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International Dispute Management in the Modern Era

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In this age of globalization, connections between states are getting stronger due to trade, tourism and other ventures of mutual benefit. On the other hand, due to closeness among nations and extensive monetary matters, disputes of trivial and even serious nature are also becoming more common.

The United Nations is the institute which is responsible for world peace and almost all the nations of the world are its member states. According to the Charter of the United Nations, in order to maintain peace in the world, inter-state conflicts should be solved by using peaceful means like arbitration, treaties and meditation. All of these methods are basically methods of table talk as arbitration defined as  a method in which both parties agree before-hand to resolve their conflict by means of talk.

How international disputes were managed in the past?

As we know, the history of the world is filled with many wars. Since the system of anarchy prevailed more ferociously, the states used to exert their powers without any constraint. For instance, in World War I, Germany made no hesitation in invading the neighboring land of Europe. In order to become the new hegemon, it unilaterally declared war on other European nations. The other nations likewise, did not hesitate to use maximum power since there was no international force to monitor their actions. Resultantly, millions of people die. The uncontrolled use of force did not meet an end even then. As the Great War (World War I) gave birth to an even more deadly and greater war.

The World War 2 that started in 1939, resulted in innumerable deaths of both civilians and armed forces. The conscience of the global actors then gave birth to the United Nations. Since its predecessor, the League of Nations, had failed miserably in preventing any war. The United Nations therefore, in the preamble of its Charter pledged:

“We the people of the United Nations pledge to save the world from the scourge of war that twice in our lifetimes has inflicted unimaginable pain to mankind.”

Since then, the international disputes are handled through the United Nations.

How does the UN work to manage international conflicts?

The United Nations works on the principles of peace and harmony among the free nations of the world. It has different bodies for managing international matters. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) are the two most influential bodies of the organization. The UNSC works with collaboration of five big global powers, also known as P5. The P5 or permanent five, along with ten non-permanent members of the UNSC, hold meetings whenever world peace is threatened. The permanent members hold the power of veto that is criticized on a huge scale by other nation states. Since the veto power undermines effective working of the UNSC, it is one of the most serious concerns for the peace loving nations on the globe and others who are under constant security threat. The veto power does not allow the international body of peace to effectively implement its policies in matters of threat.

The UNSC therefore works well when matters of small states are involved. However, when the permanent members themselves or their allies threaten world peace, no effective policies are made by the body. What Mussolini said about the League of Nations, still seems relevant about the UNSC:

“The League is very well when the sparrows shout but no good when the eagles fall out.”


In order to manage the conflicts in a more effective manner, the United Nations must improve its policies of conflict resolutions. For instance, membership of the UNSC must be increased and regional representation must be given to the concerned parties. Moreover, exercising the power of veto must be restrained with certain conditions. The UNGA must be made more powerful. Since the UN preaches democracy, it must hold democratic values itself. The most powerful organ of the United Nations should therefore be the UNGA where all states must resolve the matter of concern through joint actions based on the principles of equality.

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About the author


Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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