By Roger Kotila, Ph.D.
Democratic World Federalists are launching a campaign for a review of the United Nations Charter. A recent speech by outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticizing UN voting is welcome news since it supports DWF’s contention that there is a need for Charter review. Global democracy and enforceable world law at the UN are seriously lacking.
The Charter itself fails to give adequate “law and order” authority to the UN. As a result, the more powerful nations often take advantage of weaker countries and overthrow, or militarily invade them. The leaders and generals responsible for these allegedly illegal international attacks remain free from legal prosecution – they are above the law.
The UN Charter’s judiciary system is hopelessly inadequate and hence cannot prosecute these powerful leaders – protected by their nation’s boundless sovereignty. As a result, the world suffers from perpetual wars, and the UN is reduced to being a Red Cross agency for the refugee families fleeing the carnage of war.
Moreover, the nuclear weapons which threaten all of humanity are kept on hair trigger alert despite the wishes of the majority of nations and the world community at large. As with war, the UN cannot legally prosecute those individual leaders who are responsible for what amounts to a policy of global terrorism.
Finally, because the UN Charter grants almost unlimited sovereignty to each nation, the race against climate change must depend upon the willingness of 193 nations and the multinational corporations to cooperate. At a time when we need mandatory cooperation from all nations, the new US President Donald Trump threatens to go in exactly the wrong direction, and the UN can do nothing.
At a talk at New York University, outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called out the UN for its unfair and undemocratic voting system. According to reporter Thalif Deen, Ban Ki-moon criticized both the unfair veto power of the Permanent-5, and the use of “consensus” voting.
A speech full of platitudes
It remains to be seen if the new Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, will take up Ban Ki-moon’s challenge, or if the UN will remain the same. The UN acceptance speech by Mr. Guterres does not raise my hopes. He makes no mention of the need to change the undemocratic system of voting at the UN, or the need for a new Charter. His speech to the UN General Assembly is mostly full of platitudes:
“In the end it comes down to values. . .values enshrined in the UN Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance, and solidarity . . . Our duty to the peoples we serve is to work together to move from fear of each other, to trust in each other.”
Blackmail? Threats to defund the UN
Mr. Guterres may also face potential “blackmail” from some members of the U.S. Congress. Senators Cruz and Graham, angry that nations voted their conscience on Resolution 2334 which supports Palestinian rights over Israel’s illegal land thefts, threaten to defund the UN if 2334 is not repealed – a threat that could be interpreted as a form of blackmail on behalf of Israel.
The UN deserves better. It deserves a fair and authentic democracy that represents and serves all the peoples and nations, not just the Permanent 5 and other wealthy or militarily powerful nations.
Leadership and a “new UN”
Secretary-General Guterres could show real leadership by supporting DWF’s campaign for a review of the UN Charter. Such a review could open the door to a public discussion of the type of world charter/constitution actually needed to make the world community safe and prosperous. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth (Earth Constitution) has been proposed as a model for a new charter/constitution with its democratic structure and a well- designed world judiciary system with enforceable world law. Yes, a “new UN” is possible. Become a member of DWF and help us build a “new UN.”