This week’s virtual sessions of the General Assembly celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart, Donald Trump, are among world leaders expected to speak. The occasion also marks 75 years without a major conflict since the victorious nations created the UN at the end of World War II. Given the scale of death and suffering in global conflict this is a defining achievement that vindicates the existence of the organisation. Yet the celebrations also prompt reflection on the need for the UN to adapt to a changing world and to be seen as effective in the face of crises. Its founders’ vision, a multilateral approach to resolving international conflict, is forever a work in progress. On the UN’s 60th birthday in 2005, the Post commented: “The continued prevalence of conflict and suffering show that more than ever the world needs the multilateral approach to global problems that only the UN can provide.” At 75, the UN is needed now more than ever to resist US unilateralism At the time, the UN was reeling from blows to respect for its authority inflicted by the American invasion of Iraq without Security Council backing and a multibillion-dollar internal corruption scandal. In terms of perception of the organisation’s effectiveness, not a lot has changed. Trump’s unilateralism and withdrawal from multilateral institutions do not help. Yet the UN remains the world’s only global organisation for maintaining peace and upholding human rights. If it is to have the role in world affairs embodied in the founders’ original vision, it needs consensus between small and powerful members on the way ahead that will make it more effective and shore up its authority. It would benefit the US as well if it can work with China and other leading members to enhance the importance of the UN in dealing with international crises Instead, it finds itself in a conflict zone between China and the US, which complains about the UN even as China supports enhancement of its role in world affairs. China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, laments that unilateralism and protectionism are now undermining the world order. For the Security Council to be more effective as an instrument of multilateralism, the US must re-engage with this approach. It hardly helps that it has chosen this time to offend Beijing by showcasing its support for a greater role in UN affairs for Taiwan, in violation of the one-China principle, with high-level contacts at home and abroad. UN set to become latest forum for US-China rivalry Trump’s aversion to multilateral organisations has enhanced Beijing’s role in leadership in the UN and its agencies. Under Xi, China has become the second-biggest contributor, behind the US, to the general budget and peacekeeping. It would benefit the US as well if it can work with China and other leading members to enhance the importance of the UN in dealing with international crises.