2022-12-06

TNLiveNews

Minute to Minute NEWS!

A Crisis of Faith Shakes the United Nations in Its Big Week – Foreign Policy

Proposed citizenship reform offers a chance at redemption.
More than nine months of war have inflicted a devastating humanitarian toll.
The former leader’s mourning period creates an opportunity for public gathering—and political plotting.
It’s not recognition yet—just resignation.
Report: A Crisis of Faith Shakes the United Nations in Its Big Week A Crisis of Faith Shakes the United Nations … | View Comments ()

NEW FOR SUBSCRIBERS: Click + to receive email alerts for new stories written by Robbie Gramer
Weeks after Russia launched a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a dramatic televised address to the United Nations Security Council. There, he fumed with barely masked rage at the institution he was speaking to. “If your current format is unalterable and there is simply no way out, then the only option would be to dissolve yourself altogether,” he said. “So where is the peace that the United Nations was created to guarantee?”
Zelensky’s address highlighted a grim irony about the U.N. Security Council: Russia was chairing its rotating presidency just as the country launched the largest land war in Europe since World War II.
As world leaders convene in New York for a series of high-level meetings at the U.N. General Assembly this week, the institution faces a profound crisis of faith in the wake of the unprovoked war one of its five permanent members started. 
Weeks after Russia launched a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a dramatic televised address to the United Nations Security Council. There, he fumed with barely masked rage at the institution he was speaking to. “If your current format is unalterable and there is simply no way out, then the only option would be to dissolve yourself altogether,” he said. “So where is the peace that the United Nations was created to guarantee?”
Zelensky’s address highlighted a grim irony about the U.N. Security Council: Russia was chairing its rotating presidency just as the country launched the largest land war in Europe since World War II.
As world leaders convene in New York for a series of high-level meetings at the U.N. General Assembly this week, the institution faces a profound crisis of faith in the wake of the unprovoked war one of its five permanent members started. 
The United Nations is grappling with growing numbers of humanitarian crises, from the economic aftershocks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has sparked global food insecurity to increasingly deadly natural disasters spurred by climate change. A series of disastrous conflicts—including in Ukraine, Syria, and Ethiopia—have laid bare the limits of the U.N.’s ability to diplomatically intervene and make peace. All the while, growing geopolitical competition between the United States and China has cast a shadow over U.N. headquarters as its member states around the world bristle at the thought of being dragged into a new Cold War.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned in a speech leading up to the U.N. General Assembly’s high-level week that countries are “being devoured by the acids of nationalism and self-interest.” He added, “The General Assembly is meeting at a time of great peril.”
Amid these crises, there is a growing chorus of voices within Turtle Bay, where the U.N. is headquartered, that says the council needs urgent and serious reform. Some of the loudest voices are coming from U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, including his ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield. But it remains unclear what that reform would look like or if major U.N. powers, such as Russia and China, would ever get on board with any changes.
“In many, many places—whether it is Afghanistan, northwest Syria, Ukraine—the U.N. has shown it does not have the political space to fulfill the ideas of its original charter,” said Richard Gowan, U.N. director at the International Crisis Group. “A lot of time now, the U.N.’s role has been reduced to geopolitical ambulance-chasing.”
Nearly 150 prime ministers, presidents, and other world leaders are slated to descend on New York City for the General Assembly this year, which for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic will be held fully in person. For the United States, this year represents a home-court advantage beyond just the location: Unlike Biden, neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to attend this year, giving the United States a unique opportunity to drive its foreign-policy agenda over its adversaries with foreign leaders.
For the Biden administration, rallying a global response to support Ukraine is a top priority for this year’s U.N. General Assembly. “We want to strengthen Ukraine’s support here at the U.N. We want to continue to isolate and condemn Russia until this unconscionable war comes to an end,” Thomas-Greenfield told Foreign Policy. 
A wide majority of the U.N.’s 193 members also voted to grant Zelensky the ability to present a pre-recorded speech to the General Assembly over the objections of Moscow, as Zelensky remains in Ukraine to respond to the war. In some ways, the response to the war in Ukraine represents one of the few diplomatic bright spots this year for the United Nations and the man at the helm of it. In the days following Russia’s invasion, the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Putin’s actions, sending a stark signal about Russia’s diplomatic isolation. Later, numerous U.N. members came together to back International Criminal Court efforts to investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine in a serious blow to Moscow’s efforts to contain the diplomatic damage from its war. 
“Even with the Security Council paralyzed as a result of Russia, you saw that this political system was working to utilize whatever tools were within its power to at least try to do something,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center advocacy organization. 
Guterres, who was widely criticized for not doing enough to avert war in the run-up to Russia’s invasion, also made diplomatic gains on the margins of the conflict since it first erupted almost seven months ago. In April, he traveled to Ukraine to negotiate a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian fighters and civilians trapped in the sprawling Azovstal steel plant near the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Alongside Turkey, Guterres also later helped broker a deal between Russia and Ukraine to allow Ukrainian ports to begin safely exporting staple food commodities out of the Black Sea, somewhat easing shocks to the global food supply chain.
“Guterres has turned out to be one of the very few leaders who’s able to get even minimal concessions out of Vladimir Putin,” Gowan said.
The U.N. has notched other diplomatic achievements in the past year, including in Yemen—where U.N. envoy Hans Grundberg was able to cobble together a lasting truce between warring parties in the country’s devastating civil war—and in Afghanistan—where the U.N. has kept a humanitarian mission in operation, albeit with limited capacity, after the Taliban took over the country last year amid the chaotic U.S. military withdrawal.
But the U.N. has weathered many failings that could outshine its accomplishments at the General Assembly this year, including disappointing progress on international efforts to tackle climate change and high-profile diplomatic mishaps that have emboldened the U.N.’s sharpest critics and spurred discussions on Security Council reform.
This month, for example, the United Nations released a long-delayed report detailing China’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. But the 45-page document, released minutes before U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s term ended, made no mention of the word “genocide.” Critics were quick to accuse the U.N. of pulling its punches on criticizing Beijing and hiding its condemnations of sweeping human rights violations behind technical and legal jargon in a watered-down report. 
Two of the U.N.’s largest peacekeeping missions, meanwhile, are also under fire in a way that poses yet another challenge to an institution already fighting a crisis of faith. The U.N. peacekeeping missions in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are two of the U.N.’s biggest blue helmet operations, have both faced significant criticism from foreign capitals as well as widespread protests from local populations for failing to fulfill their most basic mission mandates of protecting civilians in conflict. 
“I think there’s a real sense that events in Mali and the Congo are adding up to a growing crisis with the credibility of U.N. peacekeeping operations,” Gowan said.
Human rights advocates have also criticized the United Nations for doing too little on the nearly 2-year-long Tigray war in Ethiopia, which has killed an estimated half a million people and fueled a massive humanitarian and refugee crisis. Critics also say the U.N. Security Council has done next to nothing to address the crisis in Myanmar, where a military junta took power in a coup last year and entirely rolled back the country’s slow and uneven transition to democracy after orchestrating a genocide against its Rohingya ethnic minority population.
Despite concerted efforts by human rights groups and Myanmar civil society activists for years, the U.N. has yet to call for an arms embargo on Myanmar, and the U.N. Security Council has not attempted to table a resolution on Myanmar since 2007. “Even in the wake of the Rohingya genocide, there’s really been no significant action from the U.N. on Myanmar,” Radhakrishnan said. “The message it’s continually been sending is that ‘we don’t care enough to get ourselves involved.’”
Thomas-Greenfield has floated trial balloons for serious efforts to reform the U.N. Security Council in recent months in the wake of many of these failures—including in a speech in San Francisco this month. So far though, the Biden administration has been light on details. Some reforms being discussed include adding new permanent members to the Security Council, such as India and Japan, or limiting the number of vetoes any of the current permanent five members—the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China—can cast, but it’s unclear how these proposals could gain traction in the face of stiff opposition from any one of the permanent members or other U.N. member states.
“The problem is everyone wants reform. There isn’t a country on Earth that doesn’t say in public it feels the U.N. needs to change and catch up with current realities of the world,” Gowan said. “But everyone’s vision of what U.N. reform should look like is different.”
Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at
Anusha Rathi is an intern at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @anusharathi_
Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.
Already a subscriber? .

