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联合国不能在大国竞争中坍塌

2020-09-19 13:12:59
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当地时间9月15日,纽约联合国总部举行第74届联合国大会闭幕会和第75届联合国大会开幕会。未来两周,联合国总部将迎来一系列多边会议。考虑到疫情影响,不少议程改为线上举行。 本届联大一般性辩论,将于9月22日至26日以及29日举行。由于采用视频发言形式,参与的国家元首和政府首脑数量可能远超往年。 在国际局势日益复杂紧张之际,已经走过75个年头的联合国,将面临哪些挑战? 观察者网刊发清华大学战略与安全研究中心高级研究员、中国论坛特约专家周波所著文章,以飨读者。

【文/周波】

9月21日,联大将庆祝联合国成立75周年。这个古稀之年的组织面临的问题不是如何生存下去,而是如何进一步发展壮大。

联合国的重要性首先是心理层面上的。它的年龄比许多人都大,因此其存在被视为理所当然。这个诞生于二战废墟之上的世界上最大的政府间组织看起来像是一个大家庭,193个成员在其中和平地讨论问题,这给人安全感和被保护感。

理解联合国的最佳方式是想象一下:假如没有联合国,谁来关照我们共同的教育、卫生和人道主义需求?谁来促进我们的社会、经济和文化发展?据联合国统计,世界上仍有6.9亿人每天饿着肚子入睡,这就是为什么联合国世界粮食计划署是不可或缺的。

其次,联合国基本上履行了其首要职责,即把人们从“战祸”(联合国宪章用语)中解救出来。自1945年第二次世界大战结束以来,世界没有再发生过大的战争,自罗马帝国迄今,我们享受的和平时期之长,是史无前例的。

新冠疫情暴发以来,联合国大会通过在线方式举行会议,9月3日是自3月以来联大首次举行面对面会议。图自联合国官方网站

我们当下之所以在认真讨论一些次要威胁,比如恐怖主义、小型武器扩散和人口贩运,以及气候变化等非传统安全问题,是因为我们知道当今世界发生大战的可能性已经降低。

然而,如果特朗普再次当选美国总统,联合国会面对一个迫在眉睫的考验。对于一个下令美国退出伊核协议、巴黎气候协定和世界卫生组织(此处仅举几例)的人来说,他在未来四年还会制造什么破坏才是个问题。

如果拜登当选总统,“美国第一”很可能变成“美国领导”。拜登承诺废除特朗普的一些政策,包括恢复美国对世卫组织的资助和成员资格及重新加入巴黎协定。但是他也会发现,对于一个不总是为美国利益服务的国际体系,美国公众愈来愈厌倦,这种情绪是很难改变的。

联合国的效率和效力主要取决于安理会五个常任理事国如何就其不同的国家利益做出妥协。自2011年以来,俄罗斯已投下19次否决票,其中14票是关于叙利亚问题。在此期间,中国的9次否决中也有8次是有关叙利亚的。但仅凭此就断定安理会分为中俄和美英法两个阵营是幼稚的。

今年8月,美国最铁杆的两个安理会盟友,就与中国和俄罗斯一道,拒绝了华盛顿对伊朗重新实施联合国制裁的企图。特朗普自认是一个骄傲的民族主义者,但正如法国总统马克龙在纪念第一次世界大战结束100周年之际所说的,“民族主义是对爱国主义的背叛”。

随着大国竞争的展开,联合国已经不出所料地成为中美两国的主战场,北京支持世卫组织和华盛顿退出世卫组织就是一个典型的例子。这对联合国来说是一个巨大的风险,因为中国和美国同为联合国总预算和维和预算最大的两个出资国。

在上一次联合国大会上,秘书长古特雷斯谈到了他对“大分裂”的担忧,即两个最大的经济体相互分离、相互竞争造成的全球分裂。

但是,尽管华盛顿看起来决心要离婚,联合国仍然是这对关系疏远的“夫妇”不得不共处的空间。在1948年柏林封锁期间,美国和苏联外交官继续在联合国交换信息和想法。今天,华盛顿仍然需要与北京在扩大对朝制裁等问题上达成妥协。

可以确定的是,中国在联合国的影响力已显著上升。与经常抱怨联合国的美国不同,中国一贯呼吁采取措施加强联合国的作用,并不遗余力地倡导多边主义。近年来,中国人在不同的联合国机构里担任了更多的高级职位。过去十年,联合国机构里中国人的数量至少翻了一番。

联合国也完全有理由期盼中国发挥更大的作用。作为世界上最大的多边机构,联合国当然欢迎北京倡导多边主义,尤其是考虑到即将召开的联合国大会的主题是“重申我们对多边主义的集体承诺”。

美国欠联合国10多亿美元的会费未缴,相反,中国总是按时全额缴付其份额,而且还自愿向联合国机构提供各种基金。中国还努力在今年年底前消除14亿人口中的绝对贫困,这是联合国2030年可持续发展目标的一个光辉榜样。

具有讽刺意味的是,在美国退出国际体系的同时,中国却在融入国际体系。中国已经加入了几乎所有的国际条约和公约,因此理论上来说,北京不会像美国声称的那样,想去挑战基于规则的秩序。

