Rather than coming to an end, the conflict in Ukraine seems set to escalate. Nobody can tell to what extent.
The gloomy prospects for the most devastating armed conflict in Europe since World War II have become more grim with US President Joe Biden saying at the 77th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday: "Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations", without showing any sign of self-reflection on the role of the United States in the process, or any intention of ending the US' proxy war at an early date. By doing so, he is encouraging US allies to continue to ramp up their weaponization of Ukraine.
As the fighting escalates and potentially broadens, the spillover effects will worsen, for vulnerable countries in particular.
With the United States and its allies planning harsher sanctions against Russia, aiming to finally enervate it, there will no doubt be a more prominent major-power standoff at the United Nations, particularly its Security Council, pushing the global governance regime into a more serious stalemate.
As a result, a host of daunting global challenges endangering the present-day world, from poverty and hunger to climate change, public health hazards and security threats, will fail to be addressed.
The situation has worsened to such a degree that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in his opening remarks at the high-level meeting of the 77th General Assembly that "Our world is in peril — and paralyzed" with countries "gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction".
The UN chief enumerated a number of present and future variables threatening humanity's future. But compared with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the corresponding geopolitical tensions, climate concerns and the "forest of red flags "he cited regarding new and emerging technologies and the lack of progress on the UN development goals for 2030 will only be put on the back burner.
Those heads of state who showed up at the UN Headquarters voiced various grim concerns when it was their turn at the podium, presenting an unsettling collage of the world mired in troubles. There was a shared sense of urgency for troubleshooting. But countries remain divided over how.
Considering countries and their leaders still largely take the UN to be the ultimate venue for discussing, if not solving, the world's problems, they should take advantage of the painful awareness of the global governance overseer's present paralysis and work together to make it work. If they allow the UN, especially its Security Council, to stay divided and member countries to continue to engage in debilitating geopolitical games, the postwar international governance structure will be rendered irrelevant, subjecting countries to the law of the jungle again.
There has been plenty of talk about UN reforms. But the more pressing need now is to first resurrect it from the de facto state of dysfunction.
For the UN to work, as Secretary-General Guterres appealed, countries must "work as one, as a coalition of the world, as united nations".
They can start by making concerted efforts to create the conditions and space for the Ukraine crisis to be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.