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Envisioning the United Nations in the Twenty-first Century

Proceedings of the Inaugural Symposium on
the United Nations System in the Twenty-first Century
21-22 November 1995,
UNU Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan


Heitor Gurgulino de Souza

Introduction: Envisioning the United Nations in the Twenty-first Century
Takashi Inoguchi

Part I. The United Nations in the Twenty-first Century: Two Perspectives

1. The Peace and Security Agenda of the United Nations: From a Crossroads into the Next Century
Olara A. Otunnu

2. Ten Balances for Weighing UN Reform Proposals
Bruce Russett

Part II. Rethinking International Security

3. Human Security and the United Nations
James S. Sutterlin

4. The Future of Humanitarian Assistance
Antonio Donini

5. UN Peacekeeping Operations: Legitimacy and Effectiveness
Hisako Shimura

Part III. Redefining Sustainable Development

6. Effective Financing of Multilateral Development Cooperation: Proposals for a New Policy Framework
Inge Kaul

7. Post-conflict Peace-building: Development and Humanitarian Assistance
Joan T. Seymour

8. Human Rights in Development
Philip Alston

Part IV. States and Sovereignty in the Twenty-first Century

9. The Future of Sovereignty: Rethinking a Key Concept of International Relations
Volker Rittberger

10. The Articulation of Global Interests in a Changing UN System
W. Andy Knight

Part V. Global Citizenship

11. NGOs and the United Nations in the Twenty-first Century
Leon Gordenker

Part VI. Regionalism in the Twenty-first Century

12. The United Nations and Regionalism in an Era of Globalization
Benjamin Rivlin

13. Regionalism and International Security
Muthiah Alagappa

14. UN Cooperation with Regional Organizations in Peacemaking and Peacekeeping
John Renninger



It gives me great pleasure to introduce Envisioning the United Nations in the Twenty-first Century, a volume published by the United Nations University and featuring the proceedings of an inaugural symposium on a major research initiative on the United Nations system in the twenty-first century, held in Tokyo 21-22 November 1995.

Rarely has the international community been so intensively focused as now on the need to revamp and adapt our international institutions and organizations to the requirements and needs of a new age. Discussions of this kind are by no means unprecedented. For what is commonly described today as "UN reform" has always been on the agenda of the organization in one way or another. But the radically novel situation created by the demise of the Cold War, the continuing and deepening rift between North and South, together with short-term pressures and concerns, have given to this debate a new sense of urgency and acuity. Such essential questions as the place of the United Nations in international affairs, the functions it should be assigned in the international arena, as well as the services the international community can expect from it, are being scrutinized through the ongoing deliberations now taking place in no fewer than five different groups established by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

There are significant areas of agreement among the actors involved. But some questions remain politically controversial. Others are highly con- tentious. In brief, the search for a durable consensus is likely to be a lengthy and delicate one. The stakes of this grand debate, however, are high, as its implications are global in scope and significance. For this reason alone, it would need to be nurtured and sustained by a vigorous process of intellectual policy reflection and policy analysis.

A key raison d'être of the United Nations University is to act as a bridge between actors and observers, between scholars and practitioners, between the worlds of knowledge and policy-making. It is against this back- drop that the University organized last fall in Tokyo a symposium which brought together scholars, UN officials and policy makers from all over the world. The purpose of the meeting was to flesh out and launch a major research effort focused on the "United Nations System in the Twenty-first Century" (UN21). UN21 is an extension and integral part of a long-term programme of study and reflection spelled out in the report of an advisory team which I convened last year to define a focused framework for UNU research and advanced training in the broad field of peace and global governance. The specific objective of the project is to examine how international organizations, especially the United Nations, are coping with challenges in five key issue areas - peace and security, economic development, the environment, human dignity and political governance - and to explore alternative models that would best meet the needs of the international community in the next century. Global citizenship, market forces, regional arrangements, states and sovereignty and international organization will provide the substantive foci of this work. UN21 will of course draw from previous work carried out by the University, most notably the Multilateralism and the United Nations System project (MUNS), which was recently concluded.

As a research, training and dissemination exercise, UN21 is expected to span the next five years. It will be carried out under the umbrella of a high-level international advisory board which will provide advice about evolving research priorities. Specific substantive research objectives will be defined at annual agenda-setting workshops which will meet in the spring of each year. Annual symposia held in the fall will provide outlets for the work accomplished in each research issue area. The highest priority will be given to the dissemination of the work as it progresses. Occasional papers and specific reports will be issued at regular intervals highlighting research outcomes. The papers presented at the annual symposia will be published in yearly reports. The entire process should lead to the publication of bound volumes by the end of the project. The aim is to produce a steady stream of academically sound, timely, politically relevant and action-oriented studies shedding new light on some of the key questions now raised about the United Nations, the foundations of its authority and the scope of its legitimate role in a rapidly evolving environment. It is our hope that these studies will promote the deliberative process now unfolding among scholars and practitioners both within and outside the United Nations.

I would like to acknowledge here the support received for this initiative from the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), the International Cooperation Research Association (ICRA) and the Japan Foundation. I would also like to note here our appreciation for the official support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun for the November 1995 symposium.

Heitor Gurgulino de Souza
Rector, The United Nations University


Takashi Inoguchi

Despite the worldwide celebrations for its fiftieth anniversary, the United Nations had little to celebrate in reality. As the post-Cold War euphoria faded, the future of the United Nations became clouded by widespread scepticism and disillusionment about its roles and capabilities. Moreover, the world organization is crippled by heavy debts and entrenched bureaucracies. Nonetheless, pessimism about the United Nations should not limit its possibilities for the future. The United Nations is a product of its Member States. It is malleable to their wishes and political will. The governments and peoples of the world determine the future of the United Nations. If they wish to reconstruct the world body as an effective institution, they must do so. But if they refuse to allow it a meaningful role, it will be reduced to a historical relic. Thus, we are confronted by fundamental questions at this juncture. Do we need, and want, the United Nations? Can the United Nations address the challenges of a world which is so different from that of 1945? Can it answer evolving peace and security demands and sub- and trans-state challenges, which are increasingly apparent? Can an organization which was established on the basis of relations between stable states adapt to issues and problems which do not conform to this paradigm?

Conceptual Confusion

Before answering these questions, however, we should remember that our conception of the United Nations is fluid and variable.1 Despite the recent dramatic increase in research on the United Nations, our knowledge of the institution is still incomplete, fragmented and even incoherent. As a result, the United Nations has, to a great extent, become a vague and malleable term. Everybody believes they know what it means, but in fact they are often referring to different things. For example, observers may assert that "the UN failed." But who or what is the United Nations? Is it the Secretariat? Or the Secretary-General? When the United Nations failed in protecting the safe haven in Bihac, who really failed? The peacekeepers deployed there? The special representative appointed by the Secretary-General? Or the inefficient UN bureaucracy? One thing is certain: very few people would suggest that it was the Member States who had failed.

Neglecting this most basic observation, political leaders, journalists and scholars all present questionable views on the United Nations and attempt to apply dubious notions of success and failure. In particular, they criticize it as if it were a separate entity unrelated to themselves and their country. However, the United Nations is not a third party separated from member governments: it belongs to, and reflects, its members.2 Thus, the lack of a coherent image of the United Nations not only hinders our collective understanding of the organization, but undermines our efforts to resolve the problems that confront it.

While mindful of its various images and the subsequent conceptual disarray, let us assume that we need the United Nations. Then, what kind of United Nations do we want in the next century? To answer this, we need to address a more fundamental question: In what kind of world should we like to live in the future? A world in which states cooperate through the United Nations to maintain security and to advance welfare? Or a world in which states continue to play power politics and wage wars, and civil war and state collapse continue unchecked? A world in which the United Nations will be taking the lead in preserving the global economic system and coordinating effective development programmes? Or a world in which strong states pursue their national interests at the expense of weak ones and the environment? These questions underline the need for a serious debate about the future of international cooperation, multilateralism and internationalism. The most fundamental issue is how to encourage the states of the world to renew their commitment to work together. Who should, and can, play a central role in international cooperation? The United Nations? States? Regions? Or transnational communities of civil society actors such as scholars and professionals?

Central to these questions is the role of international institutions. The raison d'être of the United Nations is the belief that international institutions promote peace and human welfare. However, as UN operations in many trouble spots became entrenched in practical and political difficulties, confidence in international organizations has been rapidly evaporating. As pessimism over its effectiveness has grown, the cardinal tenet supporting the existence of the United Nations has been called into question: Do institutions really affect the prospect for war and peace in significant ways? Can the United Nations make a difference in world affairs? Answers to these questions will fundamentally affect the future of the United Nations.

The United Nations as Actor

For analytical purposes it may be useful to propose two heuristic models: the United Nations as "global manager" and as "global counsel". In the one scenario, the United Nations becomes somewhat like a world government. It is a supranational body, acting as world policeman, chief financial officer and global economic manager. In the other scenario, it becomes a transnational body. It assembles wise persons to observe and evaluate the state of global issues, and advises national governments. These two scenarios set the perimeter of future possibilities for the world organization. The two models are meant to be a heuristic guide in the search for the best model for the United Nations in the next century. The "global counsel" model represents a minimalist view of the United Nations, while the "global manager" model, a maximalist view. This dialectical framework provides us with useful guides in theoretical, empirical and policy research on the United Nations in various issue fields.

The United Nations as Global Manager

As a supranational body, the United Nations functions as a quasi-world government that constrains its Member States. As global manager, the United Nations naturally becomes a large organization. It is able to finance its activities through a global tax system. It is able to deploy military forces to maintain peace and security, and preserve and promote democracy. It is capable of implementing global, social, economic and environmental policies. Member States cede a substantial part of their sovereignty to the United Nations and comply with its decisions.

The United Nations as Global Counsel

In this scenario, the United Nations becomes a transnational body. It functions as an advisory body for its Member States. It is an assembly of international wise persons. Yet a smart United Nations is a very small organization. Although the world organization plays a minimal role in the real decision-making in international politics, it monitors and assesses the state of global affairs with reference to peace and security, development, democracy and the environment. This transnational community of scholars, scientists and other experts advises national governments on their policy-making. As global counsel the United Nations does not have real power, but wields the power of ideas. With its wisdom, it influences states.

In reality, the United Nations has acted as both global counsel and global manager for the past 50 years. For example, the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq has played the role of global manager in destroying Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction. Likewise, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), the most complex and ambitious peacekeeping operation in the history of the United Nations, supervised national elections, repatriated hundreds of thousands of refugees and even rebuilt the country's infrastructure. A similar example can be found in Namibia. In a number of humanitarian operations, including controversial and unsuccessful ones such as Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia, the United Nations and UNHCR have been acting as global manager in delivering emergency assistance. To varying degrees, the United Nations has been the global manager in such operations as economic sanctions and peacekeeping. Although quite rare, the enforcement of collective security - the war against Iraq being the most graphic example - highlights the organization's role as global manager most vividly. Security Council resolutions have often enabled the United Nations to play the role of global manager by creating mandates. In a broader sense, the Trusteeship Council was a global manager in its decolonization processes.3

In the economic, social and environmental areas, the United Nations has also played the role of global manager. Two specialized agencies of the United Nations, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have managed the world food systems by legislating rules and enforcing procedures.4 The Law of the Sea created the authority for the exploration and exploitation of the deep seabed. Future possibilities, such as taxing currency trading or carbon dioxide emissions, would constitute additional examples of the United Nations as global manager.

The United Nations has served as global counsel in numerous issue areas. Typical examples include most resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, programmes of action adopted at UN conferences, opinions issued by the International Court of Justice and reports of the Human Rights Commission. Although none of them has binding force, Member States have often heeded them voluntarily.

In the area of peace and security, the mediation efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his special representatives often constitute the role of global counsel. In the socio-economic field, the United Nations Development Programme has acted as global counsel through its Human Development Report, although it has been quite controversial. Similarly, but in a much more influential manner, the World Bank and the IMF have pressed their structural adjustment programmes on developing countries. In promoting democracy, the role of the United Nations as an election monitor is a good example of its role as global counsel. Finally, in the environmental area, the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio produced a number of multilateral treaties and actions such as the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21. In this process, the United Nations served as global counsel to its Member States in a very effective way. Across these various issue areas, however, its advisory role is not necessarily honoured. Member governments often ignore the decisions and counsels of the world body.

Thus, the United Nations is sometimes global counsel and sometimes global manager. In some cases, it plays both roles. However, the organization's respective roles in the past half-century provide useful clues to the answer to what it can realistically do.

The United Nations as Arena

Both global manager and global counsel models are based on the assumption that the United Nations is a global actor in its own right. But the United Nations is not only an actor but also an arena in which various actors engage in political manoeuvring.5 Its deliberative organs - the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council - provide just such an arena.

Until recently, the United Nations was viewed as an arena solely for the political manoeuvring of its Member States. However, as an increasing number of non-state actors participate in UN politics, a more sophisticated approach to the analysis of the United Nations as an arena has been called for. Viewed from an actor-specific angle, there are four levels of participation in UN politics: (1) states; (2) non-governmental organizations (NGOs); (3) regional organizations; and (4) international organizations. In addition to the growing importance of these four types of actors, there have been increasing interaction and interdependence among them. The relationship between states and NGOs, for example, is symbiotic on some occasions but conflicting in others. A separate investigation of each of the actors and their mutual interaction is essential to grasping the dynamics of political processes in the arena of the United Nations. Finally, but no less significantly, market forces have emerged as critical factors in world politics and the UN system.

Compounding the complexity of UN politics, the United Nations and its affiliated agencies play roles of both actor and arena. While the General Assembly and the Security Council seem to be the epitome of an arena or forum, their actions often have significant ramifications throughout the global system.6 Consequently, there is ambiguity inherent in the distinction between actor and arena. Therefore, research on the UN system must attempt to establish the link between these concepts. In this regard, the four levels of participation and the global manager vs. global counsel framework allow us to examine the relationship between the United Nations as actor and as arena. How do the four actors behave in the arena of the United Nations in a bid to influence its constitutive process as global actor or, in Cox and Jacobson's words,7 "service organization"? How do the four actors, including the United Nations itself, try to shape the organization as an arena? How do these different roles interact?

The United Nations as Tool

Related to its roles as both actor and arena, the United Nations serves as a policy tool with which various actors advance their interests. The United Nations was created by the Allied powers under the leadership of the United States. Its inception reflected their outlook and needs. The United Nations serves as a critical policy instrument for these permanent members of the Security Council. Regardless of their relative decline in power and wealth, they are assured a special place in international politics.

Every single Member State sees the United Nations as a policy instrument. For small countries, it is a place for collective bargaining with larger states. Moreover, the General Assembly guarantees that all member countries, however small or poor, be given a chance to present their grievance before the world. For NGOs, UN conferences provide an entry point to the organization's agenda setting. Regional organizations, too, often look to the United Nations for a variety of assistance. Therefore, almost every actor participating in the UN forum recognizes the world body as a useful policy tool and utilizes it to advance their interests.

The accelerating process of globalization only increases the importance of the United Nations as a policy instrument. Owing to the growing interdependence of societies states often cannot deal with transnational issues by themselves. The United Nations, as a truly universal organization, facilitates a collective and concerted response to such issues.

The usefulness of the United Nations as a policy instrument vacillates over time. For example, the United States embraced decolonization and fully utilized the United Nations as a means to achieve it. Indeed, the General Assembly and the Trusteeship Council were effective tools for the United States. However, as newly independent states joined the United Nations in the 1960s, Washington grew disenchanted with the world organization because these states - with the encouragement of the Communist bloc - used the United Nations as an arena to disseminate anti-American propaganda. The United Nations thus became a liability for the United States: it no longer produced desirable results. As the Cold War wound down, the organization re-emerged as a useful instrument for Washington. In particular, it was a very important vehicle for the United States to mobilize world opinion against Iraq and build a coalition for its military action. Yet most recently, the organization's utility to American diplomacy has been affected by its allies' increasing financial contributions. As Japan and Germany expanded their share in the UN budget, the United States found itself more constrained by their policy preferences. As Tokyo and Bonn pursue a more independent policy in the United Nations, Washington becomes less able to utilize it for its foreign-policy goals.

Thus, any research on the future role of the United Nations requires a critical evaluation of its utility as a policy tool. By comparing how different actors attempt to use the organization as an instrument, it would become clear what kind of UN role is feasible in the twenty-first century. Analysis of the United Nations as an instrument is indispensable to enhancing policy relevance in the study of international organizations.

The United Nations in the Twenty-first Century: Research Methods

How should we envision the United Nations in the twenty-first century? First, analysis of the world body as actor - either global manager or global counsel - will enable us to define the bounds of possibility for the organization. Second, analysis of the United Nations as an arena will allow us to identify conflicting interests among different players, including the organization itself. In this respect, five levels of analysis - states, NGOs, market forces, regional arrangements and international organizations - help us to clarify where their interests lie. Third, we must examine the relationship between the two different roles of the United Nations, actor and arena. This is crucial to understanding political processes and their outcomes. In this exercise, we should evaluate the utility of the United Nations as a policy tool for various actors. Using these generic analytical formats, our research should be conducted on specific issues in different areas - military, humanitarian, economic, environmental - and from different angles. By focusing on specific issues, we could also gain a comparative perspective among different issue areas, thus enabling us to arrive at the best combination of various UN roles. That is, in essence, the best blueprint for the United Nations in the next century.

The following themes highlight the evolving context which will inevitably condition the United Nations' outlook.

States and the Evolving Nature of Sovereignty

Much effort is expended in questioning whether an international system based on sovereign states will be durable in the future. As various aspects of world affairs continue to be globalized, the state system seems to be increasingly incapable of addressing certain issues and problems. More- over, in a number of cases the state - under siege by fragmentation and disarray - is barely able to fulfil its basic role. Thus, the state is under pressure from above and below. Is the concept of state-sovereignty seriously challenged? Is a reassessment of sovereignty required? Can the state system provide a viable framework for intra-state, trans-state and sub-state issues? What is the contemporary significance of Article 2, paragraph 7 of the UN Charter?

In both developing and developed regions, ethnic minorities continue to challenge the legitimacy of national governments. The conventional concept of the state does not seem to provide a solution for ethnic and irredentist conflicts. The relationship between nation and state needs critical enquiry. How can international organizations address the problems facing state sovereignty? Another key question concerns the state's capability to govern. The most pressing issue concerns weak and failed states. In the developing world, an increasing number of governments are incapable of maintaining law and order, which has, in the worst cases, resulted in civil wars. In the developed world, governments find it more difficult to control private violence and to prevent terrorism. When states cannot manage internal violence, is there a role for the United Nations?

Global Citizenship

Global citizenship focuses on the future of NGOs, the media and voluntary associations within global civil society. In a world of states - and regardless of their wishes - the global community of people has been steadily expanding and will continue to do so in the context of a global ethos. Within the UN system, non-governmental actors have played an increasingly prominent role in various areas, ranging from humanitarian assistance and human rights to the environment. Outside the UN system, multinational corporations and the international media have become dynamic driving forces of change in the world. Across the board, NGOs have become more active in the agenda-setting, decision-making and implementation processes. Governments and international organizations can no longer ignore the influence of non-state actors in the international arena and have already begun to work together with them on a variety of planes.

As the activities of NGOs have become more visible and important their international networks have also been growing. Yet the NGO community is far from monolithic. As a group, NGOs are immensely diverse, and their networks vary from issue to issue. One of the most pressing tasks of this research stream is to investigate the nature of their networks and grasp their role and capacity as a prerequisite for understanding the relationship between NGOs and the United Nations and its Member States. At a time when the Secretariat and UN agencies are facing acute shortages in resources, NGOs' contributions to the UN system are particularly valuable. There is an immediate need to explore the most effective arrangements between NGOs and UN agencies and ask a number of questions. What role can non-state actors play in securing world peace, enhancing human welfare and dignity? Which issue areas can NGOs address more effectively when governments are unwilling or unable to act? When and over what interests do governments and NGOs clash? How will this conflict of interests affect the United Nations? Answers to these questions should help us to assess the possibilities and limitations of non-state actors.

The international media have increasingly influenced leaders and occasionally made a critical difference in governments' decision-making. Humanitarian intervention in Somalia and northern Iraq are cases in point. Yet media coverage frequently distorts the image of the United Nations and represents its activities inaccurately. The media's tendency to highlight trouble spots inevitably leads to negative reports of UN "failure", rather than of quiet successes. Hence, the role of the media - the "CNN effect" - on international and domestic politics needs to be thoroughly studied.

Similarly, as a transnational community, scholars, scientists and other experts exchange views and information across borders and influence national and world leaders. Although the role of the academic community has long been debated among international relations scholars, it still remains unclear as to what extent and how it has an impact. Nevertheless, the power of ideas and knowledge is central to the role of the United Nations as global counsel. Yet the gap between theory and policy is always hard to bridge. It is true that many scholars take refuge in "ivory towers", but cooperation between academics and practitioners has made remarkable progress in the field of empirical studies, particularly information collection and data processing. How can academic work increase its policy relevance without sacrificing academic independence?

