The Phillips Academy Model United Nations Conference (PAMUN) last weekend highlighted the continued relevance of the United Nations, as students not only learned the protocols and public speaking skills of international politics, but also gained a better understanding of the importance of the U.N. The speaker at PAMUN, Will Scharf ‘04, discussed the rise of individual non-state actors fighting wars around the globe, from al-Qaeda terrorist cells bombing cosmopolitan targets to organized-crime rings selling drugs. But accompanying the individual’s rise to power is the super-state’s ascendancy. The United States, the European Union, China, OPEC, and the United Nations now dominate the world, in political terms. The United Nations has more control, even if symbolic, over the political interactions of the world community than any other organization or government. By addressing the issues of every nation, the U.N. incorporates all of them in problem-solving efforts that would not occur otherwise. Small African nations are heavily underrepresented in the foreign policy concerns of the U.S. or even the E.U. While China may be warming to the promise of natural resources in Africa, OPEC does not have an interest in promoting a “green revolution.” There is no other comprehensive approach to poverty and suffering in the world, and the U.N.’s difficulty now is finding the financial and political backing for the steps laid out by the Millennium Development Goals. Support is coming, if slowly, from sources like the star power of Bono and the wealth of Bill Gates. If nation-states fail to support causes like these, individuals will donate their expertise, promotional value, and wallets to an organization they believe is more capable of good than their own government. Especially in the U.S., some claim that the U.N. is irrelevant or ineffectual because it has neither a standing army nor real authority without the support of its most powerful constituents. The rest of the world disagrees, having seen the relative success of U.N. forces in such conflicts as Israel-Hezbollah, as the UNIFIL troops maintain the unsteady peace on the Lebanese border. But how long will it be before the United Nations gains its own army of peacekeepers, rather than the de facto one it has now? With the eventual agreement of the United States, the U.N. could soon be given more control over the efficiency and efficacy of blue helmets, eliminating the weeks-long delay exemplified by the sluggish movement of UNIFIL into Lebanon. Or better yet, ending the years-long inaction of the world in response to the genocide in Darfur. There are certainly many instances where the United Nations, despite doing more than any nation-state, fails to quell violence or bring warring parties to fruitful diplomatic talks. Last Sunday, Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, emerged from the jungle to meet Jan Egeland, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief. Kony, a self-styled religious leader, is guilty of abducting an estimated 20,000 children and forcing them to fight as child soldiers against his own people in Uganda. But Egeland could extract no concessions from Kony and, because he represent a political rather than judicial organization, failed to arrest him and turn him over to the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity.” Will Scharf claimed that in the future the nation-state would become defunct, overrun by non-state actors fighting their own, low-intensity wars. As small-scale military actions become the modus operandi for conflict, so too will large-scale political bodies present themselves as the best recourse for resolution. Someone needs to stop the genocide in Darfur and the atrocities of Joseph Kony. The United Nations is the best option we have.