Thursday, March 25, 2004

UN Reform

Jonathan Rauch on the rise of a democratic caucus within the UN:

""United Nations" is an oxymoron. Democracies and dictatorships are mongoose and cobra, with no real hope of uniting except opportunistically. But a community of democracie that might just work. It already works in NATO and the E.U. The new community is a fledgling, but many readers of this article may live to see it soar."

Update: having just read No Right Turn's comments on Monbiot and the UN I thought I would add that I don't necessarily agree with the concluding paragraph of Rauch's in that it would be preferable for reform to occur within the present overall UN structure, it does have a certain legitimacy and you have to start somewhere.

The veto is a major problem. I'm not sure how the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly should be modeled. Perhaps on the Cabinet/Parliamentary model we have. We have that model partly because if every decision had to go through Parliament then little would get done. We accept the need for delegated authority on a number of levels. First to MPs then to Ministers.

Were the Security Council to emulate this model then there would be majority voting along with collective responsibility ie those in a minority position would have to accept the majority verdict.

But even so we accept that in times of emergency the Cabinet and Prime Minister can claim exrtaordinary powers since in such circumstances time is of the essence. And one of the major emergencies the UN faces is conflict. The more deliberation that needs to occur the greater the chance that intervention may be delayed with disasterous consequences.


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