Of UN failures & reforms

Published on – November 6, 2018 – 3:29 am
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Ensuring peace has always remained a universal aspiration for mankind. Various initiatives in this respect have been undertaken by enlightened people, groups and nations from time to time. The urgency to carve out an international peace organization for the first time was vehemently felt after the catastrophic events of the First and Second World Wars that resulted in millions of casualties. In the aftermath of the First World War, the League of Nations came into being yet it sowed the seeds of its own destruction from its very conception. With a maximum membership of fifty nine, it remained predominately a European organization. It made some progress in economic and social spheres, but its demise came with the start of the Second World War, when it abjectly failed in its objective, as many of its members openly flouted the principles of peace.


However, the longing for a world body with a mandate of maintaining peace did not wither away. Consequently, in 1941, the western allies in defiance of Hitler’s Germany started calling themselves “United Nations”. The Moscow declaration of 1943 stressed the necessity of the establishment of an international organization for peace. As a result, fifty nations sent their representatives to the San Francisco conference in 1945, which drafted the charter. It formally came into existence on October 1945.

It is an undeniable fact that UN has been successful in averting large scale wars in the past seven decades. This indubitably is it’s a remarkable achievement. Even in the cold war, when two super-powers were at each other’s throat, no direct armed conflict ever took place.

Nevertheless, despite all the resources it has at its disposal, the performance of the UN in dealing with the burning international affairs has not been up to the mark. It has not been able to fulfill the objectives its founding fathers had desired. It has failed to live up to its expectations. U Thant, the Secretary General of the UN during the sixties said something three decades ago that probably holds true even today, stating that “the United Nations born out of the charter has done well, but it has not done well enough. In a sense, it is a great parliament of mankind to which evils, injustice and aspirations of man are being brought, it has helped to prevent local conflicts from turning into world-wide conflagrations…it has condemned and fought colonialism, discrimination and racism in all its forms…it has looked for into the future, warning nations and men of world-wide dangers ahead. But the United Nations has not done well enough.”

Undoubtedly, history would have been different had the UN taken a firm stand against the atrocities of Israel against Palestine, intervened in the Kashmir conflict, or prevented the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Bosnia, Chechnya, Myanmar, Vietnam and in other parts of the world.

Why has the UN failed in this manner? If we take their past experiences into account, we find many problems in their governance. One of the key issues is the veto power enjoyed by the permanent members of the organization. During the Cold War era, the veto power was so liberally used by the two big powers that it became virtually impossible to pass resolutions concerning matters of great importance and value.

Furthermore, another problem that hampers the growth and development of the UN is the undue influence and dominance of the big powers who have without any restraint or restriction sheltered and protected their favourites. The enormous influence wielded by the big powers makes it difficult to treat each and every case on merit, and only cases that serve their vested interests are entertained. For instance, the UN was incapacitated to take any steps against Jewish atrocities in the Arab lands, because they were and still are patronized by the U.S., and similar cases can be seen in Somalia, Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua and so on.

Another stumbling block that eclipses their performance is the Article 2(7) of the charter that provides that nothing in the charter shall authorize the UN to intervene in the matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or require members to submit such matters for the settlement under the charter. In fact, the super-powers have deliberately adopted the phrase “essentially within the domestic jurisdiction” in order to justify their unjustified actions in independent states. Thus France maintained that Algeria was a domestic concern of France and therefore out of UN jurisdiction. Similarly nothing could be done to stop bloodshed in Chechnya since it was declared as Russia’s internal matter.

They are unaware of the good impacts of education and are instead doing labour for earning incomes. In simple words, illiteracy gives birth to child marriage and labour in a nation.

According to a report in a local newspaper, almost 33pc children of Balochistan are out of school. It is so irritating to realise that most of your population is illiterate, especially the children of the province. One of the major causes of this backwardness is negligence from the government. No one in Balochistan seems concerned about this province and its young generation.

Additionally, the absence of effective mechanisms to punish the offending states also contributes to the impotence of the organization. Consequently, the UN is not able to help relatively weak states, while any action against the big powers is fruitless as most have armed themselves to the teeth and insist that the UN has no authority over them.

All of the aforementioned facts warrant inevitable reforms in the UN. “The UN has a critical role to play” remarked Chuck Hagel “in promoting stability, security, democracy and Human rights and economic development. The UN is as relevant today as it was at any time in history but it needs reforms”. Following is the blueprint of the reform package that in my view might help in reformation and betterment of the performance of the world’s peace organization:

The veto power in the Security Council should be abolished as it is contradictory to the article 2(1) of the UN charter, which guaranties sovereign equality for all its members. Hence, the important decisions should be taken by the simple majority.

The Security Council should be enlarged in view of the existing objective realities. The present composition of the Security Council is unfair as Asia, with its large population, only having one seat, whereas Europe holds two permanent seats. Africa and South America have no permanent seats at all.

Muslim population withover 1.6 billion people, and making up almost 23 percent of the world’s population is currently faced with multiple political, social, economic and religious challenges and has no voice in the Security Council. It is therefore advisable to designate one chair for arepresentative of the Muslim world in the Security Council.

Ha ha ha. You look good but you are quoting the words of a foolish person.” They left right after it. How careless our government is! Our people have no sense to distinguish between the bags which themselves ditch the reality by their looks.

Rural areas are suffering because of high number of out of school children. Every second child in most of the rural villages of Balochistan is out of school. Sadly, their parents feel no regret in keeping these kids away from education. Unfortunately, our government provides no career counsellors for the rural areas to let them know a little bit about education and its positive impacts and influences on our standards of living. This is further deteriorating the literacy situation in the province and the percentage of out of school children.

International court of justice should also be fully empowered. An appeal against the decisions of Security Council should be decided by simple majority. However, the final appeal should be taken by ICJ.

For financing reform, I would quote Paul Hawken’s proposal that he made in his book “The ecology of commerce”. He purposes that “a tax on missiles, planes and tanks would provide the UN with entire budget as well as pay for all for all peacekeeping efforts around the world, including the resettlement of refugees and reparations to the victims of war”.

All the decisions pertaining to the restructuring and reformation of the Security Council should be made in accordance with the consensus as advocated by the coffee club or UFC.

To conclude, the overhauling of the UN is extremely necessary to make it more vibrant, effective and potent organization of the world. It should also work to improve its credibility and thereby dispel its current impression that it is a puppet organization whose strings are pulled by the big powers.

The writer is a lawyer based in Jafarabad, Balochistan. He can be reached at syedabdulrasool1@gmail.com