United Nations’ Reforms

Political equations of the world have changed a lot from the time the United Nations was established. Emerging countries demand reforms and reorganisation within UN to reflect the changed realities. These demands include – expansion of UN Security Council, dilution of veto powers of the five permanent members, etc.

The effectiveness of the United Nations has also been put into question and its limitations highlighted on various counts:

  • Sanctions do not seem to work. They hit the poor disproportionately and further cuts them off from the outside world, enabling national leaders to further tighten their grip on them.
  • Inability to guarantee deals struck by it
    • International agreements signed under UN have been violated in the past by US and other countries.
    • USA walking out of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (P5+1 agreement) reduces the sanctity of deals struck under the ambit of UN.
  • Lack of respect for UN norms
    • United States invaded Iraq in 2003 despite failing to pass a UN Security Council resolution for authorisation. Russia too has violated UNSC resolutions.
  • On terrorism
    • UN sanctioned terrorists plan to stand for public office in Pakistan, this shows ineffectiveness of UN.

Reforms are required to grant UN greater respect and to make it more relevant with the changed political scenario. Below are some possible reforms talked about in the circles of political analysts.

Possible reforms in the United Nations

  • UN Security Council requires expansion, with more permanent seats. At present, no country from the world’s largest continent, Africa, and from South America, has a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. G4 countries, that are India, Germany, Brazil, Japan, support each other’s bid for the permanent seat. India also advocates for two African seats.
    • Presence of China as the only Asian nation in UNSC is not reflective of balance of power in Asia and gives China a greater edge in international affairs in the region and beyond. Greater diffusion of power is required in the organisation.
  • Apart from expansion, general membership of the UN also wants to modify the existing system of veto. New permanent members are unlikely to be accepted with same privileges as that of the existing five permanent members. A new version of veto where at least two No votes are required to defeat a resolution, is being considered as an acceptable solution.
  • Managerial/administrative and governance reforms are required with more equitable representation of nations in UN bodies and effective power to them to pursue their collective goal.

World Community needs to respect this multilateral organisation and work in a cooperative spirit to help this organisation work effectively for the betterment of whole humanity. Pursuing narrow interests and ‘me first’ policies can be counter productive in the long term, as said by the first General Secretary of the UN.

“The United Nations will not work effectively if it is used merely as forum for destructive propaganda. Neither will it work if it is used only as a convenience when national interests are directly involved, and regarded with indifference, or bypassed or opposed, when the general world interest is paramount.”

Trygve Lie, First Secretary General of the United Nations.

More related information:

Uniting for Consensus – is a movement nick-nicknamed the Coffee Club – lead by Italy. It opposes bids of G4 (Germany, India, Brazil, Japan) for expansion of UNSC and is calling for consensus before any decision is reached on the form and size of the Security Council. Its members include – Italy, Canada, Turkey, South Korea, Pakistan, Argentina, and more…

March 2018: India and other G4 members have offered to initially forego veto powers as permanent members in a reformed security council, as a bargaining chip to get the reform process moving.

1 thought on “United Nations’ Reforms

  1. Pingback: United Nations (UN) – Structure, Agencies and Functioning | broadgk

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