borrell4_HAZEM BADERAFP via Getty Images_un flag Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images

The EU Stands With the UN

Phrases like the “multilateral system” and “the rules-based international order” seem vague and lack the ring of “America First” or “Take Back Control.” But they stand for something very concrete and real – not least the choice between peace and war.

BRUSSELS – In any normal year, I would be in New York City now for the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The event represents the greatest concentration of global policymakers in one place and is the high point on the diplomatic calendar. But this year is far from normal, and “UNGA week” is going virtual with events held online – a familiar format for us all in recent months.

This is unfortunate for several reasons. It is the UN’s 75th anniversary, and one would have wished for a better way to mark the occasion. Moreover, the state of the world is such that the multilateral system, with the UN at its core, is being challenged like never before – and just when we need it the most.

Indeed, never has the supply of multilateral solutions been so scarce, and demand for them so high. Every day we see how narrow nationalism and strategic rivalries, especially between the United States and China, are paralyzing the UN Security Council and the wider international system. From climate change and arms control to maritime security, human rights, and beyond, global cooperation has been weakened, international agreements abandoned, and international law undermined or selectively applied.