Between the UN General Assembly and the rest of the world

from dr Karin Kneissl

The General Assembly of the United Nations meets again this week. All 193 UNO members have one vote in this body. Those who speak in front of this forum address their word to the international community. Speech follows speech, confession follows demand and empty phrases are repeated. The boredom of many texts results from the text modules that the speechwriters often push on from year to year. But the speeches these days are warlike. It’s about warnings, about apocalypse and arms deliveries. In the middle of this sequence of speeches came the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin of partial mobilization and the willingness to use all weapon systems to defend Russia.

It seems that Moscow and New York are dueling over speeches versus speeches and arms sales versus the nuclear option. In our time, little is left of the idea of ​​diplomacy, which for many state representatives is reduced to nothing more than martial tweets and other postings. The many bilateral 20-minute meetings with photos on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly do little to change that.

Trust, a valuable asset in international and interpersonal relationships, has been broken in many places. It seems almost irretrievably destroyed. The diplomatic china that needs to be patched is so shattered that entirely new china needs to be made. In this deadlock, which is reflected in the monologues on the speaker’s platform in the UN General Assembly, other forums are gaining in importance.

The new regional organizations in the name of energy

In the 1990s, the loose group of the Shanghai Five was formed, which has operated under the name of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) since 2001. And the level of ignorance or indifference towards this regional organization is surprisingly high in Western circles. The SCO, which began with six members in 2001, eventually grew to eight members with the accession of India and Pakistan in 2017. Iran is welcomed as the ninth member of the organization and many more are in the queue. Membership enables Tehran to engage in high-level contacts and economic cooperation with Russia, China, India, Pakistan and several Central Asian countries – almost half the world’s population, which accounts for 28 percent of global economic activity. The SCO also represents 43 percent of the world’s population, making it the second largest international organization after the UN.

The fact that this forum brings together the main energy suppliers and consumers to work together on security and energy seems to scarcely interest anyone in Europe. In essays about the SCO, the small number of members is often emphasized, while all the other demographic and economic factors are ignored.

In my opinion, the SCO should not take in many more members. Because experience and administrative science mean that ideally, decisions can be made by eight to twelve representatives. When 27 delegations sit around a table, as is the case at EU Council meetings, with the many representatives of the Commission added, any serious political dialogue becomes impossible. Decision-making is reduced to a technocratic level. The limited number of members is one of the reasons why the five veto powers in the UN Security Council want to keep to themselves. The stalemate does dominate the decision-making process, but if there is agreement, then the committee functions again in between.

Turkey wants to become a member of the SCO, which causes a lot of controversy. For Turkey’s NATO colleagues, this is a potential breach of their statutes, as the SCO regularly holds joint military exercises. This project by Ankara is not new, because Turkey has cleverly positioned itself diplomatically between East and West, and has achieved a special position in mediation, especially in the Ukraine conflict. Since Turkey has also been trying to become part of European integration for more than 50 years in vain, the orientation towards the East, where the economic and demographic present and future take place, is at least understandable.

Anyone who followed the pictures of the SCO meeting in the Uzbek city of Samarkand could see a certain familiarity between the heads of state from afar. This requires well-rested meetings where not everyone rushes from one appointment to the next, as is usually the case at the UN headquarters in New York. French President Valéry Giscard d’Estain and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt tried to create this aspect of the relaxed atmosphere by founding the G7 in the form of the fireside chats. The G7 meetings, which grew into the G8 in the short term by 2014 with Russia’s participation, have meanwhile petrified into media spectacles. In terms of content, the larger body of the G20, in which the real actors are represented, is more important anyway. So economies like China and Brazil, whereas I’ve been wondering for years why Italy, which has been fragile for years, still plays this important role in the G7 group.

Another forum that has emerged as something institutional since December 2016 is the so-called OPEC-plus format. It is now a comprehensively coordinated collaboration between the 13 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and their former rivals, the so-called non-OPEC producers, such as Russia. Together they provide 23 oil producers and can use their coordination in the production quota to apply much greater leverage than OPEC would be able to do alone. The important energy exporters USA and Norway are not involved in this format.

The ambitions of the BRICS+

When the abbreviation BRIC was created around 20 years ago, it was about the emerging economies and their role in commodity trading. The first meetings brought together Brazil, Russia, India and China. With the incorporation of South Africa, BRICS came into being and the plus sign is now a suffix. Because BRICS+ also sees itself as a forum for important economies such as Argentina and others.

Probably the most ambitious project is to found a multilateral financial institution that would compete with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with a new currency basket that would no longer be dominated by the US dollar.

In addition to all the human misery on the battlefield, the military conflict of 2022 shows itself as a conflict between power in the financial market and power in the commodity market. This also creates new hierarchies in the various international organizations. When the statute of the United Nations was written in 1945 – a brilliant statute, by the way, a codification of current international law – these developments were not yet recognizable in all facets. What we are currently experiencing is how some new things are also developing institutionally in the broad field of international organizations.

The world spins breathtakingly fast and the story continues.

more on the subject – Karin Kneissl in an RT DE interview: Europe cannot function without a 24-hour power supply

Source: RT

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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