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Chuck W.

The United Nations system: What’s Gone Wrong? What’s Gone Right?

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To better understand the inner workings and problems with the U.N. system, we asked a few poignant questions of “The Other” Chuck Woolery. The one who was elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans) and the Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals).  He had spent three decades working with non-profits and other NGO’s advocating for a stronger United Nations for addressing global issues.
 

Many people have put hope on the U.N. systems to solve our ongoing crises. Why is this not a good idea, and how and why is the U.N. platform ineffective?

Ideas can be hopeful. The U.N. was a good idea. The prevention of problems is something everyone knows needs to happen. But that requires long-term thinking and effective action. Unfortunately, the U.N. was never given any power other than providing a peaceful gathering of nationals to work on problems they agreed on.  Any UN solution depended on the voluntary action and funding of those nations. The UN can help coordinate practical efforts but then takes the blame when things go wrong.

 

The UN lead the global campaign that eradicated Smallpox. It succeeded because of truly universal cooperation, coordination, and adequate volunteer funding.  I believe the most recent UN success story was in 2015.  Back then stakeholders on many issues at every government level from every nation came together and worked out a plan to maximize preventive efforts that could get humanity to the year 2030 with minimum difficulties/crisis. The bad news on these 17 Sustainable Development Goals is that few people in the U.S. have ever heard of them. If they have, they fall into four basic categories.

  1. Those who favor their particular goal believing it is the most important of the 17.  Unfortunately, each of these 17 goals requires equal, sustained, and urgent efforts.  And each is underfunded.
  2. Those who don’t believe they are sufficient.
  3. Those who don’t believe they will ever happen.
  4. And some who are suggesting the only rational means of achieving them.  These rapidly hit mental constructs in other’s minds that make effective action unlikely if not impossible.

 

Year after year progressive advocates focus on one sector or another.  Climate, water, peace, human rights, democracy, health, etc.

Why are these ineffective? What would you do to create an effective system that could detect problems before they start and invest in efforts that prevent it from occurring? 

From a U.S. perspective…Events are ineffective even if they are large. Ultimately, they are competing for limited resources with other movements for media attention, donations, access to policymakers or other influential people.

This strategy cannot effectively generate sufficient political within a majority of U.S. Congressional Districts and states.

 

Do egos get in the way of effective coordinated actions? I think it’s more a paycheck or cognitive dissonance issue. Leaders are hired to produce results in a particular arena. They can make a big splash.  But what is urgently needed is a movement that brings other movements together into one. A movement of all movements.  Otherwise singularly grand impacts by one movement (like Climate Change) will continue to distract from the importance and urgency of other vital movements.  Note how quickly the emergence of COVID19 muted every other movement (pro-democracy, regional wars, the evolution of weaponry, US debt…) or quickly exposed our failures in others (health care, infrastructure, pay gaps, supply chains).    Now the increasing urgency on vital action to address increasing climate emergencies are muting those.

We need a comprehensive, holistic, and global approach to human, environmental, economic, and political health. And sustainability.

 

What is the U.N. good at accomplishing?  Bringing together interested parties focused on global concerns/issues.

 

What is your greatest dissatisfaction through what you have experienced in organizing? Your biggest satisfactions?

The greatest dissatisfaction is knowing that all of the comprehensive studies that have been done by bi-partisan Presidential/congressional commissions, prestige entities like the National Academy of Sciences, and intellectual think tanks from multiple nations have always given us wise recommendations. Humanity knows what to do. But we don’t do it.  Short term thinking, national interests, political partisanship, and flawed political systems won’t allow it.

My personal awakening and satisfaction came from discovering how open our political system actually is.  Citizens simply don’t grasp the fact that a well-organized, informed, and lovingly persistent movement can create political will to achieve specific ends. My hopes are that Mobilized can spark such a movement.  That enough progressives, moderates, libertarians, and even conservatives will finally grasp the reality that things are going to get much worse…unless we unite under the realization that everything is interconnected!  Everything is interdependent!  And everything, including all of us, are vulnerable.

 

How would you title the editorial we are creating here with your words in a way that would lead people into concerted actions?

  • “Connecting the Dots. See the web of life. Doing what’s needed.  Or prepare for catastrophic consequences.”
  • Disobeying he Laws of Nature and Nature’s God will not end well.
  • We face a Trilemma:  Freedom, Security, and Independence. Which two do you want?
  • Human Rights and the environment vs national sovereignty.
  • Government openness and accountability. Or oblivion.
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