Need for Reforms in UN – The Big Picture – RSTV IAS UPSC

  • IASbaba
  • July 22, 2021
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The Big Picture- RSTV, UPSC Articles
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TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

In News: Addressing the UN Security Council open debate on ‘Enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organisations in enhancing confidence-building and dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution’,  External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that a rational evaluation of cooperation between the UN and the regional and sub-regional organisations during the last 75 years will provide a good basis for future engagements. Noting that the world order built following the Second World War is under serious stress, External Affairs Minister said the nature of threats faced by member states when the United Nations was founded 75 years ago has also changed. 

In today’s globalised world, terrorism, radicalisation, drug trafficking and organised crime have a growing salience. The security implications of new technologies cannot be disregarded.”

Criticism of UN in the wake of Pandemic

  • The UN has been unable to respond effectively to the once-in-a-century global crisis triggered by the coronavirus.
  • At the UN Security Council, China blocked a serious discussion on the origin and sources of the crisis.
  • While the World Health Organisation did move a bit in that direction, the US was not satisfied with the outcome and walked out of the forum.

How has International Politics affected UN functioning over the years?

  • Realism at the core of UN System: UN, was meant, by design, to be a concert of great powers who had a permanent seat in the Security Council. Cooperation among the great powers was the precondition for its success in the security arena.
  • During the Cold War, Washington and Moscow were at each other’s throats and the UNSC was deadlocked. 
  • During the brief unipolar moment of the 1990s, post-Soviet Russia was willing to acquiesce to the sweeping US agenda for global security. China was feeling its way around multilateral institutions and avoided any challenge to the US and West.
  • In 2000s, Russia and China began to offer resistance to US dominance. 
  • Present Situation is that of Political Fragmentation: The conflict between the US on the one hand and China and Russia on the other has become full-blown. To make matters more complicated, the West itself is divided.

Pending & Most-pressing Reforms 

Structural reforms

  • Expansion of UNSC: The composition no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.
  • The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the AsiaPacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.
  • Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region
  • Do away with Veto power.
  • UN Secretariat Transparency reform: Make the UN administration (usually called the UN Secretariat or “the bureaucracy”) more transparent, more accountable, and more efficient, including direct election of the Secretary General by the people.
  • Efficiency and transparency watchdog to remove corruption issues. – Funding should not be voluntary and must be based on CBDR principle.

Functional reforms

  • Decisions should be as far as possible based on consensus.
  • Organizations like NATO should be avoided and be replaced by UNO forces in conflicts.
  • UN secretary general should not be a rubber stamp and need more powers.


We need to undertake a new journey towards a reformed and reinvigorated multilateral system.

Connecting the Dots:

  1. UNSC reforms are long called for. Many emerging economies including India are pressing for immediate reforms. Analyse.
  2. Comment upon the efforts of the United Nations (UN) in peace keeping post Word War II. 

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