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We Need a Different United Nations

Martin Rezny
Words of Tomorrow
Published in
7 min readApr 21, 2024


Moving toward a more peaceful world with Global Harmony Initiative


Here’s an obvious question for everyone — considering current world events, do you believe that the United Nations is doing its job? Somehow, I don’t think there are many people in the world who’d answer “yes” right now. The state of the world’s nations seems to be particularly disunited at the moment. Which begs a much more difficult question:

What is, or should be, the United Nations’ job?

At a basic, naive level, one could simply say “achieving world peace”. And yeah, wouldn’t that be nice, but how should one go about doing that? What does “world peace” even mean, beyond the nations of the world not fighting? Luke and I, among others, believe that not having good answers to these questions is a big part of why the UN isn’t working.

Since we suspect that global peace is one of the necessary prerequisites for a future worth living in, we count it as one of our pillars of protopia. Which is why we propose there ought to be an organization dedicated to figuring out what the best version of world peace would be and how it could be achieved. Let’s call this organization Global Harmony Initiative (GHI).

Considering that the UN is the closest existing organization related to this mission, we believe that we should start by exploring two things:

  1. Whether the UN as it exists today could be reformed to become more effective at achieving world peace, and if yes, then how
  2. What kind of world peace should we try to achieve through a UN-like organization in the first place

Firstly, there should be an ongoing comprehensive debate among all kinds of people from all over the world about what the main planetary unification-type institution should be like or what it should or shouldn’t be doing. From our forward-looking perspective, the current United Nations is merely an evolutionary step in that direction, much like the previous attempt was, the League of Nations.

Secondly, the main issue with the current United Nations that needs to be addressed appears to be the Security Council veto. Since the security council includes three of the world’s greatest political and military powers, the U.S., China, and Russia, it is virtually certain that any proposed UN action to stop any conflict of larger geopolitical consequence will be blocked by at least one of these parties.

The main cause of this issue is that this arrangement had originated in a very different geopolitical situation than the one in which we currently find ourselves. Right after WWII, the Security Council member states were mostly aligned. Since then, however, their interests have been drifting apart. What’s more, new major powers have been emerging lately, like India or Brazil, with no seat on the council.

From our point of view, giving more states the same veto power would only make the problem of inaction worse, so that is not what we advise. Instead, we propose that the institute of the selective veto power is cancelled. If the majority of all countries on the planet vote for a particular resolution, the resolution should take effect. If the planet isn’t run like a democracy, then it is a military dictatorship.

At the same time, we recognize that the element of hard power cannot be ignored. If the majority vote cannot be enforced against a rogue state because the rogue state is a major military superpower, it may still have some value as a political message, but it’s not much more than that. The three main ways to discourage a powerful actor from going rogue are trade, sanctions, and deterrence.

If the UN is to be effective at all, it needs to be able to either offer sufficient positive incentives to all state actors to motivate them to cooperate rather than use force, or to offer enough disincentives to make use of force not worth it. In terms of offering positive incentives, our OUSP and GPIB organizations provide guidance on improving everyone’s living standards and funding large-scale projects globally.

In terms of providing sufficient deterrence, the UN would either have to have its own transnational or supra-national military, which seems difficult to accomplish and has its own dangers, or the real vote would actually break down on the basis of how much military power backs any given resolution. We believe this is a realistic next-step arrangement that’s strictly better than the current veto-based approach.

In combination with the purely democratic element — simple majority vote of all countries still being required as well — the resolutions would have both legitimacy and enforcement capability. In addition to the political message, a quantifiable amount of military power would be backing the resolution, which would become effective beyond a specific threshold in the case of any particular conflict.

In effect, we believe we’re already seeing this type of arrangement taking form in practice. In the case of the Russian invasion into Ukraine, the Russian veto didn’t prevent an alliance of countries backed by a similarly powerful military capability from sanctioning Russia or sending military aid or volunteer fighters to Ukraine. If the UN simply formalizes this type of process, more conflicts could be mitigated.

The only wildcard in this type of arrangement are nuclear threats, making any action taken against a nuclear power more complicated. For this reason, we support general nuclear disarmament worldwide and a ban on all weapons of mass destruction, certainly above the civilization-ending threshold. However, it does appear that nuclear threats are likely to be bluffs if the stakes aren’t existential.

Which should never be an issue with UN actions, as its aim isn’t to destroy or take over countries, or in other words, threatening their continued existence. UN’s goal is, or should be, to maintain peace or, in the extreme, defend civilians and territorial integrity of sovereign states. From the perspective of the UN, it would be a victory if Russia simply stopped attacking Ukraine and started negotiating instead.

This means that more effective, clear communication is another thing that the UN should aim to achieve. The increasing global awareness of atrocities, realized thanks to the internet, may have actually been the main factor lately in increasing popular opposition to conflicts all over the democratic world, regardless of which country does them — a perceived enemy like Russia, or a perceived ally like Israel.

The UN could certainly do more to communicate what the threats to global peace are to the global public, and which actions need to be taken to address those threats. With enough public support or opposition, even great military powers can be swayed, not to mention that the effectiveness of sanctions or military support does also depend on how individuals choose to vote or spend their money.

Ultimately, we believe that the more the people of Earth will think of themselves as one people, the more it will be feasible to achieve something resembling world peace. The more the UN only looks like a small group of self-interested powerful states caring about themselves, the more conflict and suffering there will be on the planet. Put simply, whenever people somewhere are in danger, the UN must acknowledge it for what it is and then do something effective to help them.

To that end, the value of all human life must be seen as equal by the UN everywhere in the world. Each individual country or culture may have its own human life value “exchange rate”, as the Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef so darkly, but accurately put it, but the UN must not act in such a fashion. There must be no part of the world that is ever sacrificed for the benefit of a different part of the world, even if the sacrificed part is smaller. Exploitation and oppression breed conflict.

For example, if a people, any people, are the target of a genocide or something that a reasonable person would argue is approaching genocide by an overwhelmingly more powerful group, then:

a) The killing should be condemned, opposed, and minimized by all available means as soon as possible and for as long as necessary to make it cease.

b) After the killing ceases, the guilty party should be sued for appropriate reparations.

c) Following the historical examples of Israel and Germany, the reparations must not however be done in a way that invites future conflict, such as by giving the offended people a land that’s already occupied by a different group of people who would be displaced, or by economically destroying the offending people to a point of further radicalization.

Contrary to most arguments in partisan national or corporate media, none of this is in any way morally or pragmatically complicated. Making any people suffer is bad, equally. The more of it there is, the worse it is, but any amount is bad enough, certainly on the scale of nations. If one only cares for their own interest and thus harms others, one creates enemies, and thus goes against their best interest. The UN or a similar organization should try to help everyone act in their best interest.

Global Harmony Initiative (GHI) Guiding Principles

We believe there is no prosperous, improving, or continuous future for humanity in which war or other forms of violent conflict are still thinkable at a large scale. This has become obvious with the advent of nuclear weapons — with our technology advancing, all conflicts become much more destructive, and all destruction much more complete.

While our SGEARS organization is dedicated to foreseeing and preventing how advancing technology can endanger us unwittingly, GHI’s ultimate aim is to prevent ourselves from endangering our own survival and prosperity on purpose. At the same time, however, we do not wish to sacrifice political sovereignty and freedom for security.

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