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Final draft of United Nations 2.0

Well, I have been submitting a number of versions of this paper in previous ideas on this site/app. Here is the latest version, which the Center for United Nations Constitutional Reform (CUNCR) will shortly be publishing as a blog contribution on their website! Vote for it here to help change the world!: United Nations 2.0 Wouldn’t it be great if the United Nations could actually make and enforce rules for our global security? In this paper, it is pointed out that it can. In the next few years, the United Nations can, and should, transition from ‘maker of non-binding resolutions’ to ‘maker and enforcer of global regulations’. Further, it can take on this new role without amending its Charter. This is important, as no permanent member of the UN Security Council has any real interest in presiding over change to the current Charter. Such would risk diminishing their power. This paper sets out how the UN can transition from being a non- binding resolution maker to a powerhouse of global governance without amending its Charter, without contradicting existing international laws or norms, and without losing any of its present functions, agencies or people. Here is how: The key is for the UN to recognize and act on its power to make and enforce rules for the preservation of global stability by reference to its ‘security’ powers. That is to say, UN needs to recognize that enforceable resolutions (ie, rules and regulations) are actually critical for all our security, and that that this very fact will trigger their lawfulness. 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 our urgent security. We live in a world where we know very well the nature and extent of our existential threats, and we even know what we need to do to resolve them. We just don’t act, because we seem to accept that we simply don’t have the global political structures or administrative processes to fix the many issues that affect us all: from cutting pollution in the atmosphere to controlling contagious diseases; from effective management of the oceans to putting controls on the development of artificial intelligence. In fact, the need for global regulation has been emergent, and to the extent the need is associated with our security, so is the power of the UN to regulate. Not just for the security of the people of today, it is critical for the people of tomorrow. And not just for humanity, it is needed by many other species, too. So, one might ask: 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 on so many things has been growing and growing, 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 by common resolve. 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. But now it is 2024. The global population is 8 billion. The capacity for people to affect each other’s interests from one side of the planet to the other, whether on purpose (eg cyber), or by accident (eg pollution), is exponentially greater. Global resources are no longer plentiful. Our local and national governments can no longer protect us from the burgeoning risks that other countries and people from afar present. Common resolve and well-meaning resolutions no longer cut the mustard. Further, managing our security is no longer a transactional pursuit. It has become a regulatory matter because we, the people of the world, clearly need global regulation. It is the only way we can keep those who would harm us in check. That the UN Charter should be reviewed, there is no doubt . But for the moment, any significant change to it, or a World Parliament, or some other new governance structure of some kind, seems to be completely out of the question. The permanent members of the Security Council happen to be some of the most powerful countries in the world. They will, without question, veto or decline to be involved in any change to the present UN power structure. Such would only diminish their power. So both any structural change is unacceptable to them, and they are the only ones with the power to change (due to their power to veto changes to) the Charter . They would simply choose not to be involved. But also, to be fair, there is no broad appetite for it. Global governance is not on the radar of 99% of the people of the world, and it should also be acknowledged that there is no new global governance structure that one could possibly contemplate that would be so uncontroversial as to happen within a decade, in any event. This is not to say there should not be a Citizens Assembly or similar that could be developed within this time to help make recommendations to the General Assembly, but that is another cause. The cause of this paper is to make a different point: That the UN is sitting on and not using its power to be a maker and enforcer of global regulations on critical matters of global security. Let me take you on a very short trip through the relevant current UN powers, before explaining further: Article 24.1 In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members (all countries) confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf. 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. Footnote: The Charter also provides for the General Assembly to establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of the UNs functions (Article 22). OK, so, having regard to these powers, to humanity’s needs, and to the geopolitical challenges of today, what to do? The way forward is clear: By reference to the above powers, the UN clearly has the power to make and enforce such global regulations as are reasonably necessary to protect the security of mankind. Therefore, to the existing agenda of the General Assembly - which is presently full of talking points and not action points - needs to be added a list of new items in the nature of proposed enforceable world regulations that are, according to experts (see below), necessary for all our security. The General Assembly will then need to consider and vote on the bringing into existence of such regulations, and, if they are agreed to by two thirds vote, send them to the Security Council with recommendations for their adoption. Once there, it is up to the member countries of the Security Council to adopt those recommendations or not, as they deem fit. If the enactment of certain regulations and implementation of measures for their enforceability are accepted by them as being in the best interests of the security of all humanity, then there is absolutely no reason to think they would not be adopted. Of course, in order to implement these new regulations and enforce them, the UN will need to set up new administration and enforcement agencies. As the UN is already good at setting up agencies, this is not a problem. All this can be done under Article 22, which gives the UN the mandate to set up such bodies as are necessary for the performance of its functions. So, such regulations and their enforcement will not only be lawful by reference to Article 24 of the UN Charter that provides the Security Council has a mandate to provide security to the world, they will also be completely doable. Think of it: The UN creating and enforcing actual regulations: requiring and enforcing the limitation of pollutants into the atmosphere; drawing up rules around the development of Artificial Intelligence and their enforcement; saving the earth’s critical forests of the Amazon, the Congo and New Guinea. These things can be done. The point is that the UN does have the power to regulate these things, and to enforce those regulations. As mentioned above, in order for the UN to do these things in all our interests, it is essential the General Assembly be provided with an expert panel on everything that comes before it for regulation. The time has long passed for political actors to bring their own agendas to the UN table. It must be agreed at the outset that, under this proposed United Nations 2.0, the General Assembly will inform itself by expert panels on what exactly needs to be done for the security of mankind before voting on any proposed regulation. So, if the UN General Assembly needs an expert panel on AI regulation in order to make recommendations to the Security Council for AI regulation, give it to them. On climate regulation, give it to them. On disease control, on protection of oceans, on space regulation, give it to them. Expertise resides in the wider world, not in the UN. Where the General Assembly needs expertise to make a recommendation to the Security Council to make a rule that might affect everybody: give it to them - by establishing expert panels. It is true that certain permanent members of the Security Council may not agree to all regulations that end up before it, and that once at the Security Council, one country may well torpedo a regulation that everyone else wants. But sobeit. For now, that is the way of the world. That will happen from time to time, and it may be a good thing. The world signed on to a system in 1945 that made it difficult for the UN to change. But on a review of its powers under the current Charter, the UN does have the power to make and enforce regulations if they are in the interests of global security. Before it is too late, the UN needs to set up its expert panels, and use its power to make and enforce global regulations.
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