Why is the UN important?

Read current debate in New World magazine


Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former UK Foreign Secretary:

'The UN is more than the Security Council.  Many people will not realise that 120,000 peacekeepers are currently operating in 16 countries. Not everyone will know that the Forld Food Programme fed over 90 million people last year, or that 34 million people have been helped by the UN Refugee Agency.  There is also little awareness in this country and elsewhere that the UN operates on a shoestring, when you look at the tasks it is expected to fulfil.

The second point to get across is that when the Security Council fails, it is not the fault of the UN as an institution but of governments.'

Sir Malcolm Rifkind is currently Chair of the World Economic Forum's Nuclear Security Council. He is a former UK Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary. 

William Hague, former UK Foreign Secretary:

'Foreign policy is essential to addressing issues that matter to us all.  It should feature prominently in  public debate and it benefits from new ideas and energy.  So the United Nations Association has my strong support. UNA-UK's UN FORUM is a vital forum for frank debate.'

William Hague is First Secretary of State & Leader of the House of Commons.  He was Foreign Secretary 2010 – 14.

Watch 1-minute video

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

'The United Nations was created more than 60 years ago to save succeeding generations from war, protect human rights, establish conditions for justice, and promote social progress and better standards of life. These fundamental objectives remain as critical as ever.

At the same time, over these six decades, new challenges have emerged—from international terrorism to climate change, to the spread of infectious diseases to other threats that transcend national borders.

These global problems can never be resolved by any one country acting alone. As the world’s only truly universal institution, the United Nations offers the best—if not the only—forum to galvanize global action to meet the challenges ahead.' Read more

Dame Margaret Anstee, former UN Under-Secretary General

'I think we need to remember the power that the media and public opinion can exert over government policy. In my last formal UN posting in Angola, there was so little interest in the situation I called it the forgotten crisis. As a result, governments refused to approve the necessary peacekeeping troops, which could have brought about peace. What people think matters.'

Dame Margaret Anstee on UN careers video