United Nations 2.0
The UN needs to start making more than non binding 'resolutions'. As explained below, it is vitally important for humanity that at this time in history the UN becomes a 'rule maker and enforcer', ie, a ‘regulator’, and leaves behind its decades of being a, well, lets' call it 'conference facilitator'. I explain below how this transition can occur under its current Charter, and why it is important for it to happen under its current Charter and not a new one. In particular, I explain how the UN can transition to becoming a rule maker and enforcer without upsetting the existing power structure. You see, the UN can transition from the goliath NGO to a powerhouse of global governance quite lawfully, without amending its Charter, without contradicting existing international law or norms, and without losing any of its present functions, agencies or people; and importantly without the current permanent members of the Security Council needing to compromise their special status. It can be done. Here is how: The key to it all is that the UN recognizes and acts on its power to make and enforce regulations for the preservation of global stability by reference to its ‘security’ powers. And that it recognizes that a habitable planet is as much in in the interests of our security as not warring with each other. The opportunity to do this emerges from the fact that, in the past 50 years, the question of global regulation in many areas of common interest has shifted from being a matter of opinion to a matter of security. We live in a world where we know what we need to do to resolve our common existential threats, but we just can’t do it due to lack of regulation. We just don’t have the global political structures or administrative processes to address so many issues: from cutting pollution in the atmosphere to control of contagious diseases; from effective management of the oceans to putting controls on the development of artificial intelligence. The need for global regulation is emergent and its association with our security, as opposed to just comfort, is real. It is not just necessary for the people of today, it is essential for humanity’s future. And, it is not just necessary for people, it is critical for the future of so many other species with whom we share this planet. So, why has the United Nations, our preeminent body for global administration, seemingly been sitting on its hands all this time, as the need for global regulation has been bubbling away to near boiling point? Well, the UN was set up in 1945. When it was being formed, the big ticket item was developing processes for resolving international conflicts. Back then, bequeathing some limited powers to the winners of the second world war to promote security was thought appropriate, but another layer of government regulation – global governance – was not needed. There were 2.3 billion people in the world. Interconnectedness between peoples was limited. Resources were plentiful. We had our local and national governments. That was enough. Now it is 2022. The global population is 8 billion. The capacity for people to affect the interests of one another from one side of the planet to the other, either on purpose (eg cyber), or by accident (eg pollution), are exponentially greater. Global resources are not plentiful. Our local and national governments simply cannot protect us from the burgeoning risks that other countries and people from afar present to us. In short, a new need has emerged. A need for enforceable global rules. Since the UN Charter was signed, there has evolved a need for ‘common sense global regulation’ - regulation that everyone in the world knows is needed and is prepared to follow in response to our new found capacity to shoot, pollute and commute to each other from one side of the planet to the other. Managing our security is no longer a transactional pursuit, one that can be dealt with by occasional resolution. Our security is now a regulatory matter. We the people need global regulation. It is the only way we can keep those who can harm us in check. Now I will take you on a very short trip through the relevant UN powers, before explaining what needs to be done: Article 39 The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security. Article 41 The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations. Article 42 Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations. The Charter also provides for the General Assembly to establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions (Article 22). OK, so, having regard to these powers, to humanity’s needs, and to the geopolitical challenges of today, what to do? On analysis, the way forward is clear.: To the existing agenda of the General Assembly (which is, by the way, already way way too long, but full of talking points and not action points), needs to be added a list of items in the nature of proposed enforceable regulations to be recommended to the Security Council. These will be regulations deemed, by experts that advise the General Assembly, and the General Assembly itself, necessary for the security of humanity. Once considered by the General Assembly, there is nothing preventing such resolutions for regulation, and proposals for enforcement of regulation, from being sent, by two thirds vote of all member countries as is currently required, to the Security Council. As long as they are regarded as for the security of mankind, there is nothing then preventing the Security Council from then voting on them and, depending on the vote, acting on those recommendations as they deem fit. In order to implement these new regulations, and enforce them, the UN will need to set up administration and enforcement agencies. As the UN is good at setting up agencies, this is not a problem. This can be done under Article 22, which gives the UN the mandate to set up such bodies as are necessary to the performance of its functions. Such regulations and their enforcement will be lawful, not least by reference to Article 24 of the UN Charter that provides the Security Council has a mandate to provide security to the world. Think of it: The UN, not just issuing resolutions, but actually regulating and enforcing. Saving the Amazon. Saving the Congo. Limiting emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere. Drawing up rules around the development of Artificial Intelligence. Maybe even taking steps to keep the internet free and accessible. These are jobs for the United Nations. The point is that the UN does have power to do these things. Now, in order for the UN to do these things in all our interests, it is integral to this process that the General Assembly must be provided with an expert panel on everything that needs regulation. The time has passed for political actors to bring their own agendas to the UN table. It must be agreed at the outset that the General Assembly will inform itself by expert panels on what needs to be done for the security of humanity. As mentioned above, the UN has power to set up whatever bodies it needs to make thigs happen, under Article 22. So, it is absolutely essential that under this plan, the UN set up the expert panels! If the UN General Assembly needs an expert panel on AI regulation in order for it to make recommendations to the Security Council for AI regulation, give it to them. On space regulation, give it to them. On climate regulation, on disease control regulation, on oceans, give it to them. Expertise resides in the wider world. It does not reside in the UN delegates. Where the General Assembly needs expertise to make a recommendation to the Security Council, give it to them, by establishing expert panels. After receiving advice from the expert panels, and I would think most of us would agree only then, should there be voting by the General Assembly on enforceable global regulations, and those recommendations for regulation referred by the General Assembly to the Security Council. Then, n, in accordance with the UN Charter, let the Security Council act on those recommendations, as they see fit. It is true, certain permanent members may not agree to all regulations proposed, and one country can torpedo a rule that everyone else wants. Sobeit. That is the way of the world, and, in any event, the world has signed on to a system that in 1945 deliberately made it hard for the UN to regulate. So, it is hard. But as night follows day, common sense rules under this method will be made. Common sense global regulation for the benefit of mankind is completely doable under the current UN Charter if it takes these steps. Bring on United Nations 2.0. Lets start cleaning up this place.