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          • Year: 2005
          • EU crisis and prospects for UN collective security system reform

          • 12. january 2005. Dr. Milan Opačić, Associate, CCMR

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          Negative results of the recent referenda when the citizens of France (29 May) and the Netherlands (1 June) rejected the Constitution of the European Union, as well as the failure of the EU Summit (16-18 June this year) dedicated precisely to the fate of the European constitution and the general agreement on the EU budget for the next quarter, doubtlessly marked the beginning of a long constitutional-political crisis in the EU. These developments gave rise to various assessments and analyses of their causes, accompanied by controversial speculations as to the influence of their consequences, primarily on the future of the EU, but also on the reshaping of transatlantic (USA-EU) relations, as well as the prospects of certain global processes and projects, including the initiated reform of the UN collective security system. Naturally, it is not difficult to grasp that the failure of the EU Summit in Brussels is essentially only a cumulative expression and a logical outcome of a protracted confrontation between opposing visions and models for the further economic and political integration of Europe and the development of the globalization process. That is why it is only understandable that, after a brief shock, the Union set out to first of all seriously re-examine its integration projects and expansion limits, and then also address the ambivalent attitudes towards the "European" model of social development, implying the need to strike a balance between its own identity and global ambitions.  

          The questions is, whether the EU, faced with these challenges, has actually entered a period of involution and will have to waive some of its benefits and reduce and(or) remodel a number of its traditional and vested values. Furthermore, will it not be forced to attain its global ambitions by reaffirming and revaluing certain advantages of the still superior, although fairly compromised, "Anglo-American" liberal-market model of globalization and unipolar world development?  

          Immediately before the Brussels EU summit the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, at his meeting with the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, in the context of references to a permanent seat on the Security Council for Germany, heard that "the only country for which the United States has announced unequivocal support for such a seat is Japan". She stressed the US primary interest in the reform of the UN which would include the Organization’s budget and overall management, the UN Commission on Human Rights, the establishment of a UN peace-building commission and a democracy fund, as well as the adoption of an all-embracing convention on terrorism, while the matter of expansion of the Security Council was viewed in the context of that broad reform. That was a sufficiently clear warning to Germany that its opposition to the US intervention in Iraq had not been forgotten and that the possible US support to Germany’s candidacy would crucially depend on its attitude towards the US priorities for UN reforms. 

          Only two days after the debacle of the Brussels EU summit, the US President George W. Bush, at his meeting with the highest EU officials in Washington on June 20, pointed out that "..The United States continues to support a strong European Union as a partner in spreading freedom and democracy and security and prosperity throughout the world". In order to dispense with any ambiguities as to the meaning of this support, the joint statement of President Bush and the President of the EU Council, Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker, stressed that joint organization of this very important conference for assistance to Iraq in Brussels, was a reliable signal that the western allies were overcoming the initial differences over the US invasion of that country. The above-mentioned conference was held already on June 22 in Brussels, and adopted a Declaration on Iraq including a recommendation for the up-coming donor conference to thoroughly discuss and adopt the arrangements for the relief of this country’s huge debt amounting to about 120 billion US dollars, as well as for the economic renewal, democratic reconstruction and stabilization of Iraq. It is quite clear that the previous, however justified, resistance and obstructions by EU members (primarily France and Germany) to similar American initiatives and actions for the resolution of the "Iraq crisis" can no longer be repeated. 

          The US Congress, dissatisfied with the cover up and toleration of a series of corruption and criminal affairs in certain UN missions for some time already, passed the UN Reform Bill (H.R. 2745) on June 20. The bill was officially introduced by a republican Congressman Henry Hyde, who commented that there had been "enough waivers, enough resolutions, enough statements… It's time we had some teeth" in demanding the UN reform. The proposed bill in Chapter 6, para 31 defines 50 reform requests for the UN to comply with. The UN are specifically requested to fulfill over two thirds of these requests by autumn 2007, or else the US would halve its share in the budget of this organization. Section 112 of the Bill specifically instructs the USA to "oppose any proposal on expansion of the Security Council if such expansion would: (1) diminish the influence of the US in the Security Council; (2) include veto right for any new member of the Security Council or (3) undermine the efficiency of the Security Council". After the debate and adoption of the bill by the US Senate and its signing by the US president, it will enter into force in early 2007, and the US disbursements for the UN budget would, from that time on be subject to regular certification by the chief of the US Department of State. 

