INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

GLOBAL GROUPINGS

UNITED NATIONS

UN FOR PRELIMS

Formed: 24 October 1945 (UN day is celebrated on 24 October each year)

Headquarters: New York, USA

Regional offices: Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi.

Official languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese

Current Membership: 193

Latest member: South Sudan (2011)

Observers: In addition to its member states, the United Nations General Assembly may grant observer status to an international organization, entity or non-member state, which entitles the entity to participate in the work of the United Nations General Assembly, though with limitations.

Other than organizations and entities, Vatican and Palestine are observers in United Nations. ‘Palestine 194’ is the campaign by the Palestine to gain UN membership.

Regional Commissions:

  1. UNECA - United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
  2. ECLAC - Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
  3. ESCAP-United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
  4. ECWA - Economic Commissionfor Western Asia
  5. UNECE- United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Objectives:

  • To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
  • To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.
  • To establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.
  • To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
  • Developing friendly relations among countries based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
  • Achieving worldwide cooperation to solve international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems.
  • Serving as a centre where countries can coordinate their actions and activities toward these various ends.

UN secretary-general: Secretary General is the chief administrative officer of the Organization. The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council. The Secretary-General's selection is therefore subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

António Guterres, the ex-Prime Minister of Portugal is the new (Ninth) Secretary-General. Eighth Secretary General was Ban Ki-moon from South Korea.

The longest speech ever given to the UN was delivered in 1957 by the Indian politician VK Krishna Menon, who talked for nearly eight hours while defending India's position on Kashmir. (60th anniversary of this speech in 2017)

UNITED NATIONS

United Nations Organization was formed after the World War second with the aim of world peace and to prevent yet another World War. The United Nations is the world’s largest inter-governmental organization. It is currently made up of 193 Member StatesUN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945 and United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year. UN Headquarters is at New York – USA. The United Nations has marked its 70th Anniversary in 2016. The forerunner of United Nations was the League of Nations.

ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE UN

PRINCIPAL ORGANS OF THE UNITED NATIONS

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

SECURITY COUNCIL

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

SECRETARIAT

INTERNATI-ONAL COURT OF JUSTICE

TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL

Policymaking organ of the United Nations, made of representati-ves from all the member states

Respons-ible for the peace and security of the member states

Coordinating the economic and social work related to the United Nations’ mission.

Administration

Principal judicial organ that settles legal disputes between member states

  Suspended

The UN system is made up of the UN itself and many affiliated programmes, funds and specialised agencies like UNESCO, WHO, UNICEF etc.

UNSC EXPLAINED

As of now, there are 15 members on the UNSC. Five of those (mostly powers who emerged victorious in the World War II), including the US, UK, France, China and Russia are permanent members. These members have the all-important veto power (essentially a negative vote) which would mean that a “resolution or decision would not be approved”.

The 10 Non-Permanent members are elected by the General Assembly for 2-year terms starting on January 1, with five replaced each year.

Composition of 10 Non-Permanent members:

  • five from African and Asian countries
  • two from Latin American and Caribbean countries
  • two from Western European and other countries
  • one from Eastern European countries

Non-permanent members at present (with end of term date):

India has been elected as a non-permanent member to the UNSC for seven such terms, the last of which was in 2011-12.

WHAT DOES UN DO?

  • Maintenance of international peace and security
  • Protect human rights
  • Uphold international law
  • Deliver humanitarian aid
  • Promsustainable development

ANALYSIS OF UNITED NATIONS

So far, the United Nations have had great successes. However, not everything has gone to plan. UN was formed to protect world from the scourge of war, but wars happened even after the formation of UN. UN could not even maintain international law many times. Human Rights were violated across the globe. China who is a security council permanent member is the highest Human Rights violator according to Amnesty International. UN couldn’t solve many issues like Syrian crisis, Kashmir issue, Etc.  Arms-race between nations, terrorism, climate change and inequality is threatening the human society. Even being a success, many UN agencies and forums like UNPKF, International Criminal Court etc. faced a lot of criticisms such as lack of coordination, indiscipline and partiality. UN is facing lack of funding since its activities needs a lot of money. The UN’s humanitarian agencies are on the verge of bankruptcy and unable to meet the basic needs of millions of people. Dominance of powerful nations make the weaker ones disappointed in the United Nations. Security Council and the global governance system of UN does not represent the present world order.

But still, we cannot consider United Nations as a failure. According to the 2nd Secretary General of UN - Dag Hammarskjöld; “The United Nations was created not to lead mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell”. UN did not take us to a world without any problems, but it helped to make the life on Earth better. UN could not prevent wars from happening, but it made sure that these wars are not heading to another world war. Works of UN agencies and related forums deserves high appreciation. Peace keeping, Relief works, etc. are best examples of UN’s successful missions. UN brought many invisible issues like landmine victims, child soldiers to the forefront. Without UN, thousands of populations would have been still under the backdrops of the society. Even being a political organization, UN also gave importance for people centered developmental policies - E.g. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfil its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.

NEED FOR REFORMATION IN SECURITY COUNCIL

Major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America. There should reformation of Security Council, or else it will make UN not functioning very well. The UN can function much better if the big powers do not intervene in various issues to protect their vested interests.

The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.

Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries. The present Security Council and other agencies of UN’s global governance are undemocratic in structure.

