Ways In Which The UN Can Be Improved Under The Umbrella Of International Law
The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the democratization of Eastern Europe, Latin America and Central Asia are some of the developments of the post-Cold War era, making the whole world a little more independent. Simultaneously, however, the regional crises and conflicts have also registered a marked increase as ethnic and cultural minorities in many parts of the world have strived to assert their identity, while nuclear weapons have proliferated on a large scale. The international community’s attention is therefore focused on the United Nation’s resurrection as there is a general consensus and awareness that despite its limitations and failings, the UN is vital to the stability of the world. However, it needs both functional and structural changes before it can be called an effective organization, as envisaged in the UN Charter.
Originally, the victors of World War II assumed the role of custodians of world peace but failed miserably to avert almost 135 regional conflicts. Hence, it is suggested that the veto power of the permanent five members (P5) of UN Security Council should be abolished and important decisions taken by a simple majority should prevail. It is pertinent to note that the veto power is against Article 2(1) of the UN Charter which guarantees the sovereign equality of all its members. This is a unanimous concern amongst the majority of developing nations.
Seats on the Security Council should be increased in number in view of the existing realities. Significantly, the UN membership has increased from 15 members to almost 200 member states and the strength of the Council has also been enhanced from 6 to 10 non-permanent members. The present composition of the Security Council is unfair as Asia, accounting for the majority of the world population, has only one permanent seat. Similarly, Africa and South America have no permanent seat while Europe holds two permanent seats. Justice demands that various regions be given their legitimate representation in the Security Council.
The UN Secretary General’s proposal for a standing international army under the jurisdiction of the Security Council for peacekeeping and peace-making operations needs to alleviate the misgivings in the minds of developing nations that the proposed army would not be used by the US for its own selfish ends.
The International Court of Justice should be fully empowered in order to make fruitful contributions in the field of arbitration and settlement of disputes. Its role in specific areas should be institutionalized and punitive actions should be taken against member states that pay no heed to its decisions.
The UN annual budget should be guaranteed and mandatory fines should be imposed on the defaulting countries as more than 1.2 billion dollars are currently outstanding. Moreover, a revolving peacekeeping fund may also be raised.
An appeal against the decisions of the Security Council should be decided by a simple majority vote. Experts of all members states must make a critical appraisal containing suggestions to improve and streamline the organization.
It is strongly felt that sustainable global development cannot be achieved without addressing international economic relations in a persuasive way, hence the UN must ensure equitable economic terms between the developed and developing countries. The UN should sincerely aim to achieve world peace and security through global disarmament and denuclearization.
Unity among nations of the world and strengthening of international relationships are ideals which have been recognized by all. Peace cannot be established unless various conflicting nations and ideologies come to some sort of agreement on coexistence. But, there are many difficulties in achieving this international cooperation. Apart from the vast differences in cultures and political systems, the uneven economic development of various regions of the world presents major problems. For the effective strengthening of the United Nations, it is necessary that some of the basic issues be solved by common agreement.
One of the major differences in international stances is that of nuclear disarmament. As long as the big powers continue to accumulate and produce all sorts of arms and as long as the race for the production of atomic bombs and other nuclear weapons remains unabated, there cannot be any solid basis for peace in this world. The big powers must, therefore, agree on the limitation of armament and the strength of their respective armies.
In the event of failure of agreement between the big powers, the only alternative appears to be that the regional defence and economic organizations should be strengthened so that the one power alone does not have all the responsibility and authority in any one region to act upon its own agenda and in disregard of the opinion of smaller nations. Formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Warsaw Pact had also posed a threat to world peace, but it is equally true to say that the possession of the tremendous power of destruction, hitherto undreamt of by the human mind, in the shape of destructive nuclear weapons has been in itself a powerful deterrent to the settlement of international disputes.
One of the most heartening features of the international system of today has been the growing economic and cultural cooperation between nations. There is hope that if this cooperation continues to grow, a time will come when the economic and cultural interests of nations will dominate their thinking and with the linking of economies, the chances of conflict and war may be reduced. Originators of the idea of the European Common Market hold the implicit view that the cooperation of Western European nations will be helpful for the formation of a global government but the same is unlikely to materialize, ever. At best, the only hope or panacea is that nations will come to realize that the attainment of universal peace is a reward much bigger than the loss suffered by a partial surrender of sovereignty in the cause of international cooperation.
Before parting, it can be said that the future of the United Nations is linked with the development of its constituent nation states and its successes will depend on a contract among the big powers on disarmament, agreement for the creation of a peacekeeping force and strengthening of the existing economic and cultural organizations established under United Nations.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which he might be associated.