Reform of the United Nations
The United Nations Organisation (UNO) was established after the Second World War, on 24 October 1945 to maintain international peace and security, promote friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation on economic, social and cultural issues, promote respect for human rights and solve disputes among nations peacefully.
As the structure and methods of the UN remain old, there is a call for reforms of the world body. The major reforms relate to the expansion of the Security Council. The present Security Council has five permanent members having the veto power- China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.
Making them the permanent members was recognition of the fact that these nations were big powers and could plunge the world into a major war. Since violent disagreement among these great military powers could start a major war, it was decided that if there was no unanimity among the five big powers on a decision relating to international security, that resolution could not be enforced.
There are 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council, making the total 15 members. Each member- permanent or otherwise-holds the presidency of the Council for a one-month period, on a rotating basis. The non-permanent members are elected for two years term by the members of the General Assembly-the body which represents all the members of the UN.
There has been a lot of debate at various UN forums and in general at international meetings about the composition of the Security Council. Most of the nations feel that five permanent members-three from Europe, viz. UK, France and Russia, one from Asia, i.e. China and one from America, i.e. USA do not fairly represent the world. The composition has been called archaic. There has been a call to make intensified efforts to achieve a comprehensive reform of the Security Council to make it more reflective of the vastly increased membership of the UN and more responsive to the world today. The current global realities are entirely different from those prevailing in 1945.
There has been an increasing trend of the Council impinging upon the functions of other organs of the UN. Therefore, the need for its reform and expansion becomes imperative. The Council now needs to impose itself in ‘integrated peace operations’ where instruments of development, poverty alleviation, combating hunger and disease, and addressing core social challenges are being amalgamated to give the Council more resources to pursue its objective of maintaining international peace and security.
Along with this objective, the expanded role of the Council would make it focus its attention on the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, which will have a peripheral say in the formulation of the Council’s mandate that will, in turn, determine the activities of the UN and other bodies, including the Breton Woods institutions. The developing countries cannot be expected to be mere bystanders applauding the Council’s actions from the sidelines. Non-participation by the countries in their own affairs should be a vestige of the past.
Several proposals have been given for expansion of the Security Council. The Razali Plan envisaged five new permanent seats on the Council-two for industrialised countries and one each for Asia, Africa and Latin America including the Caribbean. These three regions would also be allocated an additional non-permanent seat, as would be Eastern Europe, while the Western Europe would keep its current two non- permanent seats. With nine new seats, there will be 24 members in the Security Council. The new permanent members would not initially have veto power.
The Razali Plan was criticized by the USA which did not want more than 21 or at the most 22 members. The former Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed a high-level Panel which recommended six new permanent seats for the Security Council-two each from Africa, and Asia and Pacific, and one each from Europe and Americas. The total permanent seats would be 11 while the total non-permanent seats could be 13, making a total of 24 members. According to the Panel, that combination would not be permanent and would again be reviewed in 2020.
India has pressed its claim as a permanent member of the Security Council. Countries like France, America and Australia have backed India’s claim. However, China and Pakistan are against India being made a permanent member. Many arguments have been given in support of India’s claim.
The country has not only the will and capacity to become a permanent member of the Security Council but its membership will enhance the Security Council’s effectiveness, credibility and legitimacy. At present India contributes to nine out of 16 ongoing UN peace keeping missions. Seventy-four thousand Indian troops, military observers and civilian police officials have participated in over 40 of the 60 UN peacekeeping operations established so far. India is fast emerging as an economic power in the global reach on the strength of its software engineers, IT experts, business managers and entrepreneurs. Politically, India is a big power in Asia and a leader of the developing countries of the whole world.
Apart from the expansion of the Security Council there are administrative reforms which need to be undertaken in the UN. Besides maintaining peace and security in the world, the UN is involved in many operational activities such as refugee and humanitarian relief, criminal justice, monitoring of human rights, capacity building and electoral assistance.
These are in general the new activities and necessitate much larger spending by the UN. The Organisation’s ability to respond to the changing requirements has been hampered by three main constraints: (0 resources and authority to manage effectively; (ii) slow process of recruitment on existing vacancies; and (iii) hampering of movement of staff by multiple and restrictive mandates. These areas need immediate reform.
The end of the Cold War and the advent of globalisation have ushered in a new era for the work of the United Nations which had a direct bearing on the role of the Secretary General. His managerial responsibilities have become far more demanding with the increase in the number and complexity of field missions and operational activities. There are more than 25 departments and offices reporting directly to the Secretary General which vary in size, scale, complexity and resources.
The changes required in this regard are: (i) delegating authority to Deputy Secretary General in a more systematic manner and (ii) regroups departments and other entities around broad functional areas. In fact the role of Deputy Secretary General needs to be redefined and the formal authority and accountability for the management and overall direction of operational functions of the Secretariat needs to be delegated to him.
The proposals for the reform of the UN cannot be implemented without the support of adequate infrastructure of Information Communication Technology (ICT). There is a need to invest adequate amounts of funds. Further, investing in new ways of delivering services involves new sourcing options and strengthening procurement.
The UNO was formed over sixty years ago. It needs to be reformed according to the new challenges of the modern times. The new Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is expected to implement the proposals given by his predecessor Kofi Annan.