While member states, weakened in the neoliberal era, have pulled back from the U.N. and cut its budgets, a charity mentality has arisen at the world body. Corporations and the mega-rich have flocked to take advantage of the opportunity. They have looked for a quietly commanding role in the organisation’s political process and hoped to shape the institution to their own priorities.
It is hard to imagine today the public enthusiasm that greeted the founding of the U.N. in 1945. After massive suffering and social collapse resulting from the Second World War, the U.N. seemed almost miraculous – a means at last to build peace, democracy, and a just society on a global scale.
U.N. anniversaries are occasions for stocktaking - not all of it positive. But there is a lot of good that the U.N. has done and is doing and there are many good, dedicated people working silently but effectively within the U.N. system where I have also worked for a part of my long diplomatic career.
Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser currently heads the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Between 2011-2012 he was president of the General Assembly, setting the agenda for debate in the assembly during the Arab Spring.