Fundamental UN Reform, a Non-Starter?

The major issues confronting world politics in the 21st century – climate change, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, pandemics, terrorism and economic meltdowns, among others – require that the United Nations reinvent itself as the multilateral forum for tackling the pressing challenges of today. The possibilities for significant reform are remote but not impossible. This article addresses four major roadblocks: sacrosanct state sovereignty; the emphasis on process over results in organizational culture; perennial and theatrical North–South confrontations; and the twin problems of turf battles and decentralization. At the same time, individuals and states can be as strong as the institutions they create. There are plenty of things wrong with the United Nations, but many can be fixed.

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