- October 24 marks the diamond jubilee of the United Nations, but far from a joyous celebration, it is an occasion to reflect on why UN is stagnating at 75 and how it can regain its lost motive.
- Although much has changed in the international system since 1945 the world body continues to see a tussle between ‘principle’ and ‘power’.
- On one hand the UN represents hopes of a peaceful and just world order through multilateral cooperation, alliance by international laws and upliftment of the downtrodden
- On the other hand the institution has been designed to privilege the most powerful states of the post-world war 2 dispensation by granting them commanding heights over international politics with the undemocratic instruments of veto power and permanent seats in UNSC
Manjeev Singh Puri, Ambassador of India to Belgium, Luxembourg and EU
Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF(Vivekananda International Foundation)
Prof. Swaran Singh,Chairperson, Center for International Politics,Organizations and Disarments,JNU
Anchor Frank Rausan Pereira
A) How would you look back at the UN at 75 years?
1) The report given by US attorney General summarizes the issue very well .On some areas where there is sterling achievements by averting a third world war, decolonization, fight against apart need, maintaining peace through keeping forces and mission, emphasis on development, taking development to many other countries which would not be possible if there was only state governing
2) At the same time he also highlighted the fragility of the UN system and the world today. And the risk of war has not gone away, the security environment has detoriated, the peace efforts have received massive setbacks and nuclear disarmament has become a forgotten issue.
3) The transformative technology brings out opportunities as well as challenges, climate change and use in inequality are certain problems which need to be addressed.
B) What did you see inside? What did you see that stood out for you?
1) We should be clear that the UN is for Global governance and not Global Government, and it is the special 5 countries(Russia, the U.K., China, France and the United States) and we which was the outcome after World War-2
2) The biggest problem with the UN is that it has not been able to cope up with Globalization, in last 20-25 years, where there has been a greater flood in the global economic scene especially in India.
3) We have become the 5 largest economy in the world, along with us many other countries have come. Plus we have the fallout countries of World War-2 Germany and Japan who do not have due recognition.
4) It has done well but well only in particular perspective like now World War-3 and basic developments.
5) It needs to adjust and its slow compared to the globe.
6) PM Narendra Modi in his address to the UN mention the most important thing is the change and reforms in the UN. The multilateralism is very important, especially in contrast of what we are seeing today, whether it is a nuclear technology, climate change, de jure action and commitment & pandemic control. We need to make sure that the muscle, which gives the UN power, should be more multi-polar and harness only with the World War-2 Victorious countries is not enough
7) It was not the pandemic that made the UN general assembly a screening but it was caused by introspection .This is an important organization that gives everybody a certain amount of stake and allows those who have the greatest capabilities to take things forward for the benefit of everyone.
C) Since 1945 to 2020 how has the UN evolved?
1) This was always been seen as a half glass full.
2) But it is a matter of satisfaction that an organization large as a group of entire global nations has survived the 75 years compared to the League of Nations.
3) The sustenance, which is pulled in all direction of all the members itself, is a achievement. The entire formulation of United Nations Charter happened in the background of two World wars, so saving future generations from war is the Charter Act says is the main aim of the UN.
4) But it was very bias and ambitious charter that eliminating the thought of war from the minds of men. That was not able to be achieved because arms race and violence continued to happen.
5) Largely and dominating function of the UN have been forced to work within the described and agreed principle. And to that extent it is to the matter of satisfaction.
6) And second UN has reformed itself in the 1970 when the “Anti-colonization movement” was going on and the membership of UN double in a very less matter of time(50-100).
7) Not only Economic and development functions but also the Security Council membership expanded.
8) The UN peacekeeping mission began which gave India enormous opportunities to expand.
9) Post-cold war the expansion of Security Council Permanent seats has not been addressed. Although there is no parallel, organization like UN and thus we must strive to sustain and strengthen it.
10) India next year (2021) will be sitting on the UNSC Non-permanent member seat, which will help India to speed up the process of expansion reforms.
11) So that UN may focus on “principle” rather than power. And emerging from the international government to global governance.
12) With the inclusion of civil societies and it not organization of countries but civil societies media Intellectual, Media have strengthned the UN. So certain amount of improvisation has happened and a lot more is needed to happen.
D) What more needs to be done by the UN, in the immediate near future and what should be done on the long term future?
