Mending a fragmented world – the concerns of UN 

A GNA News Feature by Stephen Asante 

Accra, Feb. 03, GNA – Desperation and an uncertain future seem to be written on the faces of these two migrant Sudanese hungry kids as they roam the pavements at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, Accra, Ghana’s capital city, begging for alms. 

Safyanu, nine, and Awuleta, 11 (real names hidden), fled South Sudan with their parents and two other siblings some two years ago, following the protracted conflicts, an enquiry by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) confirmed. 

Sadly, the fate of these displaced children and others in distressed areas worldwide, looks bleak in the face of the mounting global conflicts. 

For South Sudan, the World Food Programme (WFP), in its assessment, says the civil war – a multi-sided conflict between government and opposition forces – put communities through nearly a decade of violence, poverty and hunger.  

The chronology of recent events  – the Russia-Ukraine war, Israel-Hamas war, which has heightened tensions in the Middle-East, US-China rivalry, political instability, as well as the surge in global terrorism and violent extremism – is tearing the world apart, security analysts have warned. 

International conflicts have increased nine-fold since 2004 to 27, according to the 2023 Global Peace Index report.  

“The landscape of global geopolitics is bracing for profound transformations in the upcoming decades,” Dr Desmond Tuffour, a political scientist, tells the GNA. 

He cautions the evolving complexities of the conflicts is an issue world leaders should treat dispassionately, because it is a threat to sustaining the global governance architecture.      

World leaders have to address the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants, and combat xenophobia and discrimination. 

It is estimated that conflict-related deaths rose by 45 per cent in the year prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with over 100, 000 total deaths being recorded in 2021 (Global Peace Index report). 

This development, along with the widening inequalities and poverty level, deteriorating climatic conditions and unresolved geopolitical tensions, threatens world peace and stability. 

It casts a shadow of doubt on the efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, of which peace and security feature prominently. 

The UN says it is worried about the “epidemic of impunity around the world”. 

“The world is standing by as civilians, mostly women and children, are killed, maimed, bombarded, forced from their homes and denied access to humanitarian aid. 

“From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to Sudan, and, more recently, Gaza, parties to conflict are ignoring international law, trampling on the Geneva Conventions, and even violating the United Nations Charter,” Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, lamented. 

In his address at the 2024 World Economic Forum (WEF), in Davos, Switzerland, the UN Secretary-General brought to the fore the dangers in store for the world amid the increasing political instability and geopolitical divisions. 

Calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, he proposed a process that would lead to sustained peace for Israelis and Palestinians, based on a two-state solution. 

“This is the only way to stem the suffering and prevent a spillover that could send the entire region up in flames.” 

He also called for a just peace in Ukraine, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law. 

The UN, expressing shock over the systematic undermining of principles and standards the world used to take for granted, noted that there was the need for increased global cooperation. 

“The world faced terrible regional conflicts and moments of great danger during the Cold War, but, there were systems in place to promote stability and predictability, including initiatives on arms control and nuclear hotlines. 

 “Today, many of these systems have been eroded or undermined. Instead of nuclear disarmament, there is talk of nuclear re-armament. 

“States are spending billions making their nuclear arsenals faster, stealthier and more accurate,” bemoaned the UN Secretary-General. 

The UN, he insisted, was outraged that so many countries and companies were pursuing their own narrow interests without any consideration for “our shared future or the common good”. 

“Unless we take action, we can expect much, much worse,” Guterres cautioned. 

Multipolarity is creating complexities across the globe.  

Substantively, the trending patched security issues could be a warning of a totally chaotic situation in which geopolitical divides at all levels prevent any global response to global threats. 

Left to itself, it could deepen fault lines – between North and South, East and West, developed and developing economies, within the G20, and between the G20 and everyone else. 

It is incumbent on the UN to manage this complexity and avoid a slide into chaos. 

This must be done through a reformed, inclusive, and networked multilateralism, with a critical look at reforming some of the UN’s own structures, including the Security Council, which seems to benefit some few privileged developed countries.  

It requires strong multilateral institutions and frameworks, and effective mechanisms of global governance. 

Until the impunity stops, further fragmentation is inevitable, and the consequences could be devastating for the very survival of humanity.