Market Forces

As the globalization and liberalization of economic activity continue to increase in pace, the role of the private sector in international affairs will expand accordingly. Although the Bretton Woods institutions are part of the UN system, they have not fully developed a symbiotic relationship with UN development agencies. Still, the end of the Cold War has removed long-standing political obstacles to worldwide international cooperation and has created a new opportunity to turn the Bretton Woods regime into a more universal institutional framework. It has become more plausible to develop collaborative relations between the UN economic and development machinery and the Bretton Woods institutions. However, the UN economic and development bureaucracy has yet to embrace the substantial reform necessary to foster collaboration with the World Bank and the IMF. It is important to examine the differences of the two institutional frameworks, identify collaborative opportunities between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods regimes and explore practical approaches to achieving this cooperation.

Multinational corporations have long been a primary driving force behind the accelerating trend of economic globalization. For large international companies, geography and state boundaries are no longer significant obstacles to their activities. With the advent of a truly global market place, particularly in international finance, big businesses are becoming ever more globalized and powerful. This creates implications for the economic sovereignty of governments, especially in small states. Moreover, multinational firms are advancing global interests which have also created tensions with local, national and regional business concerns. This is also true for political actors, including local and national governments. In this context, multilateral companies have emerged as important actors in the international political process in various fields, particularly trade, investment and the environment. What role can, or should, international businesses play in promoting global development? How can we reconcile competing interests between multinational businesses and indigenous economies? How can the international community utilize global capital markets to finance economic growth in the developing world?

Regional Arrangements

Regionalism lies between state-centred multilateralism and globalism. For various reasons, regionalism has been promoted in different areas. Yet, although attempts have been made to develop regional organizations in many areas, only a few have produced desirable results. One central question concerns the compatibility of regionalism with national interests and global interests. As a halfway house between the state system and global society, regionalism has both promise and limitations. The UN Secretary-General has repeatedly called on regional organizations to share responsibility with the United Nations in a division of labour in regional conflicts and peacekeeping operations. However, regional institutions have often proved incapable of living up to his expectation because of their lack of resources and intra-regional politics. Is there a workable formula for the division of work between the United Nations and regional organizations?

International Organizations

If the structure of the UN system is unacceptable, what can be done to reform it? In particular, what kind of change is required to promote the United Nations as actor, arena and policy tool? The structure of the UN system was configured during the last days of World War II. Since then, the world has undergone tremendous change, while the basic structure of the world organization has remained largely intact. Clearly, the UN structure does not reflect today's international political realities, which accounts for its inability to mobilize resources effectively. Restructuring the United Nations, including an amendment of its Charter, is imperative if the organization wishes to remain a relevant actor in world politics in the twenty-first century. What form should this take?

This volume forms a part of the United Nations University's programme on the United Nations in the Twenty-first Century. The programme aims to promote and facilitate constructive debate on the future of the United Nations in the areas of peace and security, development, the environment, human dignity and governance. The central premise behind this research is that it is essential to explore the constraints and opportunities of the United Nations in the context of evolving global politics and human aspirations. It is only through such an approach that the world can hold realistic expectations of what the United Nations can and cannot do in the next century.

Part I: The United Nations in the Twenty-first Century: Two Perspectives


Olara A. Otunnu*
*(Olara Otunnu is President of the International Peace Academy)

The peace and security agenda of the United Nations has developed gradually and in phases.1 In a period spanning some 40 years, from the first mission that was established in 1948 to supervise the truce in Palestine (UNTSO), to the launching of the first major multidimensional peace- keeping operation in Namibia (UNTAG) in April 1989, the United Nations organized 15 peacekeeping operations. Most of these operations were concerned with conflicts between states. The mandates of the missions consisted principally of monitoring or supervising truces, ceasefires, troop withdrawals and buffer zones. Significantly, these were consent-based operations, marked by adherence on the part of the peacekeepers to the principles of cooperation, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defence.

This generation of operations defined what many commentators now call "traditional peacekeeping". The development of this mechanism in itself represented a major innovation by the United Nations. Indeed, the very idea of peacekeeping is not mentioned at all in the UN Charter, although the practice was developed in the spirit of Chapter VI of the Charter. The United Nations also developed techniques in fact finding, good offices, and mediation as part of its repertoire of peacemaking activities during the Cold War.

This situation underwent a significant change in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The end of the Cold War, the success of an ambitious operation in Namibia and a certain sense of triumph emanating from the Gulf War all injected a new lease of confidence in the United Nations. In an atmosphere of liberal internationalism enlarged expectations surrounded the organization. Responding to this new mood, it embarked on a more ambitious programme of peace activities, with its operations growing in number and complexity. In a space of only six years (1989-1995), the United Nations established 20 new peacekeeping operations.

Unlike in the previous era, most of these missions (17) operated in the context of conflicts within states. The tasks of peacekeepers now expanded to include implementation of complex peace agreements; overseeing transition to democratic governance through supervision and observation of elections; demobilization and integration of previously opposing armed factions; rehabilitation of collapsed state structures; provision of broader support to humanitarian missions, including the protection of "safe areas" and escorting relief convoys; and removal of anti-personnel mines. This development represented the second phase of peacekeeping, the high points of which were marked by the successful completion of the operations conducted in Namibia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cambodia and Mozambique.

In spite of these remarkable achievements, the evolution of the peace and security agenda of the United Nations is now caught at a difficult crossroads. The rapid expansion of complex operations has generated serious political and financial stresses on the organization. These stresses, combined with the tragic failures in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina, have produced a mood of retrenchment for the present and serious uncertainties about future directions.

As we look to the future, what are the principal lessons of almost 50 years of multilateral peacemaking and peacekeeping? This is a time for stocktaking by the United Nations; it must also be a time for sketching, however tentatively, the outlines for a peace and security role for the next century. I am concerned that the United Nations should not swing from one extreme to another, from being committed to too much to undertaking too little. In charting this path, there are major challenges that will need to be addressed. The purpose of this commentary is to highlight some of these challenges.

Restoring a Sense of Perspective

Peace operations, including humanitarian relief, have increased by leaps and bounds in recent years. This dramatic development has led to an increasing loss of perspective. Significant areas of imbalance are beginning to emerge in the overall vision and conduct of the UN peace and security agenda. Three such areas need to be examined with a view to restoring a sense of perspective.

The first area of imbalance concerns the growing tension between peacekeeping operations and development activities. A serious disequilibrium is beginning to emerge between resource allocations for peacekeeping and relief operations, on the one hand, and resources available for long-term peace-building on the other. The resources devoted by the United Nations, other international organizations and by donor governments to peacekeeping and emergency humanitarian activities are beginning to outstrip the resources for long-term peace-building and development. In fact, a number of governments and other donor institutions have started to divert resources from their development budgets to peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief. In one example of this, the European Union drew on funds from its development budget to finance the Belgian peacekeeping contingent in Somalia. As the UN budget for peacekeeping has increased from $230 million in 1987 to $3.6 billion in 1994, the aggregate development assistance expenditure of OECD countries (albeit a larger absolute amount) has witnessed a stagnation. In 1993, OECD members' Official Development Assistance (ODA) declined by 6 per cent (in real terms) from the previous year; in contrast, the proportion of OECD spending on emergency assistance has risen sharply in recent years.2 In general, there has been a notable decline in funding for development activities within the UN system in contrast to funding for emergency relief operations. In recent years, for example, there has been a 15 per cent reduction in the core resources of the UNDP as compared to an almost doubling of resources for the World Food Programme (WFP), the bulk of which is devoted to relief food assistance.3

This trend needs to be questioned. Investing in social and economic development is one of the surest ways to build a solid foundation for long-term peace within and between societies. This, in turn, means that development strategies must seek to address the roots of conflict: gross imbalance in the allocation of development resources is bound to provide a fertile ground for conflict. There is, therefore, a need to consciously build a conflict response component into the design of development projects, especially in countries where the potential for conflict or its escalation is high.

The second area of imbalance concerns preventive action. It is imperative that the United Nations and other international actors invest a great deal more in preventive measures. Successful preventive action can be highly cost-effective, saving lives and sparing general destruction. In addition, it is considerably cheaper than an operation to restore a broken peace.

Preventive action involves a broad spectrum of activities, going well beyond the traditional notion of preventive diplomacy and the new mechanism of preventive deployment. Preventive action must encompass a broad range of political, economic, social and humanitarian measures aimed at averting or de-escalating the development of conflict. This is a project for long-term peace-building. It is for this reason that preventive action should be viewed as the link between An Agenda for Peace and An Agenda for Development.

Conflict prevention should not be viewed as the abolition of all conflicts in society. After all, conflict - by which I mean competition for power, resources and prestige - is entirely natural to society. Indeed, it constitutes the essence of the political process. The challenge of preventive action is different. It manages this competition without plunging a society into a spiral of violence. It seeks to build equitable patterns of development, democratic institutions, and political cultures that can mediate such competition peacefully and routinely.

Preventive action must encompass the consolidation of peace in the aftermath of violence or following a political settlement. Unless systematic political, social and economic measures are taken to consolidate peace and rebuild confidence, conflict can recur, thereby leading to a "cycle of violence". The examples of Burundi and Rwanda illustrate this tendency. Both countries have been caught in the throes of cyclical pogroms, in large measure because after each tragedy little or no effort was made to address the underlying causes of the conflict, or to embark on a serious project of national reconciliation. On the other hand, Cambodia, El Salvador, South Africa and Mozambique have emerged from years of protracted conflict. After achieving negotiated political settlements, they each now face a tenuous period of transition. It is in this post-conflict phase that internal and external measures must be taken to consolidate their new-found peace and avert a possible recurrence of violent conflicts in the future. In this respect, the evolution of Franco-German relations since World War II provides an example of a successful strategy of peace consolidation. Over the last 50 years, a deliberate process of political confidence building and economic cooperation has transformed these erstwhile historic enemies into partners in the construction of European unity, so much so that today it seems inconceivable that the two countries could ever again go to war against each other.

It is in this context that we should note that the evolution of conflict often follows a circular rather than a linear path. Thus, a political settlement should not be viewed as an end in itself, but rather as the beginning of a new political process. To build enduring peace, this process must lead to a credible project of reconciliation and consolidation. In its absence, there is a real danger that a political settlement will fracture, thus leading to the outbreak of another cycle of violence. External actors can play an important facilitating role in the process of peace consolidation by encouraging reconciliation and providing material incentives, but the impetus for a new beginning must ultimately germinate in the local soil.

While we must probe the boundaries of preventive possibilities to the utmost, we should not lose sight of some serious constraints inherent in this enterprise. How, for example, shall we overcome the shield of state sovereignty, a country's sense of national pride, and the tendency to misread a developing situation until it is too late, or the lack of interest or will on the part of international actors at critical moments? Indeed, efforts to intervene at the earlier stages of a conflict are likely to prove particularly frustrating for outside actors: it is during this phase in particular that they are likely to come up against the wall of sovereignty. This is especially so when dealing with a strong state, a state which is itself the instrument of repression or is a major party to the conflict in question. In such cases, the challenge is how to induce the opening of the door sufficiently to allow for preventive initiatives.

Finally, it is critical that a body of both serious knowledge and serious practice be built in the area of preventive action, through systematic preventive engagement in specific situations of actual or potential conflict. This will require innovation and long-term commitment. The objective must be to develop, in the area of preventive action, something akin to what has been built over the last 50 years in the peacekeeping sector. Unless this is done, I fear that preventive action will remain an easy but largely empty slogan.

The third area of imbalance concerns the preoccupation with humanitarian action in a conflict situation vis-á-vis the need for a political process. It is important that humanitarian action be located within an overall vision of a society in conflict. This means, in particular, that humanitarian action should move in parallel with a political process aimed at addressing the underlying causes of a conflict and achieving a political settlement. Otherwise the tremendous efforts being deployed on the humanitarian front will inevitably count for very little. The experiences of Cambodia, El Salvador and Mozambique represent examples where a combined strategy of humanitarian and political action was successfully employed. In sharp contrast to this stands the current situation in and around Rwanda, where a major humanitarian operation is in place but no comparable concerted efforts are under way to find a political settlement to the conflict itself.

Building Institutional Capacities: Towards a Division of Labour

Clearly the United Nations presently lacks the capacity and resources to perform well all the peace and security tasks that it has come to assume in recent years. An appropriate division of responsibilities between the organ- ization and other international actors in the spheres of preventive action, peacemaking, peacekeeping, enforcement action and peace-building must therefore be developed to enable a more effective and comprehensive international response to conflict situations around the world. Such a division of labour could take advantage of the different capabilities and interests of regional organizations, national governments and non-governmental organizations. The idea should be to identify areas of comparative advantage and build around them a system of complementarity.

In the light of recent experience, it would seem most effective for the United Nations to concentrate its efforts on preventive action, traditional peacekeeping, humanitarian missions, mediation, and peace-building activities through its various agencies.

In time, regional organizations must come to assume greater responsibility for peace and security. Alas, that time is not yet here. Most regional organizations are still far from being able to play the role envisaged for them in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, mainly because of a lack of relevant experience, financial resources, political prestige and credibility, impartiality and operational capacity. This places a particular responsibility on the United Nations, the major powers, traditional peacekeeping countries, and other bilateral and multilateral donors to work together to help build the capacities of regional organizations. Until then, however, we must guard against exaggerated expectations. For the time being, the areas of distinct advantage for regional organizations would seem to be preventive action, peacemaking, and confidence building at the regional and subregional levels, while allowing for a more gradual development of peacekeeping capabilities.

In discussing a division of labour, there is a tendency to concentrate on the roles of the more established institutions, such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the League of Arab States (LAS), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This is a mistake. We must not overlook the increasingly significant and innovative roles being played by less traditional regional arrangements. In particular, three types of formations deserve more attention: subregional organizations such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) or the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC); international political-cultural associations based on shared historical affinities, such as the Commonwealth; and ad hoc arrangements put in place for the purpose of undertaking particular regional projects, such as ECOMOG in relation to Liberia, the former Front-line States in the context of the liberation of southern Africa, the former Contadora Group in relation to the Central American peace process, or the committee constituted by the countries of eastern Africa for promoting a peace process in Sudan.

The comparative advantages of these associations and arrangements lie in part in their ability to cultivate a local rapport. In addition, they are often able to move more lightly and respond more quickly to unfolding events than the United Nations or larger regional organizations. These features can translate into distinct advantages, especially for preventive initiatives, mediation, and confidence building among their members.

However, the emphasis on the role of regional organizations must not lead to a tribalization of peacekeeping activities, whereby, for example, conflicts in Europe are viewed as the responsibility of the Europeans or African con- flicts as the domain of the Africans. This notion goes against the United Nations' commitment to universality and its worldwide responsibility for maintaining peace and security. Moreover, the problem is compounded by the uneven spread and varying capacities of regional organizations in different parts of the globe. Clearly Member States from a particular region should be encouraged to spearhead an international response to a conflict situation within their region, but this must not detract from the importance of wider international participation in these efforts. This is necessary for broader reasons of legitimacy and solidarity, as well as for practical reasons of capacity.

For the foreseeable future, enforcement action will have to be subcontracted out to "coalitions of the willing and able". Inevitably this option is only viable when the national interests of key countries are sufficiently engaged by a particular case. In such a situation, the Security Council should not, however, simply give blanket authorization but also be closely associated with the execution and the conclusion of the operation. When it is envisaged that the United Nations should take over a situation following the completion of enforcement action, as was the case in Somalia and Haiti, early and adequate preparation should be made for assuming that responsibility. In this context, particular attention needs to be given to responsibility. In addition, attention needs to be given to formulating and organizing clear transition arrangements.

We are also witnessing the emergence of independent actors in the field of peacemaking and peacekeeping. Drawn from the ranks of international civil society, these actors are increasingly making direct contributions to peace processes. On account of their informal and flexible character, such non-governmental organizations can often complement official efforts, particularly in the areas of early warning, preventive activities, peacemaking, humanitarian action and peace-building. Different independent organizations tend to specialize in various aspects of these activities.

Peacekeeping and the Challenge of the "Grey Zone"

Traditional peacekeeping remains the most developed of all UN response mechanisms to conflict situations. In general, peacekeeping works best when there is an established peace to keep and when an operation is based on the consent of the parties involved, while observing the principles of cooperation, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence.

At the other end of the spectrum, a more radical mode of response available to the organization is collective enforcement action: collective military coercion authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter for the purpose of restoring compliance with international norms following a major breach of the peace or an act of aggression. In its 50-year history, the United Nations has so far sanctioned the prosecution of two full-fledged enforcement operations, namely in Korea in 1950 and against Iraq in 1990-1991.

Before embarking on enforcement action, at least three prerequisites need to be in place: adequate political will, including the will to bear the human cost of the military operation; the will and capacity to assume the necessary financial cost; and the availability of troops adequately prepared and equipped for the task. This is a tall order, especially as most peace and security crises are not inter-state in nature. It is for this reason that, for the foreseeable future, it is more practical for the United Nations to continue to farm out such operations to coalitions of the willing and able. In practice, it is difficult to mobilize the requisite political will to commit national forces for enforcement action against a party in gross breach of international norms, unless such a development also impinges in a crucial way on the national interests of the major powers.

Recent experience, especially in Liberia, Somalia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, has demonstrated that on the ground there is a growing "grey zone" between peacekeeping and enforcement. The grey zone is in effect the thin end of the enforcement wedge; it is the space between traditional peacekeeping and all-out war fighting. Situations encountered in the grey zone often require responses that are neither traditional peacekeeping nor full-blown enforcement action, but something in between.

Confusion between peacekeeping and enforcement action, including the tendency to slide from peacekeeping to enforcement action and then back again, has proved to be very dangerous. This is essentially what we witnessed in the operations in Somalia, Liberia and the former Yugoslavia, with disastrous consequences in all three cases. This confusion has arisen precisely because no effective mechanisms have yet been devised for responding to the challenge of the grey zone, especially in the domestic context.

A number of hazards and problems have arisen on the ground within this grey zone. Armed factions engaged in conflict have unilaterally obstructed the distribution of humanitarian aid; "safe areas" under the protection of the United Nations have been attacked or overrun by armed forces; peacekeeping contingents have come under attack from factions with superior firepower; peacekeepers have been taken hostage; peacekeepers have been expected to engage in duties not anticipated at the outset; and no-fly zones have been violated. These tend to arise in the context of an ongoing armed conflict within a state in which several factions are contending for control and when there is no general agreement governing the role of peacekeepers or when initial cooperation has collapsed.

These developments have placed peacekeepers in an untenable position. At the practical level, because they are lightly armed, peacekeepers usually lack the capacity for escalated armed response. The effectiveness of peacekeeping is dependent not on the ability to impose their will by force, but rather on the moral authority conveyed by their multilateral presence. From a political perspective, peacekeepers are supposed to remain impartial vis-á-vis the warring parties. For peacekeepers to engage in a military confrontation is to compromise that impartiality and thereby forfeit their political usefulness in the conflict situation.

The predicament of peacekeepers in the grey zone is further compounded by the sentiment of public opinion, which does not always appreciate why the United Nations seems powerless to respond to force by force, even in the face of aggressive actions or atrocities. The fact that peacekeepers are there to play an essentially diplomatic rather than a military role is little understood by the public.

All of this underscores the need for a less ad-hoc and a more systematic response to contingencies arising in the grey zone. But this will require that at least two projects be explored more fully. In the immediate term, the United Nations should develop clear guidelines regarding the conditions for a more forceful response, whenever necessary. This should include a determination of decision-making responsibilities between the contingent commander on the scene, the overall mission commander and UN headquarters in New York.

More fundamentally, there may be the need to develop a third mechanism, separate from both traditional peacekeeping arrangements and massive enforcement action. In particular, the United Nations should examine more seriously the various ideas that have been put forward for creating some form of rapid response capability. A rapid response force could be dispatched immediately to a conflict in order to avert or minimize the deterioration of the situation to crisis proportions. Intervention of this kind would go beyond traditional peacekeeping, but still fall short (by its scope and duration) of a full-scale enforcement action. And being the thin end of the enforcement wedge, actions in the grey zone should necessarily be mandated by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter.

In exploring the prospects for a rapid response capability, several questions will need to be examined more fully. To begin with, how should the proposed force be organized? Ideas range from an autonomous volunteer force recruited directly by the United Nations; a force assembled on a standby basis from national contingents earmarked for that purpose; to an ad-hoc coalition force organized outside the United Nations, but acting with the authorization of the Security Council. How many situations could be covered simultaneously by a rapid reaction force? Given that the deployment of such a force would be authorized by the Security Council, how would this affect the perception of impartiality of the United Nations in relation to its other functions, particularly its mediation and traditional peacekeeping roles? Most importantly, are governments prepared to accept either the creation of an autonomous force at the disposal of the United Nations or, alternatively, the exposure of their own national contingents to the risks in the grey zone?

