“Part of the international security problem is the UN itself”



“An update of the international order’s ‘software’ is urgently required: Do not cancel this update to avoid a system crash.” We only have limited time to avoid such a crash.

Below a letter is shown, I wrote in 2008 to the Financial Times that already pointed to the (now accelerating) problems and issues in the international system, and the System’s lack of alignment (balance).

During the intermediate period (2008 – present), more issues have developed, and have become increasingly entangled.

The article also shows how fast – within a period of less than ten years – the situation and condition of the international system have worsened.

The time to take decisive action to avoid systemic war is limited.


Part of the international security problem is the UN itself

Sir, Nigel Hall (“Time to reform the global security network”, September 11) rightly observes that fundamental reform of major international organisations is an urgent global priority. However, his analysis lacks coherence and logic. Instead of addressing the dysfunctionality of the international system, Mr Hall focuses instead on the relative effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping versus coalition operations by Nato and the European Union. This is an interesting and relevant discussion, but it constitutes a different subject.

The fundamental problem of our current international system is that its rules and institutions – and the representation of states in these institutions (eg the Security Council of the UN) – are not properly aligned with the actual power relations in this system. As a consequence, these rules and institutions progressively lack legitimacy.

Our international system has become obsolete, and will sooner or later collapse under its own contradictions. In order to avoid this, the rules and institutions of the international system require a fundamental reorganisation and realignment. But so far – in the last 500 years – we have not been able to reorganise the international system fundamentally without resorting to war.

The core problem of this inability is that the international system is an anarchic system, in which (sovereign) states are in the end responsible for their own security. The fact that we are unable to pick the best international organisation to prevent war or conduct stabilisation operations, as Mr Hall describes, is an unavoidable consequence of the present dysfunctional condition of the international system – regretfully this includes the UN itself.

Ingo Piepers,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands