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The Politics of the UN - genesis

DCU - Politics of the UN - week 1

John Reynolds

on 9 March 2016

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Transcript of The Politics of the UN - genesis

the Politics of the
"I'm gona take my problem to the United Nations"
What kinds of problems?
The mandate of the UN

- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war
- to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small
- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained
- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom

- to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours
- to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security
- to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest
- to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples

Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.
We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined:
And for these ends:
Have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.
* Introduction to the United Nations: Genesis & Basic Principles

* The Principal Organs of the UN: Competencies, Functions & Decision-Making Processes

* The Cold War UN, and the Evolution of Collective Security

* The Third World UN: Decolonisation, Response to Apartheid & the ‘New International Economic Order’

* The UN after the Cold War: Peacemaking, Peacekeeping & Territorial Administration

* The UN after September 2001: The Global ‘War on Terror’ & the Iraq debacle
* The UN & Human Rights

* The UN’s Responsibilty to Protect?

* The UN and the Question of Palestine
(model General Assembly)

* Globalisation, International Cooperation & Sustainable Development – the UN’s role

* The Future of the UN – Relevance & Reform?
* First essay (40%) - due 26 March
* Second essay (50%) - due 7 May
* Presentation (10%)
the Origins of the UN - what's in a name?
The Big Ideas
the less Utopian perspective
We cannot indeed claim that our work is perfect or that we have created an unbreakable guarantee of peace. For ours is no enchanted palace to "spring into sight at once", by magic touch or hidden power. But we have, I am convinced, forged an instrument by which, if men are serious in wanting peace and are ready to make sacrifices for it, they may find the means to win it.
* Public remarks - Lord Halifax, British ambassador to the US, chairman of the UK delegation in San Francisco, 26 June 1945
The UN Charter simply established an "Alliance of the Great Powers embedded in a universal organization."
* Private diaries - Charles Webster, British civil servant involved in the drafting of the UN Charter
* International Peace & Security
> "collective security"
* Non-use of force
* Global Governance
* Human Rights
* Economic & Social progress

>> A utopian project?
The Psalmist numbered out the years of man:
They are enough: and if thy tale be true,
Thou, who didst grudge him e'en that fleeting span,
More than enough, thou fatal Waterloo!
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say,
'Here, where the sword UNITED NATIONS drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!'
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.
>> Referring to the Allies (Britain, Prussia) in the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon in 1815
* Phrase 'United Nations' suggested by Franklin D. Roosevelt in Dec 1941 to refer to the WWII Allies
* Churchill cited Byron's use of the term
Tracing the Origins of the UN - the Idea of International Organisation
sovereignty and territorial integrity - 'decentralised control by sovereign states' - provided the basis for a horizontal international order critical to the subsequent development of international organisation
"There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world - and that´s the United States - when it suits our interests."
- John Bolton
diplomatic foundations for a new European security order established following the devastation of the Napoleonic Wars

'Congress system' created a more systematic and institutionalized approach to managing issues of war and peace in the international system - representatives coming together regularly (instead of sending messengers) to discuss issues and formulate treaties
'Concert of Europe' - gatherings throughout the following century, including Hague 1899 and 1907
* Versailles Peace Conference 1919 - to create a global security organisation * First attempt at collective security member states required to come to aid of a fellow member if victim of military aggression
* Main concern: fostering peace; economic & social issues secondary
* USA never joined; League's effort to prevent conflict unsuccessful
"If the U.N. building in New York lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
"General Assembly votes simply provide more evidence to many of us Republicans why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system."
An organisation for peace, born in war
“If the military might of Germany and Japan are ultimately to be crushed, the United Nations, one and all, must definitely and urgently strive toward a total war effort.”
- William Lyon Mackenzie King
1 January 1942 - Declaration of the United Nations
* 'a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world' ... united 'in the struggle for victory over Hitlerism'
* follow-on from US-UK Atlantic Charter; signed by 26 nations (47 by 1945)
* 'United Nations' as the wartime Alliance
From wartime alliance to permanent international organisation
The UN and national sovereignty
"State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined—not least by the forces of globalisation and international co-operation. States are now widely understood to be instruments at the service of their peoples, and not vice versa. ... When we read the charter today, we are more than ever conscious that its aim is to protect individual human beings, not to protect those who abuse them."
“The purpose of the United Nations should be to protect the essential sovereignty of nations, large and small”
“Everything will be all right - you know when? When people, just people, stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction and see it as a drawing they made themselves.”
- Dag Hammarskjold
“If the United Nations is a country unto itself, then the commodity it exports most is words.”
- Esther B. Fein
“The United Nations is an uplifting experiment, dedicated to raising the standards of living in Africa, the consciences of democracies, and the price of prostitutes in New York”
- Frank Dane
“More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations. ... If the United Nations does not attempt to chart a course for the world's people in the first decades of the new millennium, who will?”
- Kofi Annan
Some perspectives on the UN
- USSR eventually agreed with US, UK and China to establishment of a form of global organisation, the European Advisory Commission, to plan for a post-war Europe
* para. 4 - recognised need for postwar international organisation to succeed League of Nations
- military strategising, but also continued plans for post-war cooperation
Other examples of international organisations?
the security of one is the concern of all
Thomas G. Weiss et al., The United Nations and Changing World Politics (Westview, 6th ed, 2010)
- proposals outlining:
* the purposes of a United Nations organisation
* its membership and organs
* arrangements to maintain international peace & security and international economic & social cooperation.
Dumbarton Oaks conference
-two phases:
* China-UK-US
Yalta conference
San Francisco conference
Tehran conference
Third Moscow conference
- unresolved issues:
* voting procedure in the Security Council
* Soviet pressure for the admission of all sixteen of the Soviet republics to the General Assembly
- trusteeship system proposed to take place of the League of Nations mandate system
- Stalin committed USSR to participate UN despite denial of request for all 16 republics
- membership would be open to nations that had joined the Allies by 1 March 1945.
- Security Council veto powers established
- text of UN Charter finalised and signed (50 allied nations)
Imperialism as the template for international organisation:
"As the Roman ideas guided European civilisation for almost two thousand years, so the newer ideas embedded in the British constitutional and Colonial system may, when carried to their full development, guide the future civilisation for ages to come." - Jan Smuts
'Smuts, exponent of racial superiority, believer in white rule over the African continent, casts an enigmatic shadow over the founding of the new United Nations Organization.'
The UN Charter's rhetoric of freedom and rights as a ‘a veil masking the consolidation of a great power directorate’
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