The United Nations and Its Affectiveness Against Terrosim

Peter Monachelli

Professor Kathrine Gray

English Composition II

April 2, 2015

The United Nations and Its Effectiveness Against Terrorism:

Since the day it was founded on October 24, 1945, the United Nations was designed to be the rallying point for all the nations of the world; an organization that would enforce international law and preserve world peace. Although a lot of emphasis is placed on this organization as a potential solution to many of the worlds problems, the UN’s effectiveness is highly debated, especially against one particular issue that many people in this modern world today know and fear: terrorism.

One particular aspect that is noticeable in the fight against terrorism is that the UN is not sending its own soldiers to fight terrorist extremists, and guard weaker countries against terror influences and organizations. As seen in the war in Afghanistan and other conflicts throughout the Middle East, it is clear that the main body of troops combating terrorists are United States soldiers. This is demonstrated throughout a heavy American presence in the Middle East; a region riddled with terrorist groups and their allies. There is a presence of other countries aiding in the war against terror as well, but still the majority of troops are from the United States. There is a reason as to why this is so. In 2001, when George W. Bush was president, the war on terrorism escalated after the terrorist attack on The Twin Towers and The Pentagon, where Middle Eastern hijackers flew passenger planes into the buildings, killing over three thousand people. Bush, with the approval of congress, declared these atrocities as “an act of war” (Fighting on Two Fronts: A Chronology. PBS, Frontline. April 3, 2015. Page 1). The next day, September 12, 2001, the United Nations passed a bill titled Resolution 1368, which states that by condemning the attacks against the United States, the UN calls forth everyone from the international community “to bring justice to the perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors of these terrorist attacks…” (Fighting on Two Fronts: A Chronology. PBS, Frontline. April 3, 2015. Page 1). The United States then proceeded to send troops to the Middle East, particularly to Afghanistan, in search for those responsible for the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the mastermind behind it; Osama Bin Laden. However, even though the United Nations called for justice against the terrorist attacks against the US, the UN is questioned for hesitating the use of force and military actions; and whether a nation can use military force in retaliation to terrorism is still highly debated amongst the UN Security Council (The Use of Force against Terrorist, Christian J. Tams, Author Afilliations. Oxford Journal, European Journal Of international Law. Volume 20, Issue 2. April 3, 2015. Pages 359–397).

The United Nations states that terrorism is a threat to international security and world peace as stated in the excerpt from the UN Security Council:

“Also by the text, the Council held that any act of international terrorism was a threat to international peace and security. It also called on the international community to redouble its efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts, including by increased cooperation and full implementation of the relevant international anti-terrorist conventions and Council resolutions.” (Security Council Condemns, ‘In Strongest Terms’, Terrorist Attacks on the United States. UN Security Council Press Release. 4370 Meeting. Published September 12, 2001. April 3, 2015. Page 1).

Overall, the United Nations, since the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, has called for all members of the international community to work together to combat terrorism worldwide. The United Nations has clearly declared war on terrorist organizations and those who would aid and harbor terrorists. However, despite declaring its noble goal to preserve world peace and rid the world of terror, from the looks of it, the issue is not whether the UN has the will to fight terrorism, but how the UN will fight terrorism.

The United Nations has been designed since its foundation in 1945 to preserve world peace and enforce international law. In spite of this, in order to preserve world peace and defeat those who would threaten it, it is clear that some degree of military action is required, along with a well thought out strategy to do so. This excerpt from the United Nations plan to defeat terrorism shows the steps as to how the UN plans to defend against terrorism:

“1) Helping Member States to counter terrorism:

Combating terrorism is integral to the entire mandate of the United Nations. The UN Charter sets out the purposes of the Organization, which include the maintenance of international peace and security, to take collective measures to prevent threats to peace and suppress aggression and to promote human rights and economic development…”(United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

“2) Universal condemnation of terrorism:

In a resolution adopted on 9 September 2010, the General Assembly reiterated its strong and unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, as it constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. The United Nations serves as a unique global forum that provides the highest level of universal legitimacy for Member States to send a unified, clear, principled and immutable message that terrorism is unacceptable no matter who commits it and for whatever reason… “(United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

“ 3) Creating the global legal Foundations:

One of the more powerful achievements of the United Nations system has been the establishment of a regime of international treaties and conventions. It is these international treaties that provide the legal framework for the suppression of terrorist acts and the pursuit of perpetrators of terrorism, and set out ways to limit illicit access to the tools terrorists need…”(United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

