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This essay, entitled “United Nations & Theoretical and a Policy Issue” seeks to describe key issues within United Nations and which problems require reform in order to better reflect the 21st Century and, as far as possible, promote future cooperation among the members of the United Nations.

The author, Adam Kubina, does not address information which is generally known. Rather, he seeks solutions through current and historical aspects, which are important for the UN as it is running now. We have to consider that this topic encompasses enormous quantities of information. The author tries only to summarise key selections owing to limitations of space in this essay. In this text, we can discover situations which are global issues current International Relations, in that they are influenced by the whole United Nations.

The author drew inspiration from works cited in the bibliography, which are highly specialised and educational. The authors cited in the bibliography are among the most respected focussing on the global issues addressed. However, the author did not encounter any single book, thesis or work dealing exclusively with the theoretical and policy problems of the United Nations, and that is the justification for his focus on these issues.

We will draw inspiration from the authors Margaret P. Karns and Karen A. Mingst, Bruce Cronin and Ian Hurd. These authors have written excellent, deeply analytical books covering international structures. Moreover, Ian Hurd, who describes the United Nations in his fine books and help us to understand not only how that organisation works, but also a wide range of others. As we read Chapters from the United Nations and the Treaty of Lisbon, it will become clear that just because certain things are set down in those papers  does not mean that they will work in practice.

In the opening chapters, it is incumbent on us to describe what is meant by international organisations. There follows a short introduction to the United Nations and its two most significant Chapters. Subsequently, we have to understand what the main theoretical issues are and in turn, which organs are the most effective and fundamentally decisive. When we are able to understand these factors, we will be equipped to compare them with policy issues, where we will see that the whole of the United Nations is controlled by five permanent members, thanks to the veto system, and this issue we will be brought to bear upon two different conflicts: the Cold War and the War in Iraq of 2003.

Last but not least, the author explain to us why the Security Council has to be reformed to achieve new stability in the 21st century, to emerge once again  as an effective organisation for maintaining peace.

1. 0. International Organisation

International organisations may be shaped by the politics of the international system. IOs can be powerful, considering intervention of the UN’s peacekeepers or the rulings of the International Court concerning which states have acted illegally or indulged in violations. The international structure has to have order, rules and structure, deriving from international organisations. States try to achieve their interests through these organisations. Moreover, they are also at the centre of world diplomacy, negotiating between states as we see with the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations General Assembly.

1. 1. United Nations

The United Nations was created because of war-weariness following the devastation of World War II. Superpowers sought an organisation which would help to prevent future conflicts, tend towards international peace and provide worldwide economic and and social cooperation: ,,… 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, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect.“.

The United Nations was created on the basis of the League of Nations and looked to learn from its mistakes. The Charters of the UN are similar to those of the League of Nations. Furthermore, The UN was created because powers were not prepared to  tolerate another war.

There are 193 countries in the UN, seeking to provide international law and promote economic and social development. The main organ of the UN is the Security Council. There are five permanent members of this council, which additionally includes ten non-permanent members. These are elected for a two-year term and when the council is voting, a decision can only be passed with the approval of all permanent members and nine of all fifteen non-permanent members. Members of the United Nations have to give up self-defence and behave according to Security Council decisions and, in dealing with conflict, must provide military resources for SC enforcement.

1. 2. Key principles of the UN Charter

The United Nation established a Charter to promote a better world for the founding states and other members. The basic principle of the Charter is that of sovereign equality, which means that any higher governing actor than states does not exist. States are equal and they are not weighed according to their size or military power. All states are manage by pacta sent servanda, treaties which all UN member states must abide by The United Nation Charter seeks to achieve solutions of security and justice by peaceful means, and not to use force or threats against any state.

1. 3. 1. CHAPTER V.


Article 24: ,,In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.”

1.3. 2. CHAPTER VII.


