Global statesmen: UN needs to be more muscular and united
A global body, rather than a bunch of regional or national groups, is the best way to ensure that the UN is an effective instrument for preventing and resolving conflict rather than a toothless instrument for settling differences. (Photo: International Crisis Group)
When the United Nations is the target of protests by countries and civil society groups from around the globe, you can be certain that the UN is in serious trouble. To the frustration of those who have devoted their careers to the UN and the work of its institutions, the world body is proving to be a political pawn rather than a force for preventing dangerous conflicts and promoting human rights.
When the UN is targeted by protesters, you can be sure that the UN’s global institution is in serious trouble.
On April 13, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a global research and advocacy organization, issued a warning to its partners and supporters on the dangers the UN would face if it was not more active and united to prevent regional crises.
The ICG and the UN had issued a joint statement a month earlier urging the UN General Assembly to create a high-level, permanent special rapporteur on the future of the UN.
They did not have much success, however, with most governments passing resolutions rejecting the idea of an UN permanent rapporteur. The ICG, however, thinks a permanent body should be a way to make the UN more effective and ensure that it works toward the prevention of future crises, rather than a group of regional specialists dealing with them.
The UN Security Council is the “most powerful forum in the international system for international decision making” — and the world body was supposed to be its most effective, rather than its most fragmented, institution.
The UN General Assembly is made up of regional and national groups. The European Union has a permanent representative in the UN General Assembly, but has not been able to push for any changes in the way the organization functions. The UN Commission on Human Rights, on the other hand, has been a model for how to address human rights violations in the UN system. Both groups have helped push the UN toward reform, however.
The European Union also has a permanent special rapporteur on the future of the UN, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the world and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism for human rights violations.
The UN Commission of Inquiry