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7 Dec, 2023 21:22

Andrey Sushentsov: Will the UN survive and what could replace it?

Global players may decide that the organization is too Western dominated and look for a new arrangement in the 21st century
Andrey Sushentsov: Will the UN survive and what could replace it?

The world has entered a period of qualitative change that will irreversibly alter the structure of the international system and usher in a new format for international affairs. Over the past hundred years, humanity has learned some important lessons from situations like the one we’re in now. 

One of these has been a common understanding of the value of life on the planet and the realization that humanity possesses catastrophic powers of destruction, the imprudent use of which could lead to the death of our species.

This common interest continues to unite leading countries in the effort to avoid a global nuclear war and to preserve the general contour of stability in international relations. However, this does not exclude regional and local military flashpoints.

However, the UN and its Security Council continue to fulfill the primary purpose for which they were created – to prevent a devastating showdown between the great powers. In this respect, the institution is still relevant.

Often, technical questions about the location of the secretariat of these organizations in the United States and Western European states lead to a Western-centric narrative. These countries can also dominate the spirit and paradigm of engagement within the apparatus. The UN, as a result, is vulnerable to being a victim of Western manipulation and ceases to be a truly multilateral platform. In it, we often see pressure from leading Western countries on small and medium-sized powers and their representatives, many of whom keep their material resources and savings in those states or to educate their children there. This makes them susceptible to such leverage.

The true multilateralism and inclusiveness of this organization is gradually being washed away by the West. The UN is less and less reflective of the civilizational diversity of contemporary international relations. It is in danger of becoming less effective than it was a few decades ago because of its significant Western bias.

At the same time, the current state of the UN is a reflection of today's international relations and crises. The situation will not return to normal until a new global balance of power becomes apparent to all. It is the lack of a firm understanding of what such a state-of-affairs looks like that disorients both the apparatus of this organization and many countries, as can be seen at the UN General Assembly. 

Once a new balance is found, the key states participating in this system will decide whether there is a need to reorganize the UN, reform it, or create another body to replace it in order to regulate relations between them in a reasonable way.

The US is trying to portray the Ukrainian crisis as a global upheaval that will define the character of the entire 21st century, offering countries a Manichean choice between black and white. Most states see the opportunities the crisis offers them and are trying to gain an advantage. But, at the same time, many powerful players realize that the steps the US is taking towards Russia and China could very easily be applied to them – and are making the rational decision to join BRICS.

Humanity came close to a major nuclear conflict several times in the 20th century, but each time common sense prevailed. The Cold War was useful in that it sobered up hotheads and made it clear that international security and stability are of equal concern to all and require considerable effort to maintain. That is why, in the Cuban Missile Crisis and in several other episodes where nuclear weapons could have been used, both sides shied away from using these instruments to achieve their political ends.

Unfortunately, this practice and experience is disappearing as a useful tool in the strategic thinking of many Western states. We hear statements that it is possible, for example, to transfer nuclear weapons to Ukraine. This makes us wonder about the reasonableness and sanity of some in the West.

Russia, before other countries, was faced with the need to determine the optimal rules of interaction with the West, which would be different from what the West itself offers to all states of the world. These principles have been shaped by Russian experts over several decades and are now of interest to many in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It is possible that, over time, a broad international consensus will emerge that these ideas are the most reasonable basis for interaction between states in the 21st century.

This article was first published by Valdai Discussion Club, translated and edited by the RT team

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