UN reform

Some 50 civil society organisations from all over the world claimed this week for the creation of an Intergovernmental Commission on International Cooperation on Tax Matters to protect nations from abusive practices, including evasion and the race to the bottom in corporate taxation. The claim is headed by the international networks of development groups Eurodad, CIDSE, ActionAid, Christian Aid and the Tax Justice Network (TJN), and the Danish group Ibis. [see more]
The United States (US) invasion of Iraq in March 2003, which launched a unilateral ‘preventive war’, deepened the unresolved crisis regarding the relevance of the United Nations (UN) in the 21st century international arena. The crisis was aggravated seven months later when the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1511 which accepted the occupation and acknowledged the US full powers to rebuild Iraq.

An Ambassador to the UN ended up stating that such declaration had been ‘the suicide of the Security Council’, because by ‘recognizing that the US can invade a country and manage to obtain the support of the international community, it has declared de UN to be irrelevant’. His statement partly agreed with that of Anne-Marie Slaughter, expert on international law at Princeton University: ‘Iraq has been of use to show that the UN has either to change or fall into irrelevance’.

The need to reform the UN had already been raised by the Secretary General himself, Kofi Annan. The ‘Millennium General Assembly’, held in September 2000, approved a ‘Millennium Declaration’ which also included the topic of the ‘United Nations Reform’.

The following requirements are put forward, among others, throughout the eleven sections of article VIII of such Declaration: to further strengthen the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the International Court of Justice; to improve better cooperation between the United Nations, its agencies and other multilateral bodies; and to further strengthen cooperation with national parliaments through the Inter-Parliamentary Union. There is also a demand to give greater opportunities to contribute to civil society, to ensure a timely and predictable provision of resources to the United Nations and to urge the Secretariat to make good use of those resources by concentrating on the priorities of Member States and by adopting the best management practices.

The UN needs reforms such as reduction in bureaucracy and in the number of very well-paid positions of doubtful benefit, elimination of duplication of departments, improvement of the organization and celerity of peacekeeping missions. An important step in the reform process took place on 15 March 2006 when an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly approved the creation of a Human Rights Council, in place of the much criticised and flawed Human Rights Commission (see further information).

But the UN renovation implies, above all, to reform the Security Council, its powers, composition and the right of veto of permanent member states.

The last time the Security Council structure was reformed was 40 years ago. With regards to important aspects, for example the group of five permanent members, it dates back even to the post-war order defined in 1945. The UN had 50 members then instead of the nearly 200 it counts nowadays. At the present time, neither the big regions from the Southern Hemisphere nor important industrialized countries are permanent members of the Security Council. In this way, the Security Council is progressively less representative and lacks legitimacy.

After the events in and around Iraq, Kofi Annan re-launched the debate on the reform and established a panel of 16 eminent personalities, to which he assigned the task of advising him on specific recommendations to be presented before the 2005 General Assembly, when the organization commemorated its 60th anniversary. Among these recommendations not only is the question of how the United Nations should collectively react to the new threats but also the new basic legitimacy of the main United Nations’ bodies, being the Security Council among them. Kofi Annan has described this next stage as a ‘crossroads’; a moment that is of the same importance for the UN as its founding back in 1945.

Based on the book For a strong and democratic United Nations: A South perspective on UN reform, by South Centre
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UPDATES
Wednesday, February 03 2010
The FutureUN project: Global survey on the future of the UN Development System
(Source: The FUNDS Project)
Tuesday, November 11 2008
Security Council reform – the 62nd GA Session and the road ahead
(Source: Center for UN Reform Education)

Official information

Follow up to the High-level Panel’s Report on UN System-wide Coherence

Recommendations contained in the report of the High-level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence (UN-NGLS)

Delivering as One

Renewing the United Nations: a programme for reform

Strengthening of the United Nations: an agenda for further change (United Nations)

Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger organization worldwide (United Nations)

In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all (United Nations)

Report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (UN)

United Nations

UN Reform Site at the UN

We the Peoples: the Role of the UN in the 21st Century

UN reform dossier: 1997 – 2002 (UN Office Information Centre in Uzbekistan)

Northern perspectives

UN reform: progress, prospects and priorities (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars)

The Coherence Panel's mixed bag of proposals: will it make a difference in development? (Global Policy Forum - World Economy & Development)

United Nations essential to world peace and security (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Concern for U.N. 'reform' often stops short of enforcing resolutions (Third World Network Features)

UN reform for the rest of us: an agenda for grassroots accountability (Foreign Policy In Focus)

Center for UN Reform Education

Reforming the United Nations: lessons from a history in progress (International Relations Studies and the United Nations Occasional Papers)

US retreating from UN system (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Summit asymmetry: the United States and UN reform (Global Policy)

