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The need for UN reform in the digital age.
Security Council (UN)
World Day of the United Nations (UN) is celebrated annually on the 24th October, the anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter in 1945. The ratification of this charter by the majority of the signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, marked the birth certificate of the United Nations. Recently, the United Nations recommended that October 24th of each year should be celebrated by all Member States of the United Nations.
Since we celebrated the October 24th of this year, Lte magazine offers their readers the English translation of the article entitled “The necessity of UN reform in the digital era”, which is an UN reform proposal for the organization that seems to be overwhelmed by problems related to the digital. Such as problems related to 5G, the Internet of Things and cybersecurity.
Especially that the World Trade Organization (WTO),which do not belong to the United Nations system, main mission is to act within a multilateral framework to reduce barriers and help countries resolve their trade disputes. WTO is not intended to deal with non-trade issues. More precisely, WTO is not intended to address issues related to the digital interactions such as 5G and cyber security interactions!
The period having known the creation of the international Organization of United Nations (UNO) in 1945, was full of sense and was translated by the will of the victorious countries to go towards the peace and towards less economic fracture between nations.
First of all, we will briefly give a description of this international organization, then we will review the experiences of the UNO and the possibilities of reforms to improve its efficiency:
The creation of the UNO was decided on October 24th, 1945 in San Francisco (USA), just after the Second World War, to maintain the international peace and security, while aiming at the promotion of the economic and social progress. Therefore, the UNO replaced the League of Nations (LN) which was created in 1919.
In term of organisation, the UNO counts six organs and the main ones are, the Security Council, the General assembly, the General Secretary and the economic and social council the role of which is to insure the coordination with institutions specialized as the international Union of Telecoms (ITU).
The International Court of Justice (CJI) constitutes the judicial organ of the UNO which handles only disputes between States. The united nations Charter, is the constituent instrument of the UNO; it is a multilateral international agreement , which specifies the major principles which govern the international relations, since the sovereign equality of States until the ban to use the strength between countries. This charter also fixes the obligations and the rights of Member states, and organizes the creation of organs and procedures.
The General assembly consists of all the Members of the UNO; each member has a vote.
General Assembly (UN)
The Security Council consists of fifteen members among whom five permanent employees and ten not permanent employees elected by the General assembly for a period of two years. The General Secretariat includes a General Secretary. Concerning the International Criminal Court (CPI), it is not really a part of the UNO organs. Having been established in Rome in 1998, it was officially created only on July 1st, 2002. At present, two thirds of the member countries of the UNO ratified its status, except some countries such as Russia and the United States of America. We should note that the relation between the UNO and the CPI is concretized by an agreement signed on October 4th, 2004 by the President of the Court and the United Nations General Secretary , this agreement recognizes the independence of the Court while establishing a frame of cooperation between both organizations.
The assessment of the activities of the UNO, in term of time and space, shows that there are successful missions and less successful missions .
Among the successful missions, it’s important to underline the active work of the specific bodies of UNO as the ITU, the World Health Organization (WHO), The United Nations Organization for food and agriculture (FAO).
Since its creation, the ITU was able to accompany all the countries in the control of the management of frequency spectrum and in the supervision of the telecommunication’s evolution, also with the advent of the optical fiber, the Internet, the cellular technology and the 5G. The WHO played an important role in the improvement of health at the international level, by participating in a dynamic way in the elimination of certain serious illnesses. The FAO brings a technical help to countries and particularly to the developing ones to build a world free from the hunger.
Concerning the limitations of the UNO, we have the impression that the UNO, since its creation in 1945, serves especially to impose the ascendancy of major powers on other than reducing it, it is in a way, a tool to legitimize the big powers in the world. Besides, the use of the right of veto confirms it. Moreover, the word “democracy” is not quoted in the Charter of the United Nations. It is worth to note that the United Nations Security Council is able to ask for the intervention of CPI even if two powers having the right of veto, have not ratified the status of Rome yet.
Also, the UNO is often short-circuited by the informal meetings of G7 or G20 which take an important part in the management of certain international crises. Moreover, specialized institutions of the UNO will be more and more exceeded by the forums if they do not adapt themselves to the new organizational and technological paradigms. So, for illustrative purposes, the forum “Alimentarius” competes seriously with the FAO regarding food standards. Moreover, M. Habib Ghériri in his book «the international relations» edition LGDJ, assert that if the «XX th century is a century of creation of international organizations, the XXI th century will be the one of groups and forums”.
