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Reform, yes, but how?

Sep 20,2017 - Last updated at Sep 20,2017

At a forum on UN reforms, held a day before the UN General Assembly annual meeting that started Tuesday, US President Donald Trump urged the international organisation to cut its bloated bureaucracy, to focus on people more and to “not be beholden to ways of the past which were not working”.

The American president made his remarks about UN reform after noting that UN staff doubled in size since 2000 and the UN budget increased by a whopping 140 per cent. 

He also remarked that the effectiveness and efficiency of the UN went down to alarming levels due to mismanagement and inefficiency.

While these figures may be true and while the UN is indeed a huge bureaucracy, the real problem with it lies elsewhere, and has to do with the veto power of a few powerful countries that prevent the international organisation from carrying out the duties it was mandated to perform: promote and preserve regional and international security and peace on a foundation of democracy and respect for human rights.

The core challenge facing the UN, therefore, goes beyond the increase in budgetary allocations to its mushrooming international bodies and agencies and the growing staff numbers.

Whether with a handful of employees of with thousands, the UN resolutions issued with a majority of voices must be executed. As simple as that. With no interference from the five permanent members — most often the US — in the workings of this international mechanism.

Granted, the UN is in need of reform, but that requires a much more thorough examination of the problems it faces than an impromptu sideline meeting where no concrete suggestions are made.

“Make the UN great”, as Trump wants, sounds good, but how? By passing self-serving resolutions and blocking righteous ones to placate friends?

The crisis within the UN preoccupies key members of the organisation, but each and every time recommendations emanating from efforts to address it are put forward, they are met with stiff resistance from the big nations that enjoy veto power at the UN Security Council.


Unless and until the US, Russia, China, the UK and France get their act together on UN reform, no meetings by the less powerful members of the UN can do the necessary job.

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