(Bloomberg) — A brutal, grinding war in Ukraine. Governments overthrown in Niger and Gabon. Lingering hostility over the Covid-19 pandemic and the unequal distribution of life-saving vaccines. With dozens of world leaders descending upon New York for the United Nations General Assembly’s annual gathering, global problems are showing up fast and thick at the world body’s door — with no solutions in sight. And many countries are starting to look elsewhere to do something about them.
The UN, once the central forum for trying to solve geopolitical disputes, is increasingly on the sidelines of the new global politics, unable to keep up with the array of shocks, crises and coups that seem to be fracturing the world. That’s been evidenced by its powerlessness to intervene in places where in years past it would have been front and center — Niger’s coup this summer, for example, or Haiti’s most recent plunge into chaos.
It’s a plight that even the US — which helped shape the UN at its founding in a push to cement American leadership — has come to acknowledge. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made that clear in a speech last week, describing the upheaval in almost apocalyptic terms.