Article 39: ,,The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

2. 0. Policy issue

2. 1. The Security Council

The United Nations main body is called the Security Council and was established for the maintenance of international order, peace and security. Members of the Security Council act on behalf of all members of the UN, according to Article 24 of the UN Charter. The Security Council was been established in order to provide a quick response to any threat or aggression of states, following World War II. There are five permanent members: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia (successor to the Soviet Union) and the People’s Republic of China (replaced by the Republic of China in 1971) based in San Francisco. They have a unique power, are above the law and govern issues of critical importance. Six non-permanent members were also elected for terms of two years. In 1963, the number of elected members increased to ten (one seat for Eastern Europe, two each for Western Europe and Latin America, and five seats for Africa and Asia).

The Security Council has enormous formal power, but depends upon cooperation among states, and accords to no states direct military power. It mainly provides peace keeping missions, issues sanctions and creates UN coalitions to enforce action. There are no annual meetings –  meetings are conducted on an ad hoc basis when conflicts arise in the world.

Thanks to the power of the veto, the five permanent members have always prevailed over the opposition of the elected members. Because of the veto, permanent members can easily drive the whole UN in the direction of their national interests or those of their allies. Also, there are many informal private meetings between the permanent five, in addition to the Security Council´s only “formal” meeting. The criteria for admission to the Security Council are as follows: GDP, military capabilities, financial contribution to the UN, functional rule of law, etcetera. Moreover, there is no agreement for future cooperation or enlargement of the UNSC. The permanent members of the UNSC are also the greatest superpowers in the world. The cooperation is ineffective owing to the veto system. However, the UNSC is the only organ of the UN which can maintain peace and security in the world through military means.

Many members are calling for reform of the Security Council because its historic charters, which were created in 1945, naturally reflect the world which existed at that time, There are many examples of states who took international organisations as tools and tried to achieve their goals trough these organisations, and states who used international organisations as a source of legitimacy and status.

3. 0. Practical Issue

3. 1. The Cold War and The Security Council

Owing to the veto in the Security Council, cooperation between superpowers is a fraught business, as we saw during the Cold War, when the USSR blocked many security and humanitarian actions. Before the 1970s, the US had not used the veto because of its dominance and allies within the Security Council. After the 1970s, it used its veto the most in comparison with others, mainly concerning the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in which the US stood with Israel.

In conflicts where peace and security had to be provided, the Security Council did not achieve any resolution, because of the veto. These conflicts include the US war in Vietnam and Soviet interventions in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Only in one conflict, the Korean War, was the UN able to intervene effectively, and this only because of the Soviet Union “illogically” boycotted the veto.

3. 2. The Iraq, 2003

The debate over Iraq centred on the question of whether that country possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed a real threat to the United States and other countries. Following the US intervention in Iraq, critics engaged in critical debate about the UN and whether it was capable of providing requisite organisation for the keeping of peace and security. The US invaded Iraq without the authorisation of the UN Security Council. This step was in violation of the UN Charter of which the US is a permanent member. The Charter states clearly that parties must “settle their international disputes by peaceful means” (Article 2 ((3)).

Following Iraq, several opinions among administrative members have been raised, noting that they have to enforce reform, and especially, increase in the number of representatives from Asia, Africa, Europe …

4. 0. The Security Council reform

The Security Council has proved resistant to reform in recent years and today has many member states whose disagree with the old system within the UN. The first call for reform and diversification of membership of the UNSC was made in the 1950s. However, reform of the council is the most difficult to achieve among all organs of the UN, owing to lack of global knowledge of the issue. The G4 group wishes to take seats at the UNSC. Another group, called ‘Uniting for Consensus’, includes Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan and Egypt. They are demanding fairer and better representation at the UNSC.

Members support their favourite states. Russia supports the G4 group, along with India. China supports this group and tries to dissuade African countries. Additionally, the USA has not provided any general opinion regarding reforms of the UN. Because the P-5 realise that reform could easily sweep up their power, they tend to pay lip service to it in procedural terms, rather than focussing on practical steps towards achieving it.

