See a well-produced video that was entered in the United Nations contest on short films on Human Rights. Also featuring Coldplay's "Life in Technicolor".
Although security was the founders' major consideration, economic and social questions now share the limelight. The UN's success in promoting decolonization and self-determination has led to the entry of a host of former colonies whose primary concern is with economic development and the devising of a new international economic order. Since 1945 enormous changes in science and technology have given international conventions, laws and infrastructures new dimensions that embrace such things as space law, commerce, travel, seabed mining, satellite communication, etc. Consequently, specialized agencies such as the World Health Organization and the UN High Commission for Refugees have in fact more rather than fewer issues to handle and the International Court of Justice has an agenda that goes far beyond the adjudication of political disputes.
The UN is essentially a network of institutions for multilateral diplomacy rather than a world government, and as such its achievements depend upon the collective strength of its members. That is why it has been unable to resolve such perennial problems as the escalating arms race, regional conflicts in the Middle East, Cambodia and Cyprus, human rights violations in South Africa, the increasing gap between rich and poor and refugees.
The 1980s revealed signs of severe strains in the organization. Years of withholding assessed funds for programs which did not meet donor's expectations, together with irresponsible financial management and duplication combined to put its continued operation in jeopardy and, in agencies such as UNESCO, led to the withdrawal of the US and United Kingdom. Canada preferred to work from within to reform the organization rather than become a disengaged critic.
Along with restraint came some notable successes which served to bolster confidence in the UN system: a declaration on international TERRORISM, a massive famine relief program for Africa; and the superpowers' use of the UN as a forum for reaching world opinion on arms control and the Iran-Iraq Gulf War.
For Canada, which was so active in the founding of most of the UN's organs, the UN remains its best hope for influencing the decisions of other nations through consensus building. It has been at the forefront in promoting universality of membership in the UN. While it may no longer be in a position to play the mediatory role that it did in resolving the SUEZ CRISIS of 1956, it is no less committed to peacemaking and has moved with the times to make its unique contribution of constructive internationalism through such means as verification procedures.
By population Canada ranks about fortieth in the world and among the Western industrialized nations it ranks seventh, but it is the fourth largest financial contributor to the UN system. Canada believes that in combination with other nations lies the best hope for dealing with global problems such as pollution, racial discrimination, hunger, sexual discrimination, and others that trouble and ultimately affect Canadians. However frustrating the UN system may at times appear, its essential purpose is being served as long as it provides the principal forum for discussing these issues and avoids the centuries-old effort to create a world order.
See also EXTERNAL RELATIONS.
Author JOHN W. HOLMES AND DON PAGE
Links to Other Sites
The official website of the United Nations.
United Nations Association of Canada
The official website of the United Nations Association of Canada.
United Nations Maps and Geographic Information Resources
The United Nations cartographic website offers a searchable database of regional political maps.
This political map of the World shows national boundaries, country names, and major ocean features. From the Atlas of Canada.
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
This website features the text of the Honourable Lester Bowles Pearson’s acceptance speech upon presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957. Produced by The United Nations Association in Canada.
Top 10 Things Canadians Should Know About Canada
Click on the 101things.ca link to discover the top 10 things people should know about Canada, a list developed from a national survey of what Canadians felt were the 101 people, places, symbols, events and innovations that most define our nation. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Louis S. St. Laurent National Historic Site of Canada
This Parks Canada site commemorating the childhood home of Louis S. St. Laurent features a profile of the life and political career of the former Prime Minister. Also includes an extensive overview of the prominent domestic and international political issues during his tenure.
United Nations News Service
Search for current news about United Nations programs and personnel.
UNICEF programs focus on the health, education and safety needs of children around the world. UNICEF also provides assistance to children involved in natural disasters and other emergency situations.
Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations
The website for the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations.
United Nations World Food Programme
The website for the United Nations World Food Programme.
A quarterly Canadian magazine devoted to peacemaking, disarmament, conflict resolution, global stability, and related concerns. Offers online articles and letters from current and previous editions (from January 1983 to present). Also, the first Canadian magazine to be produced with desktop publishing software. From the Canadian Disarmament Information Service.
The Memory Project: The United Nations and the Korean War
Listen to an interview with Canadian veteran Frank Dyke about his military service in the Korean War. Also check out related digitized artefacts and memorabilia. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.