Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A Proposed World Body That We Could All Believe In

By Stanley Collymore.

The demise at the end of the Second World War of the discredited League of Nations surprised no one familiar with its gross ineptitude. That said there was a universal recognition with it gone that a replacement body had to be put in its place if only to serve as a vital conduit, particularly after the horrific consequences of the war that had just ended, for dialogue between countries at loggerheads with each other globally as opposed to them sorting their differences out through the time honoured and ruinous method of warfare. But even as this acknowledgement was beginning to pervade and take hold of the minds of a war weary, global community heartily sickened to the back teeth by man’s inhumanity to man and earnestly looking forward to an enhanced future and a world that was both sensitive to and also willing to accommodate and meet the hopes of those who’d made many and great sacrifices, some of them the ultimate sacrifice, for this to occur, the storm clouds of disillusionment and despair were already circling ominously above their heads.

It was already an open secret that the United States, characteristically late for World War II as it was for the First World War, was already spoiling for a reckless fight with the USSR without whom the UK and the empire forces, heroic and utterly determined as they evidently were to win the war against the Third Reich and free Europe from the vile clutches of Nazism and fascism, would none the less have had their work cut out for them had the Soviet Union not played such a commendable and self-sacrificing role on the Eastern Front; something that all US citizens, their congress, militaristic presidents and even their military in their hubristic self-aggrandizement and delusionary “we won the war” backslapping frenzy in tandem with those with a marked penchant for expedient amnesia and convenient memories about what actually occurred during World War II would do well to remember. Another daunting cloud on the horizon of global aspirations was the half-American Winston Churchill’s unwavering belief in the pre-eminence of the white man compounded by his asinine and ungrateful comment at the Yalta Conference, bearing in mind the major role that empire troops had played in defending Britain, that the proposed United Nations wasn’t an organisation for “subject peoples”.

Nevertheless the UN was set up with the victorious allies very much in the ascendancy of how it should be run and who should take part. The new, rising, global power in the form of the United States was rewarded by having the United Nations’ HQ sited in New York; a general assembly was established for all permitted member states of this body to belong to, but the initiators of the United Nations had from the outset made it absolutely clear that this chamber of the UN would always and permanently be accommodating to diktats and requirements of the security council, a sort of executive upper house with the sole power to devise and legally enforce laws it had made. But there were major shortcomings in this comfortable arrangement which the major players had concocted for their evident benefit. Although a set number of general assembly members would be permitted through elections there held on a regional basis to sit for a designated period of time on the security council their powers and what they could effectively do were severely restricted.

For instance there was an enduring bloc in the security council known as the permanent members that comprised the United States, Britain, the USSR, France and China; the first three because of their personal roles in World War II; France because it was a white Caucasian, European country and offered to the United States and Britain much needed solidarity in what both countries had already perceived as a white led global Cabal of developed nations; China’s, and I’m referring here to the supposed nationalist, in reality the capitalist entity of what’s now Taiwan which was admitted as a permanent security council member both as a slap in the face to the US despised mainland communist China together with the oblique acknowledgement that to set up a supposed world body that blatantly ignored and in no way represented a people that constituted a quarter of the world’s population just wasn’t credible. But to rub the noses of the other nations in it the self-proclaimed elite of the security council went one further. While consensually elected members to this body could vote on UN resolutions decisions weren’t automatically reached on any majority basis in that chamber not least because the permanent members had the power of veto and could wield it when and how they liked to kill off any resolution or block any they disapproved of from the outset of its initiation regardless of what the majority view was.

And this has been the crux of the problem and why it is that the UN and particularly the security council has lost most of it credibility around the world, since it’s now generally seen as working exclusively in the interests of the big powers and their client states, has little or no regard for the welfare of non-aligned or developing countries, and has all but reneged on its charter and what it purportedly and initially stood for. Against this backdrop therefore and for the world community to ever place its trust again in an international organisation with a truly global remit and which is really capable of tackling relevant world problems effectively and even-handedly the UN has to go, and the sooner the better.

Frankly it is long passed its sell by date directive, is manifestly incapable of any root and branch reforms and honestly doesn’t want to embark on any; is far more interested in cosmetic exercises such as padding the security council with fellow travellers like Japan and Germany, two states whose Nazi and fascist activities led to the Second World War and caused the UN to be set up in the first place, while rewarding them with permanent membership status of the security council and vetoes to boot, along with quisling France that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. These are all fully paid up members of the wealthy and privileged developed world and belong to that other exclusive club the nuclear one, either as is the case with France a declared nuclear state or as is evidently the position with Germany and Japan full membership of US led and controlled military organisations like NATO that give them automatic and comprehensive protection under the daunting nuclear umbrella of the United States that has military bases and nuclear arsenals in the two countries. With this kind of personal indebtedness therefore one doesn’t need to have the brains of a rocket scientist to work out where the uncritical loyalties of these new aspirants to the security council would lie.

