In an interview with Campus Progress, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Samantha Power asks a very pertinent question — and provides an impressively on-the-mark answer that bears repetition:
What is the United Nations? The United Nations is going to reflect the priorities of those 192 [member] countries. We’ve got to get some number of those countries to take 21st century challenges seriously. Then you’ll see the United Nations as an organization follow suit.
It won’t work to start by saying, “Oh, the United Nations needs to take failing states, repression, and genocide seriously.” That’s like saying a building needs to take certain things seriously. The United Nations will start taking those thing seriously when the member states within it reallocate resources appropriately.
One of those member states, of course — and the one best positioned to provide resources for the UN’s ambitious endeavors — is the United States. Yet the U.S., instead of providing the support that would help the UN achieve its goals, deeply underfunds the world body and even chastises it for not taking stronger action on crises like Darfur.
If you haven’t read Power’s new book yet — which, as she describes it, is about not just the United Nations, but about how citizens and governments address complicated global challenges — then I strongly urge you to check it out.