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Alanna O'Malley Discusses 75 Years United Nations in Dutch Newspaper 'de Volkskrant'

The end of October will be all about the United Nations (UN). The festivities for the 75th anniversary have been scaled down due to the corona virus. 'A shame', says Prof.dr. Alanna O'Malley, but at the same time she sees that corona crisis also offers opportunities for the UN.

'The UN has a bad reputation, but in the field of humanitarian aid they've had several big successes,' says Alanna O'Malley, Professor by special appointment United Nation Studies in Peace and Justice at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs of Leiden University. O'Malley believes that on the one hand it is a shame that the festivities have been cancelled due to the corona crisis, but on the other hand the professor sees something that has come to light due to the corona crisis: 'The virus has exposed the shortcomings of the UN. The necessity for strengthened collaboration, of unilateralism, has been demonstrated once more. Even a super power can't fight the virus single-handedly.' 


Donald Trump, President of the US, has withdrawn several donations to various UN bodies during the corona pandemic, including the one for the World Health Organization (WHO). 'Partly as a result of that, the UN have started falling apart', says O'Malley. 'Trump was looking for a scapegoat, for something or someone to take the blame for the spreading of the virus'. O'Malley does not anticipate other member states to chip in financially now that the US have partially cut off funding. 'I don't think it's likely that other countries will step up to fill the void created by the US. They prefer to invest their money in their own health care systems, even though the WHO is actually one of the UN's success stories.' Infant mortality, for instance, has decreased with 62 per cent since 1945 as a result of large scale vaccination programmes.' 


The reason the UN has acquired such a bad reputation among 'regular citizens' is because of the disproportionate amount of attention' that has been given to the UN Security Council, according to O'Malley. The Security Council took months to respond to an appeal from UN Secretary General António Guterres: to accept a resolution of a (temporary) ceasefire, anywhere in the world, during the pandemic. Such a resolution is binding, is part of international law. 'The way that came about is devastating for the prestige of the Security Council', says O'Malley, 'especially because a lot of UN organisations were actually active 'on the ground'. 

You can read the full article (in Dutch) on the website of de Volkskrant

Alanna O’Malley is Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice, a newly-created position at Leiden University’s Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. This Chair, in honor of the former Dutch Foreign Minister and Mayor of The Hague Jozias Van Aartsen, is shared with The Hague University of Applied Sciences. The main focus of the Chair will be to create a new interdisciplinary research group on United Nations Studies and to organize a series of academic and public events to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN in 2020.

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