5 Times the United Nations was Completely Useless

By Amelia Hamilton Published on October 24, 2015

During a rapid-fire interview, GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson recently told Glenn Beck: “I do not like the United Nations and unless they change I would not participate, I would defund them.” The mainstream media are treating his statement as just the latest outrage from a candidate who refuses to accept the media-dictated bounds of respectability.

But is it really so outrageous?

Seventy years ago, on October 24, 1945, the United Nations came into being. The goal was to replace the ineffective League of Nations with an organization that would actually accomplish international co-operation in the wake of World War II. Of course, they have not really succeeded. A big, sluggish governing body mired in politics is simply not able to act nimbly when situations require it and, even when they could have acted more quickly, the UN has failed.

Since 1948, October 24th has been “celebrated” as United Nations Day. In its honor, here are 5 times when the UN was completely useless:


Their Response to Terrorism

In 1968, El Al Israel flight 426 was hijacked by a Palestinian terrorist organization, an act that many experts agree was the first act of modern terrorism. What did the United Nations do? They condemned it, and did nothing else as terrorism continued. After 9/11, they went a bit further, by “outlawing” terrorism and punishing Al Quaeda and the Taliban. However, other terrorist groups were not addressed and for them, it is business as usual. The UN has no agreed-upon definition of terrorism — how could it, since it has several terror-sponsoring states among its members? — it’s not surprising that it has been largely useless in fighting it.

Rwandan Genocide

Following a civil war, relations between the Hutu and the Tutsis in Rwanda were at a boiling point. UN peacekeepers arrived to secure the capital and undertake humanitarian work in 1993, but were not authorized to achieve these goals through military maneuvers. In January of 1994, a cable was sent to the UN warning that the Hutu were planning genocide against the Tutsis, a cable that was ignored and never given to the Security Council. Nearly 1 million Rwandans were killed in the genocide that followed.

Rape and Child Sex Abuse

In early 2005, UN Peacekeepers in Cambodia were accused of raping or paying women and young girls for sex, people they were supposed to be protecting. These reports have also shown a similar pattern of behavior in Haiti, Kosovo, Bosnia and other areas. In fact, areas with UN Peacekeepers on site were also found to have a rapid rise in child prostitution. In many instances, it was found that these children were raped, and then given candy or a small amount of money to make the act appear to be prostitution. UN Officials were more concerned with the reputation of the UN, however, so to ensure that nations would feel comfortable calling upon them, they refused to condemn these peacekeepers.


The town of Srebnica, Bosnia, made international news in 1995 due to their experience in the Bosnian War. The war, which began in 1992, was the result of the secessionist Bosnian Serbs determined to separate Serbs from other ethnicities in Bosnia. The village was held by Serbian soldiers, then retaken from Bosnian forces. In 1993, the United Nations named Srebnica, swelling with refugees, a safe zone, guarded by a Dutch United Nations Protection Force.

In 1995, having been given protection by the Dutch battalion under UN command to ensure that the city would remain safe, all militarized units were forced to disarm. Approximately  8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were subsequently killed by Serb forces, the worst act of mass murder in Europe since World War II, while women and children were transferred to other towns. The Dutch UN commander was pictured in a celebratory moment with general Ratio Mladic, the Serb commander.

Khmer Rouge

Pol Pot was the communist dictator at the head of the Khmer Rouge, which ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979. Under his command, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Christians were executed, as well as any person of whom the regime was suspicious. In all, the Khmer Rouge killed 2.5 million Cambodians, a third of the population. Pol Pot’s rule was ended in 1979 when Vietnamese forces who forced out the dictator and installed their own government. However, the United Nations refused to recognize the new government due to the recent war with the United States. Until 1994, the United Nations continued to recognize the Khmer Rouge as the government,


Sudan was engulfed in conflict in 2003 over the government treatment of non-Arabs. The Sudanese military was bested over and over again, and the government responded by creating the Janjaweed, Arab militants who carried out attacks on villages. Characteristically, the UN condemned these actions, but did nothing tangible to stop it, asking that the African Union intervene instead. 200 UN soldiers were sent to the area in 2006, and fighting continued until 2010, leaving approximately 30,000 Sudanese civilians dead.

No doubt the UN has done some good and noble things, but as a peace-keeping and civilizing force, it’s been woefully inadequate. Slow, ineffective, larded with bureaucracy and a contradictory mandate, the United Nations simply can’t do what it was meant to do. Rather than spreading peace, prosperity and human rights, it largely provides the planet’s despots a platform to pontificate. Do we really need it?

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