To avoid wars and disorder, the world needs fairer rules. Unfortunately, the European Union is not active in promoting such changes.
World order is usually decided by the victors of major wars. The most important example is the order instituted after World War II, which includes the creation of the United Nations and the Bretton-Woods system which includes the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation.
This officialised a system in which the US dollar is king.
The newly created United Nations Security Council was tasked with ensuring international peace and security – or rather, perpetuating a ‘pax Americana’, in which many small wars were fought, but without putting at risk the system.
The US, the UK, France, the USSR (Russia after 1991), and China became the five permanent UNSC members with veto power. But it soon became clear that the UNSC could not act except in conflicts in which the permanent members didn’t have a stake.
There was a rare exception in 1950 when UNSC passed a resolution authorising a US-led coalition to repel the North Korean invasion of South Korea, thanks to the absence of the USSR representative at the meeting.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine highlighted once again the lack of power of the UNSC to prevent disorder created by one of its members.
The composition of the UNSC also looks outdated: What is today the largest country in the world, India, is not a member, while large continents such as Africa and Latin America are not represented in any way.
Conversely, Europe, a small continent both by geography and demographics, is over-represented. But would France, for example, agree to abandon its seat at the table?
In the absence of UNSC resolutions, groups of like-minded countries are adopting sanctions to punish an aggressor, but as they are taken outside the UN remit, other countries don’t abide by them. Clearly, such sanctions are not very effective.
The United Nations and the multilateral system are under threat like never before, as its Secretary-General Ant?nio Guterres has warned.
UN reform would require the agreement of at least two-thirds of UN member states in a General Assembly vote – and ratification by the same ratio. Furthermore, all permanent members must agree, which, though it sounds like mission impossible, doesn’t mean efforts should stop.
The EU is far from being an active promoter for UN reform, even though in a perfect world, a revamped UNSC should – I think – include the African Union, Latin America’s UNASUR, and the EU – rather than France.
But we are not moving in this direction. Instead of one multilateralism, the world is lurching toward two multilateralisms.
Countries unhappy with the existing world order tend to create anti-Western alternatives – the recent BRICS summit in South Africa is a clear example.
But if BRICS was formed in 2010, this is to some extent a response to the West having created in 1973 the G7, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US (plus the EU more recently, as ‘non-enumerated member’).
Nowadays, G7 and its more recent creation, the G20, are trying to waken BRICS by giving some of its members like Brazil, India and South Africa some voice and prominence – India holding at present the G20 presidency.
A confrontational “West versus Global South” approach – to which Russia (ironically, a country with a large Arctic territory) adheres and even tries to take the ideological lead – is taking the world nowhere.
The need to reform the world order is becoming even more pressing in the context of a proliferation of conflicts, the climate crisis, systematic attacks on democracy and human rights, and ever more profound global inequalities.
Do we need another world war so that its victors decide the new world order? It doesn’t make sense, the risk for the planet is too big.
As a European, I would be more than satisfied if the EU, representing the continent that suffered the most during the last World War, would put on the table ideas for a fairer world order.
I would be even happier if such discussion enriched the debates ahead of next year’s European elections.
Measures to ensure the integrity of biofuels imported into the EU single market are not fit for purpose, an EU producer has claimed, as EU-backed certification schemes fail to prevent fraud.
Britain’s National Air Traffic Service (NATS) was forced to restrict the flow of aircraft on Monday due to a technical issue, it said, with passengers stuck in planes on the tarmac and airlines and airports warning of delays and cancellations.
French conservatives on Monday applauded the government’s decision to ban children from wearing the abaya, the loose-fitting, full-length robes worn by some Muslim women, in state-run schools, but the move also drew criticism and some mockery.
As the EU and the US hurry to agree on a way to collaborate on green steel before the end of October to prevent tariffs from snapping back into place, their diverging positions lay bare different philosophies on how global trade should be reorganised to account for climate priorities.
Look out for…
High Representative Josep Borrell in Toledo, Spain, chairs informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers and informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers (Gymnich) on Tuesday.
EU institutions are still in summer recess,
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Alice Taylor]