What if USA left the UN?


Firstly, there is no official way to leave the United Nations.

There is simple no clause or article in the UN charter, no resolution and no public statements or procedures regarding withdrawal from the UN.

The U.N. Charter deliberately made no provision for the withdrawal of member governments, largely to prevent the threat of withdrawal from being used as a form of political blackmail, or to evade obligations under the Charter.

So, there’s that.

This means that if the USA wanted to abandon the UN it would have to do so completely through unconventional terms undefined by international law.

The most likely way of doing this would be-

  • Stop sending representatives to the UN. If America stops being represented at the UN and issues a public statement regarding the same, it would have done this to express their discontent with the way the UN works. Countries like the Soviet Union and Syria have done this before. However, this would be a slow process.
  • Stop funding the UN. USA contributes around 22% of the UN’s budget. Apparently, that’s more than 185 other countries combined. Not contributing anything would send definite clear signals. According to the official UN website-

Every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share towards peacekeeping. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Charter of the United Nations.

  • Stop hosting the UN. Currently, the United Nations is headquartered in New York. USA could choose to close the UN building, however, this would be full of legal disputes which complicate the situation. Still, this would be the fastest way to exit the institution.

After USA does all that, the chaos would begin.

Firstly, all diplomats and permanent representatives would have to be taken back home immediately.

Economies around the world would immediately destabilize and the USA would be the worst hit.

Stocks markets are likely to be in complete chaos over the weeks to come.

The UN would come up with an official statement in a day or so.

Most likely, the UN headquarters would be shifted temporarily to a neutral country. Austria and Switzerland would be favorable choices.

The implications for the world after this look devastating.

The action would be more or less unprecedented and would shake up its diplomatic relations with all other nations.

It seems that if this were to happen under Trump, it would be part of a grand scheme of protectionism and political isolation.

Hence, USA would face immediate counter actions from relatively hostile countries (maybe Russia) who are likely to subject USA to harsh sanctions. These will affect USA drastically.

Many countries may even suspend diplomatic relations with USA and use another neutral country to protect its interests in America.

Overall, the event would be disastrous for USA’s foreign policy.

Europe would respond by distancing itself from American influence.

NATO is likely to be in intense scrutiny. There are good chances it may even be dissolved. Also with it, America’s nuclear umbrella over Europe is likely to fade away.

This may result in aggression from Russia as it would view it as a rare opportunity where America is distanced from Europe and the latter is vulnerable.

States which came under USA’s nuclear sharing program before, would now start developing their own nuclear arsenals which would greatly heighten the chances of a world war.

Countries like Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and various other countries in the EU would launch their own nuclear programs as there would be no international pressures stopping them, especially due to the absence of treaties like the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty of the UN.

Existing nuclear powers would greatly strengthen their own arsenals and work to make better technologies capable of inflicting worse damages on enemy states.

China’s reaction would be the hardest to define but it can be said for certain that they wouldn’t be happy.

After this, USA’s permanent seat on the UNSC would be dissolved after the other four amend the UN charter.

The United Nations would then stay as a much weaker political entity with almost no influence or real power. It is very likely that it would be ultimately dissolved.

The European Union would strive to become much more stronger both militarily and politically and would reject all influence the USA casts on it.

American free trade with any and all nations is likely to come at an abrupt end.

If this were to happen soon, one can expect victories of all far-right wing parties in Europe.

Thus, the world would plunge into a nationalist, anti-globalist and authoritarian stance which is likely to be long lasting.

This ideology would reverse decades of diplomacy and international stability.

The UN’s collapse combined with the League of Nation’s failure would mean that any future international institutions are likely not to form and there would be no global framework to abide by.

The absence of the UN and distrust between countries would mean

  • More bloody conflicts which would be difficult to resolve
  • Greater leverage of terrorist groups like ISIS over territory
  • Almost no humanitarian aid to places in distress including war-torn countries and regions struck with deadly natural calamities.
  • A far greater risk of another world war due to hostile nations and nuclear proliferation.
  • No checks and balances over authoritarian regimes like that of Syria or North Korea
  • No development of infrastructure in developing nations
  • Vulnerable economies which are largely unstable and prone to recessions
  • Increased fatalities due to diseases which could have been prevented by the World Health Organization
  • A huge disaster in the field of human rights which have protected authoritarian regimes from inflicting cruel and unethical treatment on their citizens
  • And so on.

The unfortunate reality is that as much as we’d like to think the UN is obsolete, it serves a vital purpose in today’s global arena, without which the world would’ve been in absolute turmoil.

Footnotes

How much do various countries contribute to the UN Budget?

U.S. Pays $3B for UN–More Than 185 Other Countries Combined


By Manas Chawla

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