View Comments
Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?
View Comments
Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs.


The default username below has been generated using the first name and last initial on your FP subscriber account. Usernames may be updated at any time and must not contain inappropriate or offensive language.


NEW FOR SUBSCRIBERS: Want to read more on this topic or region? Click + to receive email alerts when new stories are published on United Nations
Read More
A long-delayed report on Xinjiang was an important step forward, but it has critical omissions.
Volker Türk lacks the temperament to be the United Nations human rights chief.
What U.S. ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield wants from the 77th U.N. General Assembly.
Sign up for Morning Brief
You’re on the list! More ways to stay updated on global news:
By submitting your email, you agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and to receive email correspondence from us. You may opt out at any time.
Editors’ Picks
Diplomacy is neither intrinsically moral nor always strategically wise.
Modern-day Ukrainian partisans are quietly working to undermine the occupation.
The war in Ukraine has turned Europe’s most powerful countries against each other like hardly ever before.
Washington’s crackdown on technology access is creating a new kind of global conflict.
Sign up for Morning Brief
By submitting your email, you agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and to receive email correspondence from us. You may opt out at any time.
60% off unrivaled insights.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
Your guide to the most important world stories of the day. Delivered Monday-Friday.
Essential analysis of the stories shaping geopolitics on the continent. Delivered Wednesday.
One-stop digest of politics, economics, and culture. Delivered Friday.
The latest news, analysis, and data from the country each week. Delivered Wednesday.
Weekly update on developments in India and its neighbors. Delivered Thursday.
Weekly update on what’s driving U.S. national security policy. Delivered Thursday.
A curated selection of our very best long reads. Delivered Wednesday & Sunday.
Evening roundup with our editors’ favorite stories of the day. Delivered Monday-Saturday.
A monthly digest of the top articles read by FP subscribers.
Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?
Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?
Frans Timmermans returned from COP27 with his dreams dashed. Europe’s top climate negotiator says the global climate summit was a disappointment: The pledges made were simply not aggressivShow more
By signing up, I agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and to occasionally receive special offers from Foreign Policy.
Registered
Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?
Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?
As Russia’s war in Ukraine continues into 2023, the weather will have an important impact. Ukrainians, of course, are more vulnerable than usual to power outages and energy shocks. But RusShow more
By signing up, I agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and to occasionally receive special offers from Foreign Policy.
Registered
Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?
Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely the most popular elected leader in the world. No other politician has won so many votes in history. Few other incumbent leaders around the worldShow more
The war continues to be discussed in ways that are self-serving—and self-defeating.
Washington’s relationship with the YPG is a useful foil for the Turkish president ahead of the 2023 election.
Erdogan is trying to strike a balance of being pro-Ukraine but not anti-Russia.
An initially soft approach was probably due to confusion, not policy.

source