Issue Brief on “At 76, is the UN still Relevant in the Current Geopolitical Environment?”

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As the United Nations turns 76 years, it is caught in a dilemma of the relevance of its existence and the ability to lead as a global organization. The UN was conceived as a means to save future generations from the scourge of war,[1] However, for many nations, it has failed to achieve that. The world has entered a new era of global politics where different existing and rising powers are in competition against the post–World War II multilateral order after which the UN was created and was considered an anchor. Today the UN is facing multifaceted challenges from all directions including politics encompassing bilateral relations. The world is going through a rapid transformation with increasing palpable shifts in the geopolitical environment as well as multiple other threats including a raging pandemic, and climate change. 

The United Nations stands at a crossroads bedeviled by a litany of challenges, including gross underfunding, bloated bureaucracy, disunity, and geopolitical rivalry among the permanent members of the Security Council.[2] The present geopolitical realities have created conditions for the UN to limit its role in the settlement of multiple issues like that of Kashmir and Palestine. Despite the growing need for settlement on multiple issues and conflicts in a judicial and reformed manner, the resolution through the UN has become extremely problematic due to the bureaucratic deficiencies and lack of political will in the system. Furthermore, the weak role of the UN Security Council has resulted in the decline of the UN’s authority and it is perceived as an unnecessary international body.[3]

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