The role of United Nations in formation of new world order: transition to "post-crisis" stage

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Baku, 12 January 2017 –

Abstract: This article provides an analysis of global geo-political trends at the modern stage. In this context, it studies the prospects of building a new world order. It also looks at paradoxical factors impeding the transformation of the global world order, and features a theoretical analysis of the threats and risks posed by regional conflicts. The article says these processes deepen global geo-political crisis. The article says the way out lies in increasing the role and improving the functions of international organizations, first and foremost the United Nations. It substantiates that reformation of the United Nations is an essential precondition for the formation of a new world order. The article puts forward a thesis that the world`s successful transition to the post-crisis stage directly depends on the reforms at UN.

Politicians, scientists, analysts and experts have repeatedly noted the need for a new geo-political world order. This looks quite natural against a background of a variety of dangerous global processes that have been taking place since the early 21st century. Called global problems, these negative trends are growing and posing a threat to entire mankind. So there is a need for a new geo-political world order that would please all countries and that would be based on international law. Violence, terror, double standards, poverty, hunger, violation of law should at least be reduced to a minimum. The whole of mankind is facing this task. But surprisingly the world is now unable to perform this transition. One of the weakest points here is that there is no confidence in international organizations, first and foremost in the United Nations. Theoretically, everyone admits the role and importance of the United Nations, but when it comes to doing concrete work, certain barriers emerge. Is there a way out? What do experts think?

Transformation of international relations system: requirement of history

The vast majority of researches on international relations point to crisis of the global geo-political order and emphasize the need for its renewal. Experts use ''a new world order'' term as a rule. And there are quite reasonable theses about what this term exactly means. One of the most important points is that the current system of international relations is transforming into a more improved system meeting modern standards.

What should be the nature of this transformation? Experts point to the formation of "a liberal world order''. In this context, transformation, in fact, means the establishment of a system of international relations dominated by liberal values. But the liberal world order has already been in existence. Therefore the primary aim here is to build a brand new world order in the context of the major challenges and geo-political problems of the 21st century.

By the way it should be noted that throughout the history there have been some geo-political theories that disapproved of liberal views. For example, conservative political theory gives a completely different explanation of the order and anarchy, and offers a new solution to chaos. The main principle here is to ensure realist ratio of tradition to modernity in the social environment dynamics (for conservatives, "realist"). Reinhold Niebuhr writes that social environment, including international relations, does not correspond to "rational'' experiments, because it is very complex [1, p.4].

In this approach, preference is given to gradual, systematic renovation which synthesizes pragmatism with tradition, rather than fast, spasmodic, rational-revolutionary changes. Supporters of this theory believe that this method of tackling chaos is much more effective than a liberal approach. Hans Morgenthau`s thesis of slow and gradual shift of tradition is the basic methodological principle of this approach. In his view, traditions can be preserved for centuries if socio-political institutes are bound to cultural environment and if they can rapidly develop in this context. This is also called anthropological pessimism''. [2, p.51-52].

Experts have elaborated theoretical aspects and methodological principles of the transition to the new world order. But for some reason they have not yet been put into practice. Why? There are several arguments. Some analysts point to the necessity of synthesizing realpolitik with neoconservatism. Others propose building a universal consensus in the geo-political aspect. Others use soft power, smart power and other new terms to highlight the determination of universal rules.

One of researches on this subject features a very interesting thesis on common peculiarities of the world order transformation. In a research paper, the Russian International Affairs Council (РСМД in Russian) says that the risk of the deepening of contradictions is defined by the nature of the world order dynamics [3, p.5]. More concretely, authors of the thesis believe that the risk of crisis considerably grows when dynamics becomes chaotic and starts to change intensively. Resource shortage and the growing pressure of resource limitations are among primary factors influencing this. This leads to dynamics chaos, which then increases uncertainty. In the long run, the entire system becomes vulnerable, and the security dilemma in the relations between global power centers degenerates. [3, p.5].

Experts deem this aspect of the problem as very serious. They point to broad disagreements between the West and the East on fundamental issues. Experienced Russian diplomat, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, professor Sergei Ivanov writes that Russia-Europe relations have come to a dead end. Fiasco of Greater Europe idea has caused mass disappointment and pessimism, which would have been unimaginable several years ago. [4].

Different approaches: modern demands and common problems

The main reason behind this is ''severe contradiction'' between Euro-Atlantics and Eurasia, which is caused by uncertainty in cooperation [4]. According to Ivanov, despite global geo-political superpowers have had disagreements for many years, nothing has changed in fact. Confrontation remains, but the 21st century demands the establishment of a new system of international relations. He believes that the current cooperation model does not conform to new conditions, which in fact impedes transition to a more effective world order.

So once again it becomes clear that superpowers face a security dilemma. They are trying to ensure synthesis of the existing theories with the aim of coping with the situation. The most impressive factor here is that superpowers have engaged in a struggle for their interests despite resource shortage.

