This booklet prepared
by Francis GERARD (1901-1974)
Twenty-five years after the conference of San Francisco there are many who believe that the UN no longer carries out the tasks fixed for it in the Charter, namely the maintenance of peace and international security, the development of friendly relations between the nations, the achievement of international cooperation, to solve international problems for economic, social, intellectual or human development, the respect of Human Rights and fundamental liberties.
They are quite willing to give the Assembly General of the UN the role of platform for discussion and the exchange of ideas, and some are willing to admit that certain specialized bodies of the UN do a useful job. Again they think that these discussions include an element of demagogy and that the specialized bodies offer, most often to some of their staff, opportunity to lead an easy live with agreeable activities.
But as far as the essential functions of the UN, there is practically unanimous agreement that this international organization has not been able to prevent the outbreak and continuance of numerous wars (either local or of subversion), the absence of a third world war not being ascribed to the action of the UN but to the balance of terror between Soviet and American nuclear weapons (a balance that is always precarious). The action of the Blue Berets in the Congo, as in the Middle East, failed totally. The majority of conflicts have not been submitted to the international institutions for conciliation and arbitration, nor by the international court of justice.
Insofar as the protection of Human Rights is concerned, they insist on the fact that the Universal Declaration has never been completed by an International Convention. The contribution of the UN to economic and social development, principally by the creation of the Economic and Social Council, is considered derisory in the absence of adequate means put at the disposal of the developing countries.
As for the changes which have come about at the UN in the course if the first quarter of a century of its existence, it is necessary to state that the exercise of the right of veto by the permanent members of the security Council is also still harmful, in spite of the enlargement of that body.
Regarding the considerable increase of the number of members of the UN, some see this as an occasion for the two or three super-powers to build themselves a clientele among the countries which have newly acquired their independence (at least on paper). Others see a possibility for the states in the Afro-Asia group to take initiatives against the rest of the world.
This essentially negative opinion of the UN is not entirely justified.
THE UNITED NATIONS :
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
1) Certain specialized agencies, notably the FAO and the WHO are helping, efficiently, the developing countries to break out of their deplorable situation which is due to the backward state of their agriculture (too often directed to the production of a few export products rather than to products consumed locally) and of the inadequate level of development of their services of medical care and public health.
2) Particular conventions relating to the respect for certain fundamental rights have been concluded and ratified in the course of the last ten years. They carry clauses imposing notably sanctions upon offenders. The efforts exerted, thanks to the work of René Cassin, to create the post of High Commissioner for the Human Rights, have made a great deal of progress in the pas two or three years.
3) The interventions of the United Nations in international conflicts have been useful in numerous cases from the following aspects :
a) Observers have been able to give important information permitting the Secretary General to recommend the cessation of hostilities and the adoption of just solutions to these conflicts.
4) The Secretary General of the UN has more than once drawn the attention of the world to grave dangers and thus encouraged the action of member-states, or the competent bodies, to act against these dangers. The warning of the threat which exists to our environment is a recent example of such an initiative.
5) The action of th UN has in a number of cases assisted the achievement of independence of new states, particularly in Africa (Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, etc.).
All theses activities deserve a more detailed exposition which would go beyond the scope of this brochure.
Roosevelt had urged the creation of the UN to make a war between East and West less likely, because "as long you talk, you don't fight".
Whatever the numerous possibilities this war has not taken place and at the end of 1970 it seems with nothing being excluded, less probable than ever.
If the remarks which have been made tend above all to correct a too sweeping criticism formulated by those who are impatient with the slowness of the progress of human society, it does not mean, in the opinion of the writer of this brochure that all is for the best as far as the UN is concerned.
WEAKNESS OF THE UNITED NATIONS
In fact, the weaknesses of the UN are so obvious that one scarcely needs to insist upon them. The armed conflicts since the end of the second world war can be counted in hundreds : the victims of massacres perpetrated in flagrant disregard of the fundamental rights of man in local wars or internal conflicts counted in hundreds of thousand, perhaps in millions.
