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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

The United Nations Prepares for a Somber 75th Anniversary

Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

When the United Nations commemorates its 75th anniversary next month, it will be in a somber mood. Well before COVID-19 hit, the Trump administration’s “America First” policies had deprived the world body of its traditional leader, the United States, while rising geopolitical frictions had paralyzed the U.N. Security Council. The coronavirus pandemic has reinforced these dynamics, accentuating U.S. unilateralism and exacerbating an increasingly heated rivalry between the U.S. and China. Much of the U.N.’s productive work has been brought to a standstill.

The Security Council dithered for months on a noncontroversial resolution to freeze violent conflict during the pandemic, thanks to the Trump administration’s resistance to an explicit mention of the World Health Organization, and its efforts to include language embarrassing to China. Given the dysfunctional state of U.N. diplomacy, holding the annual General Assembly by videoconference may be a blessing. ...

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