The Right of veto which gives absolute powers to 5 permanent members of the Security Council is in obvious contradiction with the principle of the equality of all the member states, registered in the charter. This right of veto is used by five permanent countries without being clearly defined in the charter of the UNO. Indeed, Articles 27,108 and 109 of the UN Charter are used to use the need for agreement by a majority of the five permanent members for any decision. In spite of the existence of this council, these big countries often take action in disobedience of the terms of the UNO ‘s charter. Today, and more specifically since the end of the cold war, we are not any more in a configuration where the enemy is well known, but in a conflict “without identity “, where the UNO is unable to negotiate a peace with a no state organized entity. Worse still, in case the conflict is identified, the UNO has not a permanent army corps and the mobilization of the soldiers of the other countries for its missions seems to obey to a slow process, (without mentioning the case where the conflict is a digital war.)
Often the decision to send “peacekeepers” towards a region of tension depends on interests and on the will of major powers sitting in the Security Council. Thus, the UNO should rethink its mode of action and launch up structural reforms in order to success in its missions in order to win in credibility on behalf of the international community.
In this context, some advocate an in-depth reform of the UNO to make a real instrument in the service of peace. This reform would be imperative according to them because this organization is old of almost 70 years. Most of the current member countries did not exist back then and the generations that witnessed the creation of this organization are no more in this world. Besides, most of the global concerns of today did not exist back then, as the financial speculation, or the regulation of the cyberspace favouring the universal access to the information, which does not respect either the territorial borders or the legal regimes. The ONU should also address the challenges of 5G and the artificial intelligence.
Most of the official reforms proposed aim rather at strengthening the operating efficiency of the UNO and widening the Security Council to six new permanent members, as FRG (Federal Republic of Germany), Japan, India, Brazil, an Arab Country and an African country. Germany and Japan, as their have a significant technological and economic weights. India and Brazil have an important demographic and geographical sizes and a growing influence. The remaining countries constitute a market and a source of raw materials. These reforms also aim at properly assessing the right of veto. However, most of these reforms projects want only to create a frame that will allow all the countries to cooperate peacefully in a competing world. Indeed, the relations established on the economic ground do not contribute to the agreement but to the inverse effect. We should note that the real crisis of the UNO lies on the mind of superiority coming from certain members and not from the work of the organisation. Regarding the CPI, all the current procedures concern only our continent Africa while there is none concerning the other countries!
An alternative view see that the peace of the humanity does not lie only in the reform of the UNO but in the revolution in thinking. Indeed for this category of thinkers, the suicidal fate of the humanity seems to lie in the crisis of the human intelligence and not in the law. Moreover, the act establishing The United Nations Organization for the education, the science and the culture UNESCO on 1946 specify ” The wars born in the mind of men, it is in the mind of men that must be raised the defences of the peace “. Everything seems bound and well bound. As an example, we cannot remedy to the wars and problems of pollution of the ecosystem without a culture of quality. In spite of the existence of LEAGUE OF NATIONS back then and the UNO, the XXth century was marked by two world wars, the emergence of wars as the Golf war and the appearance of new phenomena as the use of terror for political ends. So, it is necessary to keep in mind that one of the biggest dramas of the UNO is the unsettlement of the Palestinian conflict in spite of the various resolutions that were adopted.
The lack of independence between the international justice and politics sometimes brings major powers to appoint representatives having strong political affinities with the powers in place in their countries, at the level of most of the organs of the UNO, in order to manage the political short term at the expense of the international justice.
For this category of thinkers, it is even dangerous to strengthen the power of the UNO, as recommended by Hans Kelsen in his book «Pure theory of Law” Paris LGDJ, where he proposed a unique world government assigned to the UNO. For this category of thinkers, there is a big risk of seeing the conception of human rights, from the consensual procedures of the UNO. So, in the term of these procedures anything will be presented as new right. Everybody has to comply with the international law defined by those who have the supremacy. Who knows, tomorrow a political man would be presented in front of the CPI because he gave his personal opinion onto a subject of society. So, we are going to notice more and more that the national laws could be not valid only if they are in accordance with the international law.
The analysis of work made by the UNO since 1945, brings us to express profound convictions for the necessity of reforming this organization following new criteria of neutrality, impartiality and sincerity, while taking account of new challenges as those related to the digital, migration and pollution.
This saving way for the humanity is completely feasible if the political will of the international community really exists, in order to prevent wars. In such impasses, Albert Einstein said ” Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”.
(*) Ahmed Khaouja is a telecom engineer at the “Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Telecoms” in Paris and a graduate of the Higher Institute of Commerce and the Casa Business Administration. Former chair of the meeting of North African telecom experts in the Economic Commission for Africa (UN). He has participated in several meetings of the ITU (UN) and the WTO.