These are important but not insurmountable problems, provided sufficient political will can be generated. Without an adequate response to the challenge of the grey zone, the peacekeeping role of the United Nations risks becoming seriously discredited. This could well be part of the lasting legacy of the combined failures in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Seeking Additional Revenue Sources

The flow of financial resources has simply not kept pace with the dramatic growth in peacekeeping activities, and the present arrangements based on national contributions have come under increasingly severe stress. Three issues need to be addressed in this regard: the obligation of Member States to fully and promptly meet their assessed contributions; the eventual reconfiguration of the present scale of assessments; and the possibility of seeking additional revenues from extra-governmental sources. The first two issues, which are the most critical at present, are currently under review by an official working group within the UN body. My concern here is to highlight the last issue, which has so far not received the attention it deserves.

The time has now come to think more boldly and creatively about ways to generate additional revenue for multilateral peace and security activities. There are several possibilities that deserve to be explored more fully in this context. First, there are activities that benefit in a general way from a peaceful international environment. These include international travel, telecommunications, international financial transactions and the activities of transnational corporations. Over the years, various schemes for direct surcharges or fees on these activities have been proposed. Some of these proposals seem quite practical, while others may appear somewhat far-fetched. A direct surcharge on international air travel, which is regulated by the IATA, or on international telecommunications, which is regulated by the ITU, could generate considerable revenue which would be relatively easy to collect. The levels of surcharge do not have to be exorbitant. In fact a contribution of $1 per international air ticket (which is less than what a traveller might pay today for a cup of coffee at most international airports) could yield $315 million annually.4 A direct surcharge on international financial transactions has also been suggested as another possibility in this category - a surcharge rate of 0.5 per cent on foreign exchange transactions could generate $1.5 trillion a year at the same time as dampening speculation in the foreign exchange markets.5

Second, there are corporate actors who benefit in a particular way from access to certain facilities which depends on the restoration of peace in a zone of conflict. Such was the situation with the Suez Canal during the crisis of 1956. In the aftermath of the crisis, at the suggestion of the then UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjšld, the cost of clearing the canal was partly met through a surcharge on the normal tolls levied on ships using the waterway. The Panama Toll is an analogous arrangement that has existed in a peacetime context. Following the opening of the Panama Canal in 1912, a toll was levied on all international vessels navigating the canal, a practice which continues today. More recently, the use of the sea lanes and seaports in the Gulf were greatly affected during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988 and in the Gulf crisis of 1990-1991. Why not consider the feasibility of obtaining a contribution for the United Nations from the commercial users of these facilities?

A third category could be special contributions that may be sought from some of the peacekeeping recipient countries, the direct beneficiaries of the operations. This category may also include states which, for reasons of special historical, political or economic association, have a particular interest in the restoration of peace in a conflict area. There have already been some ad-hoc examples of this kind of contribution. The cost of the United Nations Yemen Observer Mission (UNYOM) of 1963-1964 was borne by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Similarly, Indonesia and the Netherlands shared the cost of mounting the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority in West New Guinea (West Irian) (UNTEA) of 1962-1963. Today Cyprus contributes one-third of the operational cost for the UN peacekeeping force in that country (UNFICYP), while Kuwait is responsible for two-thirds of the cost of the UN military observer mission on its border with Iraq (UNIKOM). These ad-hoc arrangements need to be developed into a more systematic framework for seeking special contributions from some of the beneficiary countries, especially those with strong revenue bases.

In order to explore more fully the various options on extra-governmental funding, Member States should first be prepared to modify a kind of ideological prejudice that has conditioned discussions of this matter: the view that the financing of UN peace operations should be an exclusive affair of governments. This position cannot be sustained in the long run. However, it must be recognized that Member States have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed in any discussion of extra-governmental sources of revenue. Of particular significance in this regard are the concerns about loss of control over decision-making and derogation from collective intergovernmental responsibility for peace and security activities.

The recent experience of the OAU may be of some relevance here. Traditionally all the activities of the OAU have been supported through a system of assessed contributions from member states. In the 1992-1993 discussion leading to the establishment of the new OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, a controversial issue arose as to whether the OAU should solicit and accept financial contributions from funding sources outside Africa for the operation of the Mechanism. Was there not a danger that outside contributions would compromise the independence of the OAU and expose its agenda to external manipulation? After a difficult debate, the decision was made in favour of accepting such contributions. This decision was accompanied, however, by a carefully defined policy to ensure transparency and control over contributions to the OAU. So far this innovation has worked well, affecting neither the primacy of member states in these matters nor their control over the new Mechanism.

The OAU experience would seem to demonstrate that it is at least possible, through clearly designed policies and procedures, to meet the legitimate concerns of Member States. It must be emphasized, moreover, that the idea of extra-governmental funding is not meant to supplant, but rather to supplement, governmental sources of revenue. It is appropriate that governments should bear the primary financial responsibility for the peace and security activities of the United Nations; this corresponds with their political responsibility in this area.

Reforming the Security Council

Any discussion of the evolving peace and security agenda of the United Nations must take account of the growing demand for reform of the Security Council. Although there is so far no agreement on the scope, formula and timetable for reform, there is no doubt about the strength of the movement for change. Any reform project should seek to achieve four key objectives: clarification of the role and mandate of the Council; recomposition of its membership; broadening the base of participation and transparency in the work of the Council; and strengthening the effectiveness and credibility of the Council. These objectives translate into several themes of reform.

The first theme of reform is the need to clarify the scope of the Security Council's mandate. Under the UN Charter the Security Council is entrusted with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the dominant concern was understandably over threats of cross-border aggression. This concern translated directly into the central mandate of the Security Council. In the past, therefore, the notion of a "threat to international peace and security" was generally understood to encompass an act of inter-state aggression or a breach of the peace.

By contrast, the preoccupation of the international community today is with the rampant breakdown of peace and security within state borders. A survey by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in 1993, for example, recorded 34 major armed conflicts in the world in that year - all of them situations of internal strife. In response to this, a more expansive interpretation of the concept of a threat to international peace and security has emerged, with a number of measures being adopted by the Security Council.

Recent examples of situations which have been determined by the Council to constitute threats to international peace and security include: the internal repression of the civilian population in northern Iraq, including cross-border flow of refugees (Resolution 688 of April 1991); the failure of the Libyan government to extradite the suspects in the bombing of the Pan American jetliner that exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988 (Resolution 748 of March 1992); the human suffering caused by conflict within Somalia (Resolution 794 of December 1992); and most recently the reluctance of the military junta in Haiti to restore power to the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Resolution 940 of July 1994). It remains open to debate whether all of these situations fall truly within the meaning of a threat to international peace and security as envisaged in the Charter.

If the Security Council is to remain relevant, it must adapt to this new reality by developing a more progressive interpretation of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security. It must embrace a pragmatic response. But the legitimacy of the Security Council would suffer if its practice was seen to depart too radically from the explicit stipulations of the Charter. For the immediate term, this dilemma underscores the importance for the Security Council to seek to build broad-based international support for its decisions. If the present trend continues, however, it may well raise the issue of amending the UN Charter to take account of the preponderance of intra-state conflicts and their ramifications.

Another issue relating to the scope of the Security Council mandate concerns non-military aspects of security. A broader understanding of threats to security is emerging. At its first summit meeting on 31 January 1992, the Security Council declared, "The absence of war and military conflicts amongst States does not in itself ensure international peace and security. The non-military sources of instability in the economic, social, humanitarian and ecological fields have become threats to peace and security. The United Nations membership as a whole, working through the appropriate bodies, needs to give the highest priority to the solution of these matters." The question arises as to whether all these issues of security should be within the agenda of the Security Council. This has implications for the division of labour between the Security Council and the other organs of the United Nations, particularly the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The second theme of reform concerns the restructuring of the membership of the Security Council. Two developments in particular have given impetus to this movement: the dramatic growth in UN membership from 51 in 1945 to 185 in 1995; and the emergence of a complexion of power which is today quite different to that of 1945. In this context, there is broad agreement that the re-emergence of Japan and Germany as major powers deserves special recognition. But there is less common ground as to what constitutes appropriate recognition. Should they assume permanent seats in the Council? If so, with or without the right of veto?

It would be difficult, however, to accord a special status to Japan and Germany without at the same time addressing the issue of overall balance in the composition of the Council. This may entail the creation of a new category of membership - they may be called "tenured" or "standing" members. Such members would occupy their seats for an extended period of time, but less than permanently (say 5-7 years), with provision for re-election or rotation. The crucial point is that the selection of tenured members should combine the need for both regional and global representation.

Regional representation would, in the first place, be a response to the concern about the "Northern" dominance of the present Council, a situation that would be further compounded by any dispensation for Japan and Germany. Equally important, this would provide a constructive opportunity for promoting good "regional citizenship", since election to a tenured regional seat would necessarily depend on the goodwill and support of members of a particular region. Although this in itself would not stop the emergence of regional hegemony, it could provide a powerful incentive against overbearing behaviour.

Selection to global tenured seats, on the other hand, would be through direct election by the General Assembly from an open slate of candidates. This exercise would be designed to promote "good citizenship" at a broader level, by recognizing significant contributions to the work of the United Nations and, in particular, to its peace and security activities.

Whatever formula for recomposition may be adopted in the end, it is important that the composition of the Security Council not be set in stone. It will be necessary to review any new arrangement on a periodic basis, perhaps every 10 to 15 years, in order to ensure that the Council membership reflects the evolving power relations in the world.

The third theme of reform is about the right and use of veto power. There is a general reluctance to extend veto entitlement to new members. In addition, there is disquiet about the unbounded use of existing veto powers. A formal move to curtail this power would lead to a direct confrontation with the five permanent members, all of whom are likely to oppose any formal modification of their present prerogative.

For the foreseeable future, therefore, it would be more practical to encourage self-restraint, while exercising peer pressure. In recent years a trend has set in for an occasional rather than a trigger-happy use of the veto that was prevalent during the Cold War era. Since the beginning of 1991, the veto has been used only three times: twice by the Russian Federation (in May 1993 to prevent converting the funding arrangement for the Cyprus operation from voluntary contributions to mandatory assessments, and in December 1994 to stop the Security Council from imposing stringent restrictions on imports and exports to and from the Bosnian and Krajina Serbs), and once by the United States (in May 1995 to block the adoption of a resolution criticizing Israel for the confiscation of 53 hectares of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem).

In the period between 1948 and 1991, an average of six vetoes were cast each year, as compared to a total of three over the last four years. This is a positive trend that needs to be encouraged and strengthened through peer pressure by the general membership of the United Nations. One such device could be a declaration by the General Assembly expressing concern about the use of the veto and providing a guideline to narrow the range of issues on which the veto may apply. The veto should be a defence mechanism to be used in extremis, only when a truly vital interest of a permanent member is at stake.

The fourth theme of reform relates to the need for more transparency and broader participation in the work of the Council. The challenge is how to achieve this objective without compromising the equally important goal of ensuring prompt and effective action. There are two areas where the work of the Council could be improved in this respect.

The first area of concern relates to the fact that the Security Council remains the only major decision-making body of the United Nations which does not have a channel of communication for receiving information, ideas and proposals from independent non-official sources. In other activities of the organization, notably in the humanitarian, economic, environmental, social and cultural spheres, the input of NGOs is now well developed and accepted. There is no reason why the peace and security sector should remain an exception. The presidency of the Council could be the initial focal point of communication. The president could receive information from, and hold informal audience with, representatives of civil society and independent public figures. To avoid opening a floodgate, the interaction would have to be selective, restricted initially to organizations and public figures with known "track records" and credibility, and who have specific contributions to make to issues under consideration by the Council. This arrangement could be extended gradually, by invitation, to include informal audiences with the Council as a whole, whenever this is judged to be useful.

The other area of concern in this regard is the need to broaden the base of participation by the wider UN membership in the decision-making process of the Council. After all, the authority of the Security Council derives from the special responsibility conferred upon it by the membership of the United Nations as a whole; the 15 members of the Council act on behalf of the entire 185 members of the organization. Several measures could help reduce the present sense of exclusion felt by the general membership.

First, more opportunities should be accorded to the wider UN membership to provide substantive inputs before final decisions are made by the Security Council on important questions. In addition to the frequent informal consultations, which are private and held behind closed doors, the Council should make it a practice to schedule some special open sessions as a means for wider consultations. Second, the Security Council needs to develop a more systematic method for consulting Member States which are likely to be especially affected by measures under consideration. Recently a process of consultation with troop-contributing countries has been instituted, but this practice needs to be broadened and deepened. Third, there is a need to develop a better briefing system that would provide all members of the Council, especially some of the non-permanent members with limited independent means, the essential elements they need for making informed decisions. This could be organized by the Secretariat. It is also necessary to improve the briefing system between the Council and the rest of the UN membership. The idea is to ensure that relevant information is readily available to all concerned.

The fifth theme concerns the credibility of the Security Council in relation to its own decisions. There is a growing dissonance between the flow of resolutions from the Council and developments on the ground. The work of the Council is driven by the speed of events, public pressure to "do something" and contradictory pulls from different political quarters. This sometimes results in a lack of coherence and inadequate attention to the provision of resources and means necessary for the implementation of the Council's resolutions.

The experience over the former Yugoslavia has particularly highlighted this problem. Since 1992 the Security Council adopted some 80 resolutions concerning the situation in the former Yugoslavia. Some of these resolutions appeared to contradict each other, while others did not relate well to the developments on the ground, and few were accompanied by the necessary means and resources for implementation. This placed the UN Secretariat, and the peacekeeping and peacemaking missions in the field, in a very difficult situation.

As a political organ, it is inevitable that the Security Council should respond politically to the competing pressures on its decision-making process. On the other hand, if the present trend continues, it could seriously erode the credibility of the Council. The authority of the Security Council ultimately depends on its capacity to adopt measures that are credible, carry weight and have prospects of implementation.

Generating a Collective Will: Building Domestic Support for International Action

A critical challenge faces the international community as a whole today. In the face of pressing domestic preoccupation, budgetary constraints, low tolerance for risks of casualties and a creeping sense of crisis fatigue, how can we build domestic political constituencies in support of collective inter- national action? In part this is the challenge of relating what has hitherto been a narrow concept of national interest to the broader imperatives of an increasingly independent world. Traditionally, national security was organ- ized to respond to a particular conception of threats, usually military and territorial in nature or relating to strategic and geopolitical interests. These threats emanated from particular sources, with country-specific targets. This vision of national security may have worked well in the past, especially during the Cold War, but today it is too narrow and not an adequate response to emerging global realities.

Today, there is a growing list of transnational threats which are general in scope and unpredictable in their evolution. This list includes the spread of nuclear weapons and materials as well as other weapons of mass destruction; terrorism, both domestic and cross-border; the production and consumption of narcotic drugs; life-threatening epidemics; galloping population growth relative to diminishing resources; mass migration of peoples; armed conflicts; and natural as well as human-caused humanitarian catastrophes. These problems stand out because they defy the traditional logic of state boundaries and state-centric solutions. To tackle them effectively requires concerted international action. Global interdependence is here to stay - it is an inescapable fact of modern international life. This basic reality needs to be articulated more clearly and consistently.

Beyond interdependence, there are specific interests that tend to shape national responses to international crises. Among the interests at play are the following:

  • Direct interests of major powers. When the vital interests of the major powers are at stake, as was the case in the Gulf crisis, international action is easier to mobilize because of the highly motivated leadership on the part of the countries directly affected.

  • Regional interests. The need to avoid regional instability as well as the desire to demonstrate good regional citizenship can often provide a strong incentive for countries to contribute to peace initiatives and operations within their region. Australia, Japan and the ASEAN countries, for example, played a leading role in the Cambodian peace process. France and the United Kingdom have contributed the largest peacekeeping contingents for the former Yugoslavia, while the United States and several Latin American countries have spearheaded the operation in Haiti. In a similar way, the countries of West Africa were propelled by the force of events in neighbouring Liberia to mount the ECOMOG operation; this was in effect a subregional self-help project.

  • Indirect impact. Civil wars may rage for the most part within the borders of particular countries in remote corners of the globe, but it is impossible to throw a cordon sanitaire around them. Local conflicts have a tendency, sooner or later, to spill across national borders, spreading violence and refugees in their paths and destabilizing entire regional neighbourhoods. Thus, the war in Rwanda has caused instability in, and imposed a major humanitarian burden upon, the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Tanzania and Zaire. The conflict in Liberia has shaken a large zone of West Africa, and directly contributed to civil strife in Sierra Leone and a military coup d'Žtat in Gambia. Similarly, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia could spread to engulf most of the Balkan region, and war in Chechnya could affect stability in the Russian Federation as well as some of the neighbouring former Soviet republics. It is sometimes the case that the fate of a particular country in conflict is unable initially to arouse much external concern. But the stakes soon change when the same conflict expands to affect neighbouring countries whose stability has greater impact on international relations.

  • Burden sharing. Collective international action provides a framework for sharing the political, financial and human costs of an operation. The burden of the enforcement action against Iraq, the peacekeeping operations that restored peace to Cambodia and Mozambique, and the operation in the former Yugoslavia would have been difficult to bear without broad-based international cooperation. It is also important to emphasize that the earlier collective action is engaged, the cheaper is the cost in all respects.

  • Humanitarian concerns. There are some situations where the primary impetus for international action remains humanitarian concern. Such was the case in Somalia in 1992-1993 and in Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide in 1994. The pressure of public opinion, especially in democratic societies, often makes it difficult for governments to abstain from some measure of response to major humanitarian tragedies. That being said, public opinion is by nature unpredictable and sways both ways, providing at different times either a spur or a brake on international action. Leaders' perceptions of public opinion also play a role in defining policy.

  • Umbrella of legitimacy. A multilateral response can also serve the purpose of providing internal as well as external legitimacy for difficult and politically risky undertakings. US President George Bush invoked UN resolutions in his efforts to mobilize congressional and public support for the Gulf War. Both Japan and Germany have also invoked the legitimacy conferred by the United Nations to allay public disquiet about their involvement in any military-related engagements abroad. Yet there is need for vigilance here. The broader legitimacy of the United Nations would suffer if the organization was viewed too much as a vehicle for providing multilateral blessing for "pre-cooked" national projects.

  • Moral imperatives. In which situations relating to international norms or human welfare is the international community prepared to undertake enforcement action as a matter of collective obligation? It is one thing to express moral outrage, but quite another to translate such sentiment into concrete action. It remains very difficult to mobilize sufficient collective will to take action primarily on the basis of a moral imperative, without a compelling coincidence of direct national interests being at stake as well, as was the case in the Gulf crisis. However, in the case of Somalia international action was mobilized on humanitarian grounds. Ironically, it is in no small part the disastrous experience of Somalia which has led, at least for the time being, to a retreat from such engagements. This is what we have witnessed in the cases of Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

  • Role of information. Another important factor in shaping national response is the role of information and the part played in it by the media. Wars and scenes of mass suffering tend to attract extensive media coverage. But averting, mediating or ending a conflict is not nearly as news creating. Public awareness and reaction are largely dependent on what is received through the media. This underscores the importance and responsibility of the media in providing a more balanced coverage of conflict situations. It also highlights the responsibility of the United Nations to convey a clearer picture of peacekeeping, its possibilities and constraints, its successes and failures, as well as its objectives and costs.

Providing Leadership

At a given moment any of the factors outlined above can combine to define a state's response to particular international crises. But these factors do not operate independently. Their function and impact are in turn shaped by political leadership.

An adequate multilateral response to the growing peace and security agenda will require political imagination and leadership at the national as well as international level. At the domestic level, leadership needs to articulate the nexus between national interest, broadly conceived, and international responsibility, by explaining how national well-being can ultimately be affected by seemingly faraway dangers. This is the reality of interdependence. Furthermore, there exists a largely untapped reservoir of humanitarian concern in many societies. The question is whether national leaders are prepared to galvanize this resource and channel it in support of international action.

The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union have thrust the United States into a position of unparalleled pre-eminence. The United States is presently perhaps the only nation in a position to project its power in a sustained fashion on a global scale. This raises a challenge. To what political ends is the United States prepared to project this considerable influence? What kind of leadership is the United States prepared to offer the world today? The United States acting alone cannot lead the world. But the role of the United States, acting in concert with others, providing leadership through engagement and the force of ideas, is crucial to the viability of any major multilateral enterprise today.

But a general mood of political reticence seems to have descended on the United States. There appears to be little political support in the country for the financial costs or human risks of international engagement, except when vital American interests are involved. Fundamentally, this is a debate about the international vocation of the United States now that the Cold War is over. This debate is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, however, we must not overlook other levels of contribution that the United States could provide right away in support of multilateral peace and security activities. These might include: contributing to the development of a system for preventive action; helping to build the capacities of regional organizations for conflict management; sharing the burden of the costs of peacekeeping and peacemaking; providing logistical and other support systems to countries in need of assistance in deploying their contingents in peace operations; and playing a leading role in humanitarian relief operations.

