Fifty years after the creation of the United Nations, there is continuous debate amongst its member states on the proposal for the reform of various United Nations systems. The main reform proposals call for the reformation of the Security Council and for the creation of an International Criminal Court. The issue regarding the Security Council address the need for change in the UN’s most important and most powerful body.
These reforms take two main views, one calling for the expansion of the Security Council and the other calling for the limitation and gradual end of the right to veto especially among the permanent members.
In the past decade, there were two occasions when criminal tribunals were set up to try criminals for crimes against humanity, one after the war in Bosnia and the other after the civil war in Rwanda. Both these tribunals have helped persuade the International community to propose for the creation of a permanent Criminal Court. Because the United Nations has begun to take up a more prominent role in global affairs the increasing number of member states and countries advancing economically, the United Nations is feeling the pressure to The United Nation was created with the purpose of an organization that would ensure global security and one that would find a peaceful resolution to conflict between nation states throughout the World.
After fifty years of creation, the United Nations has had many achievements but has still failed to bring about the end of global problems, the way its founding members had hoped it would during its creation. During the nineties in particular, the global community has seen many occasions where the United Nations was powerless to stop the aggression of a nation against others or its own people, of failed to achieve goals regarding social development and human rights. The UN has also been blamed for working towards regional goals rather than international welfare and security. It’s member states are now responding to this failure by presenting various proposals for the reforming of the United Nations.
The idea for United Nations reform has grow and gained support over the last seven years.(1) Patrons for the reform of the UN have mainly looked at reform in the Security Council, the coordination within the UN system, management, the recruitment of new personnel and the creation of an International Criminal Court, creating ‘working groups’ to look at these five areas.(2) Reform of the Security Council is aimed at the enlargement of the body especially with a proportionate number of seats from the South and the limitation of the veto right. Reform is also felt needed regarding the coordination of the UN system, and a better external and internal management system.
. The creation of the ICC is together with the Security Council reforms are regarded as the most important proposals for UN reform. All these reform s mean the re-examining of the UN Charter, policies, missions, peace-keeping roles, and its agendas.(3) These areas must be closely examined if the UN is to achieve success through reform and fulfill the role that it is meant to play.
Individual countries must also help make reform possible by looking at the common good of the whole world and global security rather than just national security and national interests. Today we see countries that are becoming more aware of the global picture and are agreeing that reformation of the UN is the solution that will help answer to the Since nineteen ninety seven, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has taken the first steps towards the reformation of the United Nations.(4) Even though the member states each have their own opinions regarding differing proposals and measures, nearly all members of the General Assembly recognize that reform is needed within the organization. Through the actions of the Secretary-General, decisions and proposals for reform are open for review by the General Assembly.
The General Assembly’s assigned ‘working groups’ of the various areas for reform have all made progress during the last few years and so far much information has been submitted to the General Assembly by these groups. Working Groups like the Group on the Financial Situation of the UN have reported that in order for change to occur member states must ensure that their payments are made as well as ways to promote member states to pay on time.(5) An example dealing with the groups issue is the United States refusal to pay her UN fees which amount to 25% of the regular budget and 30% of the separate peace-keeping budget.(6) The Group on the Agenda for Peace has been central to the reformation of the UN’s role in the world today, while the Group on the Strengthening of the UN have come up with many measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the UN.
(7) These are just a small example of the broad range of reforms that the UN is looking into as they near the twenty first century. It will be through the work of the various ‘working groups’ that will shape the future decisions The main debate on reforming the UN is focused on the future of the Security Council. A s the primary body that deals with global peace and security, it’s reform is vital for reshaping the the role of the UN. Over the past decades the make-up of the Security Council has been grossly imbalance and underepresentative of the entire UN body.
The permanent members have also used their veto power for their own interests and usually through the majority of the Cold War, in separate camps. The make-up of the Security Council is based on the victors of the Second World War over fifty years ago and an enlargement in 1963 when four more non-permanent members were allowed to join, making the total of 15 members. This make-up of the membership does not properly represent todays UN membership nor does it allow for the effective administration of the UN because of the five permanent members increased power with the veto right. Also with the fact that the body is run by the victors of WWII, economic power have shifted to different countries as well as their military and political influence.
More and more members of the UN regard the reformation of the Security Council as being the main answer to the problems the UN has been suffering. This pressure for reform has only grown larger and stronger in the last couple of decades. States feel that the Security Council does not properly represent them nor do they like the idea of so much power and authority being held by five countries that work more for their own interests rather then that of the global community. The two main proposals that members are trying to pass is 1) the expansion of the Security Council so that it includes members from the South, and 2) being the gradual loss of the veto right.
(8) These reforms can only take place through careful dealings with the permanent members and with the interest of individual nations put aside. The reforms for the membership within the Security Council have taken many forms usually in the area of expanding the non-permanent members for greater regional representation. Many countries have put forth their own proposals usually in the interest of themselves or their region. Some of the main proposals have focussed around the admission of Germany and Japan as non-veto permanent members.
Both these countries have contributed greatly to the budget of the UN, second only to the U.S.(9) Today both countries are no longer considered as enemies but are regarded as two of the world’s most important economic and financial industrial powers. The United States is a key supporter for this proposal and consider the financial contributions made by both Germany and Japan as being reason enough for their acceptance as permanent members on the Council.
