It was one of those weeks that cannot bear no consequences: Chatham House 2nd London Conference on global trends; Kofi Annan speech in Stuttgart, Germany – “The world is spinning out of control: who takes responsibility in crises and conflicts?”; attending in person lecture in Amsterdam University “After the Fall: International Politics, US Grand Strategy and the End of the Pax Americana” of renowned American professor Dr. Christopher Layne; as well as presentation of Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, in the Hague Institute of Global Justice. All associated with “world in such a state of flux, there is anxiety about the future and what it holds for our children”.
But the big missing on the stage is the one who should be in charge of solving this sort of problems – the organisation of the United Nations, and its Security Council, in particular. Historically, the United Nations system was designed at the end of WW2 to avoid more wars. Article 24 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates: “In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.”
There must have been a well deserved moment of recognition for the role and sacrifice of the five permanent member countries in the past war, but giving them the power of veto, from the point of view of the other (now 188) member states, was an expression of trust, and an instrument of authorisation for these five countries to maintain international peace and security.
The overall contribution of United Nations to the human civilization would have been immeasurably greater if certain developments had not prevented the Security Council to fully repay this trust. Due to deficiency of global civilizational thinking, after WW2 all major countries got engaged in ideological confrontation and in struggle for world domination. As a result, the Security Council members practically nationalised these extraordinary powers and applied them as a powerful extension of their own national foreign policy. Most of the other countries were involved on the newly spread battlefield, through proxy politicians, proxy revolutions, proxy democracy, proxy oppositions and proxy governments, waging proxy wars. New NGOs were invented and old ones gradually had to join one camp or the other. Press and media were diverted to take the “right” side, readily offering truth as a sacrifice to the powerful. For the past 70 years this caused around the world bloody massacres, severe violation of basic human rights, and massive destruction of material and cultural values. Additionally, in the conditions of increasing distrust in international relations, the human civilization wastes huge resources for non-productive investment in defence and security, soaring to 9 trillion USD only in year 2014.
Thus the special powers, authorising the five countries to serve the world community, were in reality misused for their national purposes. With the more grave consequence – the Security Council became dysfunctional: even if all the time since its establishment in 1945 the joint military, political and economic power of the five permanent members was more than enough to implement decisions related to its fundamental agenda: maintaining international peace and security, it failed to deliver.
The Middle East in year 2015
Attempts to substitute vetoed Security Council decisions through parallel constructions such as Coalition of the willing existed on the edge of international law. Even if temporary in time and regionally limited, parallel constructions bear the hidden imminent danger of precedence. As no patience can be eternal, If the current United Nations system continues to sustain its inability to efficiently protect the lives of human beings, human rights, material values and cultural heritage, the majority of 188 member states could some day, not without reason, decide to dump it and to create a new international body that will most probably function better for what is designed.
In the current crucial moment of intensive global instability, it is high time for the Security Council to repay its credit of trust. Just like FIFA has to reform itself and regain the trust of the hundreds of millions of soccer lovers, the Security Council has to reform itself. The big five have to design a joint capability that can efficiently face the serious problems of our civilization, and especially its responsibilities under Article 24 of the Charter.
For the broad discussions on the reform of the Security Council, just one more idea:
DENATIONALISE THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS
This could be a small realistic step to begin with. Currently, in every country global issues are analysed and action is blueprinted in a branch within the foreign service – ministry or department of Foreign Affairs. This branch normally prepares the positions also for the representatives in the Security Council. By default, however, the whole machine of any country’s foreign service is designed to promote and protect exclusively its national interests. Because if you have an apple tree, you cannot expect mango fruits to be growing there, if you are a Security Council member you need to
establish an independent national structure for global policies
Such agency will have to work with visions beyond the narrowly defined national interests of its own country. Its priority focus must be on long-term and indirect benefits for the country, including the by-products coming through the existence of stable, peaceful and predictable international political environment. For such a structure there must be a well functioning sophisticated system of subordination with its own government, and in regard to the traditional foreign policy service of the same country. A mechanism that can process, evaluate and separate two complexly intertwined, imaginary and most possibly mutually contradicting models of state behaviour: one with the classic foreign policy line, and one associated with positions as a member of the Security Council. Maybe this dual foreign policy exercise has never been comprehensively done yet, but in a world where global and nationally relevant processes and interests are becoming more and more interrelated, the corresponding methodologies are needed.