The rise of unilateralism marks the year in the United Nations

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The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres (c), upon his arrival at the UN intergovernmental conference organized in the Moroccan city of Marrakech. EFE / Archive

The commitment of the United States and other countries for increasingly unilateral policies has dominated the year in the United Nations, which has tried to defend as it could the flag of the multilateral.

“Multilateralism is under attack just when it is most needed,” warned the organization’s leader, António Guterres, before welcoming leaders from around the world to its annual meetings in New York this September.

At that meeting, the US president, Donald Trump, was quick to agree with him: “We reject the ideology of the global, and embrace the doctrine of patriotism,” he said from the floor of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Having broken international consensus by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate or recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump abandoned the nuclear agreement with Iran this year, removed his country from the UN Human Rights Council and made the US was the only country outside the negotiation of a Global Compact for Migration.

But Trump is not alone. Precisely this migration agreement has symbolized in recent months the growing tensions between those who want international solutions for an increasingly globalized world and those who reject it outright and bet to return to the national.

The Pact for Migration, a minimum agreement of a non-binding nature, was agreed in July by all United Nations Member States with the exception of the United States.

Since then, however, Hungary, Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Israel, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic have all distanced themselves from the text, which has also created internal tensions in countries such as Germany.

Several of these governments defend that the migratory agreement violates its national sovereignty, something that the UN itself vehemently denies, recalling that it is a totally voluntary instrument to promote cooperation and does not impose any obligation on countries.

This argument for the defense of national sovereignty has become more and more a mantra for leaders opposed to certain international commitments, in all kinds of spheres.

The elected president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, used it to threaten to abandon the Paris Agreement on climate. The Guatemalan Government to attack the International Commission Against Impunity that investigates corruption in the country. And the Venezuelan leader, Nicolás Maduro, to reject international actions in response to the national crisis.

On the other hand, several leaders like the French, Emmanuel Macron, or the Spanish, Pedro Sanchez, launched at the last UN General Assembly great arguments in favor of multilateralism, which for now have not translated into concrete measures.

Meanwhile, Guterres and the UN have not tired of insisting that today’s world requires collective commitments, but they have seen few successes in the last twelve months.

The mediation efforts of the United Nations continue without achieving an end to the war in Syria, with a total blockade in the Security Council given the opposing positions of Russia and the West.

In Yemen, neither the peace talks nor the repeated calls for a ceasefire between the Houthi rebels and the government, supported by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia, end either.

And in the Middle East, the UN stands aside, waiting for the United States. present his new peace plan, baptized by Trump as the “Pact of the Century”.

Dragged by the growing nationalism and by the public distrust in the institutions, the United Nations seeks to recover the protagonism and remembers that ignoring the structures created after the Second World War can return the world to disaster.

“In this difficult context, we have to inspire a return to international cooperation,” argued Guterres last month in a debate on the future of multilateralism.

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