What does 2023 hold for the United Nations? Last year was a strange mix of chaos and continuity for the world organization. Russia’s all-out assault on Ukraine dominated diplomacy in New York and Geneva. The Security Council alone held roughly 50 meetings on the war in 2022.
Yet, despite the general rancor between the West and Russia, a lot of U.N. business ground on much as before. The Security Council kept churning out resolutions on issues other than Ukraine at the same rate as in 2021, as Russia refrained from using its veto to do wider institutional damage. Freed from the shackles of pandemic-induced limits on in-person gatherings, diplomats held meetings on everything from nuclear disarmament to education.
Now, with the new year well underway, U.N. officials and diplomats remain uncertain if the months ahead will involve more chaos or more business-as-usual. Three questions stand out.