Even so the world can’t be allowed to randomly descend into the kind of chaotic mess that would obviously follow if there was no global body to police the transgressions of independent nations and punish these judiciously and justly whenever and wherever it’s necessary to do so; to predict prevent and if everything else fails intercede in those conflicts that will sometimes occur between countries, as well as set the ethical and legal standards by which all countries however hard they may find it to meet the standards required of them will none the less have a model to which they can positively aspire. But as I intimated earlier there must be a root and branch transformation if this global body can ever expect to get and sustain the committed trust and respect of most if not all of the world’s nations. So how should one go about this? Below are some suggestions of mine which I honestly believe can be a way forward to achieving this aspiration.

To start with the projected new body GA (Global-Alliance) would be a fully fledged sovereign entity similar to the Vatican and would have its own demarcated and internationally recognized territorial space. This would consist of land which was given or leased to it in perpetuity within a stable, democratic country that enjoyed excellent land, sea and air communication links and was also well wired up for the technological age. This doesn’t mean though that the country selected for this honour and that had agreed to cede part of its territory for this purpose would necessarily belong to the axis of so-called developed nations or any of the purported major countries. This is absolutely crucial since we don’t want any recurrence of the past and absolutely absurd situations where leaders of countries that were bona fide members of the UN but for a diversity of perverse reasons were out of favour with or viewed with deep suspicion and hostility by the United States, even though as is their wont they were legally entitled to attend UN general assembly meetings and address that chamber, were arbitrarily denied visas to enter the US, banned from the country, threatened with such an imposition or restricted in their movements because the UN is located in New York. This is idiotic and petty behaviour just as it is intolerable, loathsome and indefensible and under GA sovereignty could or would never be allowed.

With its sovereignty and designated boundaries legally and formally guaranteed and protected by binding international laws, most of the major bureaucratic organs of the GA would function from within its set borders, although it would be wholly within the remit of the GA’s administration to delegate the running or supervision of any of these responsibilities that it wishes to, to chosen locations inside the countries of participant members globally.

To successfully bring this about would, of course, require a corps of talented and committed civil servants who as potential candidates would be totally free to apply for jobs within their expertise and that were advertised by the GA with each individual recruitment handled either by the GA or an authorized recruiting agency or agencies acting on its behalf. These appointed staff members once their appointments were confirmed by the GA would automatically be granted all the rights privileges, working conditions and pension entitlements that are concomitant to employees in the modern workforce and, of course, one would expect that in return their committed loyalty during their term of employment will be exclusively to the GA.

With a bureaucracy in place the precise manner of how the GA would function would then take centre stage. To be truly representative of the genuine wishes of its membership and take on the mantle of a real global body the GA would not only have to be fully transparent and even handed in its dealings but must also create a formula whereby the voices and legitimate concerns of the entire membership are heard, heeded and properly addressed without fear or favour. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to the efficiency of the United Nations and why so few people bother to take any notice of it is that it’s universally identified, and this is unquestionably the case with the Security Council, as an organisation that almost exclusively looks after the selfish interests of the major powers that comprise its membership and habitually to the disadvantage of the smaller UN member countries particularly those in the developing world, and what’s more is premeditatedly racist in how it actually goes about its business creating as a result a two-tier United Nations that is hugely powerful and a largely white minority controlled Cabal which seemingly takes great satisfaction in constantly pitting itself against what is basically a marginalized, black and brown majority of member states.

To render this process permanently redundant in any kind of representative global body like the GA which I’m advocating membership of this body would of necessity have to mean something to all the constituent member countries with each of them not only fully guaranteed but also able to feel within themselves that this is indisputably the case. To this end all countries that applied for membership would be obliged to enter a legally binding contract that they acknowledged and would always uphold and abide by this agreement. Respect for the sovereignty of each member state would be an absolute priority and a prerequisite for all countries aspiring to membership of the GA and any unilateral interference implicit or explicit in the affairs of another member would be anathema and grounds for the suspension or expulsion of any member state(s) found to be so involved.

The GA would be a dual chamber organisation consisting of the Representative Assembly (RA) to which all member countries would belong and the Guardian Council (GC) where membership would be as a direct result of secret ballot elections held among the RA membership to determine who sits in that chamber. The RA would be the lower chamber where most of the laws governing the GA and its operations would be framed. Decisions would be reached on a majority basis and where there’s a tie the casting vote of the elected Speaker of the RA who would not have a vote in normal circumstances because he is the de facto leader of that chamber would be the deciding factor. The role of Guardian Council would be much different. Its primary function would be to oversee laws passed in the RA, with powers to make suggestions to such laws, amend, reject or support them. As with the RA each representative will be able to exercise a free vote without the taxing worry of being unduly subjected to threats, coercion or bribery as is so frequently the case at present with both chambers of the United Nations.

Presiding over matters in the Guardian Council would be a President whose position would be that of a CEO. Like the Speaker of the RA he would be directly elected in open and transparent elections to his position with the actual vote carried out by secret ballot by the entire membership of the RA. Likewise, the successful candidate’s term of office and in order to actively assist the process of stability and continuity he or she would be elected for a designated fixed term with the possibility to run for office again when that mandate is over. Both houses would have the power to impeach an incumbent office holder just as there would be mechanisms in place to recall him or her because of proven wrongdoing on their part, conduct injurious to the good name of the GA or the office is clearly incompetent in carrying out his or her duties. Anyone member state would be able to launch any of these measures but to ensure that malicious motives aren’t the real cause for such steps the proposer of such a move would have to enjoy the support of a third of the RA’s membership for such a process to be embarked on.

