Drawing by Dmitry Divin
The United Nations has consistently been criticized for its ineffectiveness over the last two-three decades. As countries have taken to trying to circumvent the UN to resolve various international and even domestic problems, people have started talking about the collapse of the entire system of international security institutions and about the distortion of the concept of international law itself, a law that the UN is supposed to be guarding.
When the UN Charter entered into force 70 years ago, on October 24, 1945, the world was obviously very different. And this charter, which was adopted by the 50 founding countries (Poland also joined the group, becoming the 51st country to sign the Charter before its ratification), was written under the post-war Yalta peace treaty. The Yalta peace treaty no longer exists; it became history after the end of the Cold War. And it was around this time that people started talking about the need to reform the UN so that it would correspond to modern needs.
A struggle to adapt to a changing world
The number of conflicts that have occurred since World War II is already approaching 300. In the overwhelming majority of cases the UN proved helpless to deal with or resolve the conflicts. The organization’s helplessness became even more apparent precisely after the breakdown of the bipolar world of the post-WWII order, in which two opposing military-political blocks guaranteed interactivity according to the rules.
"Manageability" was guaranteed since the two powers possessed nuclear weapons, weapons of mutual intimidation and restraint. In this sense, it was logical that in the "old world" the permanent UN Security Council members were precisely the five nuclear powers (even though China received this status only in 1972 – earlier it belonged to the Taiwan government).
But with the breakdown of the bipolar world the UN has been left face to face not with a uni-polar world (even though there are some who would like to call it that), but with a growing multi-polar chaos. It has become difficult for the institution, which is not an ideal structure, to counter this chaos.
When people talk about reforming the UN, they often say that the Security Council should be expanded and the right of veto that the five permanent members have should be annulled (the Security Council has 15 members: five permanent – Russia, the U.S., the UK, France and China – and 10 rotating members who are elected by the UN General Assembly for a two-year term). The freshest, "softest" proposal that is currently being discussed comes from France, which proposed that the permanent members renounce their right of veto in the event, for example, that there are massive violations of human rights which lead to large numbers of victims.
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