How to reform the UN?

US President Trump is not the only one to see the need for a thoroughgoing reform of the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Guterres, for example, has said that the organisation must be more efficient and adapt to new problems. Europe's commentators believe that while reforms are necessary, there is little chance of a consensus on the precise form they should take.

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Adevărul (RO) /

Consensus won't last long

Writing in Adevărul's blog portal, journalist Cristian Unteanu doesn't believe true reform will come for the United Nations:

“Within the UN there are a lot of groups with conflicting political interests. So it will be very difficult, virtually impossible, to implement legislation that could usher in a new era in the development of mankind. ... How can trust in the actions of the UN be increased if, as in the case of North Korea, sanctions have to first be negotiated and made 'politically acceptable' only to meet with a dismissive shrug and even derision from the leader of the regime in Pyongyang? We are witnessing a week in New York in which all leaders agree that something needs to be done. The disagreement about what should be done and what measures should be adopted will come later, once they have gone home. Business as usual.”

Večer (SI) /

Trump's approach is no good

International cooperation needs to be reformed but not in the ways Trump proposes, Večer believes:

“Possibilities for reform include changing the rules for the omnipotent Security Council, where a veto by one of the five permanent members means the end of every (reasonable) initiative. Nevertheless it makes no sense for every state to look after its own interests first and only then to think about the interests of the world community, as Trump stressed yesterday. If that is the approach we can forget all the good things the UN has achieved, for example protecting the world's cultural and natural heritage, fighting hunger and helping children. Reforms take time!”

El Mundo (ES) /

Veto rights are the biggest problem

At the meeting on Monday Trump called on the UN members to back a ten-point plan for reforms. The proposals it contains are good in so far as they improve the UN's ability to act, El Mundo comments:

“The organisation has become an institution without which the law of the jungle would apply in global politics, without respect for human rights. So the reform programme presented yesterday aimed at improving the institution's efficacy should be welcomed. ... But even if the reforms are implemented the biggest obstacle to efficacy will remain: the veto system in the Security Council which for example prevented intervention in conflicts like those in Syria, North Korea or the genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar.”

Sabah (TR) /

Less power for the Security Council

The UN Security Council in particular needs to be reformed, Sabah finds:

“It would be good if Trump took politics as seriously as our president does, and like him pointed out that 'the world is bigger than five' thus addressing the pathological state of the Security Council. Because the stubbornness and the deals among the five members with permanent seats that have veto rights renders the rest of the UN member states irrelevant and superfluous. Incidentally, the US also didn't wait for a UN resolution when it attacked and occupied Iraq. This situation affects not just the member states but all those who stand for democracy and responsible policies.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

UN needs a moral compass

The Süddeutsche Zeitung welcomes the plans to reform the United Nations and hopes they will also restore the organisation's moral credibility:

“The superpowers of yore are locked in conflict, the EU still doesn't cut the mustard as a global regulatory power and Nato is too partisan in the duel with Russia. That leaves the UN to at least bring some order to these crises. ... More than 70 years after the end of World War II the Security Council should reflect the current global balance of power, meaning it should give more weight to a continent like Africa and countries like India. It also lacks a moral compass as long as states that trample on human rights continue to play a leading role in the corresponding committees. The UN is far from perfect. But in times of global disorder it's more important than ever.”