REFORMATIONS NEEDED IN OTHER AREAS

If the UN should continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it needs a multi-level upgradation. The UN should be made fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.

Spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totalled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. There should be an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.

In order to strengthen the role of the United Nations, efforts should be made to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Role of the United Nations in area of development should be strengthened. All the Member States of the United Nations should get the right of equal participation in international affairs and the interests of the developing countries should be safeguarded.

UN also needs cooperation from the member states. There are many cases in which the member nations have violated the rules and regulations of the UN. This is not in particular to any specific nation. Many nations are acting against the norms of international society. China’s position on South China Sea dispute is an example.

UN has many agencies and forums, but this is the high time to evaluate their activities and bring out the needed changes. Let us take the recent example of two refugees groups; Syrian refugees and the Rohingyas of Myanmar. Now let us take some UN agencies, forums and funds; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), United Nation Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), UN women, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). We all know that these refugee problems are still not solved despite having these many agencies related to them in one way or the other. There is a lack of coordination between these agencies and forums. UN should be quick to act in these kinds of issues. In Syria’s case, it was the two big powers of security council, which is the security provider of the world, were fighting each other. To control these problems the General Assembly should be given enough powers. UN agencies should be more rational and impartial. The dirty political games and self-interests of any nation should not influence the activities of UN’s agencies.  UN reaches the people through its agencies only. These agencies are the hands and legs of UN and so they should be kept clean.

INDIA’S ROLE IN UN

India was one of the founding member of the United Nations. (Two years before Independence) India actively participated in UN activities. India took a major role in drafting the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. India was the first chair of the Decolonization Committee. As a leader of NAM, India raised the issues of the third world in the UN.

INDIA DESERVES A PERMANENT SEAT IN UNSC

India have a bid for permanent membership in UNSC and campaigns for the reformation of UN system globally. India is one among the top troop contributors to UNPKF. In terms of Economy and Military, India has shown a steady growth in the past decades. Currently having one sixth of world’s population (1.28 billion) and being the World’s largest democracy, India deserves a permanent seat in UNSC.

CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME

It is a complex situation. India is growing economically but lags being when it comes to per capita indicators. Owing to its military strength, it is contributing in huge numbers to peacekeeping but cannot match up to the financing levels of P-5 or Japan in relation to peacekeeping operations.

A reform in UN Security Council would necessitate the need for an amendment in the UN Charter which is possible only when a resolution is adopted by two-third member nations in the UN General Assembly. It has to be further ratified by the constitutional process of two-third member nations including P-5. Effectively, even if India secures the support of two-thirds of UN members, who are present and voting, it would still need the five permanent members to not use the veto and thereby, prevent the adoption of the reform process.

Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan comprise the group of G4 nations, mutually supporting one another's bids for permanent seats. This sort of reform has traditionally been opposed by the Uniting for Consensus group, which is composed primarily of nations who are regional rivals and economic competitors of the G4. The group is led by Italy and Spain (opposing Germany), Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina (opposing Brazil), Pakistan (opposing India), and South Korea (opposing Japan).

Other than U.K. and France, three other permanent members of the Security Council are still against Council reform that would entail a change in their present status. The possibility of changes in the positions of the US and Russia are unlikely since they are in a state of relative decline. Since it is their current status in the Council that provides them pre-eminence on issues related to international peace and security, they are not expected to support any move that reduces their say in global politics. It is unrealistic to think that China would give up its present privileged status in the UN, even as it seeks greater influence and presence in global politics as a rising power. The P5 are unlikely to approve the promotion of any states to permanent status due to the fact that such a change would eventually dilute their power. A careful reading of the report of the deliberations of the UNGA on November 7, 2016 would suggest that nothing has changed at the ground level; only the rhetoric of member states has been amplified. Among other permanent members, China is India’s biggest challenge in Security Council.

If we were to view our claim for permanent berth in the UNSC from a critic’s prism, we could say that in all earnestness, India itself has not abided by the UN Resolution on Kashmir, its human rights records are dismal and country is plagued with social evils like, rampant corruption, crime against women and children, labour exploitation, internal and external security problems like terrorism and Naxalism, communal disharmony etc.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CASE OF UNSC REFORMATION

After more than 20 years of stalling, moves to reform the council to reflect a more global balance of power gained momentum in 2015 when a negotiating text was adopted by the General Assembly, overcoming strong opposition from a small group of countries including Pakistan and Italy. The adoption of the text was a breakthrough as meaningful negotiations could not be held without such a document.

Most UN members support increasing the total number of council members from 15 to the mid-20s and for making its working more transparent and involving non-member countries in its activities. But it was unfortunate that the last year’s 70th anniversary of the United Nations was not able to build up momentum with a view to reaching an agreement on this important item of the agenda of the General Assembly.

WHAT INDIA CAN DO?

The current scenario shows that a permanent seat in UNSC with veto power is a Himalayan task for India to achieve. We may get this done one day. But, we should also realise that there are many other alternatives like BRICS, G20, etc. in front of us. India have a great role to play in these groupings. India Should come in front to work for peace when there are tensions like we did in the initial years of NAM. (India couldn’t react to the recent issues like Syrian crisis.) India should give attention to its own security threats and this will help India to emerge as a global role model or a security provider. The oppositions and challenges which India faced in other groupings like NSG shows that India still lacks a global consensus. UNSC is one of the toughest task for Indian diplomats.  

UN QP