Monday, March 28, 2005


Is collective security a worldview?

Is the UN Charter's worldview of collective security still realistic? In this connection, an article today explores the changes necessary to the UN Security Council if there is to be protection globally.,,1072-1544308,00.html

Key arguments are:

The UN should have the power to enforce international law (essentially the UN Charter). The original basis of the UNSC was a permanent military alliance of the then great powers to keep the peace. But such is evolution. . . one possibility now is to go back to basics and activate Article 44 of the charter, which calls on members to "hold immediately available national . . . contingents for combined international enforcement action". NATO is an example of an international grouping already put together, albeit unconnected to the UN.

Next, update international law. The doctrine of national sovereignty should be qualified by a "behaviour test", assessed by the UN. In December the high-level panel on the future of the UN endorsed the principle of an international obligation to protect the innocent; this allows intervention.

Saturday, March 26, 2005



The worldviews of the G8 nations are vital, but they are still unknown.

In his 1994 book 'Diplomacy', Henry Kissinger wrote that at least three types of states are entitled to call themselves 'nations'. Firstly "the ethnic splinters from disintegrating empires. . . The goal of international order is beyond their fields of interest and frequently beyond their imaginations. . . they seek to preserve their independence and to increase their power without regard for the more cosmopolitan considerations of an international political order"; secondly "postcolonial nations . . .For many of them, the current borders represent the administrative convenience of the imperial powers . . . the state too often came to mean the army"; finally "the continental-type states - which will probably represent the basic units of the new world order."

Interestingly the former US secretary of state commented on the weakness of a previous attempt at a world order: "The failure to give the League of Nations a military enforcement mechanism underlined the problems inherent in [US President Wilson's] notion of collective security. . . As Hitler was to demonstrate, in the world of diplomacy, a loaded gun is often more potent than a legal brief."

Some see a UN army as essential. Meanwhile, there is a case for using an enforcement capacity written into in the Charter of the United Nations 60 years ago (ECOSOC); the failure to use this facility seems a key matter for debate.

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