The Economist on the United Nations


The Economist‘s new cover story calling for greater engagement with the United Nations is a must read. That the magazine’s editors chose not to tag a question mark at the end of the cover headline, “A Chance for a Safer World,” tells you precisely where the package is going. Two of the special report’s articles can be accessed for free, but the rest of the content is behind a subscription wall.

Some highlights, courtesy of the Better World Campaign, are below the fold. “And although the [US] is often the UN’s harshest critic, it has come again to see the point of turning to the UN for help with problems – be they keeping the peace in Lebanon or saving lives in Darfur – it finds hard to solve alone.”

“[L]ook closer at Sudan. In the south, UN forces have since 2005 been keeping the peace after the end of a separate and even bloodier civil war that had lasted for decades. In Sudan’s stricken areas, and elsewhere in Africa, the UN’s World Food Program feeds millions. Indeed, around the world as a whole, some 30 million people in 50 countries are reckoned to depend on UN relief agencies for their very survival.”

“In Congo one of the largest UN forces ever assembled has just overseen the transition to free elections in another vast country emerging from decades of war. But that is just one of 18 different missions, in which about 100,000 peacekeepers are deployed.”

“Today’s disorder stems not so much from conflicts between the big powers as from other problems all say they want to solve: failed states, terrorism, proliferation and the chaotic Middle East. Their priorities and tactics differ, but that still leaves room to co-operate. For example, it has taken an age to sign up Russia and China for action against Iran’s nuclear program. But now they have signed: the Security Council is imposing sanctions on Iran for enriching uranium.”

“[T]he permanent five could make the world safer and more orderly by showing a greater willingness to work together using the existing structure…All the big powers ought to see the benefit of making better use of the potential for joint, lawful international action that the UN uniquely provides.”