Selecting Priorities for UN Engagement

The proliferation of conflicts which call for some form of UN involvement stands in sharp contrast to the limited capacity and resources of the organization. In view of these contradictory pressures, the United Nations will have to determine more systematically where, when and to what degree to get involved. These are questions concerning the breadth, the depth and the timing of UN engagement. In general, the United Nations should invest its political and material resources where they are needed most and where they are likely to create the greatest benefit. However, political realities, combined with the difficulty of formulating any objective criteria for applying such a policy, means that decisions will in practice be made on a case-by-case basis. Such an ad-hoc method of decision-making is in danger of becoming hostage to the fortunes and vagaries of the political process. The challenge for the Security Council in this regard is to apply, and be seen to apply, similar policies in similar situations.

While selective engagement is perhaps a necessary response to the present realities, it also poses a serious moral predicament as a long-term policy. Under selective engagement, conflicts will inevitably fall into one of two categories: on the one side, those "adopted" by the United Nations or other international organizations and, on the other, the ones that are allowed to fall between the cracks of the international system. These latter conflicts would be left to run their course and would effectively constitute the forgotten tragedies of the world. This moral predicament provides a poignant reminder of the necessity to encourage, as a matter of priority, preventive action, and to build the capacities of regional organizations to assume more responsibility for peace and security in the world.

A Regime of International Norms: The Evolution of Sovereignty

The issue of state sovereignty will continue to be both central and contro- versial. When and how can international action be reconciled with the principle of non-interference in matters deemed to be essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of states (Article 2, paragraph 7 of the UN Charter)? This question becomes acute when a country is faced with a massive humanitarian crisis which demands some form of international response. A collective response to a human rights or humanitarian catastrophe can take several forms. These may be divided into five broad categories: multilateral peer pressure, such as a denunciation of human rights abuses by the UN Commission on Human Rights or the UN General Assembly; use of bilateral and multilateral conditionalities, which have become a common, if controversial, means of promoting human rights, democratization and structural economic reforms; humanitarian relief; provision of a relatively benign international presence on the ground, such as human rights monitors or military observers; and, finally, a radical insertion of an international presence under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The issue of interference is not so sensitive as long as an operation is being conducted with the consent and ongoing cooperation of the competent national authorities. But in the absence of consent, two principles come into competition. On the one hand, the stability of the present international system depends in large measure upon accepting and respecting the sovereign rights of states. On the other hand, there is a major evolution in thinking at the level of international public opinion that can no longer accept that massive suffering should go unchallenged behind the walls of national sovereignty.

The search here is for an acceptable threshold. When is the level of human suffering within a given country of such magnitude as to warrant an energetic international response? This problem cannot be resolved through a juridical design. The appropriate threshold is more likely to emerge slowly over a period of time, through judgement on a case-by-case basis. This judgement needs to be informed by some general considerations.

First, national sovereignty has always been a relative rather than an absolute principle. The growth of global interdependence, human rights standards and humanitarianism in general have further accentuated the relative quality of this principle. In effect, the very notion of what constitutes the domestic affairs of a state is shrinking. Furthermore, sovereignty is under pressure simultaneously from forces of both integration and fragmentation. The movement towards globalization and regional integration is chipping away at sovereignty from above, while devolutionist pressures, internal fragmentation and collapse undermine it from below.

Second, the concept of national security has traditionally been confined to the narrow sphere of the security of the state. In non-democratic polities, there has developed a perverse situation whereby the security of the state has often been organized at the expense of the security of the very people whose protection and welfare constitute the raison d'être of the state in the first place. Because of this contradiction, there is need for a broader concept of security, one that encompasses the well-being of the citizens of a country as well as the legitimate security needs of a democratic state.

Third, there is the need for a sense of measure. It is not just any incident of human rights violation or an act of petty repression that must give rise to a dramatic international response. Forceful international intervention is a drastic move; it should be applied as a measure of last resort, only when all other means of inducing change have failed to yield results.

Fourth, there continues to be a North-South cleavage on this issue. This cleavage arises in part because the Security Council, as the principal decision-making organ on these questions, is dominated by the major Western powers, while the "recipient countries" are predominantly located in the South. One way to counter this imbalance is to ensure that greater efforts are made to arrive at decisions which command broad support within as well as outside the Security Council.

Finally, there is a growing paradox surrounding the question of intervention today. In the past, this issue was marked by apprehensions of unilateral intervention by the major powers of the West and the East. Although this tendency has not disappeared, the greater danger today may come from the opposite direction - the prospect of too much disengagement, if not outright indifference. This is due in part to the proliferation of apparently intractable armed conflicts, particularly those raging within states. Another reason is the fact that, with the end of the Cold War, the major powers have redefined their interests and shifted their focus to domestic preoccupations.

Building a Community of Values

It is difficult to build an effective and sustainable framework for preserving peace and security without some kind of a normative underpinning. In the past this seemed less apparent because everything was subordinated to the logic of the Cold War. Today, the task of constructing appropriate peace and security mechanisms needs to be related to the challenge of building a community of values at various levels of the international system.

At the global level, the United Nations has been instrumental in the development and dissemination of a core of normative standards, covering such areas as human rights, environmental ethics, the peaceful settlement of disputes, women's rights and minority rights. These universal principles can best be taken seriously when applied at lower levels of the international system. A regional organization or a subregional arrangement can provide a more concrete and local framework for the application of universally accepted principles of governance. The core principles might comprise the following: the general observance of universal human rights standards; the promotion of democracy; the peaceful settlement of internal and inter-state conflicts; and the protection of minorities and other seriously disadvantaged groups. A formal and common commitment to these principles would then become the basis for assessing good citizenship within a particular region or subregion as well as the criteria for participation in the regional association. The idea here is to create a form of regional "code of conduct" by which the actions and policies of member governments can be judged. Unless translated into regional commitments of this kind that can give rise to regional discipline and peer pressure, universal norms can seem remote and abstract.

Today the experience of Europe reflects the most advanced efforts at building a community of values at the regional level. The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 led to a long political process that culminated in the Charter of Paris of November 1991. This sets out a common pan-European commitment to certain basic principles of democratic governance and a regime of rights. In Western Europe, with its well-rooted democratic tradition, this may not be breaking any new ground. But more important is the fact that the states which have just emerged from the former communist bloc should accept to be judged by these same standards, even as they struggle to put them into practice.

In Latin America, an important step has been taken in the Santiago Declaration of June 1991. This includes a common regional commitment to change governments only through democratic elections, which was successfully invoked to challenge the military junta in Haiti that had toppled the democratically elected government in September 1991.

On the other hand, the regions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, by and large, have not yet joined in this process of building a community of values at the regional and subregional levels. In order to respond effectively to the rising incidence of conflict which besets those regions, especially at the intra-state level, it will be necessary to address this issue more directly.

Everything I have said argues for exploring the full potential of the United Nations. Yet in doing so, we must not lose sight of the organization's political and material limitations. It is for this reason that the United Nations should always strive to identify its comparative advantages in any given sphere of activity, in relation to other actors on the international scene. This is particularly pertinent today as the United Nations contemplates the future evolution of its peace and security agenda.

The United Nations is not a world government; it is an association of sovereign states. As such, the effectiveness of the organization depends largely on the role that the constituent governments are willing to entrust to it. In this regard, the United Nations cannot operate solely on the basis of ideals and principles, divorced from the realities of the world of power politics. On the other hand, the United Nations should not become merely an instrument of realpolitik. The United Nations should be the place where power relations are recognized, but mediated by ideals and principles. It is within this context that the United Nations must formulate a credible peace and security agenda for the next century.


Bruce Russett*
*(Bruce Russett is Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Yale University)

Several major proposals for restructuring and reinvigorating the United Nations have recently appeared. All derive from a certain liberal internationalist perspective, and are addressed to achieving a broad vision of human security, defined as attentive to the security of individuals as well as states, and attentive to a broad range of human rights: political, social, and economic. Any set of proposals, to have a chance of acceptability, must strike a balance between various competing goals and perspectives. This article offers 10 such balances, and illustrates the application of some of them by considering one report, that of the Independent Working Group on the Future of the United Nations, sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

This is a time, around its fiftieth anniversary, for renewed interest in re- forming, restructuring and reinvigorating the United Nations. By reasonable standards parts of the United Nations have worked well much of the time, and others have not. The challenges facing the organization have changed, with new emphasis on civil conflict (within rather than between states),1 population growth, massive voluntary and involuntary migrations, environmental degradation, economic justice, expanded concepts of human rights and belief in the necessity and possibility of representative government. The resources the United Nations commands, and the will of its Member States to employ the organization, are inadequate to meet those challenges.

Consequently, several comprehensive proposals to restructure the United Nations have been put forth, as well as many partial ones.2 Even at its creation, the United Nations was, for all the "realism" attached to its new institutions of collective security, also in substantial degree a "liberal internationalist" project in the sense derived from the vision of Immanuel Kant's essay, Zum ewigen Frieden (Perpetual Peace). That vision, for which we mark the two hundredth anniversary, saw peace built on a solid tripod of free political institutions, networks of economic interdependence and international law and institutions.3 The vision was reflected, for example, in the Bretton Woods financial institutions, the United Nations Development Programme, the Commission on Human Rights and the Centre for Human Rights, and the International Court of Justice.

The vision was also, in current terms, one of "human security";4 that is, security not just of states but of individuals, attentive to a broad range of human rights: political, social and economic. By this vision, the elements of international law and organization are quintessentially represented by the United Nations. The United Nations in turn can do more than just directly support a regime for peace and security; it can indirectly undergird peace by promoting and helping to manage economic interdependence, and by supporting and protecting the political rights of representative government. With sympathy towards, if not full acceptance of, this vision, it is appropriate to judge reform proposals with these Kantian, or liberal internationalist, criteria in mind: criteria which inform the contemporary discourse on the United Nations even more than they did for the organization's founding.

To evaluate such proposals one must furthermore decide how well they should, and do, strike various balances. Some degree of balance is needed not merely because everyone will bring different values and perspectives to the task, but because of the complexity of the social phenomena at issue. Rarely can any balance be successfully tipped all the way in one direction. In the spirit of stimulating discussion, I propose 10 balances for consideration. Sometimes I will illustrate the effort to strike a balance with reference to the report I know best, namely that of the Independent Working Group on the United Nations.5 But in doing so I do not intend to offer a full explication, let alone a defence, of the particular balances achieved in that report. The purpose is rather to offer a set of criteria for evaluation, leaving it to every reader to make her or his own judgement on where a balance should be struck, and where it was struck in any individual proposal. These balances are interrelated, often closely. None operates alone from others.

1. The Balance between the Interests and Perspectives of States and Those of Broad-Based Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Other Non-state Actors

While typically multinational in execution, the writing of such reports is unavoidably an elite enterprise. The majority of participants usually come from public sector backgrounds (for example, service in elective, appointive or administrative service). Even those whose personal backgrounds are predominantly from civil society or NGOs are usually highly privileged members of their societies. Nonetheless, they must try and at least partially succeed in ascending their elite perspectives, reflecting wider and somewhat less "top-down" views. This is not just for the sake of wider appreciation in the subsequent public dialogue, but because state elites simply do not have all the answers.

2. The Balance between the Preservation and the Erosion of State Sovereignty

Ever since the Treaty of Westphalia, state juridical sovereignty has been the fundamental legal and ideological principle (and also myth) undergirding the world system. The United Nations is an organization comprising sovereign states; it is neither a world government nor an assembly of peoples. Elites understandably want to retain the sovereignty of the states they control, as do most of their citizens. No reform proposal that fails to preserve, and in some ways even to strengthen, state sovereignty can hope for a favourable reception from those who have the power to enact the proposal. The reform must be acceptable to the vast majority of states, as consistent with their sovereignty.

Yet, at the same time, states' practical sovereignty has in many areas been eroded in the modern world.6 Some of these erosions have happened consciously and voluntarily - most strikingly in the case of the European Union - and in other instances by a variety of treaty commitments binding states to common legal norms and procedures. Some others are intended but involuntary, such as when extreme repression or humanitarian distress become the basis for international intervention in what would normally be the domestic affairs of a state, for example in Iraq and Haiti. Still others have been both involuntary and unintended, as when states lose to international banks and currency speculators much of their ability to control their national budgets and foreign exchange rates, or their ability to manage the effect of transnational flows of pollution or the erosion of resources in the global commons. Humanitarian disasters and massive refugee flows from civil conflict may defy the practical ability of a state to insulate itself and its policies from events in its neighbours. Indeed, the collapse of civil authority in a country - for example in Somalia - may mean that there is no government capable of exercising the practical rights of sovereignty to which the country may still nominally be entitled.

In these and other instances the role of an international organization may well come down to that of helping to strengthen or even rebuild civil authority, and hence enabling the government to exercise its sovereign rights - to manage its economy, to limit the effects of pollution, to restore a system of public order and justice - which it could not otherwise exert. International organizations must, therefore, strike some balance between replacing and building the sovereignty of their member states. This is true even when the proponents of a particular reform consciously wish to diminish state sovereignty in certain areas. No other course will be acceptable.

The delicate nature of this balance is illustrated by the problem of "collapsed states" or, as it is called more tactfully in the Report of the Independent Working Group (p. 53), "weakened societies under stress". In such cases the United Nations or other legally sanctioned external actors must try to rebuild the administrative, political, judicial and economic structure of the state so it can again exercise its legal sovereign rights - but in a form that respects human rights broadly, and that involves some supervision based on both an international consensus and some agreement between the international organization and those local authorities that do function. It implies some mixture of at least temporary voluntary and involuntary surrender of formal sovereignty, for the sake of regaining essential elements of real sovereignty later.7

The mechanism proposed by the Independent Working Group for coordinating the rebuilding of a "state under stress" is a new social council, working in collaboration with a new economic council. Both would be new principal organs of the United Nations, replacing ECOSOC; the membership of each would be chosen with regard to accepted international principles of representation. But the social council would be empowered to act only "with the consent of the local government if it retains authority" (p. 38) or, if not, as authorized by the Security Council and some political groups within the country concerned. Obviously this is a very difficult balance: the United Nations must not be seen as a neocolonial usurper of state sovereignty, but as ultimately restoring it. And if weak states are to permit it to assume certain "conservancy" functions, it must have at its disposal the very substantial human and material resources needed to restore effective and humane government.

3. The Balance between Practicality and Vision

Here the balance is between what should be done and what can be done. What will states more or less readily accept, and what can they successfully be pushed to accept by other states or by their own constituents and civil society? "Visionaries" are by definition "impractical", yet some of their qualities are necessary to make any reform worth pursuing.

A relevant illustration here is the Independent Working Group's treatment of financing the United Nations. The Report makes all the right practical noises about the need for greater efficiency in the organization's use of existing resources, the need for states to pay their legally mandated assessments in full and on time and the need for a revision of the assessment formula to mitigate existing perceived inequities. Yet it admits that the requirements of enforcement, peace-building, development, human rights, preservation of the commons and so forth are likely vastly to exceed what Member States will be willing to pay as assessments.

Thus the report also creatively calls for (p. 48) "additional sources of funding that are not dependent on the political and budgetary constraints under which most governments operate", to take the form of "some sort of levy on the utilization of the global commons". It recognizes that it will be very hard to decide what form that tax might take.8 Any global tax will face enormous resistance, from those on whom it is levied, on political grounds, and from problems of administrative difficulty. In the current environment of domestic politics in many countries, instituting any form of tax seems unthinkable. And it is not just a matter of cost. A reasonable case can be made for tight fiscal control over any organization. The need always for the United Nations to persuade member governments to pay their dues provides a powerful restraint on the United Nations; imposition of some type of global tax would dissolve states' existing fiscal restraint. In proposing such a tax there-fore, the working group puts an important and even necessary idea on the agenda for discussion, but certainly also pushes the envelope of practicality.

4. The Balance between Particularity and Universality

Here is the dilemma between, on the one hand, respect for national and subnational cultural values, including different priorities and conceptions of human rights, and on the other the proclamation and widespread acceptance of the principle that there are universal human rights and substantial (if often vague, contested and incomplete) agreements as to what those rights comprise. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its subsequent conventions, protocols and agreements, have been widely ratified and embodied in the documents emanating from major UN conferences. Despite the protests of Asian authoritarians, religious fundamentalists and rich- country postmodernists, there is a real degree of consensus.

Nonetheless, the need to respect cultural and political diversity, to balance individual rights with conceptions of group rights within states as well as between them, lies at the core of intra-state and inter-state peace. Devising principles, procedures and institutions to do so requires a never-ending and ever-contestable balancing act. Minority rights need protection from the potential tyranny of the majority - even sometimes from a democratically chosen majority. For any proposed increment in the powers and purposes of international institutions, this balance is crucially related to the sovereignty balance.

5. The Balance between Civil and Political Rights on One End, and Economic Rights on the Other

This balance is closely related to the preceding one. A widespread claim is that, especially for poor countries, satisfaction of basic economic rights must come first; that civil and political rights are "luxury" goods to be obtained only later - if ever. This view was common in Marxist regimes, and remains powerful in rapidly developing capitalist systems operating in "strong states". Of course there must be some room for the determination and application of priorities; "all good things" do not go together in lock step. Most rich countries are democratically governed and many poor ones are ruled by authoritarian regimes. Yet there are numerous exceptions in both groups. Qatar, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates have higher per capita incomes than do Canada and France. India has experienced decades of substantially democratic rule while ranking among the lowest income countries, as have other states. But systematic empirical evidence of the necessity of sharp trade-offs of economic against political and civil rights simply does not exist. The notion that political opposition must be repressed in the interest of development is, as a generalization, a lie. An excellent review of the scientific literature on political and economic development summarizes the situation well:

There is no evidence that, on average, a democracy with civil liberties is costly in terms of economic development. If anything it may be the other way around, that a democracy with civil liberties promotes economic development.... But establishing democratic institutions is not the "deus ex machina" that resolves all the problems of development. A sound and stable political-economic development is essential.9

Representative government can facilitate balanced and equitable econom- ic development in the following ways: An equitable distribution of income, and political stability, are important contributors to successful growth.10 By providing stable, legitimate governance and a restrained rule of law, representative government strengthens the property rights necessary to encourage long-term investment.11 By providing a base of widespread access to the political system, it discourages the engorgement of inefficient state monopolies and prevents secret environmental abuses of the kind that have emerged from the communist era in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It offers some check on corruption by officials operating behind opaque barriers of state security and without any inquiry by free public media. (Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko exemplifies the kleptocracy of a leadership whose interest in economic development extends only to enriching itself.) Mass famines occur only in political systems where information can be suppressed and protest repressed.12

In particular instances there will always be an element of contradiction between some kinds of rights and others. But they are not inevitably in any kind of severe dialectic. The elements of complementarity on the whole outweigh those of contradiction. Those times when they do come into conflict and are not sufficiently mutually reinforcing may be precisely the times for international organizations to use their influence to preserve a balance, for example standing up for the principles of representative government as well as the necessity for achieving decent material living conditions.

6. The Balance between Enforcement and Neutrality

The idea of an international organization empowered to enforce the protection of basic human rights causes fear, not only among those judged guilty in a particular instance but among weak states everywhere. But it also represents the hope of many vulnerable individuals and oppressed peoples. This tension cannot be avoided in any discussion of human rights, and is of course integrally related to the sovereignty balance. In the area of the United Nations' traditional operations for peace and security, peacekeeping (where the UN forces were on the ground on the basis of impartiality with the consent of the parties, authorized only to shoot in self-defence) the balance was overwhelmingly on the side of neutrality. Yet sometimes "neutrality" effectively means taking the side of the strong against the weak, without regard to judgements about justice. The United Nations has also operated (more rarely to be sure, but with Korea and Iraq the prime exhibits) as an agent of collective security, coercing a named aggressor and trying to enforce a settlement that manifestly favoured one side.

"Peace enforcement", as it emerged in Boutros Boutros-Ghali's Agenda for Peace, represents a precarious effort to balance enforcement and impartiality, using force as "a provisional measure" when deemed necessary to avert large-scale humanitarian disaster.13 The need arises in the context of increasingly common civil wars and the breakdown of order, and requires an immensely difficult balancing act. Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia all illustrate, in different ways, the hazards. Perhaps most of the time the United Nations will lack the consensus, the will and even the capability to engage in peace enforcement. Writing - and if necessary adjusting - the mandate for every such activity offers a formidable challenge. But sometimes the international community, acting through its designated institutions, will decide it to be necessary. The Independent Working Group, for example, calls for establishing a small UN rapid reaction force, available for urgent deployment by the Security Council so as to prevent certain situations from deteriorating into chaos and disaster. The force would be capable not only of a peacekeeping mission, but also to "provide security for UN personnel; hold an airport; establish one or more safe areas for the civilian population; limit evacuation and assist in ending the violence. ..." These are in large degree peace-enforcement tasks, not those of traditional peacekeeping.

