The ‘enlarged’ Mediterranean region is becoming a focal point for complex and inter-related political and security crises, confronting the multilateral system with the prospect of protracted instability at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia. As the preeminent international organization for tackling global challenges and achieving stability through collective action, the United Nations is bearing the brunt of this challenge. This reveals an underlying paradox: the UN system is increasingly under strain precisely at the moment when we need it the most. We can find examples of this everywhere in the region. In Libya, growing involvement of regional actors and the heightened risk of further military escalation - with potentially significant humanitarian consequences - means there is no realistic alternative to urgent, UN-led mediation. The devastation wrought by eight years of civil war in Syria cannot be rolled back in the absence of a credible political process under UN auspices that also helps to alleviate tensions between major powers. Traditional and successful tools of collective security, such as UN peacekeeping, are having to adapt in light of complex regional dynamics and new, increasingly assertive actors.
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