[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
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.