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Intelligence Squared Debate: Is the United Nations Obsolete?

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As world attention descends on the United Nations General Assembly, Intelligence Squared U.S. casts a critical lens on this nearly 76-year-old global organization. In light of recent controversies in places like Haiti, and its recent absence in places such as Afghanistan — where the Taliban has regained control — questions are mounting as to whether the United Nations itself is both ineffective and outdated.

Those who say “no” point to its promotion of peace and stability in an increasingly fractured political landscape, its devotion to human rights, its addressing of climate change, its commitment to multilateralism, and its widespread delivery of humanitarian aid as evidence of its value. The system is not perfect, they say, but its accolades are many, and are often unsung. Yet those who say “yes” question its usefulness in addressing a radically different global environment than the one in which it was formed and critique its promotion of globalism. They also cite corruption and a lack of accountability with regard to the very populations the body is charged with helping. So, in light of these emerging questions, we ask an especially timely question: Is the United Nations Obsolete?

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