September 13, 2005

Reforming the U.N.

This past weekend The Star had a collection of essays from prominent Canadians and others about the future of the U.N. Of note were Louis Arbour, Archbishop Desmond Tutu (from South Africa), John Ralston Saul, and Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire. While each contributor had a different point of view on the subject, there was a common theme: optimism. I found it extremely encouraging that there was so much positive outlook from such influential and inspiring people. When it comes from a man such as Romeo Dallaire, it is especially so. If anyone has the right to be pessimistic about the U.N., it is definitely Dallaire. Yet, here he is openly expressing his optimism. If that isn’t reason enough to believe in the institution then I’m not sure what would be. There were two articles in particular caught my eye, one being Dallaire’s and the other from J.R. Saul. While Saul’s is a bit less forgiving than Dallaire’s, eventually both agree that certain reforms need to be made and that the role of the U.S. needs to change. It either needs to be limited (R.D.) or eliminated (J.R.S.). I tend to sit in the middle somewhere. For the U.N. to be most effective the veto power has to be taken away, especially from the U.S. A more balanced spread of power has to be given to all involved countries. It doesn’t make sense that the majority of power lies in the hands of five countries that represent a minority of people. The U.S. and others need to be placed at the same level as every other country that is also a member but has always been marginalized, both politically through intergovernmental agencies and economically through strong arm trade agreements and institutions, by, but not limited to, the U.S. However, if this position is not agreeable to a nation like the U.S. then I would be prepared to see them walk. Whereas Saul believes the U.N. should just cut them out, I’m not so harsh in opinion. However, I do think he is right that the U.N. can function without them and possibly be more effective by being less political in a sense. While the U.N. may have less funds and less access to resources, if the U.S. were not involved, it would remove a major political roadblock. It is possible that mobilization when needed would also become more frequent, especially when the next Congo/Holocaust/Rwanda happens, the type of events it was essentially designed to prevent from happening in the first place. In addition, the smaller and marginalized countries may also be more willing to participate because the fear of retribution may not be so great. However, these are also possible if the U.S. is relegated to a more balanced position as well. And with their participation the funds and resources are almost guaranteed to a degree but they are no longer in the leadership role they are no longer suited for or deserve. This may allow for a better leader or better view to emerge from the woodwork. Whatever the future holds for the U.N. may be seen in the next few days as they are getting set to do a review of their structure and policies in hopes of developing a reform plan. Even Paul Martin, our ‘esteemed’ Prime Minister, will be in attendance. Let us all hope he read the The Star this past weekend and stands up for the right ideas. Links to each authors essay: * Our own flaws are its downfall: self-interest, greed, hatred – Bob Rae * When states fail to protect their own, the United Nations must act – Dr. Lloyd Axworthy * A reminder of our common humanity – Dr. Margaret MacMillan * Evolving a world where might is not right – Archbishop Desmond Tutu * Is the U.N. over? – Olivia Ward * At risk of whimpering into oblivion – John Ralston Saul * Members must push the U.N. from talk to action – Louise Arbour * Canada has critical role to play in reforms - Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire


Scott Tribe said...

Hey Kyle:

aboard to the Progressive Blogger group.

Mark Francis said...

Good post! I'll place in My Blahg News Thursday.

And welcome aboard!

After each post, you'd do well to link to Canadian Conversation and use the submit post feature to add you post to that database. You have to select a category and subcategory when you do so. For example, this post of yours would go under International - United Nations.

It's a way to get extra traffic and to quickly see what others are writing about all over the canadian blogoshere.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)