The UN, despite everything

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Democracies can drive the improvements needed to safeguard and make that peace tool more effective

Donald Trump’s intervention before the United Nations General Assembly is a sad demonstration of the rapprochement that the current US president has had during his tenure with the world’s main multilateral organization, whose activity and functioning he has tried to undermine since he acceded. to the White House. Far from having a conciliatory attitude on the 75th anniversary of the organization that serves as a forum for dialogue for all nations, the president took the opportunity to try to sow discord by accusing China without proof of being the cause of the most important global calamity of the century XXI, the covid-19, and demand that the UN itself “hold Beijing accountable” for it.

Although the General Assembly rostrum has been the scene in these three-quarters of a century of harsh accusations, the organization created after the end of World War II to avoid another confrontation of this scale has also served to reduce tensions and reach very difficult agreements without this common multilateral forum. It has had much or little to do with it, the truth is that since it exists, the planet has not been ravaged by a war the size of the one suffered between 1939 and 1945.

Trump and other critics of multilateralism have repeatedly criticized the – in their opinion – giant UN structure, which they accuse of being bureaucratic and ineffective. It is true that the organizations that depend on it can and must improve. After all, the historical moment in which they arose is not the present and the needs to which they must respond are not the same. But it is enough to remember the fundamental role in saving and caring for millions of people throughout these years by organizations such as the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF, the World Food Fund (FAO) or the World Organization of the Salud, among others, to see an evident commendable work. In the same way, the commitment of Unesco to safeguard the cultural memory of the entire human race must be underlined.

There are UN structures that have been vital to negotiate or impose peace, such as the Security Council, although it is true that the existence of permanent members with the right to veto sometimes distorts the discussion and reduces the effectiveness of its mission. But the organization itself is very broad and countries committed to multilateralism, especially democracies, can promote other improvements necessary to safeguard and make that tool of peace that is the UN more effective. If a president who shares this vision returns to the White House in November, this common project will also have the backing of the most powerful democracy in the world.

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