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As the United Nations marks its 75th anniversary, the world is in turmoil. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in nearly one million deaths so far and is nowhere close to being contained. The world economy is experiencing its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Extraordinarily severe natural disasters, from floods to wildfires, are wreaking havoc on many countries. And the United States — long the world’s leading proponent of multilateral cooperation — is rejecting and even antagonizing its friends and partners. The U.N., and the belief in global solidarity that it embodies, have never been more essential.

The U.N. was built on three pillars. The first was peace. Its overriding aim was to succeed where its ill-fated predecessor, the League of Nations, had failed: avoid another world war. Established at the dawn of the Cold War, the U.N. became an essential forum for dialogue; since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has played an important peace-building role in several countries.

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