Leading article: The UN should be stronger, not a scapegoat
Saturday 18 September 1999
Indubitably, the importance of the UN is growing, and will almost certainly continue to grow. Indeed, in the age of the global village, in which countries must increasingly reconcile their differences, and where flagrant breaches of international law can no longer be kept hidden, it could scarcely be otherwise. If the United Nations did not exist it would have to be invented. But the presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers who will gather in New York next week for the UN's 54th General Assembly have little cause for self-congratulation. Rather they should seek the courage to correct the deep flaws which still prevent the world organisation from doing its job properly.
Too often the UN, and its admittedly cumbersome bureaucracy, are made scapegoats for the failings of its member states. For the UN to be more effective, these governments, especially the five permanent members of the Security Council who are the ultimate arbiters of what the UN can and cannot do, must surrender some power. In organisational terms, this means creating a Security Council reflecting not the world of 1945, but the world of 2000. Not only Britain, France, the US, China and Russia should have permanent seats with the right of veto, but also Japan, India, Germany, Brazil and perhaps South Africa. Ideally, too, that veto power should be watered down. Meanwhile, the UN's operational capacity must be strengthened.
This week Kofi Annan, whose performance as Secretary General is rightly much admired, urged a greater readiness to act under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorises the use of force to prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity. This implies endowing the world body with something close to its own army, under the command of the Secretary General. A revamped Security Council, a standing UN army - these are huge goals. But until they are achieved, utopia will remain as far away as ever.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 Chelsea victory parade mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 3 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 4 Woman, 21, dies after taking contraceptive pill that 'caused fatal blood clot'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Glastonbury lineup 2015: The Women's Institute to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
Twin Peaks series 3: Man behind the 'dark, cloying and obsessive' original soundtrack returns to work with David Lynch
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show's most iconic characters just met
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people