Dhaka, Bangladesh
United Nations at 75

Off the Track

United Nations at 75

Govind Bhattacharjee

India must work closely with the international community to reassert the principles on which the United Nations was founded 75 years ago, which, as the UN Charter had stated, are to maintain international peace and security, and to settle all international disputes only through peaceful means. It is 75 years since 50 countries had signed a Charter on 26 June 1945 at San Francisco to establish the United Nations (UN). Today it has 193 members. Quoting Dag Hammarskjoeld, its second Secretary- General, that the UN "was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell", The Economist observed that the UN may not have been able to ensure peace, but certainly did contain wars in a strife-ridden world, despite all its flaws. It has many successes and also many glaring failures, but by and large it has shaped a rule-based global order on the basis of collective security, open markets and human rights. However, as it steps into its 75th year, it finds itself surrounded by the devastation wrought by an unyielding pandemic in a chaotic world, in which it has not been able to forge a consensus for containing and fighting the virus that has spread like wildfire across the globe, mutilating landscapes, economies, lives and livelihood. Each country is using its own strategies defined by its own capacities and resources, and the poorer countries that badly need international support have been left high and dry. Neither has the UN been able to unite nations on the issues of terrorism or refuge to millions of hapless refugees displaced by civil wars across the globe. For the eighth time, India will be seated at the high table of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for two years from January 2021, after winning the votes of 184 nations for a non-permanent seat. Ten years have passed since the last time India was there during 2011-12. The intervening years were marked by the unprecedented rise of China, concomitantly with the waning of American influence and the emergence of a new world order. The murky US entanglement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2008 economic meltdown and finally the Trumpian dystopia of "America First" have seen increasing US disinterest in global affairs and its withdrawal from international covenants like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Paris climate deal, made worse by Mr Trump's repeated public diatribes against NATO.

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