for instance! I sincerely hope that we are going to withdraw our troups from that country.

SparkleFarkle said...

Great, vintage-y UN shots! (Ever since I was a smitch) my mind's eye always sees the United Nations as futuristic.

jay said...

Well, those statistics do surprise me! All the people I'm met think the UN does a good job, though it needs a few more teeth. Maybe it wouldn't work so well if it had them though ... ?

Beverley Baird said...

Now that is such an interesting post - I've learned quite a bit. Thanks so much for all the info on the UN.

Joy said...

It has a noble aim and may fall short of its charter but it is the only organisation we have. Maybe in a millenium or two our species, if it has not destroyed itself, might be able to live together in peace and freedom as stated in the UN charter.

Dragonstar said...

A thoughtful post.

I hope you are well again now.

Irene said...

I can't imagine not having a United Nations. Dialogue hopefully paves the way for action in areas like climate change etc.