Further, a current amendment of the Charter examines the point that P-5 members maintain their veto power above Charters. There are two different groups and each has its own different views at the United Nations: ,,some powerful states insisted that the UN not be used as a tool for solving the problem” or ,,International organisations both regulate and constitute the world of international politics”.

5. 0. Conclusion

We have discovered that the international community has order, rules and structure thanks to international organisations. After World War II., victorious states wanted to prevent future conflicts and maintain international peace while providing worldwide economic and social cooperation. To these ends, they established the United Nations.

The foundations of the United Nations are Charters, which are similar to those of the League of Nations. They exist to provide a better world for states and to promote peaceful means during cooperation or negotiation.

The centrepiece of the essay treats the Security Council, which was established to provide speedy response to any threats or aggression of states. Thank to the veto, the UNSC has witnessed grievous negotiation among states (the examples cited are: firstly, the Cold War, where the United States or the Soviet Union blocked veto for their national interests and slowed process of managing conflicts. Secondly, the Iraq war of 2003, where United States invaded into Iraq, overriding the refusatory resolution of the Secret Council of the United Nations). After these important conflicts there are questions as to whether the UN can still deliver international peace and security.

The Security Councils permanent members do not want any reform to change the structure of the UNSC. On the other hand, there are lots of members who take the view that the UN model was established in 1940s and cannot be fit for purpose in the 21st century. Each superpower wants to bring in new members in order to have allies in the UNSC, because of their common interests. Permanent members such as France and the United Kingdom are not in favour of reform because they do not want lost their power. Among states who are for reform, each of them has its own different views on how to reform the UNSC. They have to create common cause on this issue.

We have to bolster the United Nations because of increasing problems like climate change, global health problems, mass movements of people and threats which can not be compared with issues existing sixty years ago. We have to reform by increasing members of the UNSC, giving more seat to Eastern Europe, North Asia and Africa, … but we must not neglect the veto issue. Simply increasing membership will not change the veto system, and the “hegemony” of the five permanents members will remain. We have to enforce Charters against any invasions such as that of Iraq in 2003, and curb informal meetings (France could use Article V & VII against DAESH terrorist act in France to collectively attack under the flag of the UN. instead France used Article 42.7 in the Lisbon Treaty) between states, because they do not tend towards the efficacy of the United Nations.

Finally, reform of the UNSC will depend on three adoptions. Firstly, representation: an increase in permanent and non-permanent members. Secondly, an adjustment of the veto system, not only for permanent members, who now use it for their own national interests above international peace. Thirdly, efficiency – how many states should become members of the Security Council, because if too many are to be added, efficiency will be compromised, while if we add too few, we will never preserve the United Nations as a credible force.

6. 0. Bibliography

  1. Bruce Cronin and Ian Hurd, UN Security Council and the Politics of International Authority (New York: Routledge, 2008), 23-39.
  2. European Union, Consolidated Reader-Friendly Edition of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Lisbon: Treaty of Lisbon, 2007), 336.
  3. Ian Hurd, International Organisations: Politics, Law, Practice (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 303.
  4. Margaret P. Karns and Karen A. Mingst, International organizations: The politics and processes of global governance (The United Kingdom: Lynne Reinner Publishers, Inc.), 633.
  5. Richard Butler AC, “Reform of the United Nations Security Council” Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs, April, 2012, 18.
  6. Sahar Okhovar, The United Nations Security Council: Its Veto Power and Its Reform (Australia: The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies The University of Sydney, 2006), 75.
  7. United Nations, Charters of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice (San Francisco, 1945), 54.
  8. United Nations Department of Public Information, The United Nations Today (United Nations: New York, 2007), 388.
  9. UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) with Gretchen Sidhu, Intergovernmental Negotiations and Decision Making at the United Nations: A Guide, Second Updated Edition (New York: the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, 2007), 154.
  10. Wanda Troszczynska-Van Genderen, Reforming the United Nations: State of Play, Ways Forward (Belgium: European Union, 2015), 43.

Appendix A ‘Featured Image’: ,,Flag of the United Nation” (downloaded 21. 06. 2016)