United States’ President-elect Donald Trump may have raised several eyebrows by dubbing United Nations (UN) a club where people have a good time. It may be a witty dig, but there is an underlying truth that the organisation, established in 1945 for maintaining international co-operation, has lost considerable teeth, especially after the turn of the century. Ironically, after the UN won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, the organisation has been deprived of influence over the comity of nations. Resurgence of terrorism, relentless conflict on the Gaza strip, protracted war in Iraq, Arab Spring and the related insurgencies in Yemen and Tajikistan drilled holes into the UN image. The Taliban threat in Afghanistan apart, New York 9/11 attack in 2001, 26/11 Mumbai attack in 2008, meteoric rise of Islamic State, which plunged several European countries in a state of fear psychosis, Boko Haram’s atrocities in the African continent, skirmishes between India and Pakistan and the widespread mayhem in Syria raised further questions about the efficacy of the organisation. Despite UN warnings and condemnation, North Korea defied the US and South Korea to conduct a nuclear detonation last September, the fifth since 2006.
Developed countries have long ceased to lend importance to the existence of UN, which was probably regarded as a paper tiger. That latest instance of China blocking India’s proposal to list Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist by the UN has come as a setback to India’s counter-terror endeavours. China, determined to give no quarter for India to gain supremacy in the south Asian region, cited the lack of consensus among members of the UN committee. The hidden ploy is to fuel the existing tension between Pakistan and India. China is building a $46 billion export corridor through Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to the Arabian Sea coast and also makes noises off and on about Arunachal Pradesh not quite being a part of India. Plus, China has not softened its stand against India entering the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. Had the UN genuinely felt empowered, it would have put its foot down and let China know the rationale behind India’s appeal as Azhar was the mastermind behind the Pathankot airbase attack. After assuming office, Trump is likely to challenge the 71-year-old organisation’s approach to several issues, the Middle East in particular. He had tweeted, ‘As for UN, things will be different after January 20’. No doubt, to maintain a sense of world order, the UN must have a say. The UN will lose relevance if a majority of countries continue to ignore the significant role the organisation played as a global ombudsman in the past.