The United Nations is now seventy years old, but the world of seventy years ago was a vastly different place than the world of today. This raises the question: Does the UN remain “fit for purpose” to meet the current needs of the international community? And if not, what can be done in practical terms to bring its mission, structure, and resourcing up to date to meet the formidable challenges ahead? It was to address these questions that the International Peace Institute (IPI) launched the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) in 2014, with Kevin Rudd as its chair.
This is the Chair’s Report, in which Kevin Rudd provides his personal views on the world situation and suggestions for how the UN can be adapted to cope with the rapid pace of change. The report reflects the valuable insights Mr. Rudd has gained through his consultations and travels as chair of the ICM, as well as his vast international and domestic political experience. It will be followed by the launch of the full ICM report on September 21st.
The core argument of Mr. Rudd’s report is that the UN matters, and if it fails, falters, or fades away it would fundamentally erode the stability of an already fragile global order. But at the same time, he argues, we tend to take the UN for granted, overlooking the reality that its continued existence is not inevitable. The UN, while not yet broken, is in trouble. The report concludes, however, that the UN is capable of reinventing itself. This requires not one-off reforms but a continual process of reinvention to ensure the institution is responding to the policy challenges of our time.