By Congressman Jerry P. Treñas
The United Nations (UN) is arguably the most important organization ever established in the history of the world. Originally, there were less than 50 states which ratified the UN Charter. Today, the UN has 193 sovereign member states.
Prior to the establishment of the UN, international relations can best be described as anarchic. There was no world order or a set of international laws which could enforce global diplomatic, economic and military relations. Perhaps it is best to take a quick look at the history of the development of the modern-day concept of a nation-state and how the UN came into being in order to truly appreciate the UN.
The concept of a sovereign nation state began to take shape after the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 ended the Thirty Years War in Europe, as a new order of sovereign states emerged after centuries of empires and personality or monarch-based rule. The development of nation-states, however, proved that it is difficult to maintain cordial diplomatic relations among states while respecting the complete sovereignty of states over their respective territorial dominions. This became apparent when the nations of the world discovered that they are interdependent with one another, especially in terms of sharing and trading scarce resources. The new socio-political paradigm of statehood initially brought peace, but the imperialistic ambitions of states were left unchecked due to the lack of an international congress. This was evident during the Age of Imperialism which culminated in the 19th Century, the Napoleonic Wars, and the First World War in 1914-1918.
The series of international conflicts among states caused the establishment of the League of Nations, the precursor of the UN. The League, however, failed to maintain peace, as World War 2 broke out just two decades after the end of the First World War. After the Allied victory against the Axis powers ended World War w, the nations of the world decided to establish the UN.
The UN has successfully maintained relative peace throughout the world for the past 6 decades. Although numerous wars were fought and are still being fought, the UN has been instrumental in preventing any conflict among the major powers of the world, thus preventing a nuclear holocaust which could destroy our entire civilization. The UN also maintains numerous peace-keeping missions throughout the globe.
As we raise the flag of the United Nations, let us always remember the reason behind the establishment of this great international organization. The UN is here to ensure peaceful and cordial co-existence among the nations of the world. Our world may be composed of numerous sovereign states, but we are all united by our common desire to build a peaceful global community.