Tensions brewing in the world with the potential revival of major rivalry as Russia and the US lock horns over Ukraine have not gone unnoticed and so haven’t the lack of efforts to avert the situation made by the UN – a body set up to maintain international peace and security – over the issue. The Ukraine and Russia crisis began in 2014 when the latter took over Crimea during the unrest known as the Ukrainian Revolution. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) had then adopted the Resolution 68/262 which affirmed its commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea.
However, last year, tensions grew further as the US warned that tens of thousands of Russian troops massed at the border will enter Ukraine. The international efforts made last week to defuse the crisis also ended without even an agreement to continue dialogue on the situation. Following which, Washington and its allies have warned Moscow of ‘grave consequences’ if any of its troops were to cross the border. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also categorically stated that Russia “cannot match Western powers’ resoluteness”, while the UNGA has remained worryingly mum.
But alluding to the growing tensions, Pakistan’s permanent representative on the first meeting of the year at the UNGA urged the forum to brace itself for the revival of ‘major-powers rivalry’ as the world stands at the brink of what could easily escalate into a major military conflict. “We need to consider how the UN can contribute to not an agenda for peace but the reconstruction of peace in this world,” said Munir Akram, emphasising the need to focus on these issues. Ambassador Akram also underlined the possibility of a new arms race on the cards with the signing of Indo-US bilateral defence pact enabling partners to share high-end military technology, amid other things. He rightly said: “New military alliances are being formed in various parts of the world. And sadly, the UN is largely absent from the rope.”
It is after all the responsibility of the UN and its permanent members – the P5 – to ensure that world peace and stability isn’t compromised for nefarious interests of any country. The joint statement of the P5 leaders recently issued on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races is a step in the right direction. It is only hoped it isn’t limited to a document just as previous UNGA resolutions.