Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

A crisis of faith shakes the United Nations in its big week

By Robbie Gramer and Anusha Rathi

19 Sep 2022 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

What’s the UN good for? Foreign Policy explains how the organization’’s inability to act on a range of urgent matters—from Ukraine to climate change—is spurring demands for change.

Weeks after Russia launched a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a dramatic televised address to the United Nations Security Council. There, he fumed with barely masked rage at the institution he was speaking to. “If your current format is unalterable and there is simply no way out, then the only option would be to dissolve yourself altogether,” he said. “So where is the peace that the United Nations was created to guarantee?”

Zelensky’s address highlighted a grim irony about the U.N. Security Council: Russia was chairing its rotating presidency just as the country launched the largest land war in Europe since World War II.

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