The End of the Road for the United Nations
What the Future Holds for the World's Chief International Organization
by Gennady Sysoev | September 22, 2006
In the anti-Americanism manifesting itself at the current session of the United Nations General Assembly, acute expert observers are seeing signs of terrible times ahead for the world's main international body. They say that the Americans, who are the UN's chief sponsors, will refuse to further finance an organization where their name is routinely dragged through the mud, and this would be a death sentence for the UN.
The UN, it seems, is slowly but surely nearing its end. Not because its walls are resounding ever louder and more openly with criticism of America, but because The UN in its current form was created as a mechanism for discussion of the system of international relations engendered by the Second World War. Inasmuch as that system has basically fallen apart, it stands to reason that the mechanism created for discussing it is doomed to the scrap heap.
The main elements of the system that has just barely kept the world from serious cataclysms for more than half a century were multipolarity and the key role of the Security Council in the resolution of international disputes. The principle of multipolarity did not survive the geopolitical upheavals of the early 1990s that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union and of the system of global socialism. With the world becoming ever more unipolar, with a single effective center of power, discussions began of the necessity of reforming the UN in order to prepare it to respond to the new realities. This did not spell the end of the UN, but it was a serious blow to the organization's foundations.
When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 without the approval of the Security Council, it effectively marked a cross on the second cornerstone of the postwar system of international relations, in which the Security Council had been assigned the role of supreme arbiter of international disputes. And that, finally, pronounced the sentence for the organization.
Having been unable to put the organization back on firm ground in the years since the invasion of Iraq, the only possibility that remains open to the opponents of the overthrow of the UN is to fend off its impending collapse. But in order to do so, they will have to pay a high price: to decide on an open confrontation with the United States, which has more and more appropriated for itself the role of supreme judge in world affairs.
However, none of the key opponents of the US have turned out to be up to the task. Some see any confrontation with Washington as a match between boxers punching at entirely different weights. Some, despite all the odiousness of America's policies, have their own views on the United States. For Russia, for example, its relationship with the Americans is a partnership in the struggle against international terrorism.
Having realized, evidently, the dead-end nature of the struggle in favor of the former system of world affairs, the opposition countries have recently been trying to ensure only that the system that will replace it is founded on definite rules of engagement. And that is the struggle that the opposition countries are carrying on today, even from the speaker's rostrum in the UN: trying to make these rules as much to their advantage as possible.
But the rub lies in the fact that, in these new rules of the international game, a smaller and smaller place is being left for the United Nations. At least in its current state.