The United Nations at 75
“He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow; and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire” (Psalms 46:9. Scriptures from Revised Version Improved and Corrected unless noted otherwise.)
The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 after the Second World War. Fifty-one countries committed to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and promote social progress, better living standards and human rights. Although the term “peacekeeping” is not found in its charter, the authorization for UN intervention in war is generally considered to be part of its authority to investigate and mediate disputes, its power to authorize economic, diplomatic and military sanctions, and to raise an international military force to resolve disputes. The UN’s early vision sounded noble — to resolve conflicts between nations so as to eliminate all chance of war.
“Peacekeeping” Efforts Failed to Prevent Conflict — Three Examples
The UN’s first major intercession activity occurred in the Middle East after it passed Resolution 181. That resolution recommended the creation of two independent states, one Arab and one Jewish, in what was then known as Palestine. A Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem was attached. A Partition Plan attached to the resolution provided for the progressive withdrawal of British armed forces and delineation of boundaries between the two States and Jerusalem. The Jewish Agency for Palestine accepted the resolution despite its limitations on Jewish boundaries. Arab leaders rejected it outright. As soon as British forces withdrew, Israel declared independence according to the resolution. It was immediately attacked by Arab forces from five nations entering through the Palestinian mandate area. Israel prevailed in a miraculous victory, securing not just the Resolution 181 area, but also 60% of the Partition Plan Arab area. Transjordan annexed the remainder of the former British mandated area and the Egyptian military took control of the Gaza Strip. The first major effort of the UN had failed (Bible Students would generally say this was Jehovah’s overruling).
In another example, UN observers deployed to the border of India and Pakistan following the passage of Security Council Resolution 47 at the end of the Indo-Pakistani War. A five-member UN Commission encountered a hostile reception from both sides upon their July 1948 arrival. In a repeat of the experience in the Middle East, India accepted the Commission’s resolution, but Pakistan attached multiple qualifications. The Commission effort failed as fighting continued between the two countries. Trying to salvage its mission, the Commission developed a supplement to its resolution. It would place an administrator to decide the final disposal of forces. With great reservations and much dissent, the two governments hesitatingly accepted the proposals. A cease fire took place on New Year’s Day in 1949. Despite the approval of the new resolution with the supplement attached, war broke out again in 1971. By 2003 most of the resolution had faded away. Failure again.
A third example started on June 25, 1950, when UN Security Council Resolution 82 was proposed, condemning North Korea for its invasion of South Korea. The resolution was not effective, however, since the Soviet Union held veto power as a permanent member of the Council and boycotted the meeting. The Soviet Union had walked out of the UN in January 1950 in protest against the US (and others) blocking People’s Republic of China from taking up the Nationalist China’s seat in the Security Council. The US used the Soviet Union’s absence to push resolutions against North Korea’s aggression in the Korean War. This led to Resolution 83, which asked UN member countries to provide military assistance to the Republic of Korea. U.S. President Harry Truman immediately sent sea forces to support South Korea. Truman’s arch enemy Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, accused him of armed intervention on behalf of South Korea. When the ensuing Korean War was over, there were over three million military and civilian casualties. Proportionately, it was arguably the most destructive conflict of our era.
Critics and proponents of the UN today question its effectiveness in intervention and prevention of armed conflicts as there are essentially no consequences for violating a Security Council resolution.
How Wars Will Cease
Many disputes among nations have only been settled on the battlefield. Pacifists dream of a day when the people of the earth might find some other way to settle differences. The Bible promises such a time. The prophets of the Bible, writing under the inspiration of God’s holy Spirit, foretold such a time when a new world government under the direction of the representative of Jehovah would impose just and righteous laws. Keeping those laws would lead to universal and lasting peace. These promises began to be fulfilled with the birth of Jesus.
“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given … the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7). This promise, that Jesus would set up a government on earth that would administer justice equitably, is in fact the prominent theme of the entire Bible.
His government will not require debates nor resolutions. Negotiations will be a thing of the past. He will assure it through his own administrators, both heavenly and earthly. “he that overcometh, and … keepeth my works unto the end … will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as … vessels are broken to shivers; as I also have received of my Father” (Revelation 2:26, 27). “And I will restore thy (Israel’s) judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called The city of righteousness, a faithful town” (Isaiah 1:26). Christ with his church and the Ancient Worthies — those resurrected former judges and counselors — will administer in justice and equity.
The prophets foretold and described this divinely powered rulership. David wrote, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto Jehovah; And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is Jehovah’s; And his is the ruler over the nations” (Psalms 22:27,28).
The angel announcing the birth of Jesus told the shepherds, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people” (Luke 2:10). Good tidings and great joy are in store for “all people.” Today only a few have received the benefits of Jesus’ birth, life, and death. He is yet to apply the merit of his sacrifice on behalf of the world of mankind. Ultimately, the entire human race, resurrected and restored to perfection, will understand just how good the news of Jesus’ birth was. The kingdom of Christ will teach every individual the meaning of love and justice. Those who refuse to accept this standard will be mercifully cut off (Revelation 21:8).
Jesus’ disciples thoroughly believed that he was the Messiah, the great King, foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. They believed that he had come to establish that kingdom of promise, that “government” which would extend its sphere of influence until it embraced the whole earth and brought peace and happiness to all mankind. But they erroneously expected that Jesus would set up this kingdom at once. Only after receiving the holy Spirit at Pentecost did they understand that Jesus must first identify, develop and collect from the earth his class of administrators.
Known collectively as the “bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5:22, 23), they will be resurrected to sit with him on his throne and bring about the peace and harmony that is desired by all (Revelation 3:21). This exaltation to heavenly glory is what Jesus meant by being “born of the Spirit” in the resurrection (John 3:5, 6). The invitation to follow in his footsteps and thus to qualify for joint heirship in his kingdom is extended only during the present Gospel Age (2 Corinthians 6:2). May each of us who have accepted this invitation strive to be faithful so that we may work with Jesus as part of those “peacemakers” who will bring lasting harmony for all mankind.