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What would be the implications of a a world, exactly like ours but the United Nations is an armed organization. They would have a peaceful aim, and value diplomatic solutions over anything else. They would also do humanitarian work after natural catastrophes. The only difference is that when a country goes against the UN, they risk going at war against the coalition of all UN countries.

For example say that a third world dictatorial country runs fake elections, deny the assistance of international watchers, and obviously cheated on the results. This new armed UN would give said country a warning, asking then tho do new genuine elections with international watchers. If they refuse, after a reasonable amount of time, the UN gives a last warning, asking them to comply or go to war.

For this world all the conventions forbidding weapons of mass destruction, or biological weapons. Also after a country is defeated in war, the UN takes responsibility from its politics, and deploys its humanitarian help until they country can function again.

For the UN to make the decision of declaring a war, they would need at least a 75% approval form all the nations inside the UN that can take the vote.

My question:

What would be the implications of such system?

  • Would it be sustainable, or would mutually assured destruction get us all?
  • How different would history be? Assume this change was implemented after WWII, under the philosophy that a second Hitler wont have chance to do so much damage if the nations are already allied and ready to answer such situations.
  • Would it be abusable? How tight would be the UN's security to avoid going to war against a country for personal reasons of one or more representatives.
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    $\begingroup$ That would be our world you're talking about. There are armed UN peacekeeping forces in many areas, wearing blue berets to show that they're UN forces. As of right now, they are deployed in Western Sahara, Cyprus, Mali, the Golan Heights, Lebanon, Kosovo and several other locations. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Nov 20 '15 at 17:49
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Today’s nations (and certainly post-WW2 nations) would not agree to be part of an organization like this.

The system you are describing sounds like you’re taking the United Nations and sprinkling in some of the militaristic components of NATO. There are big problems with the stability of this structure and it’s unlikely to ever form in the first place.

  1. The United Nations was built to strongly favor the victors of WW2. The Security Council controls most meaningful decision making as it relates to UN intervention in conflicts. The victors from WW2 can veto actions proposed to the Security Council, which results in an imbalance of power at the heart of the organization.

  2. The United Nations is composed of many countries with competing geopolitical interests. There are also many philosophical differences.

  3. There is a substantial imbalance of military strength in the world, which your UN would need to draw from to field its military.

For the UN to exist as you imagine it, all of these issues need to be addressed. However, in the process of addressing them, you will create requirements for membership that no existing countries would accept.

By using a 75% vote to use military action, you are stripping away the veto power of the WW2 victors. They will not like that, and for some countries (particularly Russia and China) this would result in them withdrawing from the organization. If you attempt to maintain veto power or an equivalent, you are maintaining an imbalanced situation that will lessen the likelihood of other countries joining or result in general inaction (imagine Russia or China vetoing every decision to use military force).

By fielding an army, you’re forced to draw from existing armed forces. Drawing the same quantity and quality of forces from each member nation equally isn’t possible, so you will be relying more heavily on nations with larger armies. Now you have some nations who can argue that more of their citizen’s lives are on the line, therefore they should have more power in the UN. They will not be happy with the 75% vote structure. And without their agreement you can’t field a fighting force.

Finally, you’re asking for a strong majority of nations with different ideologies and approaches to diplomacy to agree on one of the most controversial issues of all: military intervention. If member nations are required to provide soldiers there will be even more pushback and an unwillingness to vote for conflict. Unless there is an imminent existential threat to a member nation you are unlikely to see a military vote pass. At this point all you have is a defensive treaty organization, but it’s only going to include members who don’t feel threatened by one another. Now you’re left with a rag-tag group of nations that is not representative of the entire world and exists solely for the preservation of its members. In essence, you have NATO.

The United Nations was created to keep the lines of communication open across the globe and it has succeeded wildly at that goal. As it expanded into humanitarian missions it became easy to forget that basic goal -- one which most nations can agree to take part in. Any insertion of militaristic capabilities substantially complicates the UN's mission and will drastically reduce the nations willing to be involved.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just as a quick point the victors of WW2 are mostly the dominant military world powers today US Russia China, I admit England and France aren't quite on the same level but where is this imbalance you keep talking about? $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Nov 20 '15 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ @sdrawkcabdear The imbalance is that of the 193 member nations of the UN, there are five with substantially more power in the UN (vetoes) and generally those five have the largest militaries. As stated, that imbalance causes a problem when trying to implement a system where everyone's vote holds the same authority. $\endgroup$ – Avernium Nov 20 '15 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Avernium It's quite untrue to suggest that the five permanent Security Council members have the largest militaries. The US, Russia and China have pretty big militaries, but the UK and France are not in the top 20 countries. The top 5 include North Korea and India, just for example. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Nov 20 '15 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeScott - While the size of the British and French militaries is small, and the size of NK and India large, the NK military, in particular, is incapable of long-distance force projection. The Indians are better off in this regard, but still lack experience. For instance, India does not have a functioning aircraft carrier, much less a carrier group. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Nov 21 '15 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ I like the conclusion of basically having NATO, great answer. $\endgroup$ – Silver Nov 23 '15 at 14:35
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As Avernium pointed out, that you would have to explain why the superpowers gave that much power to the UN, especially in view of the Cold War.

