Weaknesses of the League of Nations and the United Nations and the Basis for a Successful World Order

As humanity begins to grapple with the idea of a world-union if some form, it nevertheless starts from the basis of the existing world order, and the limitations imposed by the “real-politic” of that world-order, based on several dominant states or imperial powers.  The League of Nations, while the concept was pushed by the United States, did not eventually include the United States as the Congress opposed the initiative driven by President Woodrow Wilson.  This however was not the only or primary defect that doomed it.  It also turned out to be a forum for political power plays led by the key powers of the time, and rather than turning into a collaborative effort for the general welfare of humanity, it became a tool of attempted imperialism to sustain the great powers and their status quo.

The United Nations formed with a somewhat advanced agenda, but once again, the reality of political power on the world stage led to the development of the Security Council and the provision of the veto power by several major players, which served to distort the direction and intent of the body and enforce once again the wishes of the dominant world powers.

Sri Aurobindo discusses these issues and the eventual basis for a solution: “The League of Nations was in fact an oligarchy of big Powers each drawing behind it a retinue of small States and using the general body so far as possible for the furtherance of its own policy much more than for the general interest and the good of the world at large.”

“In the constitution of the U.N.O. an attempt was made, in principle at least, to escape from these errors; but the attempt was not thoroughgoing and not altogether successful.  A strong surviving element of oligarchy remained in the preponderant place assigned to the five great Powers in the Security Council and was clinched by the device of the veto; these were concessions to a sense of realism and the necessity of recognising the actual conditions of things and the results of the second great war and could not perhaps have been avoided, but they have done more to create trouble, hamper the action and diminish the success of the new institution than anything else in its make-up or the way of action forced upon it by the world situation or the difficulties of a combined working inherent in its very structure.”

“… it will be necessary to build, eventually at least, a true World-State without exclusions and on a principle of equality into which considerations of size and strength will not enter.  These may be left to exercise whatever influence is natural to them in a well-ordered harmony of the world’s peoples safeguarded by the law of a new international order.  A sure justice, a fundamental equality and combination of rights and interests must be the law of this World-State and the basis of its entire edifice.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 312-313