Sunday, 23 September 2018

The UN’s Darkest Hour U.S. Disengagement A Major Challenge

If the United Nations were a stock or an index fund, you might want to short it. Founded in 1945 to “maintain international peace and security,” the UN in recent years has been mostly powerless to stop slaughter in Syria, Yemen and Myanmar. 

Civil conflicts are nearing post-Cold War highs. The number of displaced people has hit a new record. After decades of improvement, more of the world’s poor are going hungry. The gap between what the UN seeks and receives for humanitarian relief is greater than ever. Gridlock at the Security Council is worsening. The organization’s biggest shareholder, the U.S., is withdrawing its support, creating an opening for a takeover by powers with decidedly illiberal interests.
The UN’s Darkest Hour U.S. Disengagement A Major Challenge
Yet the UN is still necessary — far too necessary to be written off. From the spread of weapons of mass destruction to the threat of climate change, the range of perils that no one nation can counter has greatly expanded since the UN was established. The test facing those gathered for this year’s General Assembly is as pressing as it is daunting: to make the UN fit for purpose in an era of surging nationalism and mounting geopolitical tensions.

Seen from today, President Harry Truman’s pronouncement that it might take 80 years for the UN Charter to remake world affairs seems a trifle optimistic. As Stewart Patrick of the Council on Foreign Relations put it in an interview, “The United Nations has been in crisis for much of the time since its founding.”

For much of the Cold War period, the UN was splintered by veto wars between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the Security Council, and by North-South divisions that birthed infamies in the General Assembly like the 1975 “Zionism is a form of racism” resolution. U.S. fortunes in the General Assembly reached a nadir in 1988, when its members voted with the U.S. only 15 percent of the time. The UN’s Darkest Hour U.S. Disengagement A Major Challenge

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