The following editorial appeared in Sunday’s Japan News-Yomiuri:
The functions of international organizations are deteriorating in the wake of intense discord between the U.S. and China. If the two major powers persist in putting their own countries first, further weakening is inevitable. This is a cause for concern.
With countries focused on combating the spread of the coronavirus and supporting their economies, the role of the state is ever more important: The public’s attention is focused on their government’s response to the crisis, and the importance of international cooperation tends to be overlooked.
At a recent meeting of the World Health Organization, instead of promoting cooperation in infectious-disease control and vaccine development, the U.S.-China blame game took center stage. This indicates that the WHO is caught up in the vortex of international politics.
The functions of the United Nations Security Council have also lapsed into a state of breakdown.
Amid concern over the spread of infections in conflict zones, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate ceasefire among parties. The Security Council is aiming to adopt a resolution supporting the calls for a cease-fire, but the confrontation between Washington and Beijing, both of which have a veto, has brought the move to a standstill.
It is worth remembering that the United Nations was established in the wake of the devastation caused by two world wars to maintain peace and international cooperation. The WHO is also indispensable for dealing with infectious diseases that threaten humanity as a whole.
It goes without saying that the United Nations and its agencies must remain neutral. But realistically, these entities have no choice but to take into consideration the intentions of major powers, who contribute major funding and wield heavy political influence.
That is why powerful nations have a responsibility to ensure that international organizations function effectively. The fact that neither the U.S. nor China recognizes their roles, and see the organizations only as tools for their own interests could be at the root of the current state of instability.
President Donald Trump insists that multilateral frameworks undermine U.S. interests and has announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the WHO. Even more worrisome is that China’s presence will grow as the U.S. decreases its involvement.
China’s response to the coronavirus has again made clear that, with its disregard of such values as freedom, human rights and the rule of law, the nation cannot win the trust of the international community. It is inconceivable that it could replace the U.S. as the world’s leader.
In response, Japan, Britain, France and Germany, among other countries, must unite during this time of instability.