The UN Is Another Casualty of Russia’s War
The UN Is Another Casualty of Russia’s War

The UN Is Another Casualty of Russia’s War

Why the Organization Might Never Bounce Back.

Multilateralism lies on its deathbed tonight,” Kenya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, warned the Security Council in a debate on the looming war in Ukraine in late February. Since then, UN diplomacy has remained in critical condition. Russia has blocked the council from taking any action in response to its “special military operation.” On March 2, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution deploring Russia’s actions by 141 votes to five. Moscow won only the support of Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, and Syria. But Russian forces pushed on with their assault regardless.

This war threatens to do long-term damage to the UN. If hostilities drag on in Ukraine, or Moscow ends up occupying part or all of the country by force indefinitely, Russia and the United States will find it very hard, or simply impossible, to cooperate on other crises through the Security Council. Policymakers in Washington and its allies in Paris and London–who represent three of the five veto-wielding permanent seats on the UN Security Council–will have to explore whether there are some issues, such as containing Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, on which they can continue to work with the Russians, regardless of events in Ukraine. And the Western powers will need to invest in those parts of the UN system, such as its humanitarian agencies, that can mitigate conflicts without Security Council mandates.

The spectacle of Moscow flagrantly violating the UN Charter’s core principles, including respecting sovereignty and refraining from the use of force, has caused profound disquiet in New York and beyond. There has been talk in UN and academic circles of reforming the charter to stop Russia or other permanent members of the Security Council from using their veto to shield their own aggressive acts in future. Ukraine has suggested stripping Moscow of its Security Council seat altogether.

The full article can be read on Foreign Affairs' website.

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