#15 - JRL 7207
DOES THE UNITED NATIONS HAVE A FUTURE?
A diplomat and a political scientist talk about the future of the UN
Author: Viktor Vodolazhsky
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
YULI VORONTSOV, UN SECRETARY GENERAL'S ENVOY AND RUSSIAN REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UN, SAYS THE UNITED NATIONS NEEDS REFORMS BUT SHOULD CERTAINLY NOT BE WRITTEN OFF. SERGEI ROGOV, DIRECTOR OF THE US- CANADA INSTITUTE, SAYS REFORMS ARE NECESSARY BUT DANGEROUS AT THE SAME TIME.
DEBATES HAVE RAGED FOR A LONG TIME OVER THE FUTURE OF THE UNITED NATIONS, AND HOW TO MAKE IT MORE EFFECTIVE. THE PROBLEM BECAME PARTICULARLY URGENT BEFORE AND DURING THE IRAQ CRISIS. THE WAR IN IRAQ IS OVER, BUT ANALYSTS CONTINUE ARGUING OVER WHAT KIND OF CHANGES SHOULD BE INITIATED AND WHICH REFORMS CAN WAIT.
Yuli Vorontsov, UN Secretary General's Envoy and Russian Representative to the UN: In my view, all speculations in how the UN has exhausted its usefulness, is dying and about to become history soon - all this is a nervous and not exactly adequate reaction to conduct of the United States. As a matter of fact, the United States has returned to this international organization. I'd even say that the Americans do not really understand what is happening in Mideast. I do not think they understand what is happening in Iraq. It is because of this lack of understanding that they will promptly push the Iraqi problem into the UN's lap. Everything but oil, that is.
NATO is not going to restore Iraq - but the UN has some experience in pulling countries out of devastation. Remember Cambodia? It was the UN that managed it, after the well-known tragic events there, raising Cambodia to quite a decent level. Don't rush to bury the UN before its time. I do not doubt that we need the UN and that the UN will remain operating.
Reforms are an entirely different matter. They are needed. Reforms have even been initiated, but not with any degree of success I might add. The UN Security Council should expand, particularly the number of its permanent members. There are candidates for permanent membership whose suitability cannot be questioned - Germany, Japan, India... On the other hand, the more members of the UN Security Council wield veto power, the more difficult it will be to reach conclusions.
Sergei Rogov, Director of the US-Canada Institute and Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences: The rumors on the UN's death are of course exaggerated. On the other hand, let us ask ourselves a simple question. Did the UN really tackle the problems and tasks demanded by its Charter all through its 58 years of existence? Why pretend that the UN and its Security Council performed the functions of maintenance of peace and security during the Cold War? As a matter of fact, two super power kept the UN paralyzed for years with their confrontation. America invaded Vietnam without the UN Security Council's mandate, and we did so with Afghanistan afterwards. Let us not pretend therefore that something extraordinary happened now. We'd better admit that the UN Charter has been implemented only in part. Super powers of the past permitted the UN to operate within a narrow niche only. It means that the organization has never performed its major function in the sphere of maintenance of peace - that of coercion. We can mention two exceptions - with Korea and Iraq in 1991 - but that's what they truly are. Just exceptions. It is clear that it could not have been otherwise during the Cold War.
The UN as it is nowadays is an international organization that may handle "post-war pacification" at best. It cannot coerce anyone for the sake of peace in the first place. The UN is not strong in the military or financial sense. We should admit that the role the UN plays is important, but as far as its major task is concerned the UN has been a failure. That much has to be admitted too.
Needless to say, the UN structures - above all its Security Council - do not reflect the true correlation of forces in global affairs and politics. Even the composition of the permanent five is not a group of the five key players in international affairs as it should be in the early 21st century. How could such a power as India have been omitted from the list?
But let us tell the truth and shame the devil. By admitting India, we would create a situation where India and Pakistan would be rewarded for the serious blow they have struck at the non- proliferation regime. We can recall other claimants, of course - Brazil or Mexico, for example. I'd call it a paradoxical and tragic situation. Reforms are needed to make the UN more effective than it has been until now. However, by initiating the reforms, we might find ourselves opening a Pandora's box that would split the UN for good.
(Translated by A. Ignatkin)