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05 July 2018
The Times They Are A-Changin’: Cause for Upholding the Role of the UN
By Stephen F. Moseley, UNA-NCA President 

The Times They Are A-Changin’, a famous song written, played, and sung by Pulitzer Prize writer Bob Dylan 55 years ago, captured the imagination and prophecy of the 1960's generation at the beginning of the Vietnam War protests across the country and around the world. Concurrently, there was a strong surge in protests to end race discrimination, declare a domestic war on poverty, and demand equal civil rights for all, including equal opportunities for women. These protests became a defining voice across the U.S. for changes in government policy that would engage communities and businesses to bring about more equal access to the benefits of the growing economy. This also led to questions and criticism of America’s decision for unilateral intervention in the far-off land of Vietnam; Americans saw a dominant U.S. clashing against a tiny country, demonized as a dire communist threat to America. Eventually, the United States lost the war. Since, we have struggled with the lesson that the world is never so clear cut as it may seem at any point in time from the vantage point of a single country. Most importantly, we began to better understand over time that peace among our communities is vital, and to appreciate our wonderful diversity of cultural, racial, religious ways of life.

Today we can see that our interconnections among countries in arenas such as trade, migration, peacekeeping, economic growth, industrial innovation, prevention of pandemic disease, and preservation of the environment are not divisible or addressable by any country alone. Thus, these needs require a more concerted effort towards national and united community collaboration than ever before. The new set of populist and nationalist leaders elected since 2010, regardless of whether they lean to the left or right, demonstrate that people want to confront the global challenges to the world order with new and different leadership styles. However, our modern history has time and again demonstrated that new leaders who try to isolate their countries will only undermine the goals they want to achieve. In this process, there are growing tendencies for each nation to decide for themselves to go it alone, instead of collaborating or finding compromise for the common good.

Recent nationwide polls of Americans show that 80% believe that the role of the United Nations is key for continued global adaptation to meet these challenges. As Bob Dylan said so well, “these times they are a-changin," and we must remain prepared to adapt as well. New issues are arising every day that highlight areas for the UN to improve its work and effectiveness. The UN itself is adapting to meet these new global challenges by:

  • Beginning to invest more in peacebuilding to prevent conflict before it happens, rather than primarily investing in traditional peacekeeping forces;
  • Helping each UN member state to make detailed, long-term operational plans for sustainable development to bring about more equitable growth, while preserving the planet's environment and leaving no one behind, including women and children;
  • Devoting more resources to identify and act vigorously in addressing gross human rights violations, regardless of people's religion, gender, race, or economic status; and,
  • Helping countries recognize and address the consequences of corruption and poor leadership, which so often undermines the success of investments in social and economic benefits for education, training, health, trade, and innovation.

Today we are a planet of 7.6 billion humans, projected to grow to nearly 10 billion by 2050. Without the collective efforts fostered by the United Nations to build peace, security, equity, and opportunity for innovation on a global basis among nations, the cultures and nations as we know them will be affected by people seeking to reach the countries with the greatest freedom and economic opportunity. We must strive to create this sense of global citizenship responsibility by helping the development of every country to succeed through providing opportunity for all. This is well represented by the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity adopted by all UN member states.