I think the UN is a great idea. I really do. The thought of several nations coming together to ensure peace for the entire world is a beautiful notion.
Of course, lots of people have their complaints. And now I do, too.
My complaints aren't of the "I hate the UN because it didn't want to invade Iraq with us" variety. They're not of the "The UN is the Anti-Christ and Jesus should come back any minute" type, either. They're of the "I hate it when real change and decisions get bogged down by the committee process" variety.
This article from the BBC explains how the UN missed warning signs in 2001 about the growing crisis in Darfur. Failing to learn from the Rwandan crisis in 1994, a UN panel ignored what was unfolding in Western Sudan. Because of inaction, people died.
And they continue to die. As I write every Monday, the genocide is complex and a solution must be equally so. I think that the recently approved UN peacekeeping force is a giant step forward. Of course, Khartoum's refusal to accept this force is equally a step backwards.
And, while I (and probably you) don't have a vote on the floor of the UN (or in any committees), we can influence change at that level. Click here to send a message to Kofi Annan (it will take you about 27 seconds to complete).
We've all been on a team or served on a committee and felt the negative effects of the time it takes to generate the momentum needed to act. Multiple voices and perspectives are beautiful and valuable, but they can be hell on attempts to act quickly.
Quick and prudent action are badly needed to help the dying souls in Darfur. Do what you can.