If successful in doing so a joint committee of the RA and Guardian Council with all the requisite legal representations both by the authorized committee and the defendant would immediately be brought into play and dependant on the unbiased findings of the committee a committed decision would be made as to whether or not to throw the case out or to proceed with the charges levelled against the defendant. In the latter case the full Guardian Council would act as a statutory court of law with its President assisted by two independent, barristers acting as judges. There would be an appeals process open to both sides within a specified period of time and based either on law or the disclosure of new evidence only; and other than a two thirds majority in both the two houses of the GA jointly overturning the verdict in a free and secret ballot the verdict would stand.

Mention was made earlier that the upper house would have considerable powers to oversee and even influence laws made in the lower chamber, but the GA would also have the power to reject by a two thirds majority any moves that were embraced by the Guardian Council to change its legislative actions. The minutiae of how long elected officers could actually hold their offices for and how many times they could run isn’t my remit here and would be democratically determined by the GA itself as is only right and proper. The same argument likewise applies to when these elections should be held.

As a global body funding of the GA is imperative if it is to succeed and effectively carry out its designated functions. The present system of funding the UN would be eschewed at all costs not least because it has been regularly abused by powerful countries like the United States that have used their muscle to browbeat lesser states into doing what the United States wants. Therefore its hasn’t gone unnoticed that successive US representatives to the UN acting solely on the selfish behalf of their home administration have withheld the lawful US contribution to the expenditure of the UN while actively continuing, aided and abetted by its permanent veto, to dictate the lion’s share of what the UN’s agenda, especially in the Security Council, should be. So to pre-empt this I would suggest that funding for the GA ought to be from a diversity of impeccable sources and without any strings attached.

The Vatican readily comes to mind. A sovereign body as the GA would be the Global Alliance should be able, particularly in the age of the internet, to tap into the generosity of ordinary people across the world who convinced that there’s a global body that was genuinely interested in their welfare would I’m absolutely sure willingly donate. It could also make full use of such measures as bequests, monies left to it in trusts, creative marketing, the proceeds of enterprises it has set up either exclusively run by the GA’s commercial arm, or other commercial entities that either hold GA franchises and as such pay royalties to it or ventures that are wholly or substantially backed financially by the GA and that have entered an agreement with it to repatriate part of their profits to the GA. Rich benefactors could also be a source of income benefiting in turn from the positive exposure that such generosity would ensure for them personally as well as the beneficial spinoffs it would have for their businesses and, of course, each member state would be legally committed to paying an agreed portion of its GDP, according to its financial status, to the GA.

One other major advantage of being a sovereign organisation is that it would be able to lease out space to companies and financial entities within its designated borders and obviously charge for this. A no tax regime could be applied to all monies received by the GA and legal arrangements could be entered into with any state regardless of whether it was a member of the GA or not that individuals, organisations or any entity that made financial or any other beneficial contribution to the GA would be able to set this off as a legitimate deduction for tax purposes. The list is almost endless of the creative measures that could be employed to fund this organization. But absolutely crucial to all this would be a series of transparent checks and balances not only to ensure the very efficient running of the GA but to also solidly enhance its credibility and hands on rapport with those that it represents, and in an age of sleaze, corruption and other financial irregularities there would be frequent monitoring of the Global Alliance as well as the open and transparent auditing of all its activities.

A sovereign entity the Global Alliance would be able as is the Vatican to have its own security body; but in the GA’s case this would be a rapid defence force consisting of a specified number of military personnel and experts. Their role would be to respond at very short notice to act as an unbiased arbiter in areas where the antagonists had asked for their help and where a humanitarian crisis was in the offing and needed to be nipped in the bud. This force of multi-faceted experts directly recruited and financed by the GA would be answerable at all times to the GA. However, when greater and more intensive help was required member countries of the Global Alliance as well as those that weren’t would be able to contribute contingents of their armed forces and other personnel to assist; but in those circumstances complete control for all such assistance and those elements giving it would automatically be handed over to the Global Alliance for the duration of that particular emergency.

There would be a legally binding charter of the GA to uphold and defend the intrinsic values that everyone who believes in human rights associates with being part of a civilized society; countries would be able to join or leave the organisation as they freely desire; be suspended or expelled if they’re found to have wilfully violated the charter of the GA in any way; and to use it as a legal forum to have their grievances aired and satisfactorily addressed. To this end the Global Alliance would genuinely aspire to be a body whose remit would be the promotion and enhancement of human rights, global stability and good governance in a convivial atmosphere of mutual respect and concord, where dialogue and compromise intuitively and permanently took precedence over belligerence and war.

A pipe dream? I don’t think so. As there’s nothing that the human imagination can’t fix if those that are involved really put their minds to it.

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