The Real Function of the United Nations
>From Carol Wolner:
Dr. Robert Muller, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations,
now Chancellor emeritus of the University of Peace in Costa Rica was one of
the people who witnessed the founding of the U.N. and has worked in support
of or inside the U.N. ever since. Recently he was in San Francisco to be
honored for his service to the world through the U.N. and through his
writings and teachings for peace. At age eighty, Dr. Muller surprised, even
stunned, many in the audience
that day with his most positive assessment of where the world stands now
regarding war and peace.
I was there at the gathering and I myself was stunned by his remarks. What
he said turned my head around and offered me a new way to see what is going
on in the world. My synopsis of his remarks is below:
"I'm so honored to be here," he said. "I'm so honored to be alive at such a
miraculous time in history. I'm so moved by what's going on in our world
(: I was shocked. I thought -- Where has he been? What has he been reading?
Has he seen the newspapers? Is he senile? Has he lost it? What is he talking
Dr. Muller proceeded to say, "Never before in the history of the world has
there been a global, visible, public, viable, open dialogue and conversation
about the very legitimacy of war".
The whole world is in now having this critical and historic
dialogue--listening to all kinds of points of view and positions about going
to war or not going to war. In a huge global public conversation the world
is asking-"Is war legitimate? Is it illegitimate? Is there enough evidence
to warrant an attack? Is there not enough evidence to warrant an attack?
What will be the consequences? The costs? What will happen after a war? How
will this set off other conflicts? What might be peaceful alternatives?
What kind of negotiations are we not thinking of? What are the real
intentions for declaring war?"
All of this, he noted, is taking place in the context of the United Nations
Security Council, the body that was established in 1949 for exactly this
purpose. He pointed out that it has taken us more than fifty years to
realize that function, the real function of the U.N. And at this moment in
history--the United Nations is at the
center of the stage. It is the place where these conversations are
happening, and it has become in these last months and weeks, the most
powerful governing body on earth, the most powerful container for the
world's effort to wage peace rather than war. Dr. Muller was almost in tears
in recognition of the fulfillment of this dream.
"We are not at war," he kept saying. We, the world community, are WAGING
peace. It is difficult, hard work. It is constant and we must not let up.
It is working and it is an historic milestone of immense proportions.
It has never happened before-never in human history-and it is happening
now-every day every hour-waging peace through a global conversation. He
pointed out that the conversation questioning the validity of going to war
has gone on for hours, days, weeks, months and now more than a year, and it
may go on and on. "We're in peacetime," he kept saying. "Yes, troops are
being moved. Yes, warheads are being lined up. Yes, the aggressor is angry
and upset and spending a billion dollars a day preparing to attack. But not
one shot has been fired. Not one life has been lost. There is no war. It's
all a conversation."
It is tense, it is tough, it is challenging, AND we are in the most
significant and potent global conversation and public dialogue in the
history of the world. This has not happened before on this scale ever
before-not before WWI or WWII, not before Vietnam or Korea, this is new and
it is a stunning new era of Global listening, speaking, and responsibility.
In the process, he pointed out, new alliances are being formed. Russia and
China on the same side of an issue is an unprecedented outcome. France and
Germany working together to wake up the world to a new way of seeing the
situation. The largest peace demonstrations in the history of the world are
taking place--and we are not at war! Most peace demonstrations in recent
history took place when a war was already waging, sometimes for years, as in
the case of Vietnam.
"So this," he said, "is a miracle. This is what "waging peace " looks like."
No matter what happens, history will record that this is a new era, and that
the 21st century has been initiated with the world in a global dialogue
looking deeply, profoundly and responsibly as a global community at the
legitimacy of the actions of a nation that is desperate to go to war.
Through these global peace-waging efforts, the leaders of that nation are
being engaged in further dialogue, forcing them to rethink, and allowing all
nations to participate in the serious and horrific decision to go to war or
Dr. Muller also made reference to a recent New York Times article that
pointed out that up until now there has been just one superpower-the United
States, and that that has created a kind of blindness in the vision of the
U.S. But now, Dr. Muller asserts, there are two superpowers: the United
States and the merging, surging voice of the people of the world.
All around the world, people are waging peace. To Robert Muller, one of the
great advocates of the United Nations, it is nothing short of a miracle and
it is working.