8 April 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) The failures of the United Nations (UN) in addressing crucial global challenges and emerging crises pose the threat of multilateralism fading into irrelevance. In this perspective, examine the need for comprehensive reforms in UN.

(250 Words/15 Marks)

The United Nations (UN) was established in 1945 with the objectives of maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development etc. through its various organs and specialised agencies.

The failures of UN in addressing crucial global challenges undermine the relevance of multilateralism in the following ways:

  1. UNSC has failed as an agency for establishing peace around the world.

Israel-Palestine conflict has remained unresolved for more than seven decades. UN has not been able to deal with crises in Ukraine, Myanmar, Syria, etc.

  1. WTO has evolved as an undemocratic institution, which is continuously dominated by the West. WTO’s dispute settlement system has remained paralysed since 2019 due to blocking of appointments by USA.
  2. World Health Organisation was instituted as an agency to promote healthcare all around the world. It failed on various counts in its response to Covid-19 pandemic, including early warning, vaccine apartheid, finding the origin of Covid-19 etc.
  3. Climate Change: The progress on technology transfer, financial support, loss-and-damage fund for achieving targets under the Paris agreement is slow. As per IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report 2023, it’s likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century. Limiting warming to well below 2°C by 2030 will be hard to achieve.
  4. ILO has failed in protecting workers and ensuring their welfare.

E.g., issues of sweatshops in Bangladesh or ‘re-education camps’ for Uighurs in China. United Nations Human Rights Council has failed to protect rights of minorities in Pakistan, China etc.

  1. UNESCO has failed in preserving cultural heritage.

E.g., Turkey’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque without any discussion with UNESCO.


To prevent multilateralism from fading into irrelevance, comprehensive reforms are necessary as discussed below:

  1. The structure of UNSC still reflects the post-World War II power dynamics. There is need to expand the membership to India, African Union, G4 etc. to improve the democratic legitimacy of UN and its ability to respond effectively to current global challenges.

E.g., veto reforms.

  1. 2. WTO must evolve its agenda through balancing of developing and developed countries interests.

E.g., E-commerce, Agreement on Agriculture, technological governance, supply chain resilience etc.

  1. Associated bodies such as IMF and World Bank, need to defer to shift in balance of power from the Atlantic to the Pacific, through better representation and improved transparency and accountability.
  2. Financial reforms are needed to reduce its dependence on select members. Financial autonomy is also key to improve its effectiveness in global governance.
  3. UNHRC must give credence to democratic credentials of member-states and domestic safeguards for human rights.
  4. UN peacekeeping operations: There is need for more equitable participation, funding, and operations support from permanent and non-permanent members to improve legitimacy and effectiveness of UN missions.

To create a more democratic world order in a multipolar world, it is necessary that the principles are no longer written by the most powerful. The UN is in desperate need for reforms – the sooner the better, the later the more redundant.

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