Famine appears regularly in many countries and malnutrition seems to be the lot of a good third of the human race. This misery is accompanied by an excessive growth in population of the countries in question. This populations cannot feed itself, clothe itself, house itself or educate itself conveniently because the economic and political systems of many countries are based upon the privileges of small cliques belonging to the neo-colonial monopolists, or to an all-powerful bureaucracy.
In 1970, during an epidemic of cholera, in Africa and the Middle East, the WHO found itself refused access to the countries where the disease was rampant, the governments, for prestige reasons wishing to conceal the epidemic.
These evils exist and perpetuate themselves in spite of the efforts of the UN and in spite of a few signs of success in certain of their bodies.
What is to be done ? All those <ho aspire to a more just and more prosperous future for humanity are agreed on one thing : the solution can no longer be found within the limits of national sovereignties. Nations, like regions, towns and villages have and always will have important tasks to fulfill : but precisely within the three areas discussed here : the maintenance of peace and security, respects for the rights of man, and economic an social development, world institutions, with limited but real powers are necessary.
How are World Institutions to be created ? Here we must distinguish two views : Some consider that it is necessary to win the support of the peoples of the world in order to set up a world constitution elaborated for the purpose and accepted by the great majority of states (either their governments consent to it or the governments would be replaced by others which will be supporters of the change) for un a world based upon Sovereign States, we shall not be able to by-pass the ratification of a world constitution by these States.
Others consider, on the contrary, that this world constitution will have to be developed from the starting point of the Charter of the UN.
These latter have evidently taken for themselves as point of departure something which already exists, and which others ought to take note of in one way or another. But it is also clear that their time is running out. If the UN does not rapidly begin to fulfill its tasks, it will be discredited before the entire world, even among the new states of the Third World which still continue to pin their hopes upon it. Its existence will then finally appear as can obstacle to the realization of its aims.
It is from this angle that we must, as much as the World Citizens view the role of the UN in our time.
On this topic it is convenient to distinguish the two aspects of the transformations of the UN : a better use of the present Charter and the reform of that Charter.
If surely certain clauses of the Carter make the achievement of the objectives it proclaims very difficult, other clauses exist whose application would on the contrary permit to move toward objectives.
Here are some examples of provisions of the Charter whose large possibilities are clearly recognizable without need to consider questions of jurisdiction. One very simple example is that of the competence of the International Court of Justice : at present it is optional for member-states to submit conflicts of jurisdiction to this Court and to respect its decisions. However, certain States have already bound themselves to submit their conflict to the Court an to aspect their decisions. Without need to alter the Carter, the States can all undertake such an engagement.
A similar engagement could be taken for the conflicts which do not derive from international law but whose political character presents the necessity for a procedure of conciliation and arbitration by the UN. This method of voluntary engagements without being perfect, can show itself, very fruital in many areas. It concerns, among others, the particular conventions on the Human Rights.
Another similar ideas, one may instance the activities of the International Agency of Atomic Energy, one of the organizations associated with the UN. Many are the States which have, up to the present time, voluntarily submitted some of their nuclear installations to a control of Agency which ought to prevent misemployment of fissile for military purpose. The countries of Latin America have all signed a treaty by which they bin themselves, not to make, nore to acquire, nuclear arms and have requested the Agency to institute amongst them the necessary control in order to verify that this engagement is respected. Under the provisions of the Non-Proliferation-Treaty concluded with the UN, after long deliberations, by their competent bodies, the Agency is charged with the verifications in respect of this Treaty by the States which have ratified it.
This is an example of the second method capable of reinforcing the UN, without modification of the Carter (a difficult undertaking to succeed in), to know the conclusion of treaties under the auspices of this organization and on its initiative.
Here we must mention a recent example : that of the Space Treaty of 1967 which stipulates that cosmic space and celestial bodies must not be the object of military activities and cannot become the national territory of any State. This treaty which has been ratifies by many countries including the USSR and the USA has been in force for more than two years. The Treaty forbidding nuclear explosions other than subterraneous explosions is again an example of the application of this method. Similar treaties concerning the banning of biological and chemical weapons and the exploitation of the ocean deeps, are being prepared.
