UN headquarters in New York City. (Photo: Agencies)
The disputes triggered by the novel coronavirus outbreak have brought the United Nations to a development crossroad. However, whether it is fighting the pandemic and promoting economic recovery or stabilizing the international order and improving the global governance system, the UN is needed to coordinate multilateral cooperation and rally the strength of various parties to offer solutions to global issues.
In the past few decades, the shortcomings of multilateral institutions such as the UN, World Bank and the World Trade Organization in institutional design have stood out, but they have provided a platform for countries to communicate, cooperate and achieve common development.
Thanks to economic globalization, efforts to address transnational nontraditional security issues such as climate change, global public health crisis and terrorism have become prominent, and technological revolution has brought all countries closer, underlining the value of multilateralism.
At a time when unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise, and hegemonism and interventionism are rampant, the global governance system has been lacking constructive leadership. Also, international geostrategic competition is intensifying, and the world is under the shadow of fierce competition and even confrontation among major powers.
How the UN can promote global cooperation with conflicting interests of countries and rally the international community to better meet the new challenges is not only a test for the UN itself, but also a challenge for the world.
First, we need to advance the UN's reform toward a pragmatic, balanced and regulatory direction, and give greater play to its secretariat's guiding role in this. We should support the interests of people in all countries, rather than being bound by the interests of specific countries.
Second, the UN depends on its member states' contributions for its operations. So, the UN should open more financing channels and set up a punishment mechanism for those defaulting on payments.
Third, the UN can play a greater role in new areas such as digital economy and climate change. For example, a global digital governance organization can be set up under the UN to formulate relevant international regulations on global digital trade and data security. As far as climate change is concerned, the UN can do more to promote energy conservation and emission reduction in developed countries, promote green development in less-developed countries and help improve the international carbon-trading market.
UN-championed ideas such as multilateralism, cooperation and peaceful development conform to the common interests of humankind, and its authority, necessity and efficacy are internationally recognized. The challenges the UN encounters should not become an excuse to underestimate its value and role.