Home Diplomatic Pouch How would a world without the UN be

How would a world without the UN be


By Mariarosaria Iorio, Political Analyst.

In these controversial contemporary times, the United Nations (UN) and its agencies are at best sidelined, at worst ignored.  The most recent case of sidelining relates to the Corona virus epidemic, which had been announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and had been ignored by political leaders already end of 2019.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the UN is considered as being under perfusion as it has lost its political pertinence.  Such a trend can be summarized as follows: disbelief in multilateralism in general, and the growth of nation-based interests, in particular.  Indeed, the United Nations are commonly critized for their lack of pertinence, lack of impact, lack of cost-efficiency and lack of justice. 

How would the world be if one day we woke up without any UN Headquarters in Geneva and in New York,  and without any UN agency in the world ?

The first immediate result would be that all international staff would have to either go back to their own countries.   As of local staff in host countries, they would have to also look for relatively less well paid jobs in their own countries.   

The buildings of the UN in Geneva and New York would probably become either museums, as for exemple the building at the Place des Nations in Geneva. Other less historical buldings would be rent to multinationals business.    People would remind themselves of how it « used to be » when the UN still existed, and of the time when tourists used to come from all over the world to visit the Place des Nations, and its « broken chair ».     

The Geneva and New York international bubble would puff and suddenly disappear, with an immediate effect of lowering rents and appartments becoming suddenly affordable.   

No more UN meetings with politicians and experts coming from all over the world to echange views and  perspectives.    

In sum, the world would be MULTIPLE world.    

It is the contemporary trend: fragmentation and inward-looking.

Political leaders would jubilate of their refound freedom to make national choices without having to negotiate with any other country.  What a relief!

The United States would finally be on its own, not having to pay its contributions to any UN Organisations. 

China would go back to produce for its own population. 

The European Union would be on its own.   

International aid programmes would also be stopped. 

A dream for the anti-development cooperation voices.

The day after the shut-down we would have to think about the next steps.

Every country would finally be in charge of its own policies.

Its own labour, economic, environment and industrial policies. 

What would happen to International Treaties ?

In our fiction, Treaties would be put on hold and only existing legilsation would be taken into account for nations, which would also be based on before-the-en signed international Treaties. 

What would that mean with regard to world peace-keeping?

Each country would keep peaceful relations with other nations.

Conflicts would have to be solved between concerned parties. 

This would apply also to invasion of small by stronger countries. 

No more blue helmets, no more Security Council meetings.       

No more Human Rights Commitee meetings.

The surveillance violation of human rights would also stay at nations level.

This would be the 1919 scenario, when the Ligue of Nations was set-up.

The world of the first world war was a world without the UN.  

We could go back to a world without the UN, and take the risk of moving towards a world that would be more unstable, unsure and conflictual, if not in war.

The COVID 19 has been a clear exemple of what a chaotic management of worldwide public health issues can be like.  A great number of deaths caused by a disorganised management of frontiers, weakened national hospitals, and no international sanitary policy.

World health is indeed a piece of the peace puzzle.  

Breaking down the dialogue among nations based on a purely economic calculation remains an extremely risky choice. 

The UN is not perfect.  

There is a large margin for restructing and change, namely by refocusing mandates of its agencies and by probably shutting down a number of programmes that are no longer relevant.  

One century ago nations had been unable to stay engaged in peace. Further weakening of the United Nations is a major danger for world peace !

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