In ten specific proposals to the United Nations for the revision of its Charter, the global Baha’i community recommended giving the UN real authority and military power:

Baha’i Proposals to the United Nations for Charter Revision, 1955.

The experiences of the last decade have demonstrated the need for certain fundamental changes in the charter of the United Nations if that organization is “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…., reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small; to promote social progress and better standards of living in larger freedom.”

In order to insure the realization of the principles proclaimed in the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations, that organization must be given real authority and military power to maintain Peace and uphold international Justice; it must operate in accordance with the principle of equality of nations large and small; it must become the guarantor of human rights, faith in which was so eloquently proclaimed in the Preamble. – from the Baha’i International Community’s recommendations to the 1955 United Nations Charter Revision Conference.

Of course, the Baha’i proposal has not yet been implemented. The UN’s real authority still resides in the Security Council, where action is easily stopped by one veto from a single dissenting member nation.

So the United Nations has no standing army today. Instead, it relies on its member nations to supply troops to staff the UN Peacekeeping forces. When a conflict arises anywhere in the world, the UN has to start from scratch, asking for and assembling a multinational force from volunteer nations. Those countries—most often the poorer UN members like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan or several different African nations—usually are the ones who readily agree to send troops. Each time the UN Security Council does vote to utilize its blue-helmeted peacekeepers, that voluntary process takes between three months and a year to actually assemble and deploy. Meanwhile, conflicts deepen and people die.

peacekeeping

That’s part of the reason UN peacekeeping missions have repeatedly failed. The Rwandan genocide and the Srebrenica massacre in the former Yugoslavia represent just two of the most glaring examples of such abysmal and fatal failure. In both of those cases, experts agree that a standing UN military would have been able to avert or at least minimize the massive casualties that took place.

So, the Baha’i teachings say, it is time to establish an authoritative global Parliament and a corresponding global military force, ready and able to respond quickly to crisis or conflict:

Once the Parliament of Man is established and its constituent parts organized, the governments of the world having entered into a covenant of eternal friendship will have no need of keeping large standing armies and navies. A few battalions to preserve internal order, and an International Police to keep the highways of the seas clear, are all that will be necessary. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 3, p. 115.

For the establishment of universal peace, we need an International Board of Arbitration, composed of representatives from all the nations of the earth. This Board would decide upon questions of boundaries, of national honour and property, the size of armaments for each government, and all questions of an international and justiciable nature, having the backing of the united powers to make its rulings effective. Together they would furnish an international police force. Most of the battleships should be turned into a mighty merchant marine. If so great a remedy would be applied to the sick body of the world, it would certainly be the means of continually and permanently healing its illness by the conciliation of universal moderation. Reflect that, under such conditions of life, no Government would need to prepare and accumulate war materials, or would need to pay heed to the invention of new weapons of defence for the vexation and hurt of mankind. On the contrary they would require only a few soldiers, as a means of assuring the safety of the state and punishing the wicked and rebellious and preventing the growth of civil sedition. Not more than these few would be needed. – Ibid., Volume 4, p. 137.

By giving the United Nations a permanent, standing military capacity and the real authority to use it, as the Baha’i International Community originally recommended in 1955, we could build a global rapid-reaction force to quell regional wars, enforce international agreements, quickly stop genocides and immediately respond to deadly natural disasters. Such a force would actually cost much less than the deployment of other multinational options such as ad-hoc coalitions or treaty alliances like NATO.

In the next essay in this series, we’ll examine the second recommendation the Baha’i submitted to the UN: that it “must operate in accordance with the principle of equality of nations large and small.”

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

7 Comments

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  • Joyous Messenger
    Sep 07, 2017
    Ehhhh, the writings are rather clear on the fact that this organization is NOT the world government to come. So I'm unsure if this organization should attempt to gain those powers...
  • Farsheed Shad
    Sep 05, 2017
    Thank you. It would be great to have this be emailed to UN and governments
  • May Elisabeth Strand
    Sep 05, 2017
    This centralization of an army is what the undemocratically appointed presidents of EU is trying to build, this army shall haveautorithy over all the eu-countries This is viewed as the beginning of at totalitarian socity, becausewho takes thedecisions?The three undemocratilly appointed presidents doing the decisions alone.can judge what is civil sedition!? What is civil sedition? Having other opinions that the bahai-faith or having other opinions that Juncker in EU? Like I see it the dystophi of EU is getting close to the unvocalized seed to totaliarism that lies hidden in the baha-faith. Especially if not someone ...can start. The population of europe is against those plans of Eu,cause they see the fascistic and totaliarian possibilities.
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  • One World
    Sep 04, 2017
    The title of the article seems to imply that the United Nations should have a standing army like most modern nations, yet none of the quotes from the Baha'i Writings imply any such thing, only a "Police Force" to keep the seas clear. The statement from 1955 is from the Baha'i International Community, a non authoritative source overseen by the UHJ (Not The Bab, Baha u llah, Abdul Baha, Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice.) and as such should not be taken as an official Baha'i position.
    The Baha'i Writings repeatedly warn against the centralization of ...power and so this proposal for the militarization of the UN does not conform either to Baha'i Teaching nor to good sense.
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    • Steve Eaton
      Sep 04, 2017
      Although military, governmental, or other
      organizations always have
      the potential more misuse
      of power, the temporary
      global assemblage of a
      United Nations peacekeeping/fighting
      force might have less,
      because after the crisis
      it would break up and each
      part return home. It's theoretically possible that
      in a short time some malevolent plan would cause them all to remain
      and proceed on a unified
      crusade for world martial
      domination, but I think
      that is extremely unlikely!
    • Steve Eaton
      Sep 04, 2017
      Well, the second Abdu'l-Baha quotation says the
      nations would "furnish an
      international police force".
      Even though the immediate
      context does mention the
      seas and battleships specifically, I believe the
      larger context of Abdu'l-Baha's writings mean enforcing peace on land, too. He dwells on this whole subject in "The Secret of Divine Civilization". It seems to
      me that some of the domestic forces around the
      world would quickly be assembled into one international reaction force
      in a crisis, having already
      been kept well-trained and
      ready for their internal duties. ... I am sure the Baha'i writings do warn of
      centralization risks, but
      there are some things in
      a globally-linked world that
      demand global authority!
      Read more...
  • Steve Eaton
    Sep 04, 2017
    Thank you so much, David! I was
    always vague about the United Nations' flaws, and didn't know anything about the 1955 proposals!
    Dragging feet have clearly caused
    many deaths! I didn't even realize
    contributing troops is voluntary and
    takes so long. What an outrage!
    This new series will be very fascinating.