However a number of questions need to be answered: Through what mechanisms can these approaches be put into practice? Maybe there is no way out at all? Would it be expedient to refer to historical experience? A look at the nearest past reveals that it is common ideological and political principles that lie behind the founding of the Concert of Europe, League of Nations and United Nations. There was one single aim in establishing these organizations: to set up a collective security system for ensuring global stability, security and sustainable development.

The transformation of the collective security system depends on the renovation of the existing global security principles. In this context, experts try to find an answer to one question. The point is that it is impossible to establish a perfect collective security system, or ensure an everlasting and unchangeable stability because in reality the world order is defined by the balance of power of geo-political superpowers, rather than by international law or international institutes. [3, p.11].

The word "power'' is used in a broad sense here, which embraces both military, economic and human resources, and mechanisms of promoting ideas and information (propaganda). According to British historian, political analyst and diplomat Edward Carr, apart from military and economic factors, information has been playing a key role in international relations starting from the second half of the 20th century [5, p.102-120 and 120-130].

Trying to ensure sustainable security under the current circumstances is an absurd idea because it`s only about the balance of power. More concretely, the most effective way of maintaining the global order and security is to prevent the efforts of those who have global leadership ambitions and provide legal, political and ideological and information frameworks for their activities. Hans Morgenthau writes: ''…The realist parts company with other schools of thought before the all-important question of how the contemporary world is to be transformed. The realist is persuaded that this transformation can be achieved only through the workmanlike manipulation of the perennial forces that have shaped the past as they will the future.'' [6, p.79].

In international relations, countries act in accordance with fears of other countries. Although cooperation would be the better outcome for all sides, mutual distrust leads to intrigues among them. In political theory, it is called ''Hobbessian fear'' which derives from "Man is wolf to man'' thesis of British philosopher Thomas Hobbes. "Security dilemma concept'' worked out by a number of researchers is based on this thesis. [7, p.1-18].

Finally, there is one more interesting scientific and theoretical approach to the global geo-political order. It is Kenneth Waltz`s neorealism. He put forward a thesis that meets the requirements of empiric political science.

As regards the problem that is a matter of concern to us, an important point in Waltz`s approach is the impact of international relations on foreign policies of separate countries. He believes that this impact is more vital that domestic policies of countries. This means that serious changes in the system of international relations would influence foreign policies of superpowers to certain degree. There is interrelationship between the new world order and the balance of power of geo-political superpowers. And it`s clear that international organizations play a key role in this regard. [8, p.17-40].

Taking into account the aforementioned points, the following thesis seems to be quite interesting and topical. Valdai club researchers write that the West-centered world is not absolute, there is a chance for reforms [9, p.2].

Ideological differences and reality: in search of new balance

This requires a new global balance of power. One of its peculiarities is the determination of the nonuniversal world rules [9, p.2]. There is also an ideological side of the problem. On a global scale, one can witness different approaches to two notions: "freedom" and "justice''. Valdai club researchers say difference between the notions of "freedom” and "justice” is growing: the first is the flag obtained by the Western society, while the second is the widespread slogan of non-Western states [9, p.4].

So there are serious disagreements on the ideological scene. On the one hand, all opponents acknowledge the establishment of the liberal world order. On the other, it is impossible to define a common ideological area for achieving this. Western states prefer to advocate the notion of "freedom”, while leading non-Western countries put emphasis on the notion of "justice''. And the point is that this principled ideological concept deepens disagreements.

However experts believe that chaos and uncontrollness in international relations cannot last forever. A world structure based on a new balance of power of a group of superpowers should be established. The new balance should be based on the criteria different from what was during the Cold War. The crucial novelty should be all countries` accepting the principle of interdependence and interrelationship. [9, p.8-9].

What is thought-provoking is that this fact is well realized both in the West and in the East. The new world order, rules, approaches are much talked about, but there are no signs of their realization. On the contrary, experts describe the current situation as a game with no rules. [10].

However efforts are being made to find the principles that can help build a new world order. This can be symbolically called "global perestroika” or search for "new post-crisis normality” [11]. Anyway, impossibility to establish universal rules in a multipolar world makes the determination of a cooperation format able to ensure interrelationship and interdependence inevitable. Exactly, an international mechanism should be developed in order to maintain independence and sovereignty of states and ensure their collaboration. International organizations, first and foremost the United Nations, should act as guarantors in this. This is confirmed by experts. Valdai club analysts write that the establishment of a multipolar world can breathe new life into the UN [10].

It should also be underlined that collective security remained just an idea for two predecessors of the United Nations. The idea materialized in a separate body of the United Nations, Security Council. All other UN institutions responsible for collective security issues are just additions to Security Council.

The following questions remain topical against a background of these developments: Should this mechanism be abandoned in the formation of a new world order? Is there a need for additional regulation mechanisms beyond the UN-set regulations? Or will it be enough just to improve the work of UN Security Council?

