International Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on Forei.

The United Nations at fifty : hearing before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, October 24, 1994 online

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Online LibraryInternational Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiThe United Nations at fifty : hearing before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, October 24, 1994 → online text (page 9 of 10)
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victors of the Second World War, and arguably the five "greatest world powers" when the
United Nations Charter was agreed upon and enacted, in 1945. The constellation of "great
world powers" today, of course, is decidedly different. And so, the argument goes, the
greatest world powers of our own age must somehow be granted permanent seats as well.

Security Council Recomposition

Everyone seems to agree that Japan and Germany must become permanent members
of the Council, though with or without "the veto" is unclear. These two countries are
probably the second and third richest countries in the world today, and they are definitely the
second and third largest contributors to UN activities. Japan, in fact, contributes more to the
UN budget than Britain and France put together, and already wields influence in UN affairs
through its financial clout. But that is not nearly enough. Japan and Germany clearly desire
a substantially greater voice in the leading global decisionmaking forum.


Many argue that a place at the table must also be found for "regional powers" of
substantial weight, such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, and a number of others
as well. When UN observers suggest that states such as these ought to gain permanent
Security Council membership, the argument usually is based not on any vast international
weight those states maintain by themselves, but on the need for some representation of Latin
American or Muslim and Arab or African interests as a whole. (India, arguably the "greatest
world power" after the seven already mentioned, stands as an important exception.)

But that notion, that a Nigeria or a Tanzania could or would represent broader
interests, raises a whole host of difficult questions regarding the criterion for selection. Are
we simply looking for the major political and military powers in the world today? Should
economic power instead perhaps be the primary criterion? None of today's permanent five
members are formally expected to represent interests other than their own, nor do they in
fact seem very often to do so. Could we really expect great regional powers to defend and
promote interests in the Security Council forum beyond their own perceived national
interests? Should we?

Security Council Continuation?

Mr. Chairman, in my view these sorts of difficult issues arise because we are asking
the wrong question. Before we address "who deserves a seat" on the UN Security Council,
we need to ask whether a global political organization for the world of the 21st century
should be centered around a great power security council at all.

The great power collective security structure of the San Francisco Charter was
designed primarily to prevent another Adolf Hitler from threatening international security.
That Charter itself inherited the idea of great power collective security from the the Concert
of Europe, established in 1815 to prevent another Napoleon Bonaparte from threatening
international security. The contemporary debate over the composition of the Security
Council seems to take as self-evident that as long as the "greatest world powers" of the day
are fully represented on a great power security council, the San Francisco Charter of 1945
contains global structures fully appropriate for the world of the 21st century.

If I were a time traveler just arrived and had just tuned in to that debate, I would
surely assume that the human community had already conducted a broad and elaborate
debate on the prior question, and concluded that a council of the greatest world powers of
the day tasked with the performance of collective security was the optimal form of global
political organization. But has anyone in this room ever heard that kind of question asked on
the Washington Post op-ed page, or National Public Radio, or the MacNeil-Lehrer News
Hour? No such debate has even begun to take place in the mainstream policymaking

The danger of a repetition of the 1930s today is far from the greatest danger facing
the human community as we approach the 21st century. It is far from self-evident that a
collective great power security council is the only conceivable kind of mechanism for global
decisionmaking, let alone the optimal one for the challenges of the dawning new
millennium. Moreover, the mechanism of global decisionmaking enacted in the San
Francisco Charter of 1945 is profoundly undemocratic — at a time when democracy is
purportedly the only legitimate mechanism for the governance of human affairs.

World Community of Democracies and Democratic World Community

Mr. Chairman, if we believe that democracy is the optimal, or even, in Churchill's
famous phrase, the best possible form of human governance, then I believe we must aspire
toward it at all levels of human governance. Some observers maintain that any
democratization of our main global decisionmaking structure — the UN Security Council —
would complicate the ability to reach consensus, and inhibit "decisive action" just as the UN
seems capable of beginning to fulfill its potential. I find it difficult to understand this
objection by people who profess to believe in democracy. Various human communities
maintain democratic decisionmaking structures at all other levels of human governance, and
they are rarely paralyzed into complete inaction. They are often contentious in their
procedures, but they usually manage to produce some kind of public policy, however
imperfect. Is there something fundamentally different about a global decisionmaking

If "decisive action" is the only thing we value, perhaps we should reduce the Security
Council's permanent members with veto from five to one. Or perhaps we should abolish the
United States Congress, and simply turn over all American policymaking to the American
president. These reforms would make for decisive action. Democratic decisionmaking is
difficult, but in most arenas of human governance in the late 20th century, we consider its
benefits to exceed its costs. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the United Nations,
more and more people around the world are arguing that in the largest, global arena of
human governance, the benefits of democracy will exceed its costs as well.

