The United Nations was founded in 1945 in the aftermath of the victorious end of the Second World War in favor of the Allies, namely the United States, Britain and France, and the Former Soviet Union which brought about the collapse of Germany and Berlin from the East. Lofty ideals were propagated by the victorious Powers as the building blocks of this noble edifice to ensure international peace and harmony. If one were to go by the record of the United Nations of the last sixty four years international peace and security stand more breached by its Big Five members, than peace ensured, one is led to the sad conclusion that unless the imperatives for drastic structural reforms are not recognized by the major global Powers, the United Nations too seems destined to fading away as its predecessor, the League of Nations.
The “United” Nations is a misnomer as there is nothing united about it in terms of a united resolve not only to ensure global peace, but it remains “disunited “ in terms of upholding the noble ideals and the founding principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Come September every year when the annual General Assembly takes place in New York, one sees a motley procession of political dignitaries from all over the world, big and small, mouthing platitudes and giving sermons, more in terms of attitude statements than with any serious intent to follow them.
The cleavages within the apex body, the Security Council of the Global Five Major Powers became apparent soon after the founding of the United Nations. The Western Powers were soon embroiled in the infamous Cold War against their fellow Security Council member, the Former Soviet Union. The Cold War intense struggle for global dominance manifested itself not only in heartland Europe but also manifested itself in diverse forms in all the strategically important geopolitical regions of the world. This strategic struggle continues even today with addition of a more militarily challenging emerging power of China.
The United Nations Security Council as the apex organ of the United Nations is the first and most top priority organ for structural reforms. It is not representative of the strategic realities that now define the emerging world order and nor is it representative of the international character of a global organization. In terms of strategic realities Great Britain and France are no longer global powers of consequence. In terms of international character the UN Security Council is Western –centric and US –centric in that out of the five Permanent members, three are Western countries namely USA, France and Great Britain. All these three are part of the Atlantic Alliance and NATO.
India, Japan and Brazil along with South Africa need to be incorporated as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council by virtue of their emerging power profiles, economic strengths and political importance as regional powers in their respective regions. However, the tragedy is that the existing Big Five are averse to expand the Security Council as they fear that their traditional hold on global affairs could be diluted.
Take the example of China. China as an Asian country should normally have been expected to second the inclusion of India and Japan as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council in terms of Asian solidarity. China regrettably is vehemently opposed to this move as it fears that its strategic and political importance as the only Asian nation in the Security Council as a Permanent Member would become marginalized with the inclusion of India and Japan.
Similarly, the much hyped UN Peacekeeping Operations in different parts of the world are more determined by strategic and political inclinations of the Big Five than by global imperatives of peace. Further, these UN operations are costly and reports suggest that there is a lot of corruption involved in terms of vested inflation of logistics support bills of such operations. Regional flashpoints and threat to peace should be left to regional organizations and regional powers to deal with, without financial burden on the United Nations.
The United Nations has a bloated UN Headquarters Secretariat in New York with an over-paid and over-staffed bureaucracy to run programs from the doubtful utility of international relief, humanitarian aid and what not. Take for example the case of the Middle East. There are any number of UN Peacekeeping and UN Observer Missions in the Middle East besides refugee aid programs for the Palestinians etc. The Middle East abounds in Islamic oi- rich nations with trillions at their command. Why should these Islamic nations not take on themselves the burden of problems which plague the Islamic World?
The issues mentioned in this Column are only pointers besides a host of other issues which call for a thorough re-examination of the structure and functions of the United Nations.
Without awaiting the detailed re-structuring and overhaul of the United Nations, the first imperative step and priority is to restructure the UN Security Council by inclusion of India, Japan, Brazil and South Africa as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council with “full veto powers”.