from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

10 Hard Realities About the UN on Its Troubled 75th Anniversary

Broad-brush critiques of the United Nations often gloss over the distinct institutional components of the UN system and the geopolitical realities it has to work in. 
A United Nations flag is seen in a boardroom in the Secretariat building during the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 25, 2013.
A United Nations flag is seen in a boardroom in the Secretariat building during the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

In my weekly column for World Politics Review, I offer ten hard realities that temper expectations of what multilateralism and the United Nations can possibly deliver in a world of increasing geopolitical tensions.

The opening of the 75th United Nations General Assembly finds international cooperation in crisis and the U.N. in the crosshairs. Many critiques, especially from the United States, focus on the institution itself, as if it were somehow disembodied from the interests and policies of its major member states. The U.N.’s troubled anniversary is an opportune moment not only to reassess its strengths and weaknesses, but also to temper expectations of what multilateralism can possibly deliver when the U.N.’s leading members turn it into a geopolitical football—or are absent without leave. With these ends in mind, I offer the following 10 propositions.

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United Nations

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Read the full World Politics Review article here.

More on:

United Nations

Global Governance

International Organizations

Sovereignty