Wednesday, December 01, 2004

UN unveils sweeping blueprint for reform

Important parts:

"The United Nations unveiled a sweeping proposal to overhaul the organization, including the Security Council, in what would be the biggest UN reform since its founding in 1945."

"What is needed is a comprehensive system of collective security, one that tackles both old and new threats, and addresses the security concerns of all states -- rich and poor, weak and strong," Annan said in an introduction to the report.

He said the proposals, which must be approved by member nations, set out "a broad framework for collective security and indeed gives a broader meaning to that concept appropriate for the new millennium."

In setting out a blueprint for collective security decisions, the report also takes implicit aim at the United States over the Iraqi war, which was strongly opposed by Annan and many Security Council member states.

"There is little evident international acceptance of the idea of security being best preserved by a balance of power or by any single -- even benignly motivated -- superpower," the panel said.

"The yearning for an international system governed by the rule of law has grown," it said. "No state, no matter how powerful, can by its own efforts alone make itself invulnerable to today's threats."

"It outlines three principles for collective security -- that current threats go beyond national boundaries, that no nation is strong enough to defend itself alone, and that not every nation will be willing or able to protect its own people or refrain from harming its neighbours."

Revamping the Security Council, the top UN decision-making body, is likely to be the most contentious issue, and the panel itself came up with two competing proposals for expanding the council's membership to 24 seats.

One method would add six new permanent members to the council, which has had the same five permanent states -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- since the United Nations was founded in the wake of World War II.

That proposal would also add three new non-permanent members to the 10 current non-permanent members, who hold rotating two-year seats.

The six new permanent seats, without the veto power that the current five have, would be allotted to two nations from Asia, two from Africa, one from Europe and one from the Americas.

The other proposal would create a third tier of council member nations, which would be given four-year, non-permanent seats, which could be renewed.

I know i have quoted most of the article, but i thought it was important enough to do so.

My thoughts.

Revamping the security council is not enough, you must do away with it and provide all countries a vote on security issues with measures requiring a three fifths requirement to pass.

Security is collective and not limited to size, location, or wealth. The UN security council treats it as it is. This allows America to make a case directly to the countries, and providing information as needed to convince the reluctant ones. This would also allow the UN security council to take up clear cut regional issues, such as the Sudan issue. This will also have the effect of security the most discussed aspect of the UN.

This could also have the effect of making it nearly impossible to do anything inside of the UN inside of a security context. I personally do not have a problem with that because it would make all member countries more aware of the fact that UN cannot do jack if you are attacked.

Changing the security council to a majority rules situation would solve the veto problem, but i do not see that happening anytime soon.

As to the "no nation is strong enough to defend itself alone" comment. I would agree, but can the UN do any better in it's current configuration or future configurations?



Sojourner said...

The UN can't do shit. It's about as useful as an amputated leg.

Cubicle said...

It depends on how you look at it.

If you look in just the past 14 years, and measure their results against what your expectations where I can see how you can come to that conculsion.

If you look at the purpose of the UN and its goals during most of its lifetime, you might come to a different conculsion. It main goal was to prevent a WWIII, which since i do not know of any that happened i would say that it might have succeeded in that goal.

Most of the conflicts which the UN has failed in recently have been regional conflicts which the UN was not really designed to handle.

The UN has in the past severed its purpose well, but it's time has passed.

Vestigial Fish said...

The U.N. isn't SUPPOSED to be able to do anything extreme, radical, or otherwise constructive without a lot of momentum. That's the way it's designed. The reason it was built that way is much the same reason the U.S. government was built that way: to prevent the concentration of power and the loss of individual freedoms.

If the U.N. had arbitrary powers to quickly intervene in other nations' affairs, then it would by extension have the same right and powers to intervene in ours, or France's, or England's, or Russia's. At the time of it's creation, no one was willing to give the U.N. that power (at least no one in charge...)

I agree with Cube in that the primary purpose of the U.N. is to provide a centralized forum for communications, as well as a mechanism for coordination of non-violent activities such as aid distribution, economic sanctions, etc. These things would be done anyway, but the U.N. makes it a lot easier to manage.

So when you say that it's as useless as an amputed leg, that is true in a sense. Just think about the potential consequences for America and other powerful countries if it wasn't.

Dave Justus said...

I think we will soon need a unified world government. Technological change is making global inerconnectedness too great to continue to support the idea of seperate nation states indefinately. The U.N. cannot be that governement as it is currently constituted but reform is perhaps easier than building a whole new system from scratch.

That being said, I don't think we should put all of our eggs in one basket. I am strongly in favor of a league of democracies type organization as competition to the U.N.