Many, possibly even most members of various international affairs policymaking
communities outside the United States see the UN Security Council as anachronistic,
unrepresentative, and henceforth illegitimate. "On today's agenda," said Mikhail Gorbachev
in his provocative May 1992 address at the site of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain"
speech in Fulton, Missouri, "is not just a union of democratic states, but a democratically
organized world community." "Democracy within the family of nations means the
application of its principles within the world Organization itself," said Boutrous
Boutrous-Ghali at the close of his landmark Agenda for Peace document in June of 1992.
'To retain the structure of the Security Council in its present form," according to Nigerian
President Ibrahim Babangida, "is to run the risk of perpetuating what is at best a feudal
anachronism." As the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad, asked at the 1991
General Assembly: "Are we going to be shackled forever to the results of the Second World

The United Nations Security Council as presently constituted faces no less than a
crisis of legitimacy. Surely we have had enough experience with democracy in the United
States to know that over the longer term, legitimacy is necessary for credible authority.
Surely we must recognize that we will only be able to pursue our own interests through the
United Nations over the long term if the United Nations is perceived to have some
legitimacy. President Clinton has often spoken of "the enlargement of the world community
of democracies" as one of the central objectives of American foreign policy. People in the
rest of the world maintain that there can be no such thing as a world community of
democracies unless it is a democratically governed world community. As the former
Japanese diplomat and United Nations Assistant Secretary General Tatsuro Kunigi has
argued, to do no more to the United Nations Charter in 1995 than to add Japan and Germany
and a few other major regional powers to Article 23's roster of permanent Security Council
members would perpetuate and even reinforce the undemocratic nature of the Charter, and


would run "counter to the distinct and increasingly broad current around the world calling
for global democratization."

The Veto: Undemocratic AND Indecisive

Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, the San Francisco Charter contains an institution not
only profoundly undemocratic, but an institution that could "inhibit decisive action" far more
than any conceivable democratization of global decisionmaking structures — the institution of
the great power veto. Nothing could be more undemocratic than the ability of a single state
to stand against the whole of the human community, and to command that whole into
inaction and powerlessness. And although the veto has become a rarity since the end of the
Cold War, it is not difficult to imagine a quick shift in the political winds in Moscow or
Beijing, and a quick relegation of the UN to the irrelevancy it maintained for four long
decades after its inception.

A central objective of a conservative leadership in Moscow, however objectively
harmful it might seem to Russian national interests, might be simply to reverse the national
humiliation stemming from the collapse of the Soviet empire, and to oppose the United
States and the West at every opportunity. Russian UN Security Council vetoes, simply as a
means of demonstrating national pride and independence, are far from inconceivable. China,
for its part, may at some point start to veto all UN interventions in the internal affairs of
sovereign states, which generally, as Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng has frequently argued,
use human rights issues "as an excuse." If China finds itself in the midst of a protracted post-
Deng power struggle, those controlling the levers of power may see for themselves a net
benefit in standing up to the West as the great defender of sovereignty, and in opposing and
vetoing all proposed United Nations initiatives which constitute, in Beijing's view,
"interference in domestic affairs."

Some historians maintain that but for the insistence of Joseph Stalin, the veto might
not have become part of the San Francisco Charter at all. Consider for a moment the
absurdity of humankind entering the twenty-first century with a global political organization
that has. as its single most important characteristic, a rule of decision insisted upon by one of
the two great tyrants of the twentieth century — a tyrant, moreover, who ruled through his
terror a country which no longer exists. Are we willing to allow the responses of the human
community to the great global challenges looming over the horizon to hinge on such things
as the stability of Boris Yeltsin's position or Deng Xiaoping's health? Many people argued
in 1944 and 1945 that the veto would doom the new international organization to impotence
and irrelevancy. A half century later, Mr. Chairman, I believe that those voices have been
proven correct. Over the longer term in a contentious world, a UN Security Council with a
great power veto will surely find the experience of its first forty years to be the rule, and that
of the past 3-5 years an uncommon exception.

Global Democratization: Substantive Ideas, Visionary Ideals

A number of ideas already exist regarding how democratic decisionmaking might be
brought to the global level, ideas that go well beyond simply updating the composition of the
UN Security Council. The well-known "Binding Triad" would assign additional "weight"
to a member state's individual vote on the basis of its population and financial contributions,
and pursue only those global policy decisions supported by most of the countries, most of the
people, and most of those paying the bills in the world. Many have discussed the possibility
of somehow restricting the representation of the unadulterated dictatorships of the world,
since they don't "represent" their own citizens in any meaningful sense of the word.


