Africa and UN System the Term Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Subject: Government
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #40458124

Excerpt from Term Paper :

" (UNDP, 2007) Therefore, the official voice of the UN draws the attention on the necessity of the societies facing difficulties that the best means possible for the re-launch of their economic segment and automatically the eradication of poverty is the share value of the work they undergo.

Despite the realistic tone of most official commentaries, the reality on the ground rarely coincides. In this respect, there are other factors as well that play a significant role in shaping the relations and evolution trends of the countries around the African continent. One of these factors is represented by the financial institutions that make up the World Bank Group. Thus, the IMF and the World Bank "are two of the most powerful international financial institutions in the world. They are the major sources of lending to African countries, and use the loans they provide as advantage to prescribe policies and dictate major changes in the economies of these countries. The World Bank is the largest public development institution in the world, lending over U.S.$22 billion in 2005 - of which almost U.S.$4 billion (or 17 per cent) went to Africa." (Africa Action, 2006) However, this continuous system of borrowing from the financial institutions creates a certain dependency on the source of money. In turn, due to the restrictive nature of the conditions imposed by the institutions, they gain access to the major decision making authorities and thus end up controlling their economies. Ultimately, it can be said that the political scene becomes gradually sensitive to the international pressures and thus looses legitimacy in front of the electorate. Argentina's situation, as one of the poorest Latin American countries in 1999, defined the IMF by refusing to pay the remaining of a loan, at the cost of starving the population. Although the people saluted the decision of the authorities, for the political ministers, it was indeed a trying experience. (the Economist, 2004)

Indeed, the situation of the African continent is a rather complex issue in the evolution of international relations. Poverty and famine must be drastically eradicated, should a better and more secure life for the African peoples be built. However, such an endeavor demands the coordination of all the parties involved. The United Nations was built especially for proving the international context for the gathering of information and of people that would set themselves in agreement over different courses of action.

At the internal level, it is important for the national, local, the private sector, and the state to fully implement and reduce the constant tensions that exist to this day among the local communities, or government, and the aid relief agencies' personnel. The national authorities should have in mind the overall interest of its population and define a series of general guidelines that should have as focus the reduction of the poverty level and the improvement of the standard of living. At the local level, the major players must be determined to put in application the procedures relevant to their line of activity and be able to coordinate the reconstruction efforts. Most importantly however, it is the state in itself that must set the overall strategy and negotiate at the international level the positioning of the country in the most advantageous conditions.

At the international level, therefore, there is a heated debate over the United Nations system and the right sharing of power among its members. The reform plans have occupied center stage from the early history of the organization, taking into account the immediate proposals of the first Secretary General to reorganize the staff and the facilities, soon after the start of the organization's work. (Luck, 2003) However, due to the inability of the UN to function properly and to deliver the results expected by the international community, the need for reform is indeed stringent. In this respect, the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, created a panel that would inquire on the possibilities of reform, taking into consideration the current "threats, challenges and change" that the UN system would have to face.

The final report of the Panel issued a series of recommendations that "deal with a wide range of problems facing the international community (and) address such central issues of contemporary international relations as the use of force and self-defense, peacekeeping and peace enforcement, terrorism and transnational organized crime,8 weapons of mass destruction, and poverty, diseases, and environmental issues. Moreover, the panel not only recommends overhauling the work of some UN organs, but also suggests some amendments to the Charter, in addition to those necessitated by the proposed enlargement of the Security Council." (Blum, 2005)

The most vivid debate is however on the institutional reform that the UN would undergo. This is largely due to the continuous challenges over the undemocratic nature of the veto of the Permanent 5. Indeed, the vital decisions in the Organization regarding the maintenance of peace and security were focused in the Security Council, which the Major Powers would control. For their joint and individual protection each was to be able to prevent the Organization from taking measures contrary to their vital interests. (Schlesinger, 2003) in this context, the Security Council had no power to indict or condemn the wrongful doings of one of the P5. Therefore, the organization as a whole limited its scope to the rest of the world, aside from the P5. From the perspective of the rest of the UN members, it was considered to be a lack of democratic decision making and therefore most countries relied on the collective power of the General Assembly. As a result of this strategy is the Uniting for Peace UN General Assembly resolution that permitted two thirds of the expressed votes in the Assembly to annul the Security Council veto: "Uniting for Peace provides that if, because of the lack of unanimity of the permanent members of the Security Council (France, China, Russia, Britain, United States), the Council cannot maintain international peace where there is a "threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression," the General Assembly "shall consider the matter immediately...." The General Assembly can meet within 24 hours to consider such a matter, and can recommend collective measures to U.N. members including the use of armed forces to "maintain or restore international peace and security." (Ratner and Lobel, 2003) it was used in the Korean case and it was the proof that, despite the limited capacity of the General Assembly and the undemocratic system present in the Council, the will of the peoples could eventually prevail.

The proposals for the reform of the Security Council vary to a large extent. One point-of-view is the one shared by those who consider that the financial, military and economic contribution should give them a proportionate amount of power in the decision making process. (Blum, 2005) Indeed, in appearance, it is fair to consider the legal and sovereign right to decide on the fate of the national soldiers. At the same time however, there is no moral explanation for the breach of even the first articles of the Charter that stipulated the equality of all state, which includes the sovereign right of each country to benefit from an equal vote. In the case of the African nations, the situation would become truly dramatic, taking into consideration the fact that they are the biggest debtors of the Organization. In such conditions, their right to express their opinion would become irrelevant due to its limited impact on the overall decision making process.

There are other opinions that consider that the current structure of the Security Council reflects more the world order from 1945, rather than today's reality. (Blum, 2005) in this sense, the advocates of such an idea promote the solution of enlarging the Security Council. The major contenders are Japan, the largest UN contributor, and Germany, as one of the most powerful economies in the world. However, there is little talk about expanding the UN Security Council to incorporate the representatives of important regions of the African continent. More precisely even, in the current structure of the Council, only a few areas of the world are represented, a fact that defies the democratic principles the UN promotes around the world. Indeed, the current composition of the Council is obsolete; at the same time however, the enlargement of the Council with members belonging to the upper part of the international political scene. It would not improve the democratic representation in the world forum. On a similar note, there is little chance for any of the African nations to be represented in the Council without serious political backup from the Permanent members.

Finally, another proposal for the reformation of the Council would be the complete elimination of the veto power. However, this is not a solution that would be attractive for the permanent members, a fact that, despite its more democratic nature, has few chances of actually succeeding. From the…

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