'UN not a world government; can't end wars'

UN Logo [Representational Picture]
UN Logo [Representational Picture]File

United Nations, Sep 9: A common misperception about the UN is that it is the world government and could unilaterally act to stop wars or punish nations launching wars.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spectacularly blasted the myth yet again like the drones raining bombs.

This unrealistic expectation gives rise to cynicism about the organisation that rose from the ashes of World War II with the shimmering goal of ending wars and genocide.

It has failed in both.

The Security Council, which alone has enforcement powers, has been checkmated by the polarisation from the veto powers of the five permanent members.

General Assembly President Csaba Korosi put it succinctly: “The Security Council -- the main guarantor of international peace and security – has remained blocked, unable to fully carry out its mandate". And the General Assembly of 193 members is powerless.

The UN is burdened by the original sin of its founding when it reflected the post-World War II geopolitics, vesting indisputable powers over the Council with the five nations that emerged victorious.

And this weekend, the focus at the G20 summit will turn to two specialised UN agencies formed with the same post-war template: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WB) which are equally showing signs of losing their relevance.

These two institutions have been found to be unprepared for the 21st century with a changed world map, especially at a time when many countries around the world are trapped in a financial crisis.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the G20 finance ministers earlier this year, "Trust in international financial institutions has eroded. This is partly because they have been slow to reform themselves”.

“We need to collectively work to strengthen multilateral development banks for meeting global challenges like climate change and high debt levels”, he said.

Given the urgency, Biden will make reforming them also his agenda at the G20, his National Security Adviser said, creating a congruence of India’s and US positions.

“That's one of our main focuses heading into the G20: delivering on an agenda fundamentally reshaping and scaling up the multilateral development banks, especially the World Bank”, he said.

The reform of the two institutions gets a further sense of urgency because of China’s lending programmes around the world becoming a rival centre of financing with initially looser terms, even though those entrap debtors into giving up strategic assets.

Given the limitations on ushering in world peace, the UN has focused on climate, humanitarian and development issues – which it also views as essential to countering threats to global peace – again with varied success.

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