7. The Balance between Power (or Effectiveness) and Legitimacy (or Justice)

Nothing can happen without the capability or power to do it, and the willingness to exert that power. In the global arena, major UN activities must have the approval, and usually the active participation and support of, the most powerful states in the system. Although the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund owe their existence to claims of economic justice, they cannot violate the wishes of the states which provide their principal funding. The Security Council cannot, given the veto, embark on an operation against the wishes of a permanent member. Nor should it do so without assurances of financial and military commitment from the major powers whose active participation in some form will be necessary. Power talks, and acts. Yet power will not act in circumstances where the major states in the United Nations do not deem the action to be worthwhile according to the way they define their national interest, be it broad or narrow, immediate or long term. No action in the absence of adequate power will be effective.

On the other hand, power cannot long be exercised in raw form, divorced from concepts of equity and legitimacy. Despite the Security Council's necessity to represent power, and to maintain the procedures and small size required for timely and judicious action, its legitimacy will be questioned if it is seen as no more than a concert of great powers - especially of rich industrial ones. In the long run, its composition must change and it probably must be expanded. It must reflect the financial power of the states essential to the organization's fiscal health and to its peacekeeping operations in particular. In this respect Japan and Germany are now key contributors to the United Nations' budget. But if these states become permanent members, it is hard to see how, without also adding some major representatives of the less-developed countries, it can retain legitimacy in the eyes of the great majority of UN Member States. In sum, however, the more numerous and diverse the permanent members wielding veto power, the more difficult it will become to act promptly and effectively when the world community wants action.14 An ineffective Security Council will not retain legitimacy either. Hence the need, however great the resistance of powerful states to relinquishing any of their privileges, to think about some restriction of the scope of the veto, perhaps limiting it to the realm of military action that might threaten a great power's vital interest, the original idea of most of the organization's American and British founders.15

8. The Balance between Specificity and Plasticity of the Charter

The UN Charter has proven to be a reasonably flexible instrument. It has been possible to stretch the Charter, for purposes of maintaining "international peace and security", to modify in de facto fashion the Article 2, paragraph 7 prohibition of intervention "in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state".16 It has also been possible to invent the institution of peacekeeping despite the absence of any explicit Charter authorization for it. Nevertheless, it is extremely difficult to amend the Charter formally, since amendments require ratification by two-thirds of the Member States, including approval by all five of the permanent members of the Security Council. Over its 50-year history, the only amendments have been for one enlargement of the non-permanent membership of the Security Council, and two stages of enlargement of ECOSOC. The problem remains how to write - or now, when and how to modify - a foundational document which will preserve the foundation while underpinning a structure that can expand, contract and change its form and function in response to new and unforeseen power realities and challenges.

9. The Balance between Coordinating Uniformity of Purpose and Diversity

A common criticism of the United Nations has been of the uncoordinated nature of its various units and specialized agencies. Indeed, they not infrequently pursue conflicting goals, whether as part of a peace-building effort in El Salvador or in delivering humanitarian relief in Africa.17 At best the result is the waste of very limited resources; at worst it is outright failure. It seems intolerable to have different organs working at bureaucratic cross purposes.

Yet some diversity of goals and doctrine has its value. In the arena of economic development the United Nations - and the members of the economic profession who advise or comment on its policies - has yet to come up with a coherent, unified theory of economic development. It is not much more attractive to imagine all economic development assistance to be administered on the model of the World Bank than on the model of the UNDP. Nor can we ever expect to see complete agreement between the rich states from which development funds must come and the poor ones which constitute the locus and object of development projects. The Independent Working Group's proposal for a new economic council contains a built-in and unavoidable tension. It would be charged (p. 52) "to integrate the work of all UN agencies and international institutions, programmes and offices engaged in economic issues, ... promote the harmonization of the fiscal, monetary and trade policies of Member States and encourage international cooperation on issues of technology and resources, indebtedness, and the functioning of commodity markets". Some increased integration and harmonization is surely desirable. Very much is surely not desirable nor, in a world of sovereign states, possible. The answer to how and where the balance will be struck lies in the realm of a continuing political process that will always reflect the competing claims of the balance of effectiveness and legitimacy.

10. The Balance of Interests

Governance of and by the United Nations is, like all instances of governance, a political process in which numerous interests exert and resist claims. The organization's constitutional structure guarantees a plethora of actors with de facto if not de jure "veto" power. Hence any reform proposal will have to have something to please almost everyone, as well as, in the best satirical tradition, something to offend almost everyone. The trick is to get the balance right, not just in any single reform proposal but in a package of proposals. No single "reform" recommendation can be considered in isolation. Nor will any large package be put together without long negotiation and intense public debate, around the world. The task of reforming and renewing the United Nations is at heart a political task, as arduous as it is essential.

Part II. Rethinking International Security


James S. Sutterlin*
*(James Sutterlin is Research Affiliate, International Security Studies, Yale University)

Human Security: What Is It?

The Charter defines the principal purpose of the United Nations as the maintenance of international peace and security. To the founders of the United Nations the meaning of these words was clear. Peace meant the absence of war among states and international security meant the safety of states from attack or the threat of attack. If states were secure, then so too would be their populations for whose security governments were responsible. However, the most serious threats to the security of populations and even of states no longer stem from the possibility of armed attack, although this possibility cannot be ignored. Threats today, and most certainly in the future, stem in large measure from societal and economic roots - from, inter alia, ethnic conflict, massive abuse of human rights, destabilizing migration and environmental degradation.

In these circumstances, the maintenance of international security must be understood as the protection of states and populations from mortal danger, whether from foreign attack or from adverse social and economic conditions. Peace has become only one element in human security, although surely still the most important. If this concept of international security is accepted, then it follows that the mandate of the United Nations for the maintenance of international security has expanded exponentially.

This is admittedly a new and broad interpretation of what the Charter means. But it is not contrary to its intentions. Even in 1945, the founders of the United Nations recognized the importance of economic and social factors. The American secretary of state, Edward R. Stettinius, wrote from San Francisco that:

The battle of peace has to be fought on two fronts. The first is the security front where victory spells freedom from fear. The second is the economic and social front where victory means freedom from want. Only victory on both fronts can assure the world of an enduring peace. ... No provisions that can be written into the Charter will enable the Security Council to make the world secure if men and women have no security in their homes and in their jobs.

Mr. Stettinius was thinking of personal security and employment in terms of their relevance to peace between states, having in mind no doubt the conditions that led to the rise of the Nazi and fascist regimes in the 1930s and ultimately to World War II. The importance of social and economic factors was recognized, however, and significantly no distinction was made between rich and poor states. Today it is even clearer that the strengthening of human security is relevant to people everywhere, in rich nations and in poor. The threats to their security may appear to differ: hunger and disease in poor countries, drugs and crime in the rich ones, and common to all, environmental degradation and terrorism. But in a fundamental sense all of these threats are the common concern of rich and poor - North and South - for their effect knows no boundaries. The word interdependence risks becoming a clichŽ but it remains accurately descriptive of the world today. The well-being of societies is mutually dependent. Nations are increasingly vulnerable to the misfortune of other nations and other societies and to the pollution of the global environment that all must share. This common concern can be a unifying element in a world where divisive forces remain strong.

The Framework for Action

Technology has brought new dangers as well as great benefits. Global transparency has brought greater awareness and understanding of threats to human security wherever they may occur. The end of the Cold War has created greater possibilities for global cooperation in meeting old and new threats and should have generated greater resources for this purpose, although this has not yet happened. The lessening of the threat of nuclear war has permitted greater attention to be given to other threats to human well-being. But in the aftermath of the Cold War, there has been a resurgence of old evils: destructive nationalism and intra-societal conflict. It can be summarized in this way: there are new threats, new dangers; there are old dangers released in part by the breaking of the bonds of the Cold War; there is a new transparency that makes clearer their global significance; and finally, we have new tools and an improved international political environment capable of enhancing human security into the twenty-first century.

Countering the Threats

A great deal has been done in identifying major threats to human security. But we have fallen short so far in two ways: in inadequate recognition of what can be called their contagion; and in insufficient commitment and vision in using the tools that are now available to counter these ubiquitous dangers. We know that serious threats to human security exist. The question is how successfully we will meet them. In considering this question two hard facts have to be faced that sometimes appear to be in contradiction. Firstly, the protection of human security often entails involvement in internal - or domestic - problems; and secondly, very often the problems can only be resolved on a multilateral basis, frequently involving some degree of internal intervention.

What is the Responsibility of the United Nations?

A principal purpose of the United Nations is clearly stated in paragraph 3 of Article I of the Charter:

to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

The main elements in human security are defined in that paragraph. While the drafters of the Charter saw these elements as potentially causative factors in inter-state war, they are today patently causative factors in intra-state conflict. If the United Nations has as its principal mandate the preservation of peace, it cannot ignore that the principal form in which peace is broken today is through intra-state conflict and violence. Member States cannot, therefore, ignore these causative factors and meet their responsibilities under the Charter. Similarly, it is not a question of whether the United Nations should be involved in the maintenance of human security; the question is whether it has the capacity to do so effectively and how much should be left to others - to regional arrangements, to national governments and to non-governmental organizations. Measures can and should be taken - if not collectively, at least in cooperation - to alleviate threats to human security.

What Can the United Nations Do Best?

The extent of global needs - the requirements of human security - is too large to be covered by any one organization. If the enormous problems are to be met there will have to be a parcelling out of tasks and responsibilities. It must be recognized that a very large number of them have, with perhaps insufficient forethought, been assigned to, and undertaken by, the United Nations. Many of the reform proposals that have been put forward in the past year are intended to enhance the capacity of the UN system to meet them effectively. These proposals, for the most part, are aimed at perceived weaknesses in the functioning of the United Nations. As a corollary of the suggested reforms, few if any of which seem likely to be soon realized, it would be worthwhile to examine not just what the United Nations has done wrong - where it has failed - but to analyse what it has done well. As many lessons can be learned from success as from failure.

In the perspective of history, it is likely to emerge that the most important work of the United Nations in its first 50 years was related to population, environment, sustainable development and human rights. This is not the place to give a full exposition of UN accomplishments in these areas. For present purposes it will be sufficient to identify four unique and vital functions that the United Nations performed in each as a result of which human security has been, and will continue to be, strengthened: identification; legitimation; policy formulation; mobilization. The management of population growth offers a good illustration of how effective these four functions can be. Recognition of the population problem can, of course, be traced back to Malthus. However, the United Nations was the first to identify population growth as a problem demanding international, governmental attention, beginning 30 years ago with the population conference in Bucharest. Through its sponsorship of a global population plan, the United Nations legitimized the subject of population planning, which heretofore had been a forbidden area for a good many governments. Global policy was developed within the UN framework that served to guide - not dictate - the development of national policies. And very clearly the three global population conferences that have now been held and the activities of the United Nations Population Fund have done much to mobilize broad support for measures to regulate the growth of the world's population. These four functions are transferable to other fields. For example, regional disarmament is an important area in which the United Nations can do much to identify where it is feasible. Regional disarmament, say in the Middle East, needs to be legitimized through wide discussion and endorsement. Policies can be formulated as guides to the parties who will need to reach formal agreements. It is well to note at a time when many UN programmes are jeopardized by a lack of funds that the four listed functions are not resource intensive. They do, however, require effective leadership. A failure of leadership can be as harmful as inadequacy of resources. Leadership is a priceless, yet inexpensive, contribution that the United Nations should make to the strengthening of human security.

What Are the Prospects?

The pursuit of human security on a global basis can be the mark of a new generation that recognizes the full dimensions of interdependence. Indications are contradictory as to whether that generation has yet arrived. There are positive signs: the results of the Rio Conference, the initial reaction to the tragedy in Somalia, the rescue of Haiti, the still generous contributions to the work of the High Commissioner for Refugees and UNICEF. But there are negative signs, too: the inward-looking trend in the United States and elsewhere; the declining contributions to many UN development and humanitarian programmes and also to national assistance programmes; the wide reluctance to see the United Nations too deeply engaged in peace-building or in peace enforcement; and the reluctance on many sides to see the United Nations involved in the restoration of democratic institutions in countries where governance has collapsed.

US Senator Paul Simon, in a recent speech in the Senate, said that "a family cannot be said to truly have family values if they do not understand one another". This is true, as he went on to point out, in the global family, as well, where there is far too little understanding between urban and rural populations and too little communication across the barriers of race, religion, sex and ethnicity. Beyond the borders of our nations, the global family needs to understand the hopes and fears, the dreams, and the problems, of those who live in other nations. Knowledge and experience must be shared, as they can be in this technological age of communication, within single families, communities, nations and in the world community of nations.

If a new generation is to meet the expectations and the hopes that are being raised, a change, or an evolution, in national attitudes is necessary. This must begin at the grass-roots level. The formidable challenge entailed is well stated in the final words of the report of the Independent Working Group on the United Nations in Its Second Half Century:

The global condition of interdependence demands a rethinking of what constitutes the national interest.... The consequence of violent conflict, economic deprivation, and abuse of human rights can travel to the farthest reaches of the globe. These are the enemies that countries rich and poor can equally identify. Conquering them is in the national and collective interest of all states. This is the necessary price for the maintenance of human security.


Antonio Donini*
*(Antonio Donini is Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Policy and Analysis Division, UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, New York.)

He knew that the tale he had to tell could not be one of a final victory. It could be only the record of what had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts ... by all who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilence, strive their utmost to be healers.

Albert Camus, La peste

One would hope that humanitarian assistance would have no future, that the humanitarians would work themselves out of a job and hand over, in a seamless continuum, to the developers. Regrettably, this is unlikely, at least in the foreseeable future.

As it struggles through the first decade of the post-Cold War era, the international community is confronted with an unprecedented increase in the number of internal conflicts and complex emergencies and with a parallel increase in the need for humanitarian assistance. With some 120 "active" wars and more starting each year than are ending, the world is a much less safer place than 10 years ago. Never since the end of World War II has conflict-related displacement reached such levels: 50 million refugees and internally displaced persons require assistance, or 1 in every 115 living human beings. Tens of millions more do not show up on the statistics of the international community: those that did not make it, the direct and indirect casualties of conflict, of violent and silent emergencies, more than 90 per cent of whom are civilians.

While the respect for humanitarian norms, and in particular of the fundamental right of victims to receive assistance, has in recent years been tenuous at best, 1994, the year of genocide in Rwanda, will be remembered as a watershed in the annals of brutality. The ruthless, sudden and massive scale of the violence, the manner in which it was orchestrated and perpetrated, the fact that the international community was incapable or unwilling to prevent it and that nothing has been done so far to address the root causes that made it possible or to bring those responsible for genocide to justice, all this has deeply affected the humanitarian community. Rwanda has challenged some of the very concepts of humanitarianism. The shadow of genocide is likely to have an important impact on how humanitarians will look upon future crises, and perhaps even on the shape of the institutions of the international community. Can neutrality still be the guiding hand? For many, a system which maintains an equanimous impartiality between the victims and the executioners is in dire need of reform. Indeed, a number of reform proposals have already been put on the table.1

The end of bipolarity and the increase in the number of crises have fuelled a parallel and, until recently, exponential growth in UN peace operations. One of the paradoxical consequences of the end of the Cold War is the sudden appearance of the military in the humanitarian arena, a front where they were seldom seen in the past. Working with or close to the military has not always been easy. Cultural and operational differences have been the source of friction on both sides. This has had an impact on the activities of the UN humanitarian organizations, both at the institutional and conceptual levels, and for practical coordination on the ground. Despite efforts to reconcile political/peacekeeping goals with the imperatives of humanitarian assistance, there is still widespread concern among humanitarian agencies about the appropriateness, and the costs, of mixing soldiers and relief.

The Lifting of the Inhibitions

Clearly, the context in which humanitarian assistance is being provided is rapidly changing. But the wave of internal conflicts that has been unleashed, more or less directly, by the end of the Cold War is but one of the parameters which define the new environment in which humanitarian actors are compelled to intervene. In many ways, it is intervention itself which should be seen as the new defining element in the post-bipolar world, rather than conflict, which of course existed throughout the previous era, whether in the form of wars by proxy or in resistance to superpower hegemony. In recent years, inhibitions have been lifted in two senses: the inhibition to wage war and the inhibition to intervene.

From Jaffna to Jalalabad and from Banja Luka to Butare, it is the civilians who are paying the heaviest price of contemporary warfare. They are the pawns, hostages and objects of conflict, if not the deliberate targets of violence. In such brutal internal conflict, the traditional concepts of "military" and "civilian" tend to lose their meaning. Often the military no longer take or accept instructions from political leaders. Looting is the corollary to warlordism just as violence against civilians is the corollary to the breakdown of the functioning of societies. The lifting of the inhibitions makes the contexts in which humanitarian actors provide assistance more volatile and unpredictable, as well as more dangerous. Armed bandits are not the best of interlocutors with whom to discuss humanitarian norms and freedom of access to victims.

The humanitarians, too, have lost their inhibitions. The changed context, the frequent absence of visible or understandable ideological stakes with which to identify, but perhaps more importantly, the lifting of the shackles which constrained diplomacy in the Cold War era, have made intervention of the humanitarian variety easier to advocate and more palatable for the international community (and for the purse holders in donor countries). It has also facilitated intervention of the military variety - with knights in blue armour - in support of humanitarian objectives.

War and intervention in their various guises would thus seem to be the key characteristics of our confusing new world. While these may well be the most visible innovations, other structural changes have accompanied the demise of the old order and the turbulent search for a new one. The environment in which structural breakdown and "emergencies" occur, and the wider environment of North-South relations, has been radically changed.

To begin with, the international community, in its response to crises, has lifted a number of inhibitions concerning sovereignty. It is now clear that it is no longer sacrosanct, whether or not it ever was. While the members of the international community have been loath to codify criteria for intervention, in practice a number of interventions have taken place which would have been unthinkable only a decade ago. Some have been conducted over and above the objections of formal members of the international community (northern Iraq); others have simply imposed themselves in situations where statehood had disappeared (Somalia). In many ways a taboo has been lifted: states are no longer reluctant to call a spade a spade and the imperatives of realpolitik no longer discourage the denunciation of human rights violations.

For a brief moment the illusion of a "new world order" led Northern leaders to believe that the forces unleashed by the end of the Cold War could be "treated" through coherent integrated approaches to problem solving. Hence the notion of "complex emergency" and the acknowledgement of the linkages between the political, the military and the humanitarian. Hence the recent, perhaps fleeting, flirtation with multilateral military intervention, whether to counter acts of aggression or in support of humanitarian objectives, or both.

This militarization of North-South relations raises a number of questions. Could it be that under the alibi of humanitarianism, military intervention is simply the clumsy expression of new forms of hegemony? Militarization is a powerful mechanism to force recalcitrant actors to conform and acquiesce. Intervention is by no means consistent: why Angola and not Afghanistan, why Somalia and not Sudan, why Liberia and not Zaire? This is not to say that militarization of humanitarian crises is necessarily guided by ulterior motives. The belated intervention in Rwanda is a case in point. Sometimes Northern powers are shamed into intervening by the pressure of public opinion or by "Mediapolitik". More often than not, however, the eternal rules of realpolitik guide the humanitarian helping hand.

The point is that the international community does not appear to have made up its mind on whether the use of troops in humanitarian situations should be something truly exceptional, justifiable as a stopgap measure in extreme circumstances, or whether the military is destined to become a regular feature of the world's humanitarian regime. From a humanitarian point of view, the pertinence of military intervention is at best doubtful. In Liberia, Somalia and the former Yugoslavia, the cynical view is that intervention has prolonged the conflict and has often created obstacles to the provision of humanitarian assistance. In Afghanistan, the fact that there was no intervention allowed a "humanitarian consensus" to be negotiated among all factions, enabling the most urgent humanitarian needs to be met. The risks inherent in the militarization of humanitarian assistance cannot be underestimated. The broad question therefore is: should the humanitarians be better equipped by the international community to do their job or should the military be trained to take on tasks other than war and security?

As for the market, it is debatable if it has ever suffered from any inhibitions. Its limits were dictated by ideological containment and political barriers rather than by any moral qualms. The extension of market mechanisms to North-South relations, and in particular the provision of humanitarian assistance, is interesting. For four-and-a-half decades, "overseas development assistance" and its junior cousin "emergency aid" were well within the realm of states. The end of the Cold War emboldened Western governments: the dysfunctionalities inherent in working through governments have led to the application of laissez-faire precepts in the conduct of international affairs. The invocation of privatization and of civil society often functions as a smokescreen for the imposition of political conditionality. The result has been an extraordinary explosion of private-sector intervention in the third world, nowhere more visible than in the provision of relief.

