.. still absent, the Security Council put the finishing touch on its collective security initiative by passing a resolution that asked members to provide military forces and other assistance for a unified command under the United States and authorized to use the blue and white United Nations flag. The Secretary General cabled all members asking to extend their commitment of assistance. This resolution and the response to it, was the Council’s final action on Korea. The Soviets, at least comprehending the folly of their boycott, returned to block all further action.
By then, activity had moved decisively from the diplomatic to the military stage. On September 15, General Macarthur landed at Ichon, and briefly the tables were returned to the North. Then China entered the conflict and defeated UN forces at the Yalu River separating Korea from Manchuria. Later, UN forces regrouped and were able to create a stalemate near the 38th parallel, roughly where the fighting had begun. That stalemate eventually dictated the terms of the Armistice Agreement of 1953.
By the end of the war Korea had not been unified. But then reunification had not been the original purpose of the UN’s response to North Korea’s aggression. After its success at Ichon, the UN raised its sights, but shortly thereafter lowered them again when the Chinese entry into the conflict made outright victory impossible. But for the UN to have fought the Chinese and the North Koreans to a stalemate that denied them conquest of the South was by itself a considerable accomplishment. It has been argued that, even in this instance of UN collective security in operation, there was considerably less than met the eye.
As noted, the Council had been able to act only because of the absence of the Soviets and the Chinese communists, which would never happen again. Those collective measures under the UN flag were not really initiated by the UN but by the US. The organization merely served to legitimize a US initiative, one that was never seriously influenced by considerations of multilateralism. General Secretary Lie, while an enthusiastic supporter of the UN in Korea, concedes that he was concerned with the solo role assumed by the United States. He made various proposals to Washington for setting up a genuine joint command and a real international brigade but received little encouragement. If the UN military role was limited, its diplomatic contribution was more so. Although the Secretary General and various groups of delegates, formal committees, and informal caucuses at one time or another tried to involve themselves in the negotiating process, they weren’t able to contribute anything. The Chinese, in particular, were unwilling to have the UN or the Secretary General play any sort of mediating role so long as the organization excluded Peking and remained a party to the war.
The fighting continued sporadically for as long as either side saw any possibility of winning. When, after a protracted period of stalemate, Ambassador Malik signaled the -6- Soviets’ willingness to have their North Korean surrogates negotiate an end to the fighting, he did so in a UN broadcast the vehicle for negotiations. These took place on the battlefield between the military commanders. The crisis eventually prompted a significant shift in responsibility for collective security from the Security Council to the General Assembly. This occurred when, after the Inchon landing, United Nation forces appeared to have routed the North. New instructions were needed.
But, with the Russians back at the circular table, instructions could not come from the veto-bound Council. Washington wanted to pursue the remnants of the Northern army beyond the 38th parallel, despite serious misgivings among allies with contingents under Macarthur’s command. On October 7, 1950, the General Assembly authorized the pursuit of the aggressor into its own territory. The resolution passed approving all appropriate steps to ensure stability throughout Korea including the holding of elections, under the auspices of the United Nations, for the establishment of a unified, independent and democratic government in the sovereign State of Korea also authorized the UN forces to occupy as much of Korea as necessary for achieving the objectives specified This new and wider mandate for the UN force replaced the earlier one spelled out in the Security Council resolution of June 25, which had only called for pushing North Korean forces back to the 38th parallel. Whatever its tactical wisdom, the resolution of October 7 had the most far-reaching implications for the distribution of functions and powers within the UN: the Assembly had been used to circumvent the Council. This was fully understood by Secretary-General Lie, who declared himself elated at the ability of the organization to neutralize obstacles: This was Korea, not Manchuria; he wrote; this was the United Nations, not the League of Nations.
To make sure that this was not an isolated victory, Washington, with the Secretary-General’s support, persuaded the Assembly to establish simplified procedures for convening that body to sidestep the Council in future. Conclusion Even if the United Nations was important to the resolution of the Korean conflict only in a rather limited sense, that conflict was very important to the UN. Only once has the Security Council taken a decision to send troops not just to restore peace but also to enforce it. The UN’s position and effectiveness in the conflict was hardly reliable on the engagement of its members. However, shadowed by the Cold War, the growing hostilities between East and West, the struggle between Communism and Democracy, both the Soviets and the US, of whom the latter actually asked for United Nations -7- assistance to come to give aid to South Korea, made it hard for the three commissions UNTCOK, UNCOK and UNCORK to survive. The main reason why the first two commissions weren’t effective was the fact that North Korea and thus the Soviets refused to cooperate with the UN’s suggestion to unite Korea through one democratic government.
An obvious reason for their refusal was, that in its early years of existence the USA played a major role in UN decisions. As both the US and the Soviets put their personal concerns and targets of Korea on first place, not only they, but also the Secretary General lost the neutrality concerning the conflict. Lie’s role can partially be seen as a sacrifice of his neutrality, as the view was the one favored of the US, and thus rejected by the Soviets. It was a vicious circle: The Soviets refusal to corporate and the Americans dominating role in the peacekeeping process made it difficult to pass effective resolutions. However, the Soviet Union’s absence until the resolution of July 7 gave the third commission UNKURK the possibility to expand its task, thus made military action under General MacArthur’s command possible.
In fact, the UN did not manage to unite Korea, but as already mentioned, this was not its target. The basis for unification proposed by the United Nations was the same as for instance for the divided Germany – free elections for an assembly that would represent the whole country. These elections should be supervised by a ‘neutral’ international body. But the Communist delegations in this case rejected two ‘fundamental principals’ without which there could be no equitable resolution of the Korean question. They rejected the authority and competence of the UN in Korea and instead labeled the United Nations itself as the ‘tool of aggression’.
Also, the Communists insisted on procedures which would make genuinely free elections impossible. As the UN (and the US) they have shown to persist their intention to maintain Communist control over North Korea. Its accomplishment was only to achieve the discontinuation of the military aggression. Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Secretary General until January 1992) utters about the limited functions of the UN: The United Nations can serve as a catalyst, framework and support mechanism for parties to seek peace an can help when hostile factions are prepared to work towards this common goal. But viable political structures or institutions cannot be imposed from the outside. Ultimately, no instrument can bring about peace without the will of the parties to the conflict to achieve peace. -8- -9- Bibliography Bibliography: Stuart Miller.
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