The United Nations Security Council faces a prolonged crisis of confidence. Mounting tensions between the United States, Russia and China have stopped the council from taking serious action in response to crises in Syria, Ukraine and Burundi, among others. If those underlying tensions continue to worsen, the forum is likely to become ever more marginal to global affairs.
The Security Council is a lot more active than it was in the worst days of the Cold War. In 1959, it mustered the will to pass just one resolution. It has churned out 20 in the first half of 2017. But it is still clearly adrift.
In her first few months as American ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley has focused attention on the council by using it as a platform to attack Russia over Syria, defend Israel and criticize human rights abusers. This has played well in the U.S. media, but many diplomats grumble that Haley seems more interested in gaining publicity than exploring the details of how to solve conflicts on the council’s agenda.