I think most of us are well aware of the failings of the UN, but I'm always surprised how little praise the UN gets for some of the absolutely amazing work it conducts around the world. It's worth keeping in mind that the UN can only do what member states allow it to do. If our governments vote against sending troops into a crisis situation, then the UN can do little without that mandate. In my work I've met quite a lot of UN people, and invariably found them honest, hard-working and dedicated, and often as exasperated by the inability of our governments to allow them to do what they need to do as we are. Here are 10 achievements I really respect: 1) UN agencies have worked to make safe drinking water available to 1.3 billion people in rural areas during the last decade. 2) Since 1945, the United Nations has been credited with negotiating 172 peaceful settlements that have ended regional conflicts. 3) More than 30 million refugees fleeing war, famine or persecution have received aid from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees since 1951. 4) By having deployed 42 peace-keeping forces as of 1996, the UN was able to restore calm to allow the negotiating process to go forward while saving millions of people from becoming casualties of conflicts. There are presently 16 active peace-keeping forces in operation. 5) A 13-year effort by the World Health Organization resulted in the complete eradication of smallpox from the planet in 1980. The eradication has saved an estimated $1 billion a year in vaccination and monitoring. 6) UNEP led a major effort to clean up the Mediterranean Sea. It encouraged adversaries such as Syria and Israel, Turkey and Greece to work together to clean up beaches. As a result, more than 50 per cent of the previously polluted beaches are now usable. 7) The United Nations has enabled people in over 45 countries to participate in free and fair elections, including those held in Cambodia, Namibia, El Salvador, Eritrea, Mozambique, Nicaragua and South Africa. It has provided electoral advice, assistance, and monitoring of results. 8) The United Nations, through the International Atomic Energy Agency, has helped minimize the threat of a nuclear war by inspecting nuclear reactors in 90 countries to ensure that nuclear materials are not diverted for military purposes. 9) Over 300 international treaties, on topics as varied as human rights conventions to agreements on the use of outer space and seabed, have been enacted through the efforts of the United Nations. 10) The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has developed a system of providing credit, often in very small amounts, for the poorest and most marginalised groups that has benefited over 230 million people in nearly 100 developing countries. Of these, perhaps my favourite one is the provision of clean drinking water. That is an immense contribution to humanity, and I would hope everyone on the board would value that work.