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tion of the kind of world economic system and social order we wish to establish and live under. It challenges us to make a series of rational and agreed choices which may be decisive in determining the quality and condition of mankind's future life on the planet."
There was the 1972 Stockholm Conference on Human Environment to tackle the problems of world pollution, the International Narcotics Conference and Control Board to control the illicit international narcotics trade, the SALT talks to arrest the nuclear arms race, the frantic monetary conferences to stabilize the international economy, the efforts toward control of international terrorism, the world conferences on population and hunger.
There is the critical problem of a global approach to the task of eliminating the pollution of the world waterways and utilizing the seas as a course of food and raw materials. This involves 70 percent of the earth's surface and its utilization of the oceans as a source of food supply to the world population. The Caracas Law of the Sea Conference in 1974 initiated through the U.N. made a start in tackling this difficult problem.
The universal urgency of solving, or at least easing, the pressing global problems may well transcend disagreements on nuclear arms control for at that point our very survival will be at stake. Sovereignty will need to bow to the primacy of survival. The past failures and ineptness of the U.N. may be viewed as part of the growing-up process by which nations learn to work together in pecaceful co-existence, striving cooperatively to survive. In the meantime, it behooves nations and leaders to strengthen the U.N. step by step for that day when its availability will be crucial, and that day is now.
It is reasonable to assume that at least in the foreseeable future there will be no definitive resolution of the basic ideological conflict and differences which now divide the world. Yet, it is equally reasonable to assume that the economic inter-dependence and the mutual interests of nations in solving and easing the crucial world problems will necessitate expanding areas of cooperation despite basic differences. There is evidence of this all around us.
It is a much different world in which we live. Global problems require a global approach and a global approach involves effective international organization. And there is in existence today only one truly universal organization—the U.N. As Richard J. Walton has noted, "It is easy to scorn the United Nations but can anyone suggest an alternative? Or imagine the world without it?"
Contrasting the global approach to the current scurrying for new international relationships and balances of power, is it to be expected that the latter policy can more readily solve or ease world problems and that the superpowers and their separate allies or satellites can manage the world problems affecting all nations? The experience of the past twenty-nine years clearly impels a negative answer. Neither the U.S. with its friendship and mutual defense treaties such as NATO and SEATO nor the Soviet Union with the Warsaw Pact and its many friendship and mutual defense treaties has brought peace to the world or cleared the road for relative peaceful co-existence.
The balance of power approach is no more valid today than the nuclear "balance of terror" during the past three decades, nor will the balance of power approach to peace be more effective than it was prior to World War II, prior to World War I, and prior to other European wars during the 19th Century.
As Harry S. Ashmore has written, “The nations face common problems of great urgency as technology steadily increases the possibility of exploiting traditionally extraterritorial areas in the seas and atmosphere ... Control in these areas is clearly beyond the reach of any national sovereignty; so is the spread of pollution of air and water across national boundaries . . . So far, tentative developments to come with these new technological realities have been outside, or only peripheral to, the U.N. That trend, however, could be reversed if a fundamental reorganization of the U.N. is made possible by the end of the paralyzing bipolar power balance. It should follow that if the U.N. and its agencies are able to take a dominant role in these undertakings the process at the same time would generate support from the member states sufficient for the world organization to assume its unrealized role as focus and guarantor of collective security.”
Therein lies the rationale of strengthening the U.N. to prepare it to take a more crucial and effective role in world affairs. The need for the U.N. will increase as world problems become less manageable on an ad hoc or less than universal basis.
WHAT IS NEEDED.
What indeed Will it take for the nations of the world to realize the potential of the U.N.? After ten years as the late U.N. Secretary-General, U Thant said, "What is required, of course, is a common global ethic, (which, of course, We do not have, except in time of catästrophe), which the human society as a whole wishes implemented . . . When I am asked what I see as the key to a world order that is adequate to assure peace, justice, and progress ... the need for such a global ethic is always the first of three major considerations that come to my mind. The others are modifications of the nation of national sovereignty, (hardly conceivable with the revival of nationalism among nations) and structural adjustments in the world organization (which none of the major powers would support).” (World, July 4, 1972, p. 38.) (Bracketed portion supplies).
But the situation is not without hope.
There is a growing "planetary awareness," with the increasing concern about the common global problems of environment, poverty, health and nuclear war.
As the global approach to international problems is expanded the U.N. conceivably can come into its own. With or without major structural changes, again as U Thant has noted. “There is no alternative to the U.N. as the major focus for the building of a world order guaranteeing peace, justice and progress for all peoples.” Going and looking to the U.N. yet may become a pattern of international life.
No, the U.N. is not dead. It is reborn with each major crisis. It deserves continued U.S. support.
What will be needed to procure the enthusiastic and important support of the UN by the major powers? Perhaps, as former U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright recently noted, “A long period of trouble and education combined-getting into crises one after another."
But then it may be too late!