北京也不会像华盛顿怀疑的那样,试图篡夺美国的全球领导地位。这一点在联合国最为明显。美国是最大的出资国,占联合国今年预算的22%,其次是中国,占预算的12%。

这个差距太大了,中国想弥合也做不到。而恰恰因为中国是第二大出资国,与美国合作提高联合国的效力和效率,才更符合北京的利益。

最近,在北京举行的纪念联合国成立75周年的一次研讨会上,新加坡学者马凯硕提问联合国是一个“朝阳组织”还是“夕阳组织”。75岁的联合国很难说是前者,但肯定也不是垂暮之年。它看起来更像一个巨大的庇护所,如果维护得当,可以为我们所有人提供安全。它太重要了,因此绝不能坍塌。

(中国论坛许馨匀译自南华早报)

英文原文如下:

Amid great power rivalry, the UN is a vital security shelter. It cannot fail

As the United Nations General Assembly celebrates its 75th anniversary on September 21, the question for the septuagenarian is not how to survive, but how to thrive.

The UN’s importance is firstly psychological. It is older than many people and mostly taken for granted. The largest intergovernmental organisation born out of the ashes of World War II looks like a big family where things are discussed peacefully among its 193 members. This gives a feeling of assurance and protection.

The best way to understand the UN is to imagine a world without it: who would take care of our common education, health and humanitarian needs, and our social, economic and cultural development? According to the UN, 690 million people still go to bed on an empty stomach. This is why the UN World Food Programme is indispensable.

Second, the UN has, by and large, fulfilled its primary role of saving people from “the scourge of war”. The long period of peace we are enjoying – an absence of major wars since the end of the second world war in 1945 – has not been documented since the Roman Empire.

That we are seriously discussing second-tier threats such as terrorism, the spread of small arms and human trafficking, and non-traditional issues such as climate change is because we know major wars are less likely today.

However, a test of the UN may be around the corner if US President Donald Trump is reelected. For a man who has ordered the United States to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, Paris climate deal and World Health Organisation, to name just a few, the question is what other damage he would inflict in the next four years.

If Joe Biden is elected instead, “America first” is more likely to become “America-led”. He has pledged to demolish some Trump policies, including restoring US funding and membership of the WHO, and rejoining the Paris agreement. What he will find hard to change, however, is the American public’s growing weariness of an international system that does not always deliver for US interests.

The UN’s efficiency and effectiveness depends primarily on how the five permanent members of its Security Council compromise on their divergent national interests. Since 2011, Russia has cast 19 vetoes, 14 of which were on Syria. Eight of the nine Chinese vetoes during this period were over Syria. But it would be naive to conclude that the council is divided into two camps, with the US, Britain and France on the other side.

In August, America’s two strongest Security Council allies joined China and Russia in rejecting Washington’s attempt to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran. Trump is a proud nationalist. But as French President Emmanuel Macron said, almost in his face during the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, “nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism”.

As a major power competition unfolds, the UN has unsurprisingly loomed as a main battleground for China and the US. Beijing’s support for and Washington’s withdrawal from the WHO is a typical example. This is a huge risk for the UN – China and the US are also the largest financial contributors to the UN’s general and peacekeeping budgets.

At the last UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres talked about his fear of a “Great Fracture” – a global split as the two largest economies create separate and competing worlds.

But even if Washington looks determined to file for divorce, the UN is still a useful avenue for the estranged to get along. During the 1948 Berlin blockade, US and Soviet diplomats continued to exchange messages and ideas in the UN. Today, Washington still needs Beijing to strike compromises on, say, expanding sanctions on North Korea.

It is obvious that China’s influence in the UN has risen significantly. Unlike the US, which complains about the world body regularly, China has consistently called for measures to enhance the UN and is a cheerleader of multilateralism. In recent years, Chinese nationals have taken more – and senior – posts in different UN agencies. The number of Chinese nationals has at least doubled in the past decade.

The UN, too, has every reason to want to see a stronger Chinese role. Beijing’s championing of multilateralism is certainly welcome for the world’s largest multilateral institution, especially given the theme of the upcoming UN General Assembly: “reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism”.

The US owes the UN more than US$1 billion in unpaid dues, yet China pays its financial share on time and in full. It has also been doling out voluntary funds to UN bodies. And China’s efforts to reduce extreme poverty among its 1.4 billion people by the end of this year is a shining example for the UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals.

It is ironic that China is integrating with the international system as the US withdraws. China has joined almost all international treaties and conventions so, in theory, Beijing should have no reason to wish to challenge the rules-based order, despite US claims.

Nor is Beijing seeking to usurp America’s global leadership, as Washington suspects. This is most clear in the UN, where the US is the largest provider of financial contributions, responsible for 22 per cent of the budget this year, with China the next largest at 12 per cent.

The gap is too big for China to close, even if it wanted to. And precisely because China is the second-largest contributor, it is in Beijing’s interests to work with the US to make the UN more effective and efficient.

At a recent symposium in Beijing to mark the UN’s 75th anniversary, Singaporean academic Kishore Mahbubani asked whether the UN is a sunrise or sunset organisation. At 75, it can hardly be described as the former, but it certainly isn’t in its twilight years either. It looks more like a vast shelter that, properly maintained, could provide security for us all. It is too important to fail.

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周波

周波

清华大学战略与安全研究中心客座研究员、中国论坛特约专家

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