CRF Blog

Who Broke the U.N.?

by Shruti Modi

In Who Broke the U.N.?, Foreign Policy surveyed top experts about the role the U.N. should play in global conflicts. Madeline Albright guides readers through the results of Foreign Policy’s survey.

The amount of time that has been spent in think tanks and inside the U.S. State Department trying to figure out whether and how to reform the United Nations would be impossible to calculate. The refrain of “U.N. reform” is heard over and over, yet infighting and gridlock continue to block bolder U.N. action, as the latest situation in Syria makes clear.

Like any organization, the U.N. does need to be reformed — from the structure and procedures of the Security Council, which 28 percent of Foreign Policy’s survey respondents identify as the part of the U.N. most in need of rethinking, to the body’s staffing, leadership, and budget. But reform is not an event; it is a process. Although people tend to blame “the U.N.,” fundamentally it is a collection of nation-states, often with competing interests. No wonder more than 40 percent of the respondents consider this fact the greatest internal obstacle preventing the institution from being more effective. [more]