A significant innovation in recent years is the extent to which NGOs have taken over the functions of the state in weak third world societies, in areas like health and education, as well as the bulk of the delivery of relief services. For better or worse, a contract culture has emerged, with media- and dollar-hungry NGOs competing for the finite resources of the international community. In structural and ideological terms, this means that "development" has ceased to function as a "mobilizing myth" for the third world. The only remaining operating system is the market and for many it is the rewards of "trickle down" that are mythical. In practical terms, this means that the NGO community in the North has benefited significantly from the virtual disappearance of political state-to-state North-South support with the end of superpower confrontation. Will this be equally beneficial for the victims of conflict, for local coping mechanisms in crisis-affected countries and for longer term self-reliance? The answer is less than certain.

A related trend which is shaping the environment in which humanitarian actors operate is the extent to which resources and attention are being diverted from development to relief. The exponential growth of disbursements for humanitarian assistance is unquestionable: from barely $845 million a year in 1989 to close to $5 billion in 1995.2 With the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the number of claimants for development aid has dramatically increased. Donors, however, tend to focus on the short term. Funds are generally available to save lives in emergencies but seem to be more difficult to come by for recovery and the reconstruction of livelihoods. Moreover, the combination of privatization and diversion of development resources to relief is likely to mean more political conditionality rather than less. For the donor, the reorientation of budgetary priorities towards quick-fix emergency relief provides an easy way to flex political muscles when apportioning the residual development assistance funds. Here again, past inhibitions are gone. As for the United Nations, for a brief historical moment, both Member States and the Secretariat felt free to fly. After 40 years the heavy lid of the Cold War was lifted and the organization's langue de bois3 gave way to more open forms of expression. The ideals of the founding fathers seemed to come to life. During the year that preceded and the two years that followed the publication of the Secretary-General's Agenda for Peace, much seemed possible. Until then, the UN regimes for political/peacekeeping, human rights, humanitarian and development activities had been kept in separate if not watertight compartments, and the Security Council - when it was not deadlocked by crossed vetoes - dealt with security and not with humanitarian questions. Issues suddenly refused to remain in neat compartments. The new wave of emergencies became "complex", mixing the political, the military and the humanitarian. The political/peacekeeping/interventionist approach became the new Gospel. After failure in Somalia and quagmire in Bosnia, a more sober approach seems to prevail, as reflected in the Secretary-General's Supplement to the Agenda for Peace of January 1995. The enthusiasm for peace operations peaked in 1994, where a record number of 80,000 blue helmets were deployed. Extreme caution is likely to be exercised henceforth. For the United Nations, the times of peace enforcement may have come and gone. Regional coalitions of the willing may, selectively, pick up the slack.

The Implications for Humanitarian Assistance

For the humanitarians the changes have been both qualitative and quantitative. The escalation of needs has provoked a quantum leap in the response capacity of the "international humanitarian brigades". But it is the qualitative changes, in particular the implications of working in conflict situations, which are the major defining factor in the new environment. During the Cold War the humanitarian actors in internal conflict situations were few: only the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and a handful of NGOs were able to circumvent the sovereignty rule and to work in areas controlled by hostile forces. UN agencies were almost exclusively confined to government-held territory, where they worked with or through the official channels. Working "cross-border" into rebel territory or "cross line" in and out of government areas was out of the question. Now working on "both sides" has become the norm rather than the exception, even for UN agencies. This has subjected UN relief agencies to a host of new problems, ranging from negotiating access for staff and relief commodities with warlords and de facto authorities and on occasion hiring armed protection, to working with or alongside the military. Humanitarian space has often been difficult to safeguard. For UN staff, mostly unaccustomed to working outside government frameworks, the learning curve has been steep and the price paid high.

Even when emergencies are not violent and states have not failed, development, as it has traditionally been defined, is in crisis. Much has been said, rather inconclusively, about the continuum from relief to development. In an increasing number of cases we are witnessing a reverse continuum from development to relief. During the 1980s and 1990s, the survival as functioning entities of an increasing number of less-developed countries, particularly in Africa, was only made possible through international aid. In Mozambique for example foreign aid in 1991 accounted for a staggering 78 per cent of GDP, or $57 per capita, thus it became the most aid-dependent country in the world.4 Sovereignty in such circumstances is a very relative reality. Even with substantial external support, the government provision of social services, in many sub-Saharan countries and in a few Asian ones, is erratic, shrinking and of deteriorating quality. As in Mozambique, NGOs tend to step in to fulfil traditional government functions. Even in Kenya, which is by no means a failed state, NGOs provide some 40 per cent of all health-care services.5 It has been rightly noted that when "a Southern state depends on external aid rather than the national economy for its existence it effectively becomes a local government in the global political order. Sovereignty is meaningless in a situation where primary governmental functions - security, economic management, the selection and implementation of public policies - cannot be minimally guaranteed or undertaken unless externally negotiated and financed".6

The failure of development and the changing modalities of aid distribution may in turn breed conflict. State-to-state development assistance not only allowed governments to provide essential services to their citizens, in particular in the areas of education and health, but also functioned as a mechanism which provided much needed legitimacy to the ruling elite. As such services break down or are privatized, the "legitimacy conveyor belt" tends to break down as well. Groups may be more tempted to turn to tribal, ethnic or religious forms of polarization in order to assert their identity, rather than to the weakened state. And the only mechanisms which remain at the disposal of the latter to ensure its authority and some form of social order are the military and/or the manipulation of violence. Furthermore, in a kind of circular and cumulative process, the dramatic appearance of faltering states in the international panorama has also given a boost to privatization. The recourse to non-state actors for assistance delivery arises when there is no government or when there are competing claims on the state.

Privatization + Diversion = Containment Damage control in the marches of the system - in those areas of the periphery where the "magic of the market" does not work or cannot reach - is obviously a strategy whose time has come. The propping up of impoverished Southern governments or the establishment of more "legitimate" ones through international aid and/or military intervention is likely to remain a frequent feature in Africa and parts of Asia in the coming decade. As we have seen, this may be effected in a number of ways: the direct militarization of aid in an effort to impose functioning structures; the privatization of social welfare where governments are felt to be incapable of providing basic services to their citizens; the diversion of long-term development funds to quick-fix emergency relief programmes. Whatever the form of intervention, the decisions concerning it are likely to bypass the leadership and the populations of the territories concerned, a perspective which contains inherent risks for the legitimacy and sovereignty of Southern regimes.

It remains to be seen if the current spate of complex emergencies is destined to become a permanent operational reality for the international community or if it is only a transitory phase in the post-Cold War movement of tectonic plates. It also remains to be seen whether the donor community will be able to continue to mobilize the political will and the resources for both quick-fix emergency assistance and for longer-term development programmes in the third world. While serious prevention initiatives are nowhere in sight, donor exhaustion looms ominously.

Humanitarian agencies and the international NGO community are not indifferent observers in this debate: the increasing donor tendency to direct ODA away from third world governments has meant much more "business" for them. NGOs in particular are torn between the twin dilemmas of independence and subservience to donor priorities, on the one side, and between a simple grass-roots culture and the imperatives of "running a business" on the other. No figures are available on the numbers of Northern expatriates and support staff who are in the employment of NGOs at home and abroad. Certainly these increasing numbers are sizeable and their lobby powerful; and to some extent humanitarian assistance functions as an unemployment subsidy for young people in the North. The T-shirt clad and often media-hungry NGO expatriate staff, scurrying around in white vehicles sporting oversized logos, have become a familiar feature of complex emergencies. The role of NGOs in development assistance is perhaps less visible but just as sizeable.

As mentioned above, given the multiplication of crises and the increasing number of claimants on limited resources, short-term emergency needs are taking precedence over long-term development programmes. Both bilateral donors and multilateral organizations have had to "divert": just to give one example, the World Food Programme used to be primarily a development and food-for-work organization; now 80 per cent of its food resources are being devoted to emergency feeding programmes. Donor governments face difficult choices on how best to utilize their "kitty" for international assistance and on how to balance financial priorities between military peace-keeping and humanitarian support, relief and development activities.

The quantitative trends of the global aid regime present a rather gloomy picture. While private flows of capital to developing countries continue to increase, the ODA of the 21 OECD/DAC countries has declined to its lowest level in the last two decades. In 1993 ODA as a percentage of the combined GNP of these countries reached only 0.3 per cent, less than half of the 0.7 per cent goal agreed to in the early 1970s and regularly reaffirmed since then. The situation is particularly grim for LDCs, especially in Africa, that are highly dependent on aid flows for their survival as viable state entities. Unlike for Asia and Latin America, there is little indication that aid cuts in Africa will be compensated by increases in private resource flows. Moreover, it is not only the aid flows from DAC countries that have been cut. Traditional donors such as the former USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe have totally disappeared from the aid scene, most of them becoming new claimants for shrinking resources.

At the same time, the demands for emergency relief have dramatically escalated. The diversion from development to relief is difficult to quantify, as OECD statistics are sketchy on the subject and it is often difficult to make a straightforward distinction between funds for different activities. It is nevertheless estimated that before 1990 relief constituted less than 3 per cent of bilateral ODA. Today, the corresponding figure is probably close to 15 per cent. Multilateral expenditures - UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF - have increased in a similar fashion. The irony is that the international community is capable of generating resources to save lives and protect victims in conflict situations, but when it comes to helping war-torn societies to consolidate peace and to move into recovery and reconstruction, its purse strings remain tightly sealed. From Afghanistan to Mozambique to Rwanda the experience is the same: the loud emergency of conflict attracts attention and funds, but it is much more difficult to convince donors that the silent need for peace-building is just as pressing.

In these circumstances, it was to be expected that political conditionality should emerge under the guise of donor fatigue, or more precisely of "development fatigue". Political conditionality - "human rights and privatization first, development assistance later" - is a practical way of deflecting attention from some of the more disturbing dimensions of North-South relations. Structural issues have all but disappeared from the debate. The present emphasis on concepts such as sustainable development and global governance, which do not really tackle the root causes of underdevelopment nor the need to correct the structural imbalances which perpetuate it, is a manifestation of this. Furthermore, the emphasis on market mechanisms and the privatization of aid allows donors (and to some extent third world governments) to eschew the issue of the failure of the development strategies of the past, a failure in which the governments and elites of North and South are all implicated. Finally, the fact that both relief and development assistance, because of privatization, increasingly bypass and therefore weaken recipient governments is indicative of the increasing marginalization of the development discourse in international relations.

The United Nations has also failed, or has been allowed to fail, in defending the development paradigm. In the 1970s and 1980s the banner of development in the United Nations acted as a powerful "rallying point" for the third world, much in the same way as the goal of decolonization had mobilized the previous decades. Unfortunately, the United Nations seems to have abandoned this role. Gone are the days when the quest for a more equitable international economic order was high on the international agenda. The mantra of national planning, on which development strategies had been built with broad consensus, has been replaced by laissez-faire. It can be argued that sustainable human development and the role of civil society therein further encourage the bypassing of the shrinking powers of recipient governments. Even the UNDP, once the steadfast proponent of statism and of the role of planning in development, is now turning to civil society organizations - NGOs and the private sector - for project execution. Most third world governments, whether they subscribe to the theory or not, are not in a position to resist the pressures to privatize. From a UN perspective, one must ask if it works: does privatization promote more healthy and democratic societies better than the previous models? This remains to be seen.

Powerful new forces are rapidly changing the shape of the North-South scene and the context of the debate: "development" no longer seems to be the mobilizing paradigm, but a new paradigm has yet to emerge. De facto, the new paradigm may well be a combination of intervention and humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian assistance, as band-aid or as alibi for the lack of political will of the international community, is likely to remain prominently on the agenda for the years and decades to come. In fact it may well become the preferred form of containment for the international community. Resources for loud emergencies are likely to continue to be forthcoming. Not all humanitarian needs will be met: the media and geopolitical considerations will unfortunately determine where and how the band-aid is applied. Mercy will remain enmeshed in politics.

As unsatisfactory as this situation may be, we must not lose sight of the humanitarian imperative, which remains categorical. The importance of safeguarding humanitarian space, whether in conflict situations or in the face of political pressure, cannot be overemphasized. Not to do so is to become a party to the politics of suffering. The fact that there has been much erosion, and that relief programmes are usurped for partisan purposes, ought to provoke greater not less commitment to carve out the space necessary for it to operate. Until such time as the international community gives itself the means to tackle the root causes of poverty and underdevelopment, humanitarian assistance will continue to be required to alleviate the suffering of victims. Compassion as an expression of the desire for justice is neither a luxury nor an indulgence in a community of nations struggling to reach greater equilibrium, peace and security in a turbulent world. As Dag Hammarskjšld would say: "The constant struggle to close the gap between aspiration and performance now, as always, makes the difference between civilization and chaos."


Hisako Shimura*
*(Hisako Shimura is Professor in the Department of International Relations, Tsuda Women's College, Tokyo, Japan)

Since the end of the Cold War UN peacekeeping operations have undergone profound changes. Some of these changes have been positive while others have proved negative - or at least deeply troubling. The effects of these changes hold implications for the practical effectiveness of these operations as well as their doctrinal legitimacy.

Traditional Peacekeeping Operations

Before examining these changes and issues, it is worth recalling what has come to be called "traditional" peacekeeping operations. During the Cold War, superpower confrontation paralysed the UN mechanism for maintaining international peace and security; a series of improvised, ad-hoc operations were devised. These sought to contain local conflicts and avert superpower involvement in order to provide a "breathing spell" for pursuing parallel diplomatic efforts - now commonly called peacemaking - to achieve lasting peace. Beginning with the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) of 1948 and the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) of 1956, 13 such operations were established between 1948 and 1988. Although these operations had no explicit basis in the UN Charter, they came to share, over the years, certain common characteristics and operational principles. In particular, (1) they are undertaken after the parties to a conflict have agreed to a cessation of hostilities and also to a peacekeeping operation to monitor or supervise such agreement; (2) they are conducted in an impartial manner without prejudice to the aims and policies of any of the parties; and (3) the use of force is not permitted except in self-defence and as a last resort.

They have developed other practices and features. Their composition has reflected the international nature of the organization, drawing units and personnel from a number of countries but preferably from those without a direct interest in the situation. Traditional peacekeeping operations, with some exceptions, excluded military personnel from the Big Five - the permanent members of the Security Council. This was because one of the aims of these operations was to prevent regional and local conflicts from being drawn into superpower confrontations. Unified UN command of these operations was to be exercised in the field by the force commander, appointed by the Secretary-General with the consent of the Security Council. The force commander reported to the Secretary-General and received political direction from him, who in turn reported regularly to the Council and referred major decisions to it.

These peacekeeping operations were considered to be among the most effective UN innovations in the area of international peace and security, and were so recognized by the awarding of the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize. In the subsequent rush of events it has often been overlooked that peacekeeping operations were modest, though inventive, undertakings seeking limited objectives under many constraints.

Post-Cold War Changes

The end of the Cold War gave way to a brief era of euphoria and the hope for a more peaceful world. This was quickly replaced by the realization that conflicts would continue to occur and even proliferate. The lid that had formerly been imposed upon nationalistic, religious and ethnic rivalries had suddenly been lifted. At the same time, the greater consensus which prevailed in the Security Council gave rise to optimism about the United Nations' ability and a greater willingness to intervene. The result has been both a rapid growth in the number and size of peacekeeping operations and a significant change in their functions and approaches. The latter trend was spurred by the fact that most of the new conflicts occurred in internal, civil war situations and "failed states".

Quantitative Growth

As regards the quantitative growth, the statistics are clear. During the first 40 years, 13 peacekeeping operations were established; during the 7 years between 1988 and 1994, when peacekeeping operations reached a peak, 22 new operations were created. Among the 13 early operations, the 20,000-strong operation in the Congo in the 1960s was the single exception in terms of size, while the others ranged from small observer missions to peacekeeping forces of several thousand. Since 1988 such large-scale operations as the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (21,000), the UN Operation in Somalia (28,000) and the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR, 55,000 authorized, 45,000 deployed) have become commonplace.

To sum up, in early 1988 there were 5 ongoing peacekeeping operations with a total of some 10,000 troops contributed by 27 countries; in late 1994 there were 17 operations in the field with a total strength of 70,000 contributed by 77 countries. The combined budget in 1988 was some US$700 million; in 1994, US$3.5 billion.

This rapid and major expansion has understandably imposed serious difficulties in securing the necessary personnel and equipment and vastly exacerbated the financial problems that had always plagued peacekeeping. As the number and size of operations grew, new troop-contributing countries were approached and many responded positively. Until well into this era of expansion, the Secretariat was able to secure the required number of unarmed military observers and infantry units to perform cease-fire monitoring and other core functions of these operations. It had, however, always been a challenge to secure specialized units, personnel and equipment to provide logistic support - communication, maintenance, transport, medical service - which only some Member States were in a position to provide. However, as the total level of peacekeeping personnel was approaching 70,000 in 1994, the Secretariat began to experience difficulties even in obtaining the core personnel. This was not just a question of numbers but also of the new functions and increased risks of some operations. It has, therefore, not been possible to state conclusively whether that number, 70,000, may represent a ceiling of sorts for peacekeeping personnel. But it is suggestive that the Standby Forces Arrangement, described below, also generated a similar number.

Civilian police, which have come to be an increasingly regular and important component of many recent peacekeeping operations, have also been extremely difficult to secure in the required numbers. Most countries maintain a certain level of trained military personnel for various contingencies, and they can be fairly readily diverted to peacekeeping deployment.

Securing the needed equipment has also posed a growing challenge and tested the Secretariat's ingenuity. The United Nations itself cannot own military equipment, and contingents contributed by governments are expected to arrive with their own equipment according to a list of specifications. Many of the new troop-contributing countries, however, are less developed countries whose units often arrive inadequately equipped. In such cases, the Secretariat has had to find other countries to provide the equipment, "marry" the contingent and the equipment and arrange for training, causing considerable delay in deployment.

In order to deal with the growing need for and difficulty in obtaining peacekeeping resources and improve the establishment of new operations, the Secretary-General established in 1994 a Standby Forces Arrangement. Under this system Member States have registered the type and number of personnel, equipment and services they are prepared in principle to provide within 14 days. To date, some 50 countries have pledged a total of approximately 70,000 troops. The effectiveness of this system, however, is yet to be proven. Each country still retains the right to make its decision case by case. Indeed, shortly after the creation of the system the Secretary-General asked the 19 countries that were then on the register to contribute the 5,500 troops mandated by the Security Council for an operation in Rwanda, and none agreed.

Financial problems have long been the Achilles heel of peacekeeping, as indeed that of the United Nations as a whole. This has meant that the Secretariat is forced to fall behind in reimbursing troop-contributing countries, which already bear a large part of the cost of their participation. As the overall level of peacekeeping budgets has mounted, the problem has grown infinitely worse and has repeatedly threatened to ground to a halt many operations.

Apart from the problem of non-payment, a lengthy time lag built into UN financial procedures has also hampered the swift and effective creation and functioning of UN peacekeeping operations. The Secretary-General has proposed many measures to alleviate this problem. Some limited steps have been adopted. For instance a modest revolving fund has been authorized from which monies needed immediately to establish a new operation can be drawn, to be repaid once the budget for that operation has been approved. The General Assembly has in a few instances reluctantly authorized the expenditure of a portion of the projected budget of a new and large operation pending its formal approval.

More ambitious suggestions have been resisted by Member States eager to guard their power of the purse. These suggestions include the establishment of a substantial peace endowment fund; creating an annual combined peacekeeping budget instead of, in the current practice, processing a separate budget for each operation for six months or even shorter mandate periods; and levying modest amounts on such transactions as international air travel, oil shipments or arms transfers. Calls to adapt the cumbersome UN financial rules and budget process have fallen on deaf ears. If the Member States wish the United Nations to continue to play an active role in the field of international peace and security, they must provide an adequate level of resources in a timely manner.

Qualitative Change

Qualitative post-Cold War changes in UN peacekeeping have been no less impressive than the quantitative growth. Here, two major trends may be identified. The first is the evolution of multifunctional peacekeeping operations, and the second relates to the use of force.

With the possible exception of the small operation in West Irian (UNTEA) and the much larger one in the Congo (ONUC), both in the 1960s, all of the other early peacekeeping operations had a fairly narrow and straight- forward purpose: to supervise or monitor a limited agreement - usually between states - to end armed hostilities, such as a ceasefire, separation or withdrawal of forces, or the establishment of demilitarized zones. As such, these operations were often characterized as a "holding action", not intended to resolve the underlying issues of the conflict or to change the status quo, but to stabilize the situation and create more favourable conditions for pursuing separate, but parallel, efforts to achieve a lasting solution. In such tasks peacekeeping operations were formed mainly of military personnel, although peacekeeping was considered to be a political tool. "Peacekeeping is no business for soldiers but only soldiers can do it", it was said. In recent years, although the majority of new peacekeeping operations have still been of the traditional type, most have been created with much wider, more complex functions. It is possible to identify two scenarios through which these multifunctional operations have come about.

