Need for UN’s Reform

[Jan. 31, 2013]

The need for the reform of United Nations cannot be overemphasized, given the complexity of world geo-political scene and the mess the whole world has got into due to lack of effective oversight of the world body. The Millennium summit of United Nations Organization held in 2000 was a landmark event because it set new goals for the world body to achieve in the realms of world peace and economic uplift. The Millennium Declaration issued at the end of the summit represented the collective will of the member states to work together for achieving peace and ensuring a just economic world order based upon the premise of including poor and third world countries in the economic race.

Unfortunately for the people across continents, the UN underwent one crisis after the other caused mainly by the unipolarity in the global world order. As a result of successive failures of the world body to deal with issues in an even-handed manner, the UN faces the worst crisis of lack of trust and credibility in its ability to rise to the occasions.

There is a widespread feeling among the vast section of humanity that it is in fact a handmaiden of the big powers lacking the capability to enforce its charter and ensure peace in the conflict-ridden world. The disappointed people rightly view its role as that of a helpless institution that has no other option but to fall in line when confronted with the specific agendas of the major countries of the world. Coupled with these issues is the inability of the world body to solve such disputes as Palestine and Kashmir involving Muslims.

This lack of trust has basically originated from the UN’s failure in implementing its resolutions regarding disputes involving Muslims and poor countries of the Third World. In spite of the fact that a score of resolutions lie pending on its agenda, it has been unable to even reiterate its commitment to their justness.

And when it comes to the interest of the powerful countries, it takes no time in doing the needful as is proven by the UN-sanctioned Gulf war against Iraq in 1991-2 and the independence of East Timor.

The big failure of the UN is that it has miserably failed in adjusting itself to the Unipolar World Order. The presence of bipolarity served as a major factor in ensuring the world peace and resultantly the role of UN did not come in for as much questioning as now. The very collapse of USSR should have indicated that the UN would have to be up against grave challenges and huge responsibility awaited it in retaining the trust of all member countries. But it shied away from carving out its role in a new world ruled by new rules of the game.

It is the aftermath of its inactivity that US has been able to coin a new doctrine of unilateralism which constitutes the indictment of the world body. The cherished concept of collective security has been shattered to the core with the penetrating fear.

The mushrooming of the regional blocs for economic and security cooperation should also serve as a curtain-raiser for the UN high-ups. Those integrating themselves in regional groupings have this thought rooted in their mind that the real help would come from the countries of the region because of their mutual stakes and interdependence. This symbolizes the weakening faith of these countries.

In view of the overriding need for the UN to set its house in order, some points are in order which would be helpful in reclaiming the lost ground. Firstly, the UN should review its charter in view of the prevalent world order marked by unipolarity with its attendant problems for the collective security arrangements. The location of its role in the world where different dynamics are at work after the collapse of the communism is of great relevance.

In a bid to restore its lost faith, the UN should decide not to make selective use of force that spells an image of its being a puppet organization. The uniform application of its charter would go a long way in reviving the trust of the member states. It would also restore the UN’s independence in its working.

It is not just the area of security and peace that deserves the attention of the UN. The addressing of issues of global poverty, unemployment and hunger is equally important. The ongoing civil wars and internal strife in the blighted countries of the Third World originate from the presence of the above-mentioned problems when gulf between haves and have-nots reach alarming proportions.

In addition to other factors, the unjust economic system in operation in the world characterized by the dominance of rich countries with no space for developing countries is a major reason behind falling standards of life resulting into civil wars and internal conflicts among the competing classes.

The WTO regime is no doubt an attempt at bridging the gap between developed and the developing countries and offers attractive promises for the much-needed change. But there are vast problems in store for the weak economies if they straightaway signup with the regime without first setting rules of the game. The UN should devise a strategy to ensure that WTO regime does not become yet another instrument of exploiting the poor countries of the world.

More importantly the UN should bring about reforms in its internal structure. The decision-making process needs to be made more democratized and broad-based with maximum participation of the member countries so that they could own the decisions and the feelings that the decisions are imposed from the above without their participation in the process should be eliminated.

For this purpose, there is a need to make the role of the general assembly more relevant and decisive one. General Assembly of the UN is the representative institution of all member states. In view of this position it should be invested with more powers. Rather it is suggested that the general assembly should serve as a legislature for the UN where UNSC should be responsible to it for all its actions. The UNSC should be bound by the charter to seek mandate from the General Assembly for its decisions in the realm of security and world peace. The discretionary and superior role of UNSC should be reduced to the minimal levels.

There should be no further extension of the veto power of the UNSC. The possession of this power by permanent five members is already against the principles of justice and fair-play. In addition to the supervisory role of the General Assembly, the extension of its membership to some other non-permanent countries would be very helpful in reducing the dominant role of the permanent five.

Lastly the UN should devise strategy in dealing with the post-conflict policing and reconstruction work and there should not be any space for any external power for exploiting the material resources of the said country. The resources should be used for the welfare of the masses of the same country. These steps hold great relevance for the UN in making itself a credible body of the world.