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The Forum > Article Comments > Reforming the United Nations > Comments

Reforming the United Nations : Comments

By Keith Suter, published 6/3/2007

One wonders what tragedy national governments need to convince them to work seriously for a more effective UN.

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The UN was formed after many nations suffered citizen loss as well as property and gold.
To-day there is a swell of opinion such that once a nation starts taking casualties the moral imperative, real or connived, dissipates. Progress? A nation cannot tolerate suffering of its own, but happy in the destruction of others? Probably and any change to the UN may only be desired when many nations have spent their testosterone and holding power by the leaders needs some appeasement of suffering.
Even then the more forward thinking nations will design the sympathy process with the national end in view, as happened in 1944. Sure citizens and groups will offer sympathy and help in a more open way but for example; would lend lease have happened if it did not open markets for US enterprises?
International law, in part a consequence of the UN, is now challenged by a return to the law of the powerful, who want their chance at Empire on terms not dissimilar to the UK, Holland, France Spain and more including perhaps parts of Scandinavia, at present a thoughtful supporter of the UN, but others as well.
Those with the where withal to exert might will naturally have their fleas feasting on the detritus of power but also those without power who feeling downtrodden seek a measure power in ways disruptive to Peace.
If somehow the will of the world could be expressed by a return to law and prosecuting the offenders, thus indicating a declining double standard and acknowledging as the Charter does that people every where are worth something more than the play things of the uncaring. This if it happened would provide impetus for improvement of the UN.
I see your suggestions as of merit but unlikely of implementation in the absence of a world catastrophe. Our genes or our upbringing, schooling flags and drums and Hollywood type epics, a sycophantic press devoted more to profit than providing information?
Posted by untutored mind, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 3:22:50 PM
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The writer wants the wealthy industrialised countries to give more aid money to the UN. This will simply encourage a more widespread culture of dependency.
Take the example of Bob Geldof's "Live Aid" concert to alleviate a famine in Ethiopia in 1986, when its population was 35 million. In 2006 he was talking about a replay of the concert. Ethiopians, encouraged to be dependent on aid, by then had a population of 73 million. Aid is not the solution unless it is very specifically targetted and administered.

from Jack Sturgess
Posted by Jacks, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 9:17:39 PM
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UN Reforms and how to be effective as world citizens? A thought provoking article Keith Suter. Yes, we need to openly discuss and learn more about the role and problems faced by the UN and make that more visible throughout society, everywhere.

a) I believe the United Nations 'could be a truly international civil service' and it is immensely sad the way this organisation is used in some ways merely 'as a dumping ground to reward retired politicians or relatives' by countries throughout the present world.

b) On budget issues, it is unfortunate how the Peace Keeping costs critically strain the actual balance of budget directives, at present. This is instead of the UN having more room for strategic allocations on education, health and crime prevention ... good governance and civil participation programes.

I feel nation states could do more to aid the UN in addressing these costs, if there was a greater will to act.

c) I feel the forum is loop-sided and the Charter (selection process) in this way, is out of date, as you said. I believe the role of 'Small Island States' is under-mined (for example) by this representatives system at this time, and reflects how the UN is caught inside the politics and pressure as we understand it.... between the EU, Africa and the United States particularly. This is especially transparent through the way Trade Barriers and poor Market Forces dominate and almost completely nullify the efforts to increase better understanding around a solution by Western representatives.

Thank You for this article Keith, it is good to revisit a basic article on how the UN operates.

http://www.miacat.com/
Posted by miacat, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 9:55:43 PM
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The main problem concerning the UN that has been ignored by all posters is the lack of popular consent to the basic structure of the UN. An organisation only has legitimacy when the people have delegated power to it, and that has never occurred. When the colonies decided to federate into the Commonwealth of Australia, the people of each colony validated the federation in a referendum. Similarly, when each of the european countries joined the EU, this act was approved by a referendum. (Except for one country, the UK, which goes a long way to explain the attitude to the EU that exists there).

The lack of legitimacy in much of what the UN does (remember that an organisation where India has the same representation as Nauru must be about as undemocratic as you can get), makes many people regard it as little more than a joke, and its determinations only observed when validated by national law.

If anyone were to suggest that the Australian people would delegate any powers over them to the UN in a referendum, you would have me rolling in the aisles with laughter.

Perhaps the present structure of the UN is the best that can be achieved, but it is looking more like the League of Nations every day. The only occasion that all the peoples of the earth will be united is when we are all fighting the Martians.
Posted by plerdsus, Wednesday, 7 March 2007 1:29:42 PM
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The United Nations was always doomed to failure and it will never work in the future. The sentiment behind it was good but nations involved in the United Nations will always support a horse called self interest of their own nation.

The Most powerful nations are always going to beyond the power of the united nations to control anyway if they really want to do something. For example, there is no way the American Military is going to hand George Bush over to face any World War crimes court.

The huge massacres had already happened in Rwanda and Serbia before
the united nations could act anyway and no-one including the United
Nations could ever stop the IRA
Posted by sharkfin, Wednesday, 7 March 2007 10:49:17 PM
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Oh bother , Another dreamer with a wish list for the central planning committee .

Letís see what she wants ;
- more mums
- more money
- more freedom
- more autonomy
- more respect (compulsory)
- absolutely no dissent
- no accountability
- no questions
- tenure
- shock troops on demand at her pleasure(to enforce her will)

Sounds like a standard wish list from any public servant from any government dept . No?

If the committee (UN) received what the author suggests it would simply become exactly what it was originally intended to negate . Tyranny .

My opinion .
Posted by jamo, Wednesday, 7 March 2007 10:52:57 PM
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