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In my weekly column for World Politics Review, I recommend what immediate steps a Biden administration can take to return the United States to the multilateral fold, while advancing a pragmatic agenda to make the United Nations as effective as it can be.
Joe Biden’s election as president offers the United States an opportunity to recast its relationship with the United Nations after four years of “America First” disengagement under Donald Trump. The president-elect is already declaring that “America is back.” But to make good on his promise, Biden needs to reinvigorate American leadership within the U.N. itself, while tempering expectations about what the world body can deliver at a time of intense geopolitical rivalry. Beyond reversing Trump’s misguided assaults on the U.N., Biden must strengthen U.S. capabilities to conduct multilateral diplomacy, promote institutional reforms to bring the U.N. into the 21st century, and reaffirm the principles of human dignity on which the organization was founded.
The U.N. often seems designed to frustrate Americans. Its bureaucracy is vulnerable to corruption; its General Assembly is a frequent setting for grandstanding; and its Security Council is paralyzed when the interests of its permanent members collide. For all its flaws, though, the U.N. remains an indispensable foundation for world order, by virtue of its universal membership, sweeping mandate, legally binding charter and primacy over matters of peace and security.
Read the full World Politics Review article here.