Multifunctional Operations for the Implementation of a Comprehensive Political Agreement

The first scenario has in many cases resulted from the easing of Cold War tensions and involves the implementation and facilitation of a com- prehensive political agreement following a long-standing conflict. The UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG), which helped Namibia's transition from illegal colonial rule by South Africa to independence, was the first, followed by UNTAC in Cambodia, the UN Operation in El Salvador (ONUSAL) and the UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ).

UNTAC remains the model of this type both in the breadth and depth of its varied functions. UNTAC's tasks covered military arrangements, assisting in the maintenance of law and order, monitoring the observance of human rights, overseeing the existing authorities of the host country, election supervision, repatriation of refugees and displaced persons and giving a start to the rehabilitation of the devastated infrastructure. As for the reach of its authority, UNTAC was unique among UN operations in having the authority to "organize and conduct" a democratic election, not merely to monitor it. UNTAC was also given authority to exercise "direct control" over the authorities of the government in Phnom Penh and its opposition in five functional areas - national defence, foreign policy, public security, finance and information - in order to ensure a neutral political environment in which to conduct a free and fair election.

UNTAC also enjoyed the rare distinction of being given resources that were commensurate to the extensive tasks and responsibilities it had been given. Despite the early withdrawal by one of the four Cambodian parties, the Khmer Rouge, from the peace process, UNTAC has been widely deemed a success. It might be argued that this success owed itself to the resources available and the very multifunctionality of the operation. This enabled it, when threatened by the Khmer Rouge withdrawal, to make internal adjustments and to use one component to support and reinforce another in order to preserve the operation's viability. For instance, when the Khmer Rouge's non-cooperation made it impossible to disarm the forces of the four parties, UNTAC quickly organized and redeployed 16,000 troops to provide security to the electoral exercise.

The emergence of multifunctional peacekeeping operations has meant that these operations require, in addition to military personnel, a growing list of civilians of varied specialization and expertise. This has added to the difficulty of securing the necessary personnel. In traditional peacekeeping operations, the small number of civilian staff - the political adviser, the legal adviser, the chief administrative officer, the field service officers - were provided from among serving UN Secretariat staff, not only because this was feasible but also to ensure the "UN ethos" and continuity to these operations composed otherwise of transient military personnel contributed by governments. This is no longer possible, since the number and the specialization of civilian peacekeeping personnel needed today outstrip the ability of the Secretariat to provide them from within. In future it will be necessary for governments to provide such personnel on secondment for the Secretariat to expedite their recruitment.

Another measure of the success of this type of multifunctional operation has been their time-frame. Although peacekeeping operations were meant to be as short as possible - and therefore typically authorized for six-month mandates - failure to carry out a successful parallel peacemaking effort has often meant that they have become open-ended. The UNTSO, the first operation, is still in the Middle East 48 years after its creation. In contrast, prior achievement of a political agreement has enabled many of these newer operations to complete their mission on schedule - UNTAG in Namibia in one year and UNTAC in Cambodia in 19 months. It should also be noted that these operations have been able to discharge their mandate while adhering to the peacekeeping principles - consent, impartiality and non-use of force. Thus, multifunctional peacekeeping operations which follow a comprehensive political agreement have been notable successes: they have been effective practically, and their legitimacy has been accepted in spite of some novel functions and the occasional testing of the boundaries of acceptable intervention.

Incremental Multifunctional Peacekeeping Operations

In sharp contrast are those operations whose multifunctionality has resulted not from a well-considered comprehensive plan but from an incremental escalation from a small and limited mandate due to changing circumstances. The operations in Somalia and in the former Yugoslavia are typical examples. Both began as modest operations, but complex civil conflict situations and an absence of consent progressively altered the conditions and led to the addition of new tasks and a modification of the mandates. Thus, UNOSOM I in Somalia began in 1992 as a 50-member military observer mission of the traditional type. As security deteriorated, the Security Council authorized dispatching several thousand troops, but their full deployment could not be achieved because the consent of some of the numerous factions in this failed state could not be obtained. After passing the task temporarily to a US-led non-UN multinational force, the Council established the 28,000-strong UNOSOM II under Chapter VII of the Charter. Some progress was achieved in increasing stability and restoring local authorities in outlying regions. However, a failure to bring stability to the capital Mogadishu, mounting risks, and the decision of many troop-contributing countries to withdraw their contingents forced the closure of the mission in 1995 without achieving its purpose.

In the former Yugoslavia, UNPROFOR began as a traditional peacekeeping force in 1992 intended to separate the Croats and the Serbs in Croatia. As war spread to Bosnia-Herzegovina, ceasefires were repeatedly broken and successive peace plans failed to achieve agreement. The Security Council adopted resolution after resolution (some 80 to date) to add a hybrid of tasks and responsibilities, some under Chapter VII. Whereas UNOSOM II was placed fully under Chapter VII, UNPROFOR was in the untenable position of basically remaining a peacekeeping operation, not an enforcement action, but with tasks such as the establishment of "safe areas", in which the use of force, through NATO air power, could be called upon. Thus, UN peace- keepers found themselves in an impossible position of calling down NATO air strikes on those amongst whom they were deployed and whose cooperation was essential for the rest of their tasks.

Under these circumstances, not only can the United Nations not hope to mount an effective operation but its credibility and legitimacy are gravely undermined. Member States have begun to reassess their position towards peacekeeping. A thoughtful and systematic effort to learn from these lessons is yet to begin. Some lessons are already very clear: that peacekeeping and enforcement may both be necessary tools, but they cannot coexist in the same operation. To avoid drifting into such a situation, it is imperative that the international community make every effort to examine and analyse carefully the nature and circumstances of the conflict to be dealt with and to draw appropriate conclusions on what type of response is called for. Equally important will be a sober assessment regarding UN intervention on the part of Member States and their willingness to provide the required resources.

Some Specific Issues

A number of post-Cold War developments have a bearing upon the effectiveness and legitimacy of peacekeeping. One is the growing trend for major power participation in these operations. As noted earlier, traditional peacekeeping normally excluded personnel from the Big Five for obvious reasons. With the end of the Cold War, it was thought that those constraints no longer applied, and participation by major powers was welcomed. Experience has shown, however, that this was a mixed blessing. These countries have the superior capacity and political clout that can strengthen an operation and might even be indispensable in large, forceful operations. Contribution of a limited and carefully balanced number of personnel by the Big Five, as a symbol of their political support, can be positive, as in UNTAC. But substantial participation by these countries, each of which has its global national interest and its own agenda, can distort a UN operation and undermine its "UN ethos" and credibility. Here, effectiveness and legitimacy can come into conflict with each other.

This problem is especially relevant to the issue of command and control of UN peacekeeping. The Secretary-General and the Secretariat have always maintained that a unified operational UN command was essential not only to ensure the effective functioning of the operation and to safeguard the security of all its personnel but also to preserve the credibility of these operations. Both the participation of major powers and the growing complexity and risks of some of the new operations have strained this principle.

Another problem might be described as the "regionalization" of UN peacekeeping. This has been reflected in the preponderance of European contingents in UNPROFOR, the European operation, and, conversely, the early withdrawal of the United States and Western contingents from UNOSOM II, which ultimately led to the closure of that operation. This decline of the tradition of universality also threatens to undermine the effectiveness and viability of any operation in which developed countries do not take an interest.

Erosion of the Non-use of Force Principle

The foregoing discussion has already pointed to a further trend that has characterized a number of post-Cold War peacekeeping operations, namely a greater use of force. The non-use of force except in self-defence was one of the three basic principles of traditional peacekeeping. This is closely interrelated to the principles of consent and impartiality, and together these formed the essence of non-coercive peacekeeping. It follows, therefore, that a readiness to resort to force inevitably alters and destroys the other two principles. The use of force can lead to an escalation of the use of force and also destroy impartiality and consent, which, once broken, are not readily restored.

The departure from these traditional principles does not seem to have been the result of deliberate reflection and sober assessment. Nor has it been in pursuance of the interest of Chapter VII of the Charter, where the use of force is contemplated in order to deal with "threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression". Even with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the international community turned not to a UN operation but to a US-led multinational force which was authorized by the United Nations but not under UN command and control. These departures appear to have been a passive development, a drift forced upon the decision makers by shifting circumstances. It is thus no accident that it has been within the context of incremental operations that the use of force has been introduced. It is also inevitable that the use of force under such circumstances has not assured effectiveness but instead has strained the credibility of the United Nations and peacekeeping.


UN peacekeeping operations have repeatedly proven their effectiveness and will continue to play a useful role in many situations. But they are clearly not the sole answer. The excessive expectations that the world has directed towards these operations can seriously damage this useful tool.

Serious discussion is necessary to clarify what role the United Nations should play in maintaining international peace and security in the twenty-first century, which of the various tools and methods available should be used and in what circumstances, and what needs to be done to enhance these activities. The criteria of effectiveness and legitimacy will provide useful guides in such an exercise.

Part III. Redefining Sustainable Development


Inge Kaul*
*(Inge Kaul is Director, Office of Development Studies, United Nations Development Programme, New York. The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the UNDP)

During the past five years, we have seen an impressive series of UN development conferences: the environment and development, population, social and economic development, and women. The conferences have helped to mobilize the growing global consensus on development priorities, and map out strategy options for achieving the agreed goals. They have also presented the bills.

Looking only at the estimates of external-assistance requirements, for example, we find that implementing the recommendations of Agenda 21 could require concessional assistance amounting to some $125 billion. The Programme of Action for the Social Summit carries with it a joint UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF cost estimate for universal access to basic social services amounting to $30-$40 billion annually for the next 10 years - about 20 per cent of the total Official Development Assistance (ODA). There are other estimates of development needs: the 1994 World Development Report suggested that the total infrastructure-investment needs of developing countries amounts to some $200 billion per year. At least 10 per cent of this amount - some $20 billion - will have to come from external assistance. Yet, the total amount of ODA in 1994 stood at only $56 billion. International development cooperation faces a serious financing gap; and it is a widening gap.

If we consider the present international aid target of 0.7 per cent - which is equivalent to approximately $130 billion - the current ODA amounts to somewhat less than half the "target". Considering the partial cost estimates of the Earth Summit and the Social Summit, the present ODA amount drops to just one-third of the requirements. And the level would shrink further if one were to take into account the many other urgent development purposes which need - and deserve - external assistance.

The reason for this financing gap is not that the international community is too poor to meet these resource requirements. In fact, the per capita income of industrial countries amounts to $16,000; and that of the world as a whole to about $4,500. The problem is not money per se, rather it is that money is not forthcoming. The reasons for this may be twofold. The purposes to be financed may not be sufficiently well defined, and therefore unable to attract necessary political attention and spending priority. In addition, we may be tapping the "wrong" financing sources.

My view is that both of these factors are contributing to the current financing gap, and in this paper I would like to focus on these issues. In particular, I would like to submit for further consideration two points:

  1. We need a clearer definition of global development concerns, and linked to that, a clearer definition of multilateral development cooperation. My proposal will be that the concept of "public goods" - global public goods - could help us achieve that.

  2. In supplying essential global public goods, multilateral cooperation agencies should, wherever possible and feasible, employ the principles of full-cost accounting and pricing through market-based mechanisms. This will lead to not only more effective financing, but also more effective implementation.
Identifying, elaborating and negotiating new and innovative funding sources could be a lengthy process. This makes it imperative to stimulate the debate. After all, past experience has shown that it tends to be much more expensive to tackle problems downstream rather than upstream. The longer we delay bridging the existing financing gap the wider it is likely to grow. This is why this paper focuses on the question of new and innovative approaches. However, the search for new options should not be allowed to distract attention from existing commitments nor delay implementation of immediately achievable measures. Existing resources could be used more efficiently and effectively if they were used more for the priority purposes: to support the fight against poverty, environmental degradation, drug trafficking and other major threats to human security. The rapidly unfolding globalization of development makes it logical for multilateral ODA allocations to increase, not decrease. Added support for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), would, for example, be a step in the right direction. Also, we must forge ahead with external debt relief, so as to allow governments to get their national expenditure priorities right. In the poorest nations, debt stock cancellation should be considered, including the cancellation of multilateral debt.

A New Rationale for International Development Cooperation

In our increasingly interdependent world, there is a growing need for international development cooperation. Growing aid fatigue and isolationist political tendencies can probably be attributed to the fact that the "old" paradigm of international development cooperation needs to change. The rationale for future cooperation has to be broader than aid.

With that, let me then return to the main points of my argument.

1.The Supply of Global Public Goods: Does It Offer a Rationale for Multilateral Development Cooperation?

International development cooperation has a dual mandate: to assist individual countries or groups of countries in meeting their national or regional development objectives, and to help ensure that global development is balanced and sustainable. Good global development is more than the sum total of national and regional development processes. In fact, the interests of the former may not always be identical with the interests of the latter. An individual country may benefit from, let us say, high energy use. Yet, humankind may, as a consequence, incur high costs in terms of environmental degradation. Thus, there is a need to help correct such negative spillover effects from the national on to the international level, to correct negative global externalities.

Conversely, there is also a need for encouraging, through appropriate incentive policies, the creation of positive global externalities. That is, contributions which individual countries or regions could make in support of global development, be it more sustainable natural-resource use (such as reduced use of CFCs) or poverty reduction in the interest of global socio-political stability and slower population growth.

The matter of the supply of global public goods is becoming increasingly urgent. The negative effects of past development are fast accumulating. Continuing population growth and patterns of consumption and production fuel the draw-down of global resources. We are at risk of reaching critical thresholds in a number of areas, be it deforestation, loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution or poverty and socio-economic inequity. Moreover, there is a growing need - or demand - for global development management, because an increasing number of our activities today are intended to have international scope and outreach - whether transport, communication, trade, the search for work and income or the movements of capital. Globalization of development requires global support services and facilities - the supply of global public goods.

The function of global development management should therefore be to organize the provision of global public goods along four major lines. First, correcting negative global externalities, such as cross-border pollution, the spread of disease or civil strife and political unrest, which may cause refugee movements or tides of illegal migration. Second, managing scarce development opportunities and resources, for example through the distribution of pollution rights. Third, providing global infrastructure through, for example, harmonization and coordination of civil aviation facilities and postal services; and providing negotiating fora for a harmonization of such things as property rights or the tax system, and a universal acceptance of a core set of human rights. Fourth, maintaining critical global balances, such as forest land judged necessary for global climatic conditions or reasons of biodiversity, or a certain international equity ratio considered desirable for ethical reasons or reasons of global peace and security.

Just as the concept of "public goods" has helped us to work out the balance between markets and state at the national level, it could help us arrive at a sharper definition of the role of multilateral development cooperation. Multilateral - or global - programmes should not do what states or bilateral cooperation agencies could do better. They should do what no country or bilateral agency can do alone.

One may wonder whether this definition and the proposed list of global public goods are not lengthening the international development agenda even further and leading to a widening rather than a narrowing of the existing financing gap. However, if done "right", global development management can, in large measure, be self-financing.

2.Effective Financing: Can It Be Achieved through Cost-accounting and Market-Based Price Mechanisms?

Again, we can draw lessons from domestic experience, namely the extensive re-balancing of functions between the market and state which most countries have undertaken over the past decade. Two lessons, in particular, are of interest in the present context. Governments should avoid overextending themselves into "doing" development. They should focus instead on facilitating and encouraging development through appropriate incentive policies, enabling various development actors to make their own contribution to agreed-upon goals and targets. Furthermore, the social costs of developmental actions must be internalized. Adopting the "polluter pays" principle and using market-based price mechanisms for determining the value of various developmental opportunities and resources constitute effective incentive policies. They have the dual advantage of discouraging undesirable behaviour and encouraging "good" behaviour, while at the same time generating resources to finance further development.

The time has come to explore how these lessons could be applied to global development in order to redefine the balance between markets and intergovernmental development agencies. Such re-balancing is critical to solving the present funding crisis of international development cooperation. By way of illustration, we might briefly want to look at how cost-accounting and pricing could help supply and finance needed global public goods, examining each of the four aforementioned categories of global public goods in turn.

Correcting Negative Global Externalities

This could be achieved by the adoption of an international agreement on the collection at the national level of an energy tax. The agreement could stipulate that part of the proceeds be shared with the international organization responsible for supporting the negotiations on the agreement and monitoring compliance with its stipulations. The proceeds from such an energy tax could total some $60 billion if the tax were equivalent to roughly $1 per barrel of oil or its equivalent of coal. Forwarding half the proceeds to the international organization would amount to some $30 billion; even forwarding just one-third would still mean $20 billion.

Managing Global Scarcities

Given the current state of world affairs, scarcity exists in a growing number of areas. Consider pollution rights, the use of the geostationary orbit or the electromagnetic spectrum. Appropriate user fees for these and other global commons would encourage more orderly and equitable use than at present and generate resources. Moreover, if it were left to the market to determine the level of fees - for example through an auction of user rights - the proceeds could be quite significant.

Providing Global Infrastructure

Creating links between the infrastructures of individual countries so that international transport and communication are possible is a service without which globalization of economic activities could not work. It would therefore only be proper to reimburse international organizations for the transaction costs they are incurring in building these links. Reimbursement could, for example, be effected through a small tax on international air travel or a surcharge on international mail.

In the same vein, one could argue that the international capital market is a global public space. If international organizations were to monitor the market in a reliable manner and, if necessary, help stabilize currencies and assist countries in strengthening their national capacity to manage capital movement, one could envisage levying a fee for the use of the international capital market. It could be a modest levy on international currency transactions, one not aimed at interfering with the functioning of the market. The objective would be to open up a new financing source for governments and provide the resources needed for investments in making the international capital market function more smoothly. It would also require investments spreading the benefits of development more widely. At present, about half of the total private capital flows to the South goes to just five countries, and about 80 per cent to just twelve countries.

The proposed currency levy would probably constitute one of the major sources of future development finance - the "aid" of the twenty-first century. In fact, the total proceeds from the levy could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars, owing to the fact that some $1 trillion cross international borders daily.

Maintaining Critical Balances

While the instruments suggested so far are revenue generating, the following proposal is a revenue-disbursing one. Contrary to other global public goods the present function involves "buying" services, such as the procurement of forest conservation and development services which the international community may deem desirable or necessary. To achieve this objective one could envisage a process of international bidding for these services: international organizations would invite bids from interested suppliers, private and public. "Trade" in these types of developmental services might prove to be a more effective way of achieving certain global goals than are current aid practices. This could also hold true for objectives such as poverty eradication or reducing international migration.

The funds needed for international organizations to pay for such developmental services could come from the proceeds of the "new" financing instruments - the currency levy, the energy tax, the user fees on global commons and from continuing aid - continuing transfers from richer countries to poorer countries which we may want to maintain, for ethical reasons as well as for reasons of global sustainable development.


These new approaches to international development cooperation offer promising options. Yet the trends they are trying to capture are not new. The world today is already moving in these directions, not only nationally but also internationally. Besides being a moral issue, poverty is increasingly being recognized as detrimental to global stability and development. In view of the pressing development challenges we are facing and the severity of the present financing gap, it is surprising - and in a way alarming - that many of these issues have so far received only scant attention in development research. This must change. More theoretical analysis and empirical research must be focused on issues relating to global commons, global public goods and innovative ways of financing development, including international development cooperation. Solid analysis is probably the best way of advancing the international policy dialogue on development cooperation and moving closer to the objective of effective financing, and ultimately to the goal of more people-centred and sustainable development.


Joan T. Seymour*
*(Joan Seymour is Senior Political Affairs Officer, West Asia Division, Department of Political Affairs, United Nations, New York)

Peace-building measures are those undertaken to ensure the sustainability of the peacemaking and peacekeeping processes. They are intended to ensure that the root causes of the conflict are addressed to prevent its recurrence. The concept of post-conflict peace-building was first elaborated by the Secretary-General in An Agenda for Peace in 1992. He pointed out that, in order to be lasting and successful, peacemaking and peacekeeping have to be complemented by efforts "to consolidate peace and advance a sense of confidence and well-being among people". These efforts might include disarming the warring parties, restoring order, taking custody of and destroying weapons, repatriating refugees, training security personnel, demining, assistance with an electoral process, efforts to protect human rights and the reform of the government administration and its structures. The Secretary-General characterized this as the "construction of a new environment" which would help to prevent the recurrence of a crisis.

In his Supplement to An Agenda for Peace two years later, the Secretary-General further developed the concept of post-conflict peace-building and enumerated other issues that might have to be addressed to ensure the peace; namely, demilitarization, control of small arms, improving the police and judicial systems, institutional reform, human rights monitoring as well as social and economic development.

He stressed that "integrated action and delicate dealings between the United Nations and the parties to the conflict" would be required to implement post-conflict peace-building programmes. He hinted at some of the difficulties in accomplishing this, such as the implications for sovereignty, the need for consultation with and agreement by the government on the actions to be undertaken, the timing of the phasing out of the peacekeeping/peace-building operation and the resource implications of a long-term operation. Post-conflict peace-building is a political mission, although it uses a variety of tools and agents. Decisions are made on political rather than economic grounds, although it is also a part of the process of development. These activities will evolve and change as practical experience in implementing post-conflict peace-building is gathered. This paper will examine aspects of the United Nations' efforts to assist three countries in their search for a lasting peace, without which there will be no sustainable development.


