The United Nations must drop its bureaucratic timidity and stand up to its member states if it is to tackle global problems, a top UN official told Reuters in an interview.
Michael Moller, UN director-general in Geneva, said governments were failing to deal with new and existing challenges such as nuclear disarmament, internet regulation and climate-related migration, and the UN needed to respond.
That meant looking to emerging new groupings of decision-makers, such as cities, technology firms or online movements, while national governments are set to see their role shrink.
“It’s tough for some of these guys to swallow. And it’s tough, particularly for some of the bigger countries that are used to a very top-down governance,” said Moller.
US President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the UN Human Rights Council, the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Climate Accord, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a Financial Times interview yesterday liberal values were now obsolete.
Moller declined to name names but suggested that such leaders were resisting the tide of history, and that “tearing down multilateralism in all its forms” did not make sense for any country.
“If you look at what’s happening, a number of countries are walking away from all the international agreements they can lay their hands on, and a good number of their citizens are not following suit,” he said.
The UN and its member states had been “too timid in our collective pushback on what’s happening to human rights” and sometimes fell prey to wishful thinking when trying to mediate peace and stop wars, he said.
The UN should face its critics with facts and statistics to show the extraordinary prosperity and well-being it had achieved for humanity, Moller added.