Guide The United Nations in the 21st Century

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To date, Japan has participated in eight UN peacekeeping operations dispatching over 4, personnel to support these activities. Prompt and effective humanitarian assistance is the key to a successful international response during and after conflicts. In this context, humanitarian assistance is clearly one of the essential elements for promoting global security. Japan has actively provided material and personnel assistance as well as financial contributions through multilateral organizations.

While armed conflict gives rise to humanitarian crises, it can also instantly wipe out the results of development efforts made over many years and precipitate huge economic losses. Unrest and conflict have at times even destroyed the basic structure of a state, with the result that some countries and regions have been left with a seriously weakened government or no government at all. Assistance to such weak states has become a key international issue. Japan has undertaken efforts to implement DDR disarmament, demobilization and reintegration , nation-building and humanitarian assistance in order to promote human security and consolidation of peace.

As the only country in the world to have experienced the scourge of nuclear weapons and one that exports no weapons, Japan has been actively making diplomatic efforts to promote nuclear disarmament through a practical and progressive approach, such as by submitting a draft resolution on nuclear disarmament to the UN General Assembly since Japan is of the strong view that all countries need to strengthen enforcement with respect to non-proliferation of arms in all its phases, by taking effective measures in the areas of export and import control, domestic control and border control, as well as participating actively in the Proliferation Security Initiative PSI.

Japan is actively promoting this comprehensive approach to combating proliferation, particularly in Asia.

Reforming the UN to Address 21st Century Threats

Japan has provided technical assistance to countries in need to overcome difficulties in enforcing effective measures for the nonproliferation. At the same time, Japan is especially urging countries that have not yet concluded the IAEA Additional Protocol to do so without delay. The General Assembly mainly represents the developing world, which holds the large majority of its seats. The Security Council is dominated by the most powerful nations, which have permanent seats.

The Court is limited to the issues on which it can speak: only those relating to international law. The Secretary-General has become the closest thing we have to the "voice" of the world's conscience on the wide range of political, economic and humanitarian issues. The Charter states that the Secretary-General is the "chief administrative officer," and that he or she is to perform the functions entrusted to him or her by the other organs. The one area where the Charter explicitly gives the Secretary-General a significant independent role is for warning. Article 99 states that "the Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.

Article 99 has been invoked explicitly only three times. Usually the Secretary-General has become involved only after conflicts have escalated into armed clashes and are well known to the world. A major thrust should now be made in conflict prevention, which means strengthening the capacity for early warning and rapid reaction. For effective early warning, the UN needs to improve two things: access to information and the capacity to analyze it. Access involves, first of all, the ability to observe and inspect areas where there is a potential for conflict and to talk with the parties.

Currently, national sovereignty dictates that UN fact-finding missions require the consent of the host state, something that is often not forthcoming. While the major powers have reconnaissance satellites, which operate above the boundaries of national sovereignty and which can observe all countries of the world, the UN has no such system. A major priority should be to obtain regular access to useful information possessed by member states, such as satellite imagery. There are not, at present, any agreements for the automatic transfer of information to the UN and only vague responsibilities are recognized by member states.

These responsibilities should be formalized in one or more information-sharing agreements to help the UN better anticipate conflicts.

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An even greater step forward would be for member states to develop a treaty that permitted the UN to conduct inspections on an "any time, any where" basis. Creating more openness is the key to early warning. One component could be to establish a "global open skies" system, which would allow the UN to overfly any desired sites on short perhaps 12 hour notice. This would, for instance, allow the UN to spot preparations for surprise attacks. While this is not a guarantee of conflict prevention, it makes the risk of exposure of preparations for attack much greater and hence it is a deterrent to armed conflict.


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A greater capacity for analysis is necessary within the Secretariat, including the capacity for scenario-building of conflict escalation and prospective responses. It is therefore proposed that the UN develop an Information, Analysis and Research branch under the Secretary-General to carry out in-depth work, that is beyond the capacity of the current departments and could be of use to them also. The UN Secretariat is currently understaffed and under-resourced. Subject to U. The UN's regular budget, being held at zero growth, is a small fraction less than 0. The world needs to shift its priorities.

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An increase in UN staff and resources is needed. After the Cold War, the workload of the UN Secretariat jumped significantly but more staff and resources were denied, leading to a decline in morale. If the UN is to meet the major global challenges of peace and security, environment and development, it will be necessary to at least double the staff and resources at the UN and its agencies over the next 25 years. Of all the UN reform issues, the question of creating UN armed forces is probably the most controversial.