“4) Addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism:

There is wide agreement among countries that the fight against terrorism must include an approach that also looks at its long-term components. This agreement is reflected in the global counter-terrorism strategy which addresses the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism…”(United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

“5) Preventing terrorists acts and Denying terrorists access to WMD’s:

Since 2002 the International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA) has helped States to improve nuclear security inter alia through providing training to over 10,000 individuals, securing over 5,700 radioactive sources in nearly 40 States, upgrading the physical protection at over 100 sites in more than 30 States and providing 56 States with approximately 4,000 instruments for radiation detection activities…”(United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

“6) Curbing terrorists financing:

The Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee has imposed an asset freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo with respect to approximately 250 individuals and 90 entities associated with the Al-Qaida organization. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has organized specialized briefing and training for approximately 12,000 national criminal justice officials from 2003 to June 2011…”(United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

“7) Developing state capacity to combat terrorism:

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has assisted 168 countries in becoming parties to and implementing the universal instruments related to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism, and provided advice on counter-terrorism legislation to 81 countries as of June 2011. The World Health Organization developed a global laboratory network to respond to outbreaks and biological threats…”(United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

“8) Defending Human Rights:

The actions of the United Nations, whether they aim at denying terrorists the means to carry out an attack, deter states in assisting terrorists, or developing the capacities of states to combat terrorism, never are at the expense of human rights. In fact, the United Nations has placed the protection of human rights — of the victims of terrorism — at the centre of its counter-terrorism work…”(United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

Even though the UN has a very well laid out plan in regards to combating, defeating, and preventing terrorism, throughout the plan listed by the United Nations Department of Public Information, there is much that is said about imposing sanctions, implementing trade restrictions, cutting off funding, and addressing the conditions that cause these terrorist activities; there is little next to nothing about using military action or actually engaging terrorists in combat (United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015).

In all honesty, by the looks of how the United Nations is combating terrorism and the plan that they have written and implemented, it is safe to assume that the United Nations either avoids military action or is hoping that its members will do it for them; for example the United States. According to the United Nations military web page, the UN military has an estimated 97,000 troops on the ground who come from over one hundred and ten different countries around the world, and the jobs of these troops are to monitor a disputed border, monitor and observe peace processes in post conflict areas, provide security across a conflict zone, protect civilians, assist in-country military personnel with training and support, assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements that they may have signed (Military. United Nations Peacekeeping. UN Web Services, Peacekeeping Issues. April 3, 2015. Page 1). Once again it is clear to see that even though the UN has a military and will assists independent countries with their conflicts, the UN has less than one hundred thousand soldiers at its disposal and is reluctant to send the organization’s own soldiers into combat. This just shows that the UN is not only unwilling to aid in war zones, it is also unwilling to do so. As a result of this, it is evident that there is little that the UN and its military can do to combat terrorism around the globe.

In conclusion, the United Nations was designed to be a peacekeeper organization for the entire world, but it has failed in regards to protecting the world from terrorist groups and those who would aid such forces. Even though the UN has a plan to defeat terrorism, the plan is flawed in that imposing sanctions and trade restrictions will stop terrorist activities. To make the situation even more dire, the UN does have a military force, but is reluctant to send it into combat zones, and even so, there are not enough troops in the ranks to combat global terrorism. The UN can make all the sanctions and legislation against terrorists for as long as the UN exists, but the sad truth is that no matter how many papers are signed and approved, unless some degree of enforcement and military action is taken, terrorists will continue to kill and destroy whomever they please with little resistance. So when it comes to the war on terrorism, there is limited affect that the UN can have upon it, and it is ultimately the responsibility of the individual and strong countries, such as the United States, to handle these never ending threats of terrorism.

Resources and References:

- Fighting on Two Fronts: A Chronology. PBS, Frontline. April 3, 2015. Page 1

The Use of Force against Terrorist, Christian J. Tams, Author Afilliations. Oxford Journal, European Journal Of international Law. Volume 20, Issue 2. April 3, 2015. Pages 359–397

- Security Council Condemns, ‘In Strongest Terms’, Terrorist Attacks on the United States. UN Security Council Press Release. 4370 Meeting. Published September 12, 2001. April 3, 2015. Page 1.

- United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism. United nations Counter Terrorism Strategy. UN Web services Section, Department of Public Information. April 3, 2015.

- Military. United Nations Peacekeeping. UN Web Services, Peacekeeping Issues. April 3, 2015. Page 1