On the other hand, the UN was kind of going in that direction in the early years. Remember the Korean war? In was an UN operation (including troops from Ethiopia and Cuba, among many others), which was possible because the Soviet Union had boycotted the UNSC session rather than using their veto. Imagine a world where that had led the Soviets to resign from the UN in disgust.

The western powers, first and foremost the US, could use the UN as a forum to organize global peace enforcement action. The national governments would let the UN recruit expendable ground troops like Gurkhas and still call the shots. As the decades pass, that becomes more and more the customary way to deal with small colonial wars, and big wars between nuclear powers are averted in this setting.

After some time, the delegated power of the UN became actual power because people worldwide believed that this was how things are done. Nobody in Washington, London or Paris would dare to suggest to their voters that they should send the USMC. Let the Blue Helmets (recruited in the third world, paid by the first world) bleed and die. When the Iron Curtain fell, the system expanded eastward.

Some more things to keep in mind for your scenario:

  • Would Liechtenstein and the US get the same number of votes? In the real world, the US got that veto, so the general assembly votes are less relevant.
  • For that matter, how about "one man, one vote"?
  • Is the UN allowed to collect taxes? Perhaps on international trade and financial transactions only?
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Be a democracy or I'll shoot you??

The scenario you mentioned is very strange. The UN invading countries because then have the wrong form of government and then forces a democracy at gun point. Morally what give you the right to choose their form of government? Is it just that you have more people or weapons?

Usually the UN does not do nation building. It just posts guards to try to halt ongoing violence and genocide. This always done with the consent and at the request of the country they are stationed in. This would allow those with more UN votes to conquer those with fewer and would be feared by every nation.

Forcing a democracy is a terrible idea. What if they liked their king, what if there were ongoing violent ethnic tensions that were only being held in check by a brutal central government. In either case forcing a democracy is silly in the first the king will simply be reelected in the second the ethnic/religious group with the most votes will take power and go right back to oppressing the other. You also need incredible by in from the local people to have them fight against corruption and not just vote for their ethnic/religious group, take a look at the new Iraq and Afghanistan governments.

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As Mike Scott points out, the UN already has armed troops. As of 2015, about 97,000 of them. http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/issues/military.shtml

The UN did wage an all-out war once: The Korean War of 1950-1953. While the bulk of the troops were from South Korea and the United States, they fought under a UN flag.

For the most part UN troops are supposed to guard borders to prevent either side from starting a war.

The obvious problem with a more active UN military -- or with the UN military as it exists now -- is: Who decides when they go to war, and with what goals? People are always saying, "Wouldn't it be great if there was a powerful group that could come down hard on tyrants and aggressors and protect the peaceful and the innocent?" The catch is, It's easy to write on a piece of paper, "this group will only use its power to do good". It's much harder to actually make that happen in real life. If you created a world military powerful enough to fight any tyrant, how do you prevent the people who control that world military from becoming tyrants themselves?

In practice, the UN's record has been pretty spotty. In the 1950s they sent peacekeeping troops to prevent a war between Israel and the Arabs. Then Egypt decided they were ready to start a war, so they told the UN to remove the troops, and the UN immediately complied.

There have been a number of scandals were UN troops stole from people they were supposed to be protecting, raped the women, and other atrocities.

All told, have UN troops done more good than harm? I'd say yes, but I'm sure there are those who would disagree. The point is, they are not an army of incorruptible angels. And the more powerful you made them, the more tempting it would be for tyrants or would-be tyrants to gain control of them.

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  • $\begingroup$ I understand the risk, and the point of my question was exactly that. How expltaible and risky is such idea, and is it a viable idea with enough security meassures so they wont be able to become the tyrants? Honestly I dont think so, but I wanted to know if it was somehow possible $\endgroup$ – Silver Nov 20 '15 at 20:22

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