This June 26 marks 75 years since the day the international scene changed once and for all. On a day like today in San Francisco, the United Nations Charter was signed, which laid the foundations for the creation of the this organization. Revyuh tells what role the UN plays in the world today.
Founded in 1945, the UN continues to work hard to preserve world peace and help prevent the horrors of war without quarter like World War II from shaking the planet again. Unfortunately, however, the United Nations does not always work effectively, and armed conflict does happen from time to time in different parts of the world. Under these conditions, the UN helps to mediate them and sometimes even sends its peacekeeping missions.
The two main bodies within the United Nations are the General Assembly that serves as a platform for discussions for all countries on the planet and the Security Council consisting of 15 members, five of whom are permanent. These five countries – Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China – have the right of veto and each of them is capable of cancelling any initiative of other UN member countries.
The fact that the list of permanent members of the Security Council consists exclusively of these five countries raised voices calling for reform of both the Council and the United Nations in general. Others believe that the list of permanent members should be expanded through the inclusion of other important countries such as Brazil or India. There are even those who advocate the creation of the UN Parliamentary Assembly.
However, if there are those who believe that the UN needs to be reformed, the question arises: how effective is the UN today?
How has the UN worked so far?
From the end of the Second World War, the UN was precisely the organization that guaranteed the stability of the modern world political architecture. The right of veto held by some of the winning countries helped prevent various armed conflicts. However, at the same time for several years, the situation began to change, political scientist Dmitri Abzalov told.
“Most of the decisions made by the Security Council go above other UN structures. As a consequence, the actions are unilateral. Examples would be the cases of Venezuela, Libya, Syria and North Korea. In reality, this security system reaches a point where it is almost stagnant,” he said.
The functioning of the United Nations is complicated by the actions of certain world players who leave organizations that are part of the UN structure. In this way, they effectively leave these organisms without the means for proper functioning, he continued. So it was in the case of the United States that left Unesco in 2018.
UN agencies that should be removed from politics are in fact involved in it. This was when Unesco, in fact, recognized the independence of Palestine. Here it is important to remember that the factual recognition of Kosovo did not provoke any negative reaction from Washington, recalled the interviewee.
“When there is no deterrent, there is a danger of armed conflict, to be more precise, it is the threat of subsidiary wars, that is, indirect confrontations between two powers in the territory of third countries. It is a huge risk that we will face in the coming years. There may be a confrontation between the United States and China. In this case, the security mechanisms provided by the UN will be ignored,” he said.
First steps towards reform
Currently, the majority of the world population lives in developing countries. Representation of developing countries has a promising future in the UN structure, Abzalov highlighted.
“For a reform of the United Nations it is necessary to act in a prudent way, that is to say, it is necessary to introduce changes in such a way that the world does not remain at a certain moment without any international structure such as the UN. In other words, it is important that the old mechanisms work, while the new ones are being introduced. Otherwise, there will be a situation in which there is no platform,” he said.
There are certain risks in the world, therefore the need for United Nations reform is determined, he added.
When discussing the inclusion of new permanent members of the UN Security Council, the expert pointed out that it is important to know with whom these new members will interact. The addition of new members to the Security Council presupposes that the decision-making process will be more complicated.
“Every permanent member of the UN Security Council has the right of veto. So the more permanent members there are, the more difficult it is to make decisions within that body. A vote made by the right of veto sabotages the decision of the rest of the Members. That is, 50 people from different countries with the right to veto will never reach a consensus. Not even 20 countries will be able to find a common point,” predicted the interviewee.
The Security Council should not consist of more than 10 players. This will make the body’s work more effective, he continued.
What future awaits the United Nations?
Over the past year, we have seen that the global security system is being sabotaged. In the next period of between five and ten years, we must expect that there will be a confrontation between several countries. We can already see that there are tensions in relations between China and India, China and the United States, and certain problems in European countries. The rising possibility of conflict destabilizes the situation on the world stage significantly, Abzalov predicted.
It is to be expected that in the years to come the influence of the UN will diminish, especially if Trump remains in power in the United States because he acts in international politics unilaterally.
“It is also expected that not only the United States but also other countries will act unilaterally: these are unilateral actions by France on the African stage and Spain’s actions on the Latin American stage,” he said.
“But in order to make this vision a reality, it is necessary for all countries to reach an agreement. Although it is unlikely, for example, that the United States will do something to make it come true because the North American country is getting closer to the presidential elections – which will be held in November 2020 – and under these conditions Trump is hardly going to take abrupt steps,” he said.
The expert stressed that it is better to reform the UN and not create a new world organization because it is impossible to create a new platform for all countries quickly and, in addition, this will require many forces. So, for now, the old platform – the UN – will remain. However, it requires reform in accordance with the new principles.