U.N. Chief Heads to Odesa, Facing Limits of Influence Over War in Ukraine

Some of the most effective efforts to punish Russia have been tough economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, but those efforts take place outside the Security Council, the external structure of the United States. within the United Nations has the power to impose sanctions.

While the war has put limits on the UN’s ability to resolve global conflicts, it also underscores the vital humanitarian role the organization plays, providing aid, food and health care to the United Nations. millions of Ukrainian refugees. Guterres himself served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, taking on the role of secretary general in 2017.

The Ukraine conflict has caused some humanitarian damage. Thousands of civilians were killed, millions were internally displaced and more than six million currently live outside the country, in what the United Nations calls the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II. Russia’s targeting of civilians and its handling of captured enemy warplanes also led to accusations of war crimes.

But Russia holds a veto over the Security Council, robbing it of its ability to pass legally binding resolutions that hold Moscow accountable. And Russia has a powerful ally, with its own veto, on the council: China.

The Ukraine war is hardly the first conflict in which the Security Council has been powerless against the competing goals of its five permanent, veto members: Russia, China, the United States, Great Britain, and France. .

Among the council’s most prominent recent failures has been the years-long civil war in Syria, in which Russia has blocked decisive action. The alliances of China and Russia prevent the Security Council from taking active action against atrocities against the Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar. North Korea, which China also protects, has constantly being ignored UN bans on conducting nuclear tests.

Circumstances where the council can act include imposing painful sanctions on Iran about its nuclear program. The Council also authorized military intervention support Libya rebels in 2011, despite Russia’s reluctance – but the assassination of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi reinforced Russia’s suspicions of the organization.

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