Reform of the UN after the Cold War

This article talks about the United Nations and its attempts at reform after the Cold War. This is an important topic for international relations for the UPSC exam. The article also gives insight into the United Nations changing role in the post Cold War era for the IAS exam.

Any organisation that wishes to remain relevant throughout its existence has to incorporate changes in tune with the changing environment. Regular reform and improvements are fundamental if the organisation wishes to make an impact on the environment. The United Nations (UN) is no exception to this aspect. Although many leaders from within and outside the UN have recommended changes to the UN, there is little consensus on the nature of the changes and the manner in which the changes are to be made.

Basically, there are two kinds of changes which are warranted:

  1. Reform of the organisation’s structures and processes.
  2. Review of the issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the organisation.

While some demand a greater role for the UN to play in world affairs, some suggest that the organisation’s purview should be limited to humanitarian work.

  1. After the end of the Cold War, the then Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali initiated many reforms. He introduced structural reforms including the reorganisation of the Secretariat. He also expanded the UN’s peacekeeping missions. He peven proposed radical suggestions such as global taxes which were vehemently objected to by the USA.
  2. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the UN from 1997 to 2006 also introduced many changes to the world body. He envisioned better coordination and management of the UN system. He also introduced stronger human rights promotion and peacekeeping missions.
  3. The G4 Nations comprising India, Germany, Brazil and Japan are championing each other’s bid for permanent seats in the Security Council. Many argue that the Security Council, with current permanent seats for the USA, China, France, the UK and Russia, with the power to veto any resolution, is heavily skewed in favour of the old order. They say that this is reflective only of the power situation of the post-war era. In today’s times, there is a need to expand the membership to emerging powers.
  4. The economies of Asia are growing at an exceptional rate.
  5. Many new nations have joined the UN since the post-war era and the UN’s structure should reflect this.
  6. Post the crumbling of the USSR, the world has seen many changes and there are many new challenges to the security, environment and peace of the world.
  7. The UN should show more focus on the environmental aspect since this is going to be a major concern for the world. Pollution, global warming, climate change and species extinction are big challenges facing the world today.
  8. There are also changes in the political scenario and issues like terrorism, genocide, civil war, ethnic conflict, nuclear proliferation, etc. are major new concerns.

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