The UN We Need for the Future We Want

The United Nations turns 75 in 2020. This is indeed a time for celebration. The UN has helped maintain peace and security and lessen the casualties of war, played a critical role in the fight against AIDS and other diseases, feeds approximately 104 million people annually from 80 nations, and has convened a series of summit conferences to combat our growing climate crisis.

We now face threats that were unimaginable 75 years ago. Nuclear proliferation, climate change, mass migration, and terrorism are a daily occurrence. We need a new UN, capable of handling these challenges. CGS has partnered with organizations worldwide to use the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary to push for meaningful change. UN2020 and Together First are two organizations that are leading the way. We invite you to explore and get involved in this vital work.

Introducing UN75 to the World

In 2019, the United Nations commemorated its anniversary with a special announcement from the Secretary-General – “This United Nations Day also marks the beginning of our efforts to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations.  In 2020 we will launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of international cooperation in building the future we want.

Toward World System Transformations

The following seven changes would significantly improve the United Nations system for governing our global community.  Such developments would move us toward our ultimate goal of a democratic united federation of nations.  This kind of a federal system already exists in many modern nations, including the United States of America.  These recommendations derive from the scholarly research in Professor Joseph E. Schwartzberg’s book Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World.

Improved UN Funding

The UN system presently lacks a good way of raising funds to deal with global problems. Proposals such as the financial transaction tax, a global carbon tax, or a tax on resources taken from the “Common Heritage” are difficult to implement now. We could change from the present highly political procedure for determining national assessments paid to the UN. We advocate a new arrangement where each nation-state is assessed the same low percentage of its Gross National Income (GNI). Adopting a rate of only 0.1 percent of GNI for each country would more than double the amount of money currently available to support the entire UN system.

Improve UN Peacekeeping and Deployment

Our world community needs a standing UN rapid deployment force, composed of individually recruited men and women, to help avert armed conflicts worldwide. We should not rely on the US military to keep peace around the world. We need a neutral international force that can move quickly into action when needed. This peacekeeping service would permit national governments to reduce their military expenditures.

Safeguard our Global Environment

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) needs to become a UN Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (ESEC), so that a major UN body has responsibility for dealing with environmental issues.  It could institute fees for use of the global commons and channel those funds to a UN Environmental Protection Agency and a UN Planetary Disaster Relief Agency.

Improve Democratic Participation at the UN

The UN General Assembly should establish a UN Parliamentary Assembly. National executives or party groups would initially send delegates from sitting members of national parliaments – a process similar to that followed in creating the EU Parliament. The UN Parliamentary Assembly would originate measures designed to make the General Assembly more responsive to the needs of the world’s populations. Such an advisory body would encourage a more direct relationship between individuals and the UN. It could provide a vehicle for promoting global consciousness among all world citizens.

Make UN Voting Fair to the People of the World

The member states should change the voting arrangement in the UN General Assembly from the present one-vote-per-nation system, regardless of a country’s size, to a system of Weighted Voting. Each nation’s vote would count on the basis of three factors: (1) its proportion of the world’s population, (2) the portion of the UN budget which it pays, and (3) its being one state out of the total membership of the UN. This system would augment the current reliance on multilateral treaties to establish international law. Resolutions with the support of enough nations, people, and funding would then become binding and enforceable world laws.  For additional comments from the author on this topic click here.

Security Council Reform

UN member states should change the system of participation and voting in the UN Security Council. Now the five victors in World War II have permanent seats while a few of the other countries serve two-year terms. All nations ought to be able to play a role in Security Council decisions. Universal Weighted Regional Representation can accomplish this result. According to Schwartzberg’s proposal, each nation would join one of twelve regional groupings. A region’s weighted vote would depend on three factors: (1) its percentage of the world’s total population, (2) the portion of the total UN budget its members pay, and (3) its being one of twelve regions which equals 8.33% of the total. Each region with more than one nation would establish a process for determining how its representative will vote. Such balanced policy making would give Security Council decisions greater moral authority, and it provides an alternative to the present arrangement where one major power by itself can prevent Security Council action.  For additional comments from the author on this topic click here.

Facilitate and Support NGO Partnerships

Establish five UN Civil Society Coordinating Councils to encourage cooperation among civil society organizations (CSOs/NGOs) associated with the UN. Each Council would deal with a different set of issues: (1) human rights, (2) the environment, (3) human development, (4) peace and security, and (5) democratic governance. The Councils would prioritize recommendations from the CSOs and work for their implementation through appropriate agencies. Moreover, formalizing a Global Civil Society Forum to meet regularly would further open the UN to the planet’s citizenry. Such a duly constituted body could help define and focus world attention on implementing a Peoples’ Agenda.