In looking more closely, one can easily find in the Carter provisions which lay the basis for different institutions (for example on a regional scale), or bodies, such as the Chief of Staff of the UN Force, which could never be created by reason of the opposition between East and West. This could give to the Blue Berets a quite new importance.
The Secretary General of the UN, U Thant, has listed, in a important speech given before the Congress of WAWF at Ottawa in August 1970, the progress that the UN has made in the areas that we have just spoken of.
But in this speech, The Secretary General also insisted on the need for World regulation having the force of law and on the creation of World Institutions including executive, legislative and judicial power.
A PEOPLES' CHAMBER
This topic raises the second method of reinforcing the UN, which is only possible with certain essential amendments to the Carter. In fact, a true executive power cannot be based upon the rights of veto of certain permanent members of the Security Council. In order to be responsible to the Legislature, the Executive ought not to be composed merely of delegacies of the governments of the member-States but should include, at least, a Chamber elected by the peoples in a manner to be decided.
This system of election certainly ought to take into consideration the fact that a great power would give legislative power to a body in which each State, large or small, would have the same number of votes. But it ought also to reckon with the fact that the small and medium States would never agree to be dominated in a legislative assembly by the great powers which would have a representation in proportion to their population. We thus arrive at the idea of a world legislative body in which each country would have at least one vote, and no State would have a sufficient number of votes to permit a few great powers to dominate all the rest.
An executive and judiciary body with real powers, able to impose if necessary, world law by constraining offenders, presupposes the existence of a civil world police and of a world peace force able to act, if need arose, against a State or a group of Stats willing to oppose world law. This structure, therefore, involves the replacement of national armies by a world peace force.
We thus reach the conclusion that others have arrived at long ago for different reasons, knowing the necessity of general and universal disarmament under international control. Since the use of satellites for the surveillance of installation on the ground, international control should present far fewer difficulties than fifteen years ago.
REFORM OF THE CHARTER
It is sufficient to glance a measures to strengthen the UN proposed without Charter reform in order to understand that they almost all remain incomplete without other measures, which imply the reform of the Carter.
Thus, to make recognition of the decision of the International Court of Justice obligatory only assumes practical importance as far as these decisions can, if need arises, be imposed by force.
The economic and social development of the Third World can only be realized on an adequate scale as far as the UN disposes of its own financial means (instead of depending on the good will of national governments), that is to say of a budget and of a legislative assembly with budgetary power. And similarly for other measures.
At no time are the measures in the first category without some relationship to those in the second. They prepare them. For example, the voluntary control over fissile materials will be needed when general disarmament is achieved by inspections of the IAEA prepared for the activities of the corps of inspectors, and when the satellites transmit information to the world authorities, that forbidden activities seem to be taking place in such and such a research center or such and such a factory. Conventions and treaties by which the signatory States, state their agreement to accept certain sanctions in case of violation, prepare for the legislative measures by which these sanctions could be imposed by public force.
Finally, it is necessary not to lose sight of the fact, that coercive measures represent only one and not even the most important aspect of a UN reinforcement, and renewal.
Creative and constructive measures in economic, social, educative and cultural events will assume a still greater importance. It is sufficient to recall the fact that, in the struggle against the deterioration of our environment through pollution and other nuisances, the impact on public opinion, by appropriate teaching and by the action of the mass media, is a least as important as coercion.
Another example : the teaching of trades, of hygiene, etc., in developing countries, by means of educational satellites, administered by the UN is called upon to play an essential role.
The UN possesses up to the present time the experience, and the technical ability to achieve enormous ^progress in all spheres (without it, theses means would not exist), by it lacks the power of decision. This power must be given to the UN. The disappearance of the bodies which could apply these means would lead to damage difficult to repair even after many years.
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