President Trump addresses – blasts – the General Assembly of the United Nations to convince the assembly that nationalism should guide international relations: It seems he did not bother to read the Preamble of the United Nations Charter.
In the previous four parts of this series of articles, I argued that superficial reform – like streamlining the UN’s bureaucracy – will not suffice to solve the fundamental problems the current international order – the United Nations – now confronts.
Because of population growth, differentiated growth of states and rivalries between states in anarchistic systems, international orders require periodic reorganisation.
The problem is that international orders in anarchistic systems lack mechanisms to ‘upgrade’ an international by means of consultation and consensus.
In this article – the last article in this series – I argue that an International Panel on the Reform of the United Nations (IPRUN) must be established, in an effort to avoid a violent systemic crisis.
International orders have a typical life cycle: A relatively long and stable period – during which the existing status quo is regulated by means of non-systemic (smaller, local wars) – is always followed by a collapse of the international order and a systemic war (in which all Great Powers in the System participate).
During a systemic war the accumulated tensions and issues in the System are ‘used’ to design and implement an upgraded order – a new status quo – by means of force. In anarchistic systems, the right of the strongest applies. During systemic wars dominant states impose their ‘values’ on the System, by embedding privileges in the order’s new rules-set, a practice that further strengthens their (already) powerful position.
Data-analysis shows – and this analysis is supported by the current volatile behaviour of states in the System, and the accumulation of tensions and issues (that cannot be solved) – that the current order – the United Nations – is in de end phase of its life cycle.
The United Nations is about to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions: The United Nations organisation is based on a completely outdated power distribution in the System; shortly after the Second World War the colonial empires of the United Kingdom and France collapsed, and (eventually) new Great Powers arose. Until today, these fundamental changes are ignored.
Instead of trying to ‘find’ a more effective and righteous distribution of power, the privileged states in the current order (the permanent members of the Security Council of the UN) cling to their position of power and influence.
The United Nations is designed to maintain the status quo, not to change it.
I also explained that the United Nations international order is above all an order that serves American interests.
Until President Trump took office, the international order – as is clearly stated in the United Nations Charter – was based on a multilateral approach, on the assumption that lasting peace and prosperity depended on promoting broader common interests, and not on the promotion of narrow national interests.
By making sovereignty and nationalism – America first – the new American approach to international relations and the international community – on which the US to a high degree depends – the United Nations has lost its binding principle. The principle now is: “Every man for himself”.
Renationalisation – an US exit from the international order – will however never work in the interconnected and highly interdependent world we live in, as Brexit – the British efforts to exit the European Union – also clearly shows.
However, president Trump is not the root cause of the international order’s – the UN’s – demise, he is himself first of all a product of social dynamics and interests in (especially) the United States, and of an increasingly dysfunctional international order.
Although Trump is not the cause of the dire condition of the UN, it will be above all the United States, who will determine how the upcoming systemic crisis will be shaped, and what its outcome will be. The US its overwhelming military capabilities and strong conviction that problems can be solved through destruction will have a decisive impact.
Trump for sure is not a FDR Roosevelt: He lacks the vision, the personal values and political skills to effectively manage this complicated process.
To avoid a violent systemic crisis, in which a new international order is designed and implemented by means of systemic war, urgent action is required.
Public and political awareness must be raised and mobilised to set in motion a process of consultation, through which an ‘upgraded’ international order can be designed and implemented which ensures that the System can be managed effectively.
Given the current condition of the System, Trump’s bellicose posturing, the troublesome relationships between world leaders, and the accumulated issues and tensions in the System, this is a challenge (and this is an understatement).
However, national governments, the public, but also companies (like Facebook and Google), and scientists can also show initiative: They – we – all have a stake in a new upgraded international order, that can be designed and implemented by means of consultation.
It is time for an International Panel on the Reform of the United Nations; The International Panel on Climate Change can serve as a source of inspiration.