This proposal is not without opposition, many developing countries agree that the admission of Germany and Japan would only strengthen the representation of the industrialized world.(10) These countries would like to see representation within the permanent members from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Other countries feel that the role of peace-keeping legitimizes a countries acceptance in the Security Council, however, this has been difficult for both Germany and Japan. This proposal if past would see the leading nations in charge of global affairs being on the permanent seats, emphasizing the need for other nation to develop in order to become The proposal of the many developing countries look at the expansion of the Security Council so that each region will have representation.
This has brought the question to raise the number of members within the Council from 15 to somewhere between 20 and 25 in order to allow for effective dialogue and decision making.(11) The main proposals on the expansion agree that the right to veto should not be extended beyond the five permanent members as this could cause the Security Council to become unmanageable. This expansion of the Council will further help to improve the decision making and balance out the regional representation. This expansion would also better represent the UNs close to 200 members.
Different proposals look at the number of members are allowed in the permanent and non-permanent seats in the Council. The question arises as to which countries meet the criteria and will get a permanent seat and it is this question that has created problems for the General Assembly. With Germany and Japan regarded as the prime contenders for a position, other countries like India, South Africa, Brazil and Nigeria have been pushing for their chance to enter the Security Council. (12) These countries are facing problems and opposition from other co-regionalists in that countries like Pakistan will never accept India as a member nor would Argentina allow for Brazil to become a member.
(13) The process of reform will not be without complications but still most countries agree that the Security Council needs to allow for the expansion of its membership to greater compliment the changes in the world Proposals have not only looked at the expansion of the Security Council but also at the several states have chosen to look at reforming the veto right. Various propositions have come forth dealing with the freezing or removing of the veto right all together. Changes are being sought to as how a country can use their right to veto as well as reviewing vetos that may have contradicted the position of other countries. Because the existing permanent members would be unlikely to agree to such change and would not accept second-level status the implementation for change have been very difficult.
The permanent members have argued that their veto right is justified by the responsibilities they carry in the UN.(14) Currently within the Security council non-permanent members need a vote of 60% in order to acquire a veto.(15) Members are asking that this be reduced so that fewer members will be needed top exact change and a right to veto reforms and proposals. The main reasons for the reform on the veto right has been brought up due to the fact that it is felt among UN members that the permanent members are abusing their veto right fir their own purposes and interests.
An example of how the veto right has hampered UN decision making is reflected on the General Assembly’s passing of the proposal to lift sanctions n Cuba but having this vetoed in the Security Council. It was clear that over 90% of UN members voted to lift the embargo but the proposal failed o pass the security Council because the United States vetoed the proposals. A recent example of the way countries feel threatened by the veto power is the conflict in Chechneya. The whole world seems to be helpless in stopping the bloodshed mainly out of fear that Russia holds the right to veto.
These examples only further add to the challenges and reasons for reforming the veto right in the Security Council. Even the gradual limitation and slow disaperance of the veto right would be opposed having none of the permanent members wishing to lose their status, powers and obligations. The proposal to reform the United Nations Security Council is still just a concept for many countries, however, many countries are realizing the need for change must come soon if the UN wants to succeed in further areas regarding global affairs. The time is getting crucial for change to become necessary within the Council as we confront greater problem and as the UN takes a greater role in world affairs.
The Cold War is now over and so too is the differences between the U.S. and Russia. Although allegiances still exist and countries tend to work for their own benefits the fact that change is needed has brought about a new movement and a harder effort to find solutions.
Another issue regarding reform of the United Nations regards the creation of an International Criminal Court. Already twice in the last decade two separate courts had been established be the UN to try and prosecute indicted war criminals. The first of such courts was established during the Bosnia war while the second was established to prosecute criminals after the Rwanda civil war. These two criminal tribunals were the first of their kind since the Nuremburg Tribunal after the Second World War.
These two courts further expressed the need for the creation of a standing permanent court for the global community. This began the need to create the International Criminal Court. The first steps for the creation of the ICC occurred in Rome in nineteen ninety eight. (16) The need for the court was passed by the gathered members and in a great defeat for the United States the ICC would not be under the direct control of the Security Council.
(17) The need for the ICC has grown due to the recent actions in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosova and Liberia. Countries are realizing that it would be beneficial to have a Criminal Court that would deal with various breaches of world peace, security and the rights of humans. The Secretary-General took the lead in saying that the the creation of the ICC is for the good of all individuals and that it would be created to be strong enough to carry out its task.(18) Thus the Court would have substantial power and independence separate from the powers held by the Security Council when dealing with issues that would threaten global peace and security.
Most countries and people will agree that the United Nations has taken up a renewed stance in international affairs but they will also agree that it has become indecisive and static in its decision making and handling of world affairs. The reforms need by the UN will only enhance the character and work ability of the UN in future circumstances. The reforms will also reflect the growth of the United Nations over the last few decades and the changes in the various economies of the world. The UN has done perhaps more than most expected yet their is still more to be done.
These new changes will make the UN fit to take on the challenges it may come across in thenext century. The work of the UN is still needed throughout the world and it is reflected in the fact that still so many conflicts have rocked our decade and still so much animosities is felt between nations. The United Nations was created so that the world could work together in finding the solutions to the problems we encounter. We cannot solve anything if we are Bibliography Barton, Wiliam H.
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