At this year’s annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly there was less idealistic posturing and more hard work done on the most intractable of problems — Syria’s violent civil war and Iran’s nuclear activities. The United States worked with and relied on the U.N. system to advance its interests and move towards the goal of establishing international peace.
One purpose of the U.N. Security Council is to regulate the legitimate use of force in the international arena. The willingness of the administration of US President Barack Obama to forego military action against Syria in favor of a coordinated diplomatic solution to rid the nation of its deadly stockpile of chemical weapons validates the role of the Security Council, as envisioned by its founders more than 65 years ago.
In both Syria and Iran, other parts of the U.N. system have also been mobilized and are playing important roles in managing, rather than preventing, conflict.
The U.N. is playing both humanitarian and political roles in Syria, where more than 100,000 people have been killed in fighting and millions have fled their homes. The major U.N. agencies are implementing programs to provide food, shelter and health care for internally displaced people in Syria as well as Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
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This op-ed first appeared in International Business Times on October 10, 2013.
Photo by UN Photo/Rick Bajornas