Disagreements and hopes: global order against a background of UN potential

Although it is difficult to give unambiguous answer to this question, the vast majority of experts emphasize the importance of reforming the United Nations [12]. A universal system of collective security is stipulated in the UN Charter. This system helped prevent numerous conflicts around the world after the World War Two until 1991.

But the fact remains that at that period the United Nations failed to tackle problems on several occasions. For example, the Israeli-Arab conflict still continues [see: a research into this problem – [13]]. In addition, conflicts emerged in other regions, and they have not yet been resolved. In this context, we would like to point to UN`s indecision in addressing conflicts in the South Caucasus. The United Nations does not exert necessary pressure on Armenia, which occupied part of Azerbaijan`s lands, and does not put the aggressor in its place although the organization`s authority to do so is clearly enshrined in its Charter.

There is no alternative to the UN collective security system. UN Security Council seems to be the only appropriate system when it comes to having a liberal world order, a world without violence, terror, drug trafficking and aggression at a state level. But there is naturally one crucial condition – the organization should undergo reforms.

Political analysts and scientists determine the factors that condition the United Nations` playing a leading and decisive role in building a new world order. Interestingly, in this context they point to the fact that UN was founded as a universal tool for managing and regulating international relations.

Russian expert V. L. Oleandrov writes: ''The ideology of UN was universal. The world was thought to be a whole rather than a set of separate regions. However it was assumed that each region had its own interests and peculiarities. World countries were believed to be a single family of nations living in peace and having common international law." [14, p.67-68].

He also describes the United Nations as the most landmark global achievement in inter-governmental relations on the verge of the 21st century, and believes that international relations possess the most effective management mechanisms that unite all nations and countries on earth. [14, p.69-70].

This means that UN has all legal, political and management opportunities for playing a leading role in establishing a new world order. But there are certain barriers preventing UN from performing its function. The activity of permanent members of UN Security Council is called number one barrier. Andrei Kortunov, for example, writes: "The role of Security Council will hardly to increase given chronic inability of its members to reach consensus on most pressing issues." [15].

The aforementioned factors create a paradoxical situation around the establishment of a new world order. On the one hand, all countries realize that the current global order should be changed and different threats facing the world should be tackled. On the other hand, it is impossible to ignore the necessity of elevating the activity of international organizations such as the United Nations to a qualitatively new level. But it is UN that is prevented from playing a leading role here. And it is done by superpowers which hold leading positions in the organization.

How to tackle this situation still remains a question because UN Security Council permanent members are engaged in a struggle for global leadership. On some occasions, this struggle goes beyond international law to be a real battle. The USA, United Kingdom, Russia, China and France violate international law, instead of setting examples of obeying it. This shakes the confidence in UN mission and casts doubt on its effectiveness. Humanity seems to be sawing off the bough of ''stability and development'' on which it is sitting. The paradox is that experts believe the way out lies in reformation of the United Nations. Russian scientist T. V. Goverdovskaya writes: ''The organization should keep pace with the changing world. Security Council should remain the heart of UN in the 21st century." [12, p.5]. She also says that on several occasions UN Security Council ''kept itself aloof from conflicts''. [12, p.5]. Despite this shortcoming, Goverdovskaya believes that UN can play a key role in building a new world order.

She points to reformation of UN as the necessary condition for revitalization of the collective security system [12, p.9]. The idea is clear: the collective security system should play a central role in the new world order and this role can be ensured through reforming UN Security Council.

It should be noted that reformation of UN Security Council is realized through a mechanism of ensuring collective security in a structural and functional framework. Researchers are determining main priorities of concepts of modern collective security system, and are studying interrelationship of Security Council with regional security systems [16]. Interestingly, experts underline that UN Security Council has so far failed to properly weight armed conflicts, explaining this by the absence a common system of notions [16, p.13].

Among necessary reforms researchers also stress the development of universal regulation mechanisms because the current regulations have caused certain problems [17, p.2-3]. This means that UN should elaborate such a mechanism that would be accepted and applied by all member countries.


The prospect of a new world order is closely related to complex geo-political theoretical, practical and diplomatic points. Through the prism of current theoretical approaches, the establishment of a new world order is seen as a necessity. But there are different views on its concrete mechanisms. Theoretical constructs that emerged in the 20th century do not meet modern requirements so there is a need for transformation of geo-political ideas. Experts believe international organizations should play a key role in ensuring this process.

First and foremost they draw attention to high UN potential. Bu the reality is that the organization now needs radical reforms. In this regard, the destiny of the new world order to some extent depends on reforms at the United Nations. The main goal at this stage is to give concrete meaning to UN-global order connectivity. And the main burden of responsibility here falls on superpowers, which is a crucial factor in establishing a new world order.

Leyla Mammadaliyeva,

PhD student at the Institute of Philosophy Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences


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