Some ideas go even further and reconsider the "Westphalian paradigm," and suggest
that actors other than states might maintain some kind of formal representation at the global
level. Some advocate setting up a "second chamber" at the UN, so that while national
governments would maintain their national representatives in a first chamber, citizens
around the world would directly elect their own local representatives to a UN
"parliamentary assembly." Other ideas would provide some representation for stateless
ethnic groups, so that Kurds and Sikhs and indigenous peoples could have some
representation in the affairs of the planet. Some have proposed that an imaginatively revised
UN Charter might contain both rights and responsibilities for transnational entities such as
citizens movements, business and professional and worker associations, moral, spiritual and
religious bodies, and the movers of multinational capital and commerce and
communications. And some of the most visionary thinkers maintain that a true global
democracy will endeavor to fully represent not just all the parts of the human community
today, but the longer-term interests of the whole of the human community and of the planet
on which we reside.

Mr. Chairman, I do not propose that all of these ideas could or should be on the
international affairs agenda next year, during the UN's 50th anniversary in 1995. What I do
propose is that the debate should proceed from the premise that democracy is the optimal
form of human governance at all levels of human governance, and that we should aspire to
move toward it at our largest, global level of human governance. As the human community
develops more and more into a single global civilization, and as our fates become
increasingly more intertwined, I believe that we should begin to aspire, as we approach the
new millennium, toward the ideal envisioned by Alfred Lord Tennyson over a century ago —
the creation of "a parliament of humankind."


Internal Intervention — When in the Interests of the Great World Powers

Mr. Chairman, it is widely known that you are the only member of the United States
Congress who is a survivor of the greatest crime of the 20th century, and arguably of any
century: Hitler's war of annihilation against the Jews. It is important, I think, for us to
recognize the position of the San Francisco Charter and contemporary international practice
with regard to the Holocaust. Under the international practice that prevailed in the 1930s,
everything that Hitler did within the borders of Germany before September 1, 1939 simply
was not the business of the rest of the international community. And despite the resounding
post-war resolution to "never again" permit such barbarities to be perpetrated on Planet
Earth, Article 2, Paragraph 7 of the 1945 UN Charter essentially ratified that practice, by
prohibiting UN intervention "in matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any
state" (unless judged somehow to threaten international security).

We have seen in the post-Cold War world a creeping erosion of 2 (7), and an
increasing tendency to intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign states. (The UN
resolutions usually stretch to discover some threat to international security in the internal
conflict at issue.) The international community is clearly willing today under some
circumstances to intervene within national borders to put a stop to crimes against humanity.
But what we have seen in the post-Cold War world, most notably in Bosnia and Rwanda, is
that the international community only seems to intervene against such crimes (/the conflict
in question somehow threatens a critical mass of the vital interests of the great world
powers. Perhaps more precisely, the great world powers seem to choose to intervene only


when the benefits for those powers of putting a halt to whatever crimes are being perpetrated
exceed the costs and risks.

Bosnia, of course, provides the quintessential example. Both tangible American
interests and our national moral sensibilities have been "threatened" by the aggressions and
barbarities perpetrated by the Serbs during the past three years. But acting determinatively to
put a halt to those aggressions and barbarities would entail vast costs and risks for the United
States as well. On balance, American policymakers have apparently concluded, the costs
and risks of significant American action in Bosnia are greater than the substantial benefits of
action. The United States has acted arguably according to a rational (though clearly
debateble) assessment of its own national interests.

The Problem: No Alternative to National Armies

Mr. Chairman, I know that none of that is news to you, or to anyone in this room.
But it is my contention that what we have seen in the post-Cold war world is the essential
flaw at the heart of the collective security structure of the 1945 UN Charter: the dependence
of that structure on the actions of national armies. Because a structure for the maintenance
of human security that depends on national armies, whose raisons d'etre are to protect their
own national interests, will in the end not prevent organized violence which does not
threaten a critical mass of the national interests of other states, however horrifying. The
record of the post-Cold War world demonstrates unambiguously that great power collective
security only works when the vital interests of great powers are sufficiently threatened.

The great power collective security structure of the 1945 UN Charter has been
working for the past half decade exactly as it was intended — there's only been one veto cast
in nearly five years in the United Nations Security Council. But while that collective security
structure has proven itself in the post-Cold War world capable of opposing unambiguous
threats to the interests of the great powers, like those which have been posed by Iraq, it has
proven itself incapable of preventing violations of human security which don't appear to the
great powers to sufficiently threaten their own interests, like rape camps and mass machete
massacres in places like Bosnia and Rwanda. The great powers sitting on the UN Security
Council have demonstrated that they are only willing to dispatch their own national armies
when the benefits exceed the costs and risks. Under the great power collective security
structure of the San Francisco Charter, as clearly shown by the way it has operated in the
post-Cold War world, if another Hitler commenced another Holocaust today, our great
power collective Security Council would only intervene if the benefits for the permanent
Security Council members of putting those crimes to an end outweighed the costs and risks.
If not, the Holocaust would happen again.

