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How a More Powerful UN Could End Ukraine War

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

On September 20, 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional appeal to the UN Security Council that was heard by people all around the world.

Zelensky emphasised the urgent need to restore the true authority of the United Nations and urged for a renewed commitment to the values inherent in the UN Charter. We must fully appreciate the UN's importance in preserving international peace and security in a world beset by wars and crises.

The atrocities of two world wars, which culminated in the deployment of nuclear weapons to destroy whole cities, highlighted the pressing need for an international framework to avert fresh catastrophe. In response to this need, the United Nations was founded in 1945 with the primary goal of "maintaining international peace and security."

The UN Charter established the principles by which countries ought to cooperate after World War II. It emphasised Article 2, Section 4's prohibition on the use of force or threat of force against a state's territorial integrity or political independence while also recognising Article 51's recognition of the right to self-defense in the event of an armed attack. However, the UN Security Council, where the US, Russia, China, Britain, and France maintained veto power over resolutions and actions, was principally responsible for upholding these ideals.

Unfortunately, the permanent members' ability to veto Security Council decisions, which was a benefit they received for joining the UN, has frequently prevented the organisation from efficiently preserving peace and global security. This was particularly clear in the Ukraine War, where, as President Zelensky bemoaned, "all efforts are vetoed by the aggressor." As a result, the UN has had trouble applying the rules of international law set forth in its Charter.

Some people appear to be pleased with the UN's perceived frailty. Nationalists hold international security organisations in low regard and may even urge for their dissolution, as former US President Donald Trump and his supporters. Others argue that the route to world peace lies in accepting the zones of influence of big powers.

While this is going on, certain international Leftist groups disregard the UN in favour of opposing "US imperialism." These positions, however, do not recognise that such suggestions, whether through a return to previous patterns of conflict or the pursuit of unipolar supremacy, constitute grave hazards to civilization, especially in the nuclear age.

On the other hand, suggestions to strengthen the UN offer workable and efficient alternatives. The proposals made by President Zelensky, including allowing the UN General Assembly to override Security Council vetoes with a two-thirds majority vote, increasing Security Council representation, and temporarily suspending the membership of aggressor countries, offer a framework for reviving the UN's function in international security.

There are many further methods to strengthen the UN's ability to deal with global issues including climate change, pandemics, and corporate exploitation. Supporting the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, developing a comprehensive UN program to address the worldwide refugee crisis, and significantly boosting the UN's financial resources to tackle global poverty and misery are a few examples.


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