One of my all time favorite discussions in Intro to International Relations was the twenty minutes we spent discussing all the various scenarios for reforming the United Nations. If I ever dig through my six hundred piles of notebooks and find them I’ll dedicate a series of posts to the subject. The criticisms of the United Nations are quite well known. Critics argue that its’ Eurocentric institution that serves the self interest of the few members of the Security Council.
The United Nations was formed out of World War II and has had few changes since China replaced Taiwan in the 1970’s. The United Nations static nature has created stability at the expense of ignoring the changing reality of the world. There are no Latin American or African members on the Security Council, which is a must in my estimation for the institution to remain global. Further, China might not be the best advocate for the entirety of Asia’s interests. But any reform has problems attached.
Jorge G. Castaneda in “Not Ready for Prime Time” published in Foreign Affairs September/October 2010 isolates Brazil, China, India, and South Africa as potential new members of global leadership councils.
On one hand, this solves the African and Latin America problems of representation, but none of these groups has the greatest human rights record: India still lags in women’s rights, Brazil has a problem of charcoal mill slavery, South Africa is still emerging from apartheid, and China is well China. Admitting these powers to the larger global order brings questions upon global commitments to human rights and there’s no guarantee that these powers speak for entire continents.
It is equally wrong to exclude some of the largest populations within these regions from representation. I don’t know the answer here, if I did, I’d probably have a completed Master Thesis and a job at the U.N. or government think tank, instead of a blog. The global order needs a reboot, lest it be labeled an out of touch relic of the past, a sorrowful thought indeed.