Although the United Nations operation in Namibia - the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG) - was undertaken prior to this definition of post-conflict peace-building, it is an example in which such activities took place. In fact it is an early demonstration of the type of multifaceted operation now undertaken as post-conflict peace-building. It has also been viewed as a success of the decolonization process. South Africa's control over South-West Africa, given to it by a mandate of the League of Nations, was finally terminated by the United Nations. The United Nations then had to engage in negotiations with South Africa for the independence of the territory. A settlement plan was drawn up by the organization and under this plan Security Council Resolution 435 (1978), the United Nations played a major role in all aspects of the transition to independence - a process which amounted to nation-building.

There were key elements characteristic of UN peace-building. Early involvement in the drafting of the peace agreement (the United Nations was engaged for many years in the efforts to reach the peace agreement) to ensure that it addressed the sources of the conflict; the deployment of a large peacekeeping operation (4,500 men) for the supervision and observation of the ceasefire; the withdrawal and dismantling of the South African military presence; monitoring its borders; the demilitarization and demobilization of the military elements and reintegration into society; the release of political prisoners; overseeing the organization of elections and the repeal of discriminatory legislation of the apartheid period; and the return of large numbers of refugees from the region. Although the last was carried out and financed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the programme was placed under the overall supervision of the head of UNTAG, to permit full coordination of the operation. In this sense it was a success of the integrated efforts of many agencies.

Cooperation between the Authorities and the United Nations

It should be noted that in Namibia the organization carried out its tasks in a highly charged political environment. It had to work in close cooperation with South Africa, which was in de facto control of the territory and which had reluctantly agreed to see its role ended. Once UNTAG was in operation, the United Nations Special Representative was required to maintain a "working arrangement" with the South African Administrator-General with- out this constituting any recognition of the legality of the South African administration. This was an example of the delicacy of cooperation between the United Nations and the parties to a peace agreement necessary for its successful implementation. In fact, it was the strong support given to the Special Representative in the field by the Security Council and the Secretary-General's task force that held the South African administration committed to the settlement plan when some aspects had to be renegotiated.

Democratization Process

In Namibia, UNTAG had to develop and strengthen the institutional supports for the incorporation of an excluded group into the society. It had to make provision for the participation of all Namibians in determining their government in a country where there had been no such elections. It had to negotiate changes to the legislation in the territory to overcome the discriminatory elements. It had to neutralize the machinery of information which had been used to maintain apartheid. It had to ensure that the people of the territory could express their opinion in a climate free of fear and intimidation despite the heavy presence of paramilitary units. It was the de facto South African authorities who administered the elections while the United Nations was to supervise and control them. In its electoral role, UNTAG therefore had wide-ranging functions - from access to, and monitoring of, the media for impartial information, to promoting civic education.

Politics and Human Rights

On the security and human rights aspects, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General was responsible for the conduct of the police force. Since UNTAG had to function side by side with the South-West Africa Police Force - set up by the South African authorities - a civilian police force of 1,500 men was established as a counterbalance to the South African influence to monitor their actions, especially with regard to human rights. This entailed the demilitarization of a number of paramilitary groups, whose number was put at 11,000. UNTAG had to be aware of attempts on the part of the South African administration to retain some elements of the former militias in other positions in the civilian administration.

The success of the UN operation was enhanced by the provision of training to young Namibians for the positions they would fill upon independence. This was achieved through the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa (UNETPSA), and by the preparation of a comprehensive economic plan by the international financial institutions.

In Namibia, the UN carried out an operation that went beyond the peace-keeping operations it had engaged in prior to that time, and it went a step further than the normal monitoring of self-determination processes. The proof of the success of UNTAG is demonstrated by the fact that Namibia has maintained a stable society and has been functioning as a multi-party state since the departure of UNTAG in 1990. Indeed, a "new environment" was created in Namibia.


Mozambique is perhaps the most complex recent example of UN post-conflict peace-building. By its function of monitoring and guaranteeing the General Peace Agreement and as chairman of the Supervisory and Monitoring Commission, the United Nations in fact played the leading role. All the commissions formed under the Peace Agreement came under the purview of the chairman of the Supervisory Commission, among them were the Joint Commission for the Formation of the Mozambican Defence Force, the National Information Commission and the National Police Affairs Commission. The United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) accordingly had to play a crucial role in the following areas:

  • observing and verifying the ceasefire;
  • overseeing the withdrawal of foreign forces from Mozambique;
  • organizing the return of some 1.5 million refugees;
  • resettling 2.5 million other internally displaced persons;
  • overseeing the demobilization/reintegration and disarming of 80,000 com- batants into civilian life;
  • creating a new police force and defence force;
  • ensuring the provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas of the country, including those under the administration of Resistncia Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO);
  • monitoring the electoral process and providing technical assistance to it under the National Elections Commission.
Many of these processes were political but relied upon the assistance of the humanitarian agencies to be successful. In particular, the demobilization and reintegration process and the resettlement of the internally displaced depend heavily on this. Providing humanitarian assistance throughout the country was important in the incorporation of the areas under the control of RENAMO into the national administration. This aspect of the operation was therefore made an integral part of the Peace Agreement. Carrying out the humanitarian assistance programme was also helped by the fact that the two parties had already signed an agreement in 1991 permitting access for relief assistance throughout the country.

In Mozambique the need to keep the parties committed to the peace process also arose. The Peace Agreement set out a clear path for its implementation, but there were some aspects which had to be adjusted as the process unfolded. Delays arose from logistical matters; from the slow arrival of the combatants into the assembly areas; in the incorporation of the RENAMO-held areas into the national administration; and problems of a political nature and delays of the electoral process. These might have been avoided and a more realistic timetable drawn up had the United Nations joined the negotiations to the peace accord at an earlier stage. However, a mechanism was put in place to handle these situations as they arose, which effectively assured the parties to the agreement of the interest of the international community and kept them on track. The Secretary-General's Special Representative, together with the Organization of African Unity, the observer countries and the donor group, met regularly in Maputo and were able to bring their collective influence to bear on the parties to arrive at the necessary compromises. This approach might be considered an important example for other operations. The same type of group, formed at that time to monitor and assist the electoral process, still convenes under the chairmanship of the United Nations Development Programme as the "Aid to Democracy" group.

One of the major political problems of the Mozambique experience was the difficulty each actor had in granting legitimacy to the other. This had surfaced early as a factor in the relations between President Chissano and the RENAMO leader, Mr. Dhlakama, at the beginning of the attempts to bring the two sides to the negotiations. At the implementation stage it had serious implications for the success of the electoral process. President Chissano was reluctant to treat the "rebel" movement on an equal footing, while the RENAMO leader was unwilling to accept the legitimacy of the government or its steps in 1990 towards a multi-party system. It was only in August 1992 - two months prior to the signing of the Peace Agreement - that the government agreed it would guarantee the security of the RENAMO leader and his supporters and allow RENAMO to operate as a political party, not as a guerrilla movement. For its part RENAMO agreed to cease hostilities and to operate under the legislation then in force in Mozambique. It was to operate as a political party the day after the Peace Agreement was signed. However, the lingering mistrust on the part of the RENAMO leader delayed the integration of the areas under his control into the administrative structure of the government and affected the assembly of RENAMO soldiers in the cantonment areas; it also continued to threaten the election timetable.

For RENAMO's transformation into a political party to be accomplished something other than an agreement on paper was required, as the movement had no means of functioning as a political force. Under the Peace Agreement, it had been agreed that RENAMO would be given the resources to function as a political organization. In order to overcome the difficulties of achieving this, an imaginative solution was devised: steps were taken to create a "Trust Fund for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement in Mozambique" to which donors could contribute to assist RENAMO. This in fact made a valuable contribution to the national reconciliation process as it allowed Mr. Dhlakama to be perceived as a leader in his society, in keeping with its cultural norms, and kept him a partner to the process. RENAMO did threaten to withdraw from the process just prior to the elections, but it was brought back in.

This trust fund - financed largely by one donor, Italy - was complemented by the establishment of the "The Trust Fund for Assistance to Registered Political Parties", to which all other registered parties could apply for assistance in their electoral activities. These two funds were major contributions to ensuring genuine multi-party elections and to the process of national reconciliation. This was not the normal assistance provided by the United Nations in the provision of electoral assistance but was central to the success of the process in Mozambique.

The programme for the demobilization and reintegration of the soldiers was one of the most comprehensive undertaken by the United Nations and was more successful than similar undertakings elsewhere, despite a number of delays in the process. The humanitarian assistance programme made an important contribution to this; training opportunities were sought, occupational kits were provided for those who were to become self-employed; employment opportunities were identified in the public and private sectors and a referral service set up at provincial and district levels. Nonetheless, in view of the limited possibility for such a large number of ex-combatants to be absorbed in a war-torn economy, not to mention the great number of displaced persons, it became necessary for the government and the donor community to prolong the payments to the ex-soldiers for two years. That phase will end in 1996. ONUMOZ is considered to be one of the most successful operations of the United Nations in peacekeeping and peace-building and can provide important lessons for any such future exercises.

Palestine Self-rule Area

The Palestine self-rule area is a further situation where the United Nations is playing an important role in peace-building, although not the type of overarching role that it had in previous experiences. The United Nations has been involved in peacekeeping in the Middle East since 1947 with the UN Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine, and it has also been involved in peacemaking efforts. Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) are still regarded as the basis for any lasting settlement. However, the organization is not engaged in the current peace negotiations. It has played a role in the training of the Palestinian police force for the self-rule areas. Salaries and start-up costs have been provided for this purpose through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), which, since 1950, has been providing health, education and social services to the Palestinians. The United Nations will assist where necessary in the elections to be held in the area in January 1996; these elections will, however, be organized under the aegis of the European Union.

The main task entrusted to the United Nations following the signing of the Declaration of Principles was to provide "technical assistance in a variety of sectors, in particular for building the Palestinian administration to be entrusted with the task of self-government". The Secretary-General therefore agreed to ensure a unified and coherent approach to the provision of economic, social and other assistance in the occupied territories. The role of the United Nations in this regard is really to assist in "deepening the peace" by creating the tangible conditions for the people to see the value of the peace process. The appointment of the Special Coordinator was meant to differentiate this new role from that of the agencies already active on the ground; he also maintains constant contact with the specialized agencies, the World Bank, NGOs and the donor community and represents the Secretary-General in the ad-hoc liaison committee established as an adjunct to the Conference on the Middle East Peace. He also coordinates the work of the UNDP, UNICEF and UNRWA. His other major task is to raise financing for the overall economic development of the self-rule areas. To date the Special Coordinator has channelled some $200 million in donor funds, of which $160 million has been devoted to improving the daily lives of the Palestinians and $30 million to the Palestinian administration.


In the next century, how should the United Nations approach post-conflict peace-building? Many conflicts, both internal or international, have their origin in the failure of the global development process. We may expect that in the immediate future there will continue to be a need to respond to "failed" and weak states. At the same time there is a stark scarcity of resources for economic and social development; there are constraints on giving and a growing tendency of donors to give their aid bilaterally.

The examples presented here indicate that peace-building takes place in phases which will vary according to the specific situation. In some operations certain activities may not be required for as long as in a different situation or may take place at a later stage. Generally disarming and demobilization will occur early in an operation, during the peacekeeping stage, so the humanitarian component will have to start before that to provide the necessary support for that activity as well as for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. Experience has shown that if the demobilization and disarming phases are not appropriately handled, the possibility of a resort to arms is high. To be successfully implemented, peace-building requires sustained commitment on the part of all those engaged in it. It also requires an interconnectedness throughout the bodies of the UN system; many agencies already have programmes aimed at addressing likely sources of conflict - for example UNESCOS's Culture of Peace - but their mandates may not enable them to join an integrated process at the earliest stages.

The problems of cooperation and coordination within the UN system are heightened in the peace-building process. For maximum effectiveness and an optimal use of resources, the overall coordination mechanism in the field should be strengthened, and the restructuring of some sectors of the system may help to improve this. The constraints in the mandates of various bodies of the system may need to be reviewed in order for them to participate effectively in the integrated process. Discussions on this important aspect have been taking place and are under consideration by the partners in the process.

The need for enhanced cooperation among organizations and agencies engaged in peace-building activities was acknowledged by the Group of 7 at its meeting in Halifax, Canada, in 1995. They resolved that "the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations should establish a new coordination procedure, supported as necessary by existing resources, to facilitate a smooth transition from the emergency to the rehabilitation phase of a crisis, and to cooperate more effectively with donor countries".

The foregoing examples demonstrate that leadership of the post-conflict peace-building process - the logical extension of the peacemaking and peacekeeping processes - should be placed squarely in the hands of the political arm of the United Nations. Overseeing the implementation of peace accords is a political task, and the experience of the previous successful operations would indicate that the Secretary-General's Special Representative has to be the key player among the agencies and programmes on the ground. His role would also be enhanced by the strong support of Headquarters aimed at keeping the peace agreement on track.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the challenge for the UN system in the twenty-first century will be to take preventive action by addressing the sources of conflict through pre-conflict peace-building. These are the challenges for the UN system in the coming century, and addressing them will call for the concerted efforts of all.


Philip Alston*
*(Philip Alston is Professor in the Centre for International and Public Law, Faculty of Law, The Australian National University, Canberra)

In its broadest sense the topic of human rights in development is an immense one which goes to the core of some of the most complex and controversial issues facing government today. This paper will focus rather more narrowly on the role which the United Nations might play in the twenty-first century in promoting development processes which are more conducive to the realization of respect for human rights. My comments will, of necessity, aim to give a broad-brush overview of the current situation, followed by some recommendations as to the directions in which UN approaches should evolve.

My analysis is critical and is intended to be provocative. I would add two caveats, however. The first is that my observations are based not on an uninformed or superficial view of the system, but on almost 20 years of involvement and close observation of the functioning of various parts of the UN system. The second is that, despite the breadth of my criticisms, I am ultimately optimistic about the capacity of the system to be changed, provided only that enough sectors are prepared to speak out and help to chart a new course.

The Definition of Human Rights

Despite the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights almost half a century ago, and the innumerable treaties and other international instruments that have been adopted in an effort to reinforce and deepen its foundations, discussions within UN settings frequently begin with the question of whether there is consensus on what constitutes human rights. This is a curious situation. On the one hand, it reflects the fact that both in the academic arena and in some intergovernmental contexts there is currently a vibrant debate over "universalism" versus the claims of cultural relativism. On the other hand, an approach which begins by calling into question what has long been proclaimed to be one of the fundamental objectives of the United Nations, and one which is recognized to be so in the Charter itself, is rather like suggesting that the terms development or international peace and security are so vague that the United Nations should debate their meaning endlessly before taking action. While it is clear that in both cases there is ample scope for debate around the margins, it is equally clear that there is a core set of objectives in each case to which the organization is, for better or worse, committed. Calling those into question might be appropriate within the context of debates over a revision of the Charter or other comparable contexts, but it is hardly very productive or useful as a starting point in deciding how UN bodies should respond to human rights concerns within specific policy contexts.

When invoked in such settings, as it often is, the argument that the human rights consensus is too vague or fragile to be made operational is usually little more than a smokescreen for inaction on entirely different grounds. Thus, my view is that the United Nations and its agencies should proceed in their policy discussions and in practice on the basis of two assumptions. The first is that the principles contained in the Universal Declaration, and further refined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, should be promoted and reflected in all UN activities. The second, which follows from the first, is that the two sets of rights are of equal importance, and it is not open to any agency to suggest that it will concern itself only with a part of the overall package of rights. This insistence does not, of course, preclude considerations of strategy or priority from influencing the approach taken and the emphasis given.

The Status of Human Rights within the UN System: Theory versus Practice

The starting point is to ascertain the status, at least in theory, which human rights occupies today within the UN system. As noted above, it constitutes one of the three main objectives mentioned in the UN Charter. Moreover, while the Charter authorizes the establishment of a range of "functional commissions" by the Economic and Social Council, only one is expressly mandated and that is the Commission on Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the various standards that have followed it, are invariably cited - even by Secretaries-General who are not otherwise especially notable for their fondness for human rights - as one of the great achievements of the first 50 years of the United Nations. Moreover, some of the treaties have attained an extraordinary degree of formal acceptance. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, for example, had 187 state parties as of March 1996. That brings it very close to having achieved universal ratification, a result to which it will continue to move in the years ahead. Unfortunately, the United States will probably remain the only significant exception in this regard. Ironically, despite its foreign policy emphasis upon human rights, and its recent ratification of several important UN treaties, it continues to be, in many respects, the great unilateralist in the human rights field.

On the basis of these facts, as well as many other supporting arguments that could be marshalled, it might reasonably be concluded that human rights enjoys a high status, and indeed a privileged position, within the UN system. Unfortunately, however, such a conclusion would be profoundly mistaken. In practice, rather than theory, human rights remains a marginalized element within the overall UN framework and one that is very largely neglected in the context of the great majority of the organization's activities. Although this assessment would warrant a more systematic demonstration, it must suffice in this brief overview to provide just a few examples to illustrate the validity of my conclusion.

It is sometimes said that the best indication of the priority accorded to an issue is the proportion of the relevant budget which is allocated to it. In the case of the United Nations, only a little over one per cent of the regular budget is spent on human rights. The principal justification offered to defend this state of affairs is that human rights is essentially a normative, and not an operational, activity. Thus, the budget does not need to be large. On its own terms, this justification is persuasive, but it also takes for granted the core of the problem. That core is the fact that human rights activities are, for the most part, not operational in nature and little attempt is made to make them so.

Another justification is the fact that within both the United Nations' own development bodies and within the wider range of specialized agencies, there is all too little discussion of human rights in any sustained, programmatic sense. A great many examples could be offered but a few will suffice for present purposes. The criticism is perhaps most powerful when directed at the agency that has done more than any other to promote certain rights. That is the International Labour Organization, which since 1919 has been the principal defender of labour rights within the international arena. The ILO has a proud record, even if it also has a daunting and none too optimistic future. Much of its concerns are linked quite clearly to the two international covenants. Yet it never makes more than a ceremonial nod in the direction of either covenant. One would think, from following its activities, that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - in many respects the single most important international human rights treaty - has nothing to do with the ILO. Even though it must surely be considered to be one of the principal normative foundations for any global human rights strategy, the ILO makes use of it in none other than a formalistic or rhetorical sense.

Within the United Nations itself, the situation is little different. In terms of development policy there have so far been four Development Decade strategies adopted by the United Nations over a period of some 30 years. The first three, adopted respectively in 1961, 1970 and 1980, are not tainted at any point by the inclusion of the words human rights. A major effort was made in 1980 to remedy that omission, but it failed. The fourth strategy, adopted in 1990, is noteworthy for the fact that it mentions human rights once or twice in passing. Nevertheless, they are very far from being a central part of the strategy, and the situation has barely improved since then.

Indeed, a very recent example serves well to illustrate the current approach. Shortly after taking office in 1991, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali issued his Agenda for Peace. It was a document of major importance and had considerable impact. Its success led inevitably to calls that a parallel report be prepared in relation to development. In May 1994 An Agenda for Development was released. It was supplemented six months later, after a lengthy process of consultation and inter-agency negotiation, by the addition of 19 pages of conclusions and recommendations.1 As a basis upon which to assess the current state of the art, it is an instructive document. It contains a welcome emphasis upon the need for a more integrated approach to ensure that the various agencies within the UN system succeed in bringing their different concerns and activities together so that they complement, rather than compete with or undermine, one another.2 It also serves to emphasize the importance of the organization as a "moral force",3 and refers to "five dimensions of development", amongst which are "social justice and democracy". Yet there does not appear to be a single reference in the entire document to "human rights" per se. It is true that development is said to be all "about improvement of human well-being", and development and "humanitarian" objectives are said to be inseparable in the work of the United Nations.4 But the sense in which the term "humanitarian" is used becomes clear later in the document when it is equated with humanitarian emergencies. And still there is a conspicuous failure to refer to human rights. Nor are they mentioned when the emphasis is placed upon the need to anticipate and respond to natural as well as man-made crises, and to ensure the "early detection of impending humanitarian emergencies".5 And yet, in practical terms, human rights violations are one of the most tangible and viable of all of the possible indicators of such crises.

Basically, human rights today are in the same position as the issues of the environment or women in development were 10 or 15 years ago. There are conferences within the United Nations for human rights aficionados, be they diplomats, activists or scholars, but these are rarely attended, except for pro forma purposes, by officials or even activists concerned primarily with development. And there are small segments at conferences where a single paper or session on human rights is added, usually rather awkwardly, to a long list of very different principal concerns. But this is tokenism, however well intended. There is rarely an effort made to integrate human rights concerns within the mainstream.

When the representatives of UN agencies are confronted about