          The US political circles are divided on the possible reactions of UN members to the Bill to be presented at the forthcoming 60th regular session of the General Assembly. While some believe that this will mobilize most UN members in support of US reform requests, others think that so rigid and blackmailing approach to the UN reform might increase the resistance to US requests by most Organization’s members. However, it is certain that the US president's decision of 1 August this year to nominate John Bolton the US Ambassador to the UN, despite the opposition of the US Senate to Bush's chosen man (who is along with his proverbial arrogance and intolerance, also objected his long-standing disparaging of the UN role), has definitively determined not only the nature of the US approach to the forthcoming UN reform, but also its ambition to remodel the world organization after its own vision of globalization. 

          Following this legitimating of the US approach to the UN reform, the group of most frequently mentioned candidates for the new permanent seats on the Security Council (SC), the so-called G-4, continue a joint lobbying campaign, proposing to expand this body’s membership to a total of 25. In that case, in addition to the existing five, permanent seats would also be given to members of this group, although without veto rights for the next 15 years. The two remaining seats would be given to Africa, thus leaving the four non-permanent seats for allocation to other UN countries. Obviously, even the advocates of this solution are quite clear that the US would not permit the new members to have equal status with those of the current permanent members of the Security Council. Candidates for permanent seats in the Council may possibly count on the US support only if they agree to its priorities and project for the UN reform. However, not even that guarantees to solve their problem of the required two-third support (128 of 191 members) in the UN General Assembly, in view of China’s opposition to the candidacy of Japan and challenged nominations of some other G-4 members (Italy is opposed to a seat for Germany, Pakistan to India, Argentina and Mexico to Brazil), invoking the same or similar merits, criteria and arguments. 

          However, the issues of the SC expansion, UN administration reform and other US priorities may easily be overshadowed by the problem of development of poor countries which generate the majority vote in the UN on all matters of the Organization's reform. The large group of poor countries has, namely, already manifested its long accumulated discontent with the recent agreement of finance ministers of the eight richest countries of the world in preparations for the G-8 summit (6-8 July this year in Gleneagles, Scotland), to write off the debt of 18 poorest African countries in the total amount of 1.5 billion US dollars. Their sharp reaction is primarily triggered by the criteria and amount of debt-relief. These countries believe it highly amoral to forgive the debt, accompanied by diffuse political conditions ("democratic" behavior and respect for the "rules of the game") of only those debtors who clearly manifested their inability to repay long time ago. The amount of relief of 1.5 billion US dollars is also considered a cynical gesture of "generosity" of the richest countries - a "drop in the ocean" which accounts for only 3% of the projected annual appropriations of rich countries to the UN assistance program for the development of the most disadvantaged countries. The dissatisfaction of the poor has been additionally spurred by regular delays in payments to the UN Fund for years now, and the related arm-twisting and even withholding of appropriated contributions by a large number of rich countries (the USA included). 

          The G-8 Gleneagles Summit, naturally, ended without substantial progress or the expected agreement of the richest countries to write off the debt and alleviate the indebtedness of the poorest countries by means of trade facilities and elimination of tariff barriers. According to the summit chairman, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the progress is seen in the promises of leaders of the most developed countries to double their assistance to Africa to 25 million US dollars, with the possibility of an increase to 50 billion in 2010. By ignoring and even compromising the integrity and meaning of the assistance program the richest countries have in this way merely confirmed their customary insensitivity to the most difficult global challenge - the relief of the world poor from the "debt slavery", agony of poverty and hopelessness. This, unfortunately, completely discredits the unique commitment of the UN resolution (A/56/565), that the economic development of poor countries must be the "first line of defense of the UN collective security based on prevention". 

          During the preliminary debate on the issue of expansion of the Security Council in the General Assembly this July it turned out that the G-4 proposal obtained additional opponents in South Korea, New Zealand and certain other UN members. The US representative, somewhat unexpectedly, rejected the G-4 proposal and openly invited other UN members to oppose it, noting that it only encouraged new divisions that might jeopardize the adoption of the entire concept of the UN reform, with a warning (message) to the authors of the proposal that the US would work with them  on the expansion, but in the right way and at the right time. 

          It is almost certain that, this autumn, at the beginning of the 60th regular session of the UN General Assembly, declaring on the proposals for the reform of the UN collective security system, the circle of the rich countries and the main candidates for the SC membership will harmonize their approach and converge on the US reform project. Thereby all of them, and especially the EU, or more precisely some of its most powerful members, will "pay" the necessary price of rehabilitating their global partnership with the USA, i.e. the price of "collecting the royalties" accruing from that partnership in the globalization process. But, it is still uncertain whether that will suffice to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the existing resistance and enlist the support of Russia and China (which have their own reform concepts), and, in particular, the large group of the poor.

          Translated by Ljilja Nikolić

        • Tags: Security, collection, European Union, eu, United nations, un, international organisations, USA, international relations
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