A democratic United Nations? (Open Democracy)

Reform or die: the United Nations as second superpower (Open Democracy)

A U.N. that Lives up to its Founding Principles: The U.S. Agenda at the U.N. General Assembly (Embassy of the United States of America in South Africa)

Between politics and efficiency: United Nations reform and conflict of interests (The Ecumenical Review)

U.S. views on reform measures necessary for strengthening the United Nations System (US State Department)

Can the United Nations reform? (World Policy Journal)

Recommendation 1367 (1998) of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly

Looking for the Sheriff (Global Policy Forum)

Reform initiatives have strengthened operations, but overall objectives have not yet been achieved (United States General Accounting Office)

Reform the United Nations (The Heritage Foundation)

United Nations Reform and Article 109 (Foreign Policy Associations)

United Nations reform: reshaping the world (Free World Academy)

Gender

The UN reform... and women? (Choike)

Human Rights at the UN

The establishment of the Human Rights Council (Center for UN Reform Education)

UN Human Rights Council: a step forward or a step back? (Isis Women)

Human Rights Council: time to make the UN matter to human rights victims (Forum-Asia)

The Human Rights Council: a chance or a threat for NGO participation? (Global Policy Forum - CONGO)

2005 UN Commission on Human Rights: Joint statement on UN Reform (Amnesty International)

UN reform must strengthen and enhance existing mechanisms of protection of human rights (International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH))

Who deserves a seat on new Human Rights Council? (IPS)

Human rights CSOs call for more engagement on Human Rights Council negotiations (Democracy Coalition Project)

Draft resolution by the President of the General Assembly (United Nations)

Human Rights: A needed UN reform (Global Policy Forum)

Reform of the General Assembly

Reform of the General Assembly (Global Policy Forum)

U.N. Reform: is a World Parliamentary Assembly needed? (UNA-USA)

General Assembly

The future UN

The FutureUN project: Global survey on the future of the UN Development System (The FUNDS Project)

Southern perspectives

Coherence Panel proposes major changes in UN system (SUNS)

Shake, rattle and roll: Chavez sees UN as dying body (Terraviva)

Renewing the United Nations: a programme for reform (South Centre)

The United Nations at the cross-roads (Third World Network)

It is time to reform the United Nations (Arab News)

Civil society involvement

Civil society claims for an intergovernmental commission on tax cooperation

The Year in Review 2006 (NGLS)

A civil society response to the report of the UN High-Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence (UN-NGLS)

United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS)

Towards a consensus in shaping the future of United Nations - NGO relations (Global Policy Forum)

NGO Letter on NGO participation at the United Nations (Global Policy Forum)

For a democratic, transparent and effective selection process for the UN Secretary-General (UNSGselection.org)

Reform the UN

United Nations Watch

"The UN is the only way out that we have" (IPS TerraViva)

Secretary General's Report on the Proposals of the High Level Panel on Civil Society (United Nations)

We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and global governance (UN-NGLS)

Third World Network comment on the Cardoso Report (Global Policy Forum)

Treaty Body Reform following the UN Secretary-General’s proposals (IWRAW Asia Pacific)

World Federation of United Nations Associations

Citizens for Global Solutions

The United Nations and Civil Society: the role of NGOs

Friedrich Ebert Stitfung

Security Council reform

Security Council reform – the 62nd GA Session and the road ahead (Center for UN Reform Education)

A look at the transitional approach to Security Council reform (Center for UN Reform Education)

Security Council reform: a transitional approach (UN Chronicle)

Security Council transparency, legitimacy, and effectiveness (Security Council Report)

Report of the Facilitators for Security Council Reform to the General Assembly (Global Policy Forum)

Reforming the United Nations Security Council: will its time ever come? (UNA-USA)

Theses towards a democratic reform of the UN Security Council (Global Policy)

Africa and the UN Security Council permanent seats (Pambazuka)

Security Council

Security Council Reform (Global Policy Forum)

Razali Reform Paper (Global Policy Forum)

UN Security Council Reform: a challenge for the South (Institute for Global Dialogue)

The roller coaster of relevance: the Security Council, Europe and the U.S. war in Iraq (Transnational Institute)

The United Nations and 21st Century Security (The Stanley Foundation)

Peace operations: the UN and international conflicts

UN Peacekeeping Paramilitarism (Counter Currents)

Economic impact of Peacekeeping (Global Policy Forum)

United Nations Peacekeeping Operations

Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (United Nations)

United Nations and Global Security

The Project on Peacekeeping and the United Nations

Reform of the ECOSOC

The reform of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC): a never-ending story? (Global Policy Forum)

Putting ECOSOC back in the loop (UN Wire)

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Proposals of the European Union for reform of the United Nations System in the Economic and Social Areas (Global Policy Forum)


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