The UN needs structural reform to establish its relevance again

Source: The post is based on the article “The UN needs structural reform to establish its relevance again” published in Live Mint on 8th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Institutions

Relevance: problems with the United Nations

News: The article discusses the declining role of the United Nations (UN) in international politics.

How has the role of the UN declined?

The UN once played an important role in international diplomacy.

The United Nations Security Council was the big forum of discussion of the happenings around the world. It was so powerful that even the unchallenged superpower of the day still found it necessary to make its case to the Council.

The UN was so important that even the US diplomacy after 9/11 and its decision to invade Iraq and Afghanistan required proper justification in the UN.

However, the UN, in recent times, has become a non-playing character (NPC) in international diplomacy because it has been unable to solve the issues of ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Sudan among others.

What measures are being taken to bring reforms in the UN and what are the concerns with those reforms?

A paper published by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy says that the UN is attempting to bring changes in its system.

The initiatives that are being adopted to bring changes by the UN contain ideas on conflict prevention, peacekeeping, nuclear risk reduction, arms control, artificial intelligence and autonomous weapon systems, climate change and gender equity.

However, it is very likely that the UN will fail in these areas even if world leaders approve of the agenda.

This is because none of them addresses the reforms required in its political structure, which is the main reasons for the UN’s growing irrelevance.

The UN political structure reflects the balance of power of the Industrial Age of 1945 while that power has not only massively shifted in the past three decades, but human civilization itself has entered the Information Age.

Power, interest, authority, responsibility and accountability are extremely mismatched, and until this is fixed, the UN cannot reverse its course of increasing ineffectiveness.

Must Read: United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Reforms – Explained

What can be the solution for the declining role of the UN?

First, there is a need that India must invest in creating alternative platforms for global governance and the formation of the G20 in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis is a viable option.

India is heading the G20 this year and it is required that India must sustain the momentum even after the presidency is passed on to other countries. 

Second, Some of the UN’s specialized agencies like Unicef and UNHCR do an admirable job under difficult circumstances which cannot be done by others. They need to be strengthened while adopting other necessary reforms in the UN.

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