Monday October 12, 2020
Distrust of the United Nations is a feeling that transcends political ideologies. Even many who view the UN as an essential institution gripe about the composition of its councils and its mounting listlessness over the last few decades. From charges of appeasement to accusations of moral relativism and beyond, the UN is regularly decried as an ineffectual circus of multinational bureaucrats, purposely or unwittingly promoting the interests of a global elite and undermining the sovereignty of nations. Conspiracy theorists, rarely inclined to subtlety, see it as a Trojan horse for a New World Order, paving the way for a supranational world government.
Nevertheless, many of those complaints (and some of those suspicions, at least circumstantially) are justified. Despite its foundational goal of “maintain[ing] international peace and security” the UN has clung to an increasingly desultory role since its formation after World War II, adding mostly ineffective missions along the way.
Although the monitoring of human rights has been a part of the US mission since its founding, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up in 1948; during the 1980s it began picking up steam. With the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, that focus was formalized and infrastructure (a High Commissioner, with an office and staff) added.