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.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
The Gamechangers trailer: Daniel Radcliffe stars in GTA movie
Star Wars: New action dolls launched on Force Friday ahead of The Force Awakens release
Ricki And The Flash, film review: Meryl Streep's rock'n'roll creation steals the show
Joan Aiken: Today's Google Doodle celebrates life of British fantasy novelist
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Refugees welcome: More than 250,000 sign Independent petition calling for Britain to 'take its fair share'