When I took my 10 year old brother for a tour of the UN the other day, I was not surprised when he insisted that the UN was actually an art museum. Even with my limited experience in the IR subfield (which includes one graduate level seminar and frequent exchanges with colleagues who study IR), I have come to realize that the UN is not considered a "serious" force in domestic politics around the world. Even using the word "force" seems inappropriate, because states can ignore the UN’s rules and very few of them are actually punished for doing so. So my brother’s perception that the UN was merely a place to observe statutes, photographs, and paintings from around the world seemed not far too off for me.
After the tour (in which my brother made fun of me for whispering the answers to the tour guide’s questions and then asking her to clarify what she meant by country when asking what the smallest country in the world was- she actually meant state), I found a potential new found appreciation for the UN. The tour guide informed us that the five permanent members of the Security Council (US, Soviet Union/ Russia, China, UK, and France) made a pact that they would not go to war with one another as long as each of them had a veto in the Security Council’s decision making process.
In light of the Cold War, this was important information. Could having a veto over decisions made in a seemingly meaningless international organization actually help keep major powers from going to war? Would such an agreement be analogous to agreements made within military regimes, where branches of the military agree to equally share power in exchange for peace? I do not know; like I said, I am not an IR scholar. But I think this pact could have had potential effects on the decisions of these major powers to go to war during the Cold War; it may in fact helped prevent a major world war from breaking out. (Of course, mutually assured destruction could have been the reason too).