from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

The United Nations Prepares for a Somber 75th Anniversary

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is seen on a video screen during a virtual climate summit in Berlin on April 28, 2020.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is seen on a video screen during a virtual climate summit in Berlin on April 28, 2020. Michael Kappeler/Pool via REUTERS

U.S. unilateralism, geopolitical rivalries, and COVID-19 are humbling UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s ambitions for the UN75 agenda.

Originally published at World Politics Review

August 17, 2020

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is seen on a video screen during a virtual climate summit in Berlin on April 28, 2020.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is seen on a video screen during a virtual climate summit in Berlin on April 28, 2020. Michael Kappeler/Pool via REUTERS
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In my weekly column for World Politics Review, I preview UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's two broad initiatives for the United Nation's seventy-fifth anniversary next month.

When the United Nations commemorates its 75th anniversary next month, it will be in a somber mood. Well before COVID-19 hit, the Trump administration’s “America First” policies had deprived the world body of its traditional leader, the United States, while rising geopolitical frictions had paralyzed the U.N. Security Council. The coronavirus pandemic has reinforced these dynamics, accentuating U.S. unilateralism and exacerbating an increasingly heated rivalry between the U.S. and China. Much of the U.N.’s productive work has been brought to a standstill.

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The Security Council dithered for months on a noncontroversial resolution to freeze violent conflict during the pandemic, thanks to the Trump administration’s resistance to an explicit mention of the World Health Organization, and its efforts to include language embarrassing to China. Given the dysfunctional state of U.N. diplomacy, holding the annual General Assembly by videoconference may be a blessing.

Read the full World Politics Review article here.

More on:

Global Governance

United Nations

United Nations General Assembly

Diplomacy and International Institutions

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