1) There is no easy answer the challenges of 21 century are very difficult from the mid 20 Century
2) The Key issue here is what is the emphasize on the word of power, what UN will give unless we de-emphasize power. If the power always and the principle is to be written by the powerful then we will have more of the same
3) India can certainly take a lead, we have a 5000 year old history with strong civilization attributes which emphasizes on “world is a family”
4) Swami Vivekananda says, “We see diversity in everything“. These are the principles if we see in a narrow perspective will always be misunderstood. We can use these principles as per the 21-century vocabulary
5) You need to bring out certain addition to the UN charter then we will have a head.
6) There is a missing link in the charter, which talks about the rights, but not about responsibilities and duties, while in our thinking duties and responsibilities which is the Dharma is very important.
7) Now how do we square with duties and responsibilities with rights and reach a balance unless we do not bring this values 8)Multilateralism and reform Multilateralism cannot have a headway. We can bring many summits as we like, but they may not bring the desired results.
E) What needs to be done to strengthen the UN, should we break away from the original charter and draft something new with open mindness with new rules, regulations and guidelines?
1) We are not the moral organization but governance organization and power is the center of the organization. In 1945 the thought 5 nations would be emergent to create a forum.
2) In 2008 the world thought we need 20.How many do we need is unclear, but there is sufficient proof that 5 is not enough. In much better quality of life in a globalized world where the advantage of technology gets flattened out in few years, we need multilateralism.
3) It is the best organization only if it can harness and utilize the ability of how many are there who can contribute to good. The measure change is required in the fundamental governance structure.
4) As many issues which are present like AI, Climate change, pandemic need addressing but many such problems will come again in the future and thus change in governance structure is the need of the hour
5) As it is the powerful countries who discuss and push, things forward on various issues. And two key institution such as UN and the Bretton Woods institutions (BWIs) need reforms.
6) We need perseverance; we must express frustration and must not be frustrated on the Permanent seats as India is a key contender for the permanent seats.
7) The same goes for various Bretton Woods institutions (BWIs) who have abilities who have abilities to influence the economy of the globe.
8) Global governance is required as we move further with greater technological access and flattening of globe governance.
9) The need of permanent seat for some may be farfetched and difficult and needs perseverance. A tree cannot be cut with one bow or strike of an axe, but needs multiple strikes to bring it down.
9) Things will have to change incrementally. Any organization cannot survive when the core and trust of powerful members are hurt and that’s the reason for veto.
10) Reforms such as G7 has become G20.The voting of Bretton Woods institutions (BWIs) has also increased. India during the 1990 was stressed due to the soviet collapse, foreign exchange and currency, issues in Kashmir and Punjab, Coalition Government etc.
11) From 1990 India’s was contributing to 0.3% of UN budget and today we contribute 1% of the budget
12) So the core contribution to the function of the organization has increased over the period of time & that is why India is more engaged and visible.
13) The fact that UN has set up a convention on India’s proposal on global Terrorism. And compare to Rajiv Gandhi’s proposal on elimination of all global nuclear weapons which was not heard by nations.
14) Other organizations of UN such as WHO will need a lot of initiative and activism for fighting against the pandemic. India again will be on the chair of the World Health Assembly (WHA) for 3 years (2021-24)
15) India’s got around 186 votes for UNSC non-permanent member seats where china got the lowest vote of Human rights council with 139 votes. India has become a more accepted player in the UN and India’s incremental changes in the UN and continued. We need to decide new incremental changes.
F) Best Way forward?
1) We need to again look back at the principle and structure of the UN and look at the reformed multilateral given by PM Narendra Modi, which would guide the exercise. Unless we do not reduce the alliance of power to some extent, we would be creating the same unequitable structure like before. India needs to have a dialog with the likeminded countries on the principle of reformed multilateralism beyond the p-5 countries.
2) India will be sitting on non-permanent seats, we will also be host of G-20 summit 2020, BRICS Summit in India and engage strongly. Talk to those who really matter beyond P-5 countries
3) Like any other Organization UN will also be shaped by power equations of stakeholders or members, one what elements should be appreciated whether that be crude military power or soft power that is economy power which really needs to be front-loaded or appreciated.
4) Second how can members make sure that the controlling powers who play almost a controlling role in the UN very often are forced to keep working within that framework & principle. Balance of power with principle is needed.
India’s visibility in the UN without any doubt is rising. India is weighing with the principles rather than power. And that end of tilting will help improve the United Nations