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Reforms in UN: Process Has Stalled

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Baku, 31 October 2014 – Newtimes.az

Difficulties in regulating international relations are well-known. The letter of the international law is not always honored. Problems of various natures emerge. This in turn entails geopolitical tensions and cause legitimate resentment. Experts suggest that the solution could be implementation of reforms within the UN. Some nations prefer creation of alternative organizations. Indeed, the situation is quite complex. Five permanent members of the UN Security Council wish to retain their seats and the right to have a final say on the global matters. But the number of countries in opposition to this set-up is growing. There is serious discord. So what is the solution?

Elections: Problems in UN Unresolved

It has been a while that the experts discuss an urgent need for reforms in the system of international relations. The process has grown in relevance in the contentious environment spurred by the geopolitical process around the world. More often than not, the international organizations, especially the UN, cannot handle the situation. And the reason for that are imperfections of the regulating mechanisms of the international relations.

Renewal of the current system of international relations is not an easy task. It was conceived in the aftermath of World War II, whereas transition to a news system would require advanced and conceptual approach. And this is the very aspect of the issue where there is a lack of consensus in the international community.

The essence of the problem is that currently operating international organizations are mainly under the Western influence. The experience proves that they act based on Washington’s instructions. Leaders of Russia, China and Turkey explicitly speak of this. Experts involved with the UN operations for years also point out this issue.

Efforts to establish an alternative to these organizations is underway. BRICS members have clearly declared this as their objective. This means abandoning of Western–affiliated organizations. Proponents of such a move are skeptical about the chance of reforms within the UN to come to fruition. That being said, their aspirations to establish alternative to the international organizations faces the issue of legitimacy as it is yet unclear whether the international community would embrace this as something legally binding.

In any case even the staunchest opponents have no objections to the reforms within the UN. Obviously, this was the reason behind fierce competition during the latest elections to the UN Security Council. The issue of continent represented by the candidates was of great importance. The need for an African member state in the permanent seat of the UN SC was raised by Angola (see: Александр Мезяев. О новом составе Совета Безопасности ООН. Перспективы 2015 года / ''Фонд стратегической культуры'', 20 October 2014). Indeed, lack of permanent African representation in the UN SC contradicts the requirements of the modern age. Interestingly, none of the present permanent member states raise this issue.

And the very subject is seen as the greatest impediment for the reforms in the UN. According to diplomats, these five nations of the SC are not ready to grasp the reforms in the first place (see: Reform olmazsa system curur / Aksam.com.tr, 30 September 2014). This point is also made by some heads of state. President of Turkey R.T. Erdogan’s position on this has been very firm.

He has been outspoken on this issue and made number of proposals. The official Ankara considers it erroneous that the world politics are dominated by five countries only (U.S., UK, France, Russia and China). During the last session of the UN GA Erdogan figuratively spoke of this by saying that the ''world is greater than five'' (see: Erdogan’dan BM’ye yeni system onerisi / Turkiyegazetesi.com.tr, 28 September 2014).

New System: Proponents and Opponents

Turkey’s leader demands introduction of a new system and deems election of the new permanent members necessary. Erdogan insists that this world cannot be enslaved the U.S., Russia, Britain, France or China (see: previous reference). On the contrary, he contends that such a situation provokes serious problems in different parts of the world.

President of Turkey mentions situation in Syria as an example. He argues that the weapons used by ISIS in Iraq are U.S.-made. Other terrorist organizations in the region are armed with same weapons. In the meantime, UK forwards a condition that it would be the only nation to go to Iraq (see: previous reference).

There are similar cases in the conflicts in other regions as well. It has to be stressed that Moscow and Beijing have similar objurgations. But unlike Ankara, they are more cautious on the issue of UN SC permanent membership. Venezuela’s head of state also made a notable remark by referring to the UN Charter as ''one of the most beautiful poems you can read'' (see: Discurso historico deo Nicolas Maduro en la Asamblea General de la ONU / Youtube, 24 September 2014).

The abovementioned indicates the reason for UN SC elections to unfold under such intense conditions. No changes in the permanent membership have taken place but the elections for the non-permanent seat saw fierce struggle. Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, New Zealand and Spain eventually went through (see: Совет Безопасности ООН избрал новый состав / Odnako.su, 17 October 2014). Experts believe that it is not a mere change of countries and interests of the big powers are behind it.

New Zealand for instance is a staunch U.S. advocate, while Venezuela has a different posture. On the other hand, experts remind that the opinion of the non-permanent members of the UN SC on crucial geopolitical issues is often dismissed. Therefore, it must not be excluded that the permanent five members are maneuvering on this issue.

Failure of Turkey to be elected to the SC could be indicative. Locked in a bitter competition with Spain it was not until the 3rd round that the former was able to secure majority of the votes (see: Turkiye BM Guvenlik Konseyi’ne secilmedi / Zaman.com.tr, 16 October 2014). Spain and Turkey received 120 and 73 votes respectively but until the end it was too close to call. Presumably there was an outside interference in the final round.

Thus, elections to the UN SC once more clearly revealed a problem that has persisted for years. The fact that pursuit of self-interests by the big powers is detrimental for the geopolitical landscape of the world was proven one more time. Five permanent members explicitly stated their resistance to accepting new members. This is their condition: "in case of the accession of new members no voting right would be granted''.

This is absolute nonsense. But it reflects a reality. Apparently, regardless of profound differences among themselves (Syria being a telling example), the big powers refuse to give up their hegemonic ambitions. They recognize no country to be equated to their prominence in the UN. Undoubtedly, such an abnormal situation will emerge once in a while. It will be sensed when stumbled upon difficulties in resolving problems in different regions.

Moreover, contradictions between the permanent five members are unlikely to disappear. On the contrary, the situation is thought to become more aggravated. One of the reasons is the ambition of such big powers as Russia and China to establish alternative financial and legal mechanisms in the form of BRICS. Certain steps have already been taken to that end.

It may be concluded that within the UN no real reforms are being implemented. And there is even a fierce opposition. Although reforms are long overdue, the process has stalled. What do the opponents of reforms have in store for the world tomorrow? And since the new non-permanent members of the UN SC are deprived of means of impacting the situation, things remain vague.

Leyla Mammadaliyeva

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