Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Future of the United Nations

I remember watching an episode of Dick van Dyke's “Diagnosis Murder” many years ago, in which a terrorist conspiracy theorist accused the “United Nations shadow government” of influencing US affairs. Watching that, I laughed as I considered how such a story line would not make it to the screen today. I would be surprised if even conspiracy theorists thought so much of the UN today as to presume that they could have a shadow government in place in any major nation.

Donald Trump has said that the UN is a club for people to “have a good time”. He has also said that “things will be different” after he takes office. What exactly does he mean? Of course, we can't be sure. But we can be sure that the UN cannot survive as a viable international body without the financial and moral support of the United States.

The US pays 22 percent of the world's contributions to the UN budget, 28 percent of the peacekeeping budget and is one of the 5 permanent members of the security council. The UN headquarters itself is located in New York City. It must be quite troubled for the UN leadership to witness the growing schism between the organisation and its primary benefactor.

I expect a Trump-led United States to be much more nationalistic than the Obama administration; President-elect Trump doesn't seem to take much interest in being the “leader of the free world”. On the contrary, he clearly stated during his ultimately successful election campaign: “I'm not running to be President of the World”. Where does this leave bodies devoted to international cooperation such as the UN? I submit that it puts those bodies on the path to quasi-irrelevance unless and until they fall in line with the will of the US Government. And if truly the UN cannot function without towing the US's diplomatic line, then what is the point of the body except as a thinly veiled cover aimed at legitimising US global foreign policy?

The new world order commences on January 20th. What exactly will it look like? None of us knows for sure, but I bet it's going to be interesting!

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