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Debate: U.S. Withdrawal From the United Nations

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Should the United States withdraw from the United Nations?

Background and context

The United Nations Organization (UNO) or simply United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and the achieving of world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions.

The United States of America has been a member-state of the United Nations since its inception as a supranational entity in 1945. Since the 1990s, amidst the high unpopularity of the UN within the United States, there has been a growing movement for United States withdrawal from the United Nations.

Notable proponents, such as U.S. Representatives John Duncan of Tennessee, Ron Paul of Texas, Terry Everett of Alabama, and Samuel Johnson of Texas claim that the United Nations subverts American sovereignty. Some claim that many programs by the supranational entity have violated the Constitution, such as the implementation of the International Court of Justice and the Law of the Sea Treaty, both of which the United States does not currently endorse. In this debate, we will discuss whether or not the United States of America ought to withdraw from the United Nations.


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Ideology: Do the U.S. and U.N. have ideological discrepancies?

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Pro

  • The U.N. repeatedly condemns U.S. allies (i.e. Israel) and back dictatorial regimes. [1] "UN bias against Israel is overt in bodies such as the General Assembly, which each year passes some nineteen resolutions against Israel and none against most other member states, including the world's most repressive regimes. The World Health Organization, meeting at its annual assembly in Geneva in 2005, passed but one resolution against a specific country: Israel was charged with violating Palestinian rights to health. Similarly, the International Labour Organization, at its annual 2005 conference in Geneva, carried only one major country-specific report on its annual agenda -- a lengthy document charging Israel with violating the rights of Palestinian workers."
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Con

Withdrawal negates any chance of altering or hedging against those negative ideologies. Were the United States to withdraw from the United Nations, one of the most powerful voices speaking out against the negative ideology of targeting certain countries, say Israel, would be utterly silenced. Thus, the United Nations' role as a supranational organization will be kept less in check, and negative ideologies are far more likely to continue to propagate and eventually harm the United States' allies and its interests.


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Effectiveness: How effective has the United Nations been in the past?

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Pro

  • The U.N. has been extremely ineffective in the past. [2] "Despite its grand commitment to end threats to human security, such as interstate war, genocide, famine, internal war, disease and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the U.N. has been surprisingly unsuccessful at achieving these ends. Genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and, most recently, Sudan have continued relentlessly, despite the most earnest attempts of the U.N. to cajole its member states to act. The U.N. has not stopped North Korea's attempts at creating a nuclear arsenal, nor has it prevented India and Pakistan from testing their own nuclear weapons. Iran's Holocaust-denying president is well on his way to developing fissionable material, regardless of their referral to the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. It is not in the U.S.'s best interest to support such an ineffective organization."
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Con

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Restriction: Is the U.S. justified in escaping U.N. "restrictions"?

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Pro

  • The U.S. is justified in escaping U.N. restrictions. Since the U.S. has the largest military in the world, in addition to the most economic might, its material strength justifies its autonomy. Withdrawing from the U.N. could allow America to exercise its influence outside the realm of the U.N.'s unnecessary constraint.
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Con

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Economics: How will U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations impact the economy?

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Pro

  • U.S is the primary contributor to the U.N, and would save money by withdrawing. According to Neil Shenai: "American taxpayers' dollars should be solely used to advance the American interests. Throwing away money to fight disease in Africa that implicates none of America's interests should not be the business of a just government. Withdrawing from the U.N. would absolve the U.S. from having to shoulder the financial burden of such wasteful endeavors, freeing millions of dollars that can be spent on the war on terrorism, rebuilding Iraq, health care, education, job training or most effectively, returning it to the private sector whose money the government originally confiscated."
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Con

  • A U.S. withdrawal will cause trade to falter. If the U.S. withdraws from the U.N, it will promote a policy of isolationism, which will only cause a severe decrease in international trade. Other nations will be hesitant to share resources with a 'lone' nation, a nation we cannot afford to be at this time.
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Unilateralism: Does U.S. Withdrawal Support Unilateralism?

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Pro

  • U.S. withdrawal clearly promotes the principle of unilateralism. In his famous and influential Farewell Address, George Washington, the first President of the United States, warned that the United States should "steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world," and U.S. withdrawal will only solidify this principle.
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Con

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Morality: How morally acceptable have the U.N's actions been in the past?

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Pro

  • The U.N's actions are not morally acceptable. According to the UN itself, Sudan's government is directly responsible for "displacement, starvation, and killing of civilians, looting and burning of villages, abductions and rape." Yet Sudan remains an integral member nation of the U.N. Libya and Syria have been known sponsors of international terrorism for over three decades, yet no act has been made to counter this terrorism. Sierra Leone, another country voted in, has been recently denounced by the UN for committing "abuses of human rights…with impunity, atrocities against civilians, including executions, mutilations, abductions, arbitrary detention, forced labor, looting, and killings of journalists. Yet the U.N. continues to grant membership to these nations.
  • The U.N. continously censures Israel. [3] "The UN's discrimination against Israel is not a minor infraction, nor a parochial nuisance of interest solely to those concerned with equal rights of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Instead, the world body's obsession with censuring Israel at every turn directly affects all citizens of the world, for it constitutes (a) a severe violation of the equality principles guaranteed by the UN Charter and underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and (b) a significant obstacle to the UN's ability to carry out its proper mandate."
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Con

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History: What can we learn from the past?

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Pro

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Con

  • Attempts to withdraw from the U.N. have failed in the past. H.R. 1146, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act, a bill to end U.S. membership in the UN, was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Texas Representative Ron Paul in 2005. Similar measures have failed by large margins in the past.
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World Image: How will the U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. impact our global image?

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Pro

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Con

  • U.S. withdrawal will have a negative impact America's world image.
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Feasability: Will it be feasible to withdraw from the U.N?

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Pro

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Con

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Public Opinion: Where does public opinion lie on the issue?

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Pro

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Con

  • Some polls show public opinion is opposed to U.S. withdrawal. In a survey taken in March 2009, 66% of U.S. voters said America should continue to participate in the United Nations. Twenty-four percent (24%) think the United States should not stay in the international organization, and 10% are not sure.

See also

External links and resources:

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