It also is the cardinal question of the twenty-first century: whether and how to place military force under international authority. In , if you had asked San Francisco delegates to identify the primary difference between the new UN and the old League, the most frequent response would undoubtedly have been that the UN will have its own fighting forces.

Under Article 43 of the Charter, nations are supposed to make such forces available to the Council and to sign agreements with the UN on the nature of these forces. However, as the Cold War quickly paralyzed the Council, no such agreements were ever developed. Even now, after the Cold War, the necessary unity of will and vision is not present. The UN is not yet ready to collectively organize and control military forces that might be engaged in war fighting. Military enforcement will have to remain in the hands of members states for at least a few decades, though the Security Council must remain the sole forum to authorize military enforcement actions.

At present we will have to continue to rely on existing military organizations such as NATO in the former Yugoslavia and ad hoc coalitions such as the U. In the long run over 50 years , it will become possible to create an international force to operate under strict guidelines and rules of engagement, but the international maturity and will is not now present.

Peace-keeping tasks are a different matter altogether. The UN should now boost its current arrangements for standby peace-keeping forces.

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Some nations such as Scandinavian countries have units ready to assume peace-keeping duties on short notice on request of the UN Secretary-General-but still subject to final national consent. More nations should make such commitments with the fewest possible conditions, in order to strengthen the capacity of the Secretary-General for rapid reaction. Even more desirable would be the establishment of a standing peace-keeping force recruited on an individual basis.

The use of national military contingents has many drawbacks: units rarely train together before they reach the field, the standards between contingents are wide ranging, as are their capabilities, equipment and attitudes. Most importantly, peace-keepers in the field feel a dual allegiance: to their own countries and to the UN. At times, this leads to problems, such as a lack of discipline and unwillingness to follow orders from the Secretary-General. An individually recruited force, even if it is only a vanguard force, would overcome many of these problems.

The soon-to-be-established Rapidly Deployable Military Headquarters is an important initiative in this direction. If funding can be obtained, the UN could, within the next ten years, start to build its own peace-keeping units of civilians as well as military personnel to be ready on short notice for deployment to the field.


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  5. These principles are the same ones that we have come to demand though not always obtain of our national civil services and our domestic law enforcement agencies. Favoritism should be discouraged and an evenhanded approach taken impartiality. The punishment of a crime should be proportional to the severity of the crime proportionality.

    Responses should come with minimum delay automaticity and the bodies dealing with these matters should have the proper legislative mandate legitimacy , and be held responsible to a higher body or the larger international community accountability. It is especially important to hold the Security Council, the UN's most powerful body, to these principles. One often has the feeling that its responses are driven by favoritism or national interests of the major powers rather than impartiality.

    The application of mandatory sanctions on Libya for its refusal to hand over alleged terrorists in the Lockerbie bombing is a case in point. It can be questioned whether the application of sanctions was impartial and proportionate, since many nations have refused to yield suspected criminals to accusing nations Canada, for instance, has often refused to deport such persons to the United States and no such sanctions regime was applied. Its legitimacy might have been tested before the ICJ, but the Court found that Libya could not bring Great Britain and the United States, which were unwilling, to judgement, under the compulsory jurisdiction clause.

    And finally, although the Security Council reports once a year to the General Assembly and is mandated to act on behalf of all member states, its reports are not substantive and do not provide justifications of its actions. The body must be reminded of its accountability to the international community. In the future, it would be wise to codify these basic principles in a major document. For this exercise, we have to look far into the future, to the second half of the twenty-first century.

    Thinking beyond involves a great stretch of the imagination but, for that reason, it's also the most interesting and controversial!

    I envision that the structure of international organization will increasingly resemble that of national organization. I believe this trend is desirable and will help secure peace and good governance. It must happen in an evolutionary fashion over a period of decades and apply only to clearly delineated areas of international responsibility, which will grow over time. Modern governments have three universally accepted branches: the executive which includes the foreign affairs department and the military , the legislative parliamentary bodies such as the U.

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    The United Nations System in the 21st Century

    See figure 1A top part. The international counterparts to these already exist in rudimentary form, as illustrated in the lower half of figure lA. The UN Secretariat functions, to some extent, as an executive body with limited decision-making powers. The Security Council is partly an executive and partly a legislative body.

    The General Assembly is mostly a legislative body, through its resolutions are only recommendatory upon nations. The judiciary is, of course, represented by the International Court of Justice located in The Hague but at present the Court can only hear cases with the consent of the disputants, who must be states. In the current system figure 1A , it is the executive branches of the national governments that send representatives to the General Assembly and the Security Council and place their officials in the senior ranks of the Secretariat.