Reforming the UN
The United Nations General Assembly is holding its annual meeting amid very critical times. It is faced with a world wracked by terrorism, climate change, cyberattacks, huge migration, violence in Middle East and Africa, Afghanistan and Myanmar, and also such issues as violation of human rights, gender parity etc. Emergence of a nuclear renegade in North Korea and uncertainty over fate of Iran nuc
The United Nations General Assembly is holding its annual meeting amid very critical times. It is faced with a world wracked by terrorism, climate change, cyberattacks, huge migration, violence in Middle East and Africa, Afghanistan and Myanmar, and also such issues as violation of human rights, gender parity etc. Emergence of a nuclear renegade in North Korea and uncertainty over fate of Iran nuclear deal also worry it, not in the least.
At present, the UN seems afflicted by impoverishment of ideas to tackle these humongous issues. This is what prompted a self-professed UN skeptic like Donald Trump to call for urgent reforms at the UN. He messed up, though, with his unilateral action of holding reform meeting and allowing only those to the meeting, who signed on his 10-point declaration. Needless to say, Russia and China and others kept off, leaving only 128 of the 193 members to listen to Trump’s protestations.
What all Trump stressed and endorsed by Secretary-General António Guterres focus on management issues such as bureaucracy, fragmented structures, Byzantine procedures, endless red tape etc. But to bring tangible results in the lives of millions of people across the globe needs a nimble and efficient body. Reforms can’t be imposed on a multilateral body, but steered through negotiations and, if need be, peer-to-peer dialogues. Only thus, the UN can transform into a more effective, overarching and just body with moral authority to impel countries to act the way they should.
Indeed, the UN has rendered a yeoman service for peace, poverty reduction and environmental protection. In recent years, it pushed for Iranian nuclear deal, Paris climate pact, and set the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to free the world of poverty and disease in all their forms and dimensions.
Its achievements are huge, but daunting challenges remain and new ones are cropping up. Only a stronger body can meet the new era demands. But, the UN is only as strong as its member-states want it to be. A mere voice for all sans veto power will not suffice. It is the Security Council that imposes and enforces sanctions to run the UN writ. But, the world body was hamstrung many a time in tackling global issues as veto power is misused by the permanent five. What more, there isn’t even any code of conduct for veto use.
France is said to be pursuing a code now.The Council also doesn't truly reflect global geopolitical realities. There is no representation for Africa or Latin America, which puts its legitimacy in question. The 15-member council has been seen to be feeble whenever one of the five has an axe to grind in major conflicts, be it in Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, North Korea or Afghanistan.
Thus, quoting former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “No reform of the UN would be complete without reform of the Security Council.” It is hoped that the ongoing UN meet would facilitate creative and sustainable solutions to tackle all those issues endangering global peace and stymieing growth. But, it needs more than Trump, in fact every major power, to join forces to bolster the world body as never before.