If there was ever any doubt that the UN must be reformed, recent events have amplified the immediate importance of this long term necessity.
The US’s total disregard for an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the ‘accidental’ US attack on Syrian troops who were about to achieve a substantial victory over ISIS, combined with the disingenuous way in which the US has handled Russia’s handover of video footage of the attack (which may well again be another US ‘accident’) on an aid convoy near Aleppo, both serve to undermine the UN as the only fully international legitimate meeting place in which nations are able to reach accords.
The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations is as relevant today as it was in 1945 when it was written. The fact that it remains relevant demonstrates that the UN needs strengthening.
The preamble begins
“We The Peoples of the United Nations Determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”.
These words should be taken seriously not only be every man and woman in the world, but by every nation.
Yet when Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN and the most ironically named individual in the history of international diplomacy, refuses to talk with a fellow superpower about an incident which is can only be described as a war crime, something is clearly wrong.
Some say that the UN has outlived its usefulness, but such people are often at a loss when asked to propose an alternative. So long as the clouds of war hang mercilessly over humanity, the United Nations must be preserved and the clear goals of its charter must be striven for.
I for one believe that the United Nations is stronger than the soon to be forgotten Samantha Power, but unfortunately due to the way the Security Council was set up in 1945 people like her can hold the entire world to ransom.
In 1945 the victors of the war against fascism were put at the forefront of global security as the five permanent members of the Security Council: the USSR, US, United Britain, France and China. They were supposed to use their special veto power over Security Council resolutions as a way of safeguarding global stability. Yet due to the rift between the allies of the Second World War, this veto power – which was designed to create global stability – has instead created deadlock.
In the years since 1945 many of the so-called responsible nations have shown themselves to be the antithesis of responsible, whilst many of the small states thought not to have the wisdom or capability of leading the world to peace, have shown that they are capable of offering realistic solutions to global crises.
Bearing this in mind, I think it is high time for the responsibilities of the Security Council and General Assembly to be combined. In matters of global security, if the world is to speak with a united voice, all member states of the UN should have a vote in all matters of security and no states should have the right to veto these decisions.
If this solution is to be feared, it means the world is filled with more malice than good will, and although this is an age of war and uncertainty I remain optimistic that a global quorum will reach sensible solutions and vote down unreasonable ones.
Of course the five permanent members will have to accept a kind of ‘demotion’ for this to happen. Who though has the most to lose? Time and again it is the US and its allies on the Security Council who use their veto power in the practice of self-interest.
The veto should only be used in the global interest. Therefore, the responsibility for UN reform must fall upon Russia, because it is Russia that could effectively call the bluff of other members by proposing reforms to democratise the Security Council.
The foreign policy aims of Russia are more in line with the UN Charter than those of Russia’s Security Council colleagues. A respect for the sovereignty of nations is the lynchpin around which Russian foreign policy revolves.
Sadly for many of Russia’s partners on the Security Council, regime change and ideologically driven wars against member states has been the rule of the day for far too long.
Therefore Russia has less to lose by the loss of veto power than anyone else, because – put simply – the majority of the world would prefer the anti-interventionist Russian approach to solving problems vis-à-vis the western policy of regime change.
The UN remains vitally important, but its structure must accurately reflect the multi-polarity of the 21st century global map.
I have no doubt that even under these reforms certain countries, big or small, would violate UN resolutions. However with the world speaking with a more united and clear voice such violations would be easier to spot and hopefully easier to stop.