Geopolitical dialogues: what’s in store for the UN?

Ukraine Crisis Media Center hosted another meeting in the Geopolitical Dialogues format. Valeriy Chaly, Chairman of the UCMC Board, Ambassador of Ukraine to the USA in 2015-2019, and his colleague Volodymyr Yelchenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations in 1997-2001 and 2015-2018, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the USA in 2019-2021, discussed the United Nations’ place in the international security architecture, and came to the conclusion that the institute would remain only a platform for finding solutions to some global problems – the UN has exhausted itself in terms of security.

“As a young diplomat, I came on my first business trip to the Permanent Mission of the Ukrainian SSR to the UN, and a few years later, a working group on Security Council reform was created there,” recalled Volodymyr Yelchenko. “It’s still working, has changed its name, but not its essence. And every time the UN General Assembly opens, heads of states and governments speak, and almost all of them say the same thing – the Security Council must be reformed.”

Evaluating what the institution is today, he said that its founding fathers could not imagine in their wildest dreams that one of them – a permanent member of the Security Council – would not only abuse this right, but also commit aggression against its neighbor. 

Volodymyr Yelchenko believes the UN Charter worked for the first fifty years, when it was possible to stop the hot phases of conflicts and find appropriate levers. One example is Haiti.

“Everything was done there. And what is wrong here? All countries in the world are sovereign, have equal rights, and then the Russian Federation suddenly commits an act of aggression, and there is no solution except attempts to expand the composition of the Security Council and so on. And what should be done with the UN in general – expand it, narrow it?” asked Valeriy Chaly.

There were two opinions in expert circles regarding Biden’s statement about expansion, continued the Chairman of the UCMC Board. Some say that it is an attempt to take over the initiative, especially after the G20 summit, when China was not present. Others say that it’s the first step to destroy all this altogether, and in the process find a solution on the Russian Federation and more effective activities of the Security Council. 

Volodymyr Yelchenko agrees that the Americans wanted to seize the initiative and lead the process. They have been criticized for many years for being the least active in reforming the UN Security Council.

“However, another version also has the right to exist,” he said. “It is for a reason that Biden mentioned the Republic of South Africa. I’m sure that in a few days you will hear from Nigeria, Egypt and other countries what they think about this and there will be a fight within the African Union about who the boss is.”

The position of the countries of the so-called Global South deserves special attention.

“For example, they will tell you that they support the Russian narrative that NATO started bombing Serbia precisely because the UN Security Council was unable to approve a decision and resolve it peacefully,” Volodymyr Yelchenko noted. 

Valeriy Chaly noted that Europe in this part remains stable. NATO countries are mostly in control, and there are different opinions even in Serbia, which was bombed. Someone wants to advance, and someone talks about NATO. 

Touching on the military aspect, the participants of the conversation came to the conclusion that in the future Asian organizations will take responsibility for what is happening in Asia, NATO will be responsible for the Euro-Atlantic region, and the African Union – for its continent. 

Volodymyr Yelchenko separately focused on the humanitarian aspect. The countries of the Global South regard the UN as a huge donor in addition to conflict resolution. The lion’s share of money for humanitarian, medical aid, education, solving climate change issues comes from the UN budget. All countries contribute to it, and 80% of this money one way or another ends up in the poorest countries in Africa. And that’s why this organization suits them. The war in Ukraine is very far from them.

“On the other hand, they will follow the general trend. Biden said it for a reason. American diplomats will begin to work with these countries around the world in order to form a majority in the UN in two years. This, among other things, will make it possible to expel the Russian Federation from the Security Council,” Volodymyr Yelchenko noted. 

He also added that the situation in which the UN is going through the worst times is exacerbated by the fact that its Secretary General is perhaps the weakest in the history of the organization. He should have taken the initiative not only in the Ukrainian issue. 

Summing up, Valeriy Chaly noted that the very fact that four members of the Security Council will not speak at the General Assembly shows the attitude towards the organization. And China’s desire to add 6 more countries to BRICS only strengthens the thesis that something is fragmenting in world politics. 

“The UN will still remain a platform, but there will no longer be an effective mechanism in the field of security. This also applies to the OSCE. NATO and the Euro-Atlantic space remain for us,” the diplomat concluded.