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There are two United Nations.
One is a great place, where leaders from around the world can come together and talk about issues like the adults they are. It is a neutral forum, where all are granted equal say, no matter the size or importance of the country. This UN is a complete fantasy.
The other includes not only parliamentary democracies, but also human rights abusers mainly concerned with their own power. Because unanimity among the Big 5 is needed for any action, things rarely get done, and any country that thinks it's big enough simply ignores UN sanctions. That's okay, though, since the countries like the US that are meant to fund it systematically starve it of funding, so the UN can't do much anyway. On some small scale activities, it can do some good, but any attempts at actual peace-keeping usually fall apart. What should then be a cause for peace and brotherhood instead just becomes another bureaucratic nightmare.
United Nations System
Although the UN's peacekeeping efforts have not always been successful that does not mean the UN is worthless. The United Nations System  has become the backbone and funding framework of many international organisations. Such organisations have not only helped millions but are vital invisible parts of modern international trade. Some of the most important ones are:
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- International Maritime Organization (IMO)
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
- Universal Postal Union (UPU)
- World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
- World Food Programme (WFP)
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
The UN and conspiracies and conservatives
Most US conservatives hate the UN because they believe that it infringes on the U.S.'s sovereignty (i.e. they think the UN is UN-American), or they imagine it is involved in a vast global warming conspiracy. What they apparently don't realize is that the UN, realistically, has very little power.
However, a new version of the UN Conspiracy Theory theory has come up, this time claiming that the UN is merely the pawn of the United States. This seems to ignore the complete antipathy to the UN and other international organizations that some US administrations have shown in the past.
The UN and liberals
Apparently, many liberals have a very rosy-eyed view of the institution, preferring to see the hypothetical instead of the real. Many liberals counter by pointing out that the UN in the only real international forum in the world, and suggest that if its many critics feel there are problems with the institution they should assist in modernizing it or suggest an alternative world body.
The UN rebooted
Since the United Nations seems to be a venue where repressive regimes which deny free speech to their own people demand to be heard, there's an idea floating around to create a "parallel UN" comprised solely of democracies. Presumably the United States will be invited to join.
- ↑ http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/26/opinion/26iht-edtaubman_ed3_.html?pagewanted=1
- ↑ http://www.unsystem.org/
- ↑ For example, the appointment of John Bolton, a man who had in the past said that destroying five stories of the UN building wouldn't hurt anything, as ambassador to the UN.