Imperial Shadows II
Miguel Ángel Velasco cmf
Doctor in Educational Sciences
Degree in Systematic Theology
Master in Development and International Relations. UNITAR
- New predominant imperialism is neither convenient nor possible.
The UN was founded in 1945. Much time has passed since then, and the world is not the same as it was at the end of World War II. Many have spoken of the need to reform the United Nations, and it is true that it needs to be reformed. That said, it must be said that some of the fundamental organs are better suited to the needs of our time than others. The functioning of the Security Council, with the veto rights of the winners of World War II, has no place today; indeed, it has proved to be the best method of blocking important decisions for peace. I see it difficult for countries with the right of veto to agree to lose it in the immediate future; we will have to look for other possibilities. Perhaps the new opportunities will come from strengthening the decision-making of other UN bodies that have been able to adapt to the new needs of the world.
The General Assembly has shown itself, both with COVID-19 and with the invasion of Ukraine, to be an unparalleled forum for all countries to express their opinions, with some of them being clearly in evidence. The UN Secretary-General and his Secretariat have raised their voices in the form of denunciations and guidelines in the face of the tremendous challenges of recent years; they have also been effective instruments for dialogue, negotiation, and intervention. In addition, ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) has promoted many meetings and summits that have helped the world become aware of crises such as Climate, Migration, Women, and Refugees and, above all, has promoted the development, approval, and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda.
The “Blue Helmets,” not included in the Founding Charter of the UN, but promoted by the Secretary-General and the General Assembly, have intervened and continue to intervene in the pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict phases, seeking and facilitating peace in many parts of the world. We could add many agencies and organizations of the UN System, such as UNESCO, the International Tribunal in The Hague, the World Health Organization, the Human Rights Council, etc. Yes, the UN has done and is doing a lot to make this world work better, and it is necessary for it to continue to exist, in addition to the need for its renewal.
How will the world be shaped in the 21st Century? It is very difficult to say, but it is clear that the time of Unilateralism, the legacy of Imperialism, is over. Unfettered economic globalization is over; a new stage is beginning in which countries, grouped in different alliances, will try to ensure the proper functioning of the “production chains” in their respective areas. Despite this reinforcement of zoning for geo-strategic interests, cultural and economic interdependence is so important in international relations that the superpowers can hardly afford to have eternal wars among themselves, although there will be strong tensions. Of course, each superpower seeks and will seek to have the international relevance that it believes corresponds to it.
The future is multipolar; multipolar as is the UN. Although the multipolar future must entail a more effective organization in the decision-making processes than the UN is at present, the G-7 or the G-20 is of no use to us in this task of seeking consensus and agreements; the focus of our objectives and efforts must be Sustainable Human Development. Therefore, it is necessary to go beyond the goals of the G-7 and the G-20, beyond the management of the economy and power; it is required to give continuity to the spirit of the United Nations Charter.
- Sketching the future
If we look at the preceding paragraphs, my opinion, perhaps just my wish, is condensed in the following lines.
The European Union (EU) will continue, slowly but surely, towards a model of “confederate states” being, more and more, a “federation of states”; it will be, as it is now, a point of reference for other areas of the world wishing to coordinate closely. Having overcome the temptations of excessive protagonism of Germany and France, nothing new under the sun, the EU will move towards an integration of all the countries of Europe, even if intense work on human rights and democratization will be necessary for some countries of the former communist bloc. What will happen with the entry of Turkey into the EU, a country that has been an essential player in European history?
The United States will overcome the crisis of internal division by slowly integrating the system’s struggles; it will also be able to overcome both the isolationism that characterized it until World War II and the excessive protagonism of the post-war period. The United States will be the reference for an essential group of democratic countries in the West and Asia.
China will gradually free itself from its energy dependence on the Russian Federation through green and atomic energy. It will slowly open up to accepting internal differences; let us hope that China’s ancestral wisdom will work properly. Finally, an influential group of countries, primarily African countries, will align around China.
The Russian Federation. After the Stalinist disease called Vladimir Putin, it has an uncertain future. We may witness a further decomposition of the “Empire,” as well as a slow internal normalization and normalization of relations with the West, taking the path of the hated Perestroika in Putin’s eyes. A challenging but hopeful future, as long as Vladimir Putin does not make his own the crazy things that some of his advisors recommend winning in Ukraine.
Alliances. We will be in an era in which alliances between countries will appear with force; these may be: USA – European Union – Japan – Canada; USA – Australia – Japan – India – Korea – Philippines; the American bloc, perhaps closer to the USA and the EU in this near future; the African bloc with the African Union as key and the two possible alignments with the EU and with China. The future will have to be multipolar; a multipolarity of blocs (alliances) in which they will have to learn to dialogue, to decide, and to find, following the path of the UN, an effective decision-making system respectful of Human Rights and the Founding Charter of the UN.
The UN Security Council, or any other body that may be created, must represent the various blocs (alliances) and sensitivities and create a decision-making system so as not to be “BLOCKED” when solving the world’s problems. Next to this “New Security Council,” there must be an independent International Tribunal (The Hague), which applies the approved rules and demands, if necessary, the intervention of the Security Council. There are too many things to improve in the world to spend time and life as if everything were a “Game of Thrones.”
During the First Millennium, Christians were divided-united in patriarchies. These patriarchates respected diversity and were called to cooperation and unity. Complementarity (and tensions) with one another was a fundamental principle, albeit under the unity of the Patriarchate of Rome. As Christians, we also have experienced how sadly painful it is to break the “unity in diversity” despite the tensions.
- Catholics: Citizens of the World
We are living in challenging but truly exciting times. The world is preparing for a new phase of history. It is urgent that the whole Catholic Church, in close communion with other Christian confessions, different religions, and “people of goodwill”, feel that we are an active part of the change that is taking place. We must feel that we are responsible citizens of the world.
For this involvement of Catholics to take place, it is necessary to raise awareness and work, especially among the laity and religious, but also among bishops and episcopal conferences. The laity, especially the laity, are the ones who, from within the social, economic, labor, business, political and diplomatic fabric, can do the most. In the same way that the UN is necessary but reformed to the needs of the times, something similar could be said with organizations such as Catholic Action. In this work of raising awareness of World Citizenship, educational centers with a Catholic ideology, parishes, youth groups, and centers for forming lay and religious evangelizers have a special responsibility.
We Christians must make the words of the Second Vatican Council our own and feel ourselves to be an active part of the change: World Citizens:
“The joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the people of our time, especially the poor and those who suffer, are at once the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of Christ’s disciples. There is nothing truly human that does not find an echo in his heart. The Christian community is made up of people who, gathered together in Christ, are guided by the Holy Spirit on their pilgrimage towards the kingdom of the Father and have received the good news of salvation in order to communicate it to all. The Church, therefore, feels herself intimately and truly in solidarity with the human race and its history.” GS n.1
Miguel Angel Velasco cmf
NB: For more information, I recommend the magazines Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the digital newspaper El Confidencial and, of course, Robert D. Kaplan.