The Alternative: A Standing Volunteer World Army

Mr. Chairman, there is another alternative to great power collective security
dependent upon national armies and hard calculations of national interests. It is the idea of
creating a standing volunteer world army to act in the enforcement of world law. The raison
d'etre of a standing world army would be to defend not individual national interests, but
common human interests. Its mission would be to enforce world laws — laws which made
things like rape camps and mass machete massacres illegal anywhere on Planet Earth. The
human community would have an instrument at its disposal that could put a stop to crimes
against humanity — not just when they threatened some critical mass of great world power
national interests, but because it was the moral imperative of a civilized human community.


Central to the success of such a world army would be that it would be composed
entirely of volunteers — women and men who had volunteered and trained to defend our
common human interest in not allowing crimes against humanity to be inflicted upon any
member of the human community. With such a standing volunteer world army in place,
American leaders wouldn't have to face the agonizing dilemma of simply watching
hundreds of thousands of Rwandans be slaughtered, because they could not conclusively
demonstrate that such slaughter threatened American national interests enough to be "worth"
risking American lives. And I think many individuals all over the world would be eager to
volunteer for such an exciting and noble new endeavor. Human beings by the millions
around the world volunteer to serve in national armies to defend their nation's interests.
Certainly many thousands would volunteer to serve in an army of humanity, to defend the
common interests of the family of humankind.

The development of such a force, of course, could serve as a great deterrent, and
make the very kind of violence it was created to prevent less likely to occur. Potential
aggressors of the world would no longer have the option of trying to shape their
contemplated aggression so that the costs and risks of action for the great world powers
would exceed the benefits. Tyrants and thugs around the world would slowly but surely
learn to govern their domestic affairs not according to the prevailing winds in the UN
Security Council, but under the expectations of a global rule of law.

The idea of a standing volunteer world army, of course, is not Tad Daley's idea. It is
an idea that has been around for a long time, and whose most prominent proponent today is
probably the most prominent commentator on UN affairs in the world today, Brian
Urquhart. "A small, elite permanent UN force composed of volunteers," Mr. Urquhart has
written, "could be immediately deployed ... unencumbered by the typical hesitations of
member governments about deploying their own troops in international ventures. A public
authority that cannot immediately send its police officers to the scene of a disturbance will
soon lose all public confidence. The same applies to the UN in international crises. ... [The
alternative is] to go backward into an anarchic age, in which countries and peoples retire into
themselves and put up walls, in a desperate attempt to keep the world out and to protect
purely national interests."

The standing volunteer world army envisioned here would not eventually aim at
replacing every other army in the world. The United States would still maintain a strong
national defense establishment for the protection of vital American interests. The idea is to
create a different kind of army, an army not to eventually perform the mission that the
American military establishment already performs — the protection of vital American interests
— but to act when mass organized violence doesn't sufficiently threaten the vital interests of
the United States or anyone else.

Practical Challenges and Ultimate Aspirations

Mr. Chairman, I do not for a moment underestimate the problems and difficulties that
would face an effort to create a standing volunteer world army. It is conceivable that Article
2 (7) of the San Francisco Charter could be rewritten to prohibit certain kinds of atrocities
within national borders and to codify intervention in the domestic affairs of sovereign states.
But while it is relatively easy to ban such things as herding Bosnian women into rape hotels,
or herding Rwandans of the wrong tribe into a church and setting it on fire, there are a great
many more gray areas of human rights which will be very difficult to define, let alone to
achieve consensus upon. Who would authorize the dispatch of a standing volunteer world


army, and how, is another thorny question — though it seems clear, as I discussed earlier, that
the more democratic the global decisionmaking structure empowered to make such
decisions, the more legitimate those decisions will be. The question of what the human
community could, would, or should do if substantial crimes against humanity began to occur
within the borders of a major world power like China, standing volunteer world army or not,
defies satisfactory response. And the practical challenges of establishing, recruiting, training,
financing, and developing doctrine for such an army would be undoubtedly immense.

As I indicated when I spoke about global democracy, Mr. Chairman, I do not
envision that by the end of 1995 we can be well on the way toward launching a standing
volunteer world army for the enforcement of world law. The establishment of such an army

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Online LibraryInternational Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiThe United Nations at fifty : hearing before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, October 24, 1994 → online text (page 9 of 10)