UN: Completely Overwhelmed By Multiple Crises

Monday, September 22, 2014
By Paul Martin

September 22, 2014

(New York) More Than 140 heads of state and government fly in to New York this week for the United Nations general assembly amid apprehension that international order is unraveling at an accelerating pace, while the world’s leaders seem ever less willing or able to deal with the proliferating threats.

The UN’s humanitarian agencies are in danger of being completely overwhelmed by the multiple crises. Ebola is spreading rapidly across West Africa, swamping rickety national health systems and a thus-far underfunded UN effort to stop its advance. The spread of Islamic State (Isis) extremists in the Middle East, feeding on the destruction of the Syrian civil war and exposing the weakness of the Iraqi state, has similarly outpaced patchy international efforts at containment.

New conflicts have flared while the old ones have burned on in the absence of concerted effort to quench the flames. Much of Gaza lies in ruins and there is no longer even a pretence at regenerating Israel-Palestinian peace talks. Meanwhile, war has returned to the edges of Europe, with the dismemberment of Ukraine. The conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, which seemed among the world’s most pressing concerns at the start of the year, continue to inflict enormous human cost yet are likely to draw scant attention at the world’s talking shop this week, distracted by so many fresh disasters.

Ban summed up the mood of foreboding hanging over the UN headquarters in midtown Manhattan, saying the world was “living in an era of unprecedented level of crises.” The degree of deadlock among the traditional world powers is probably not unprecedented given the poor record of statesmanship displayed over the decades at the United Nations, but the zero-sum atmosphere in relations between Russia and the West is at a nadir not witnessed since the Cold War. Russia’s annexation of Crimea represented a direct challenge by a permanent member of the security council to core UN principles underpinning international security. And the bitterness surrounding Ukraine, compounding already deep divisions over Syria, has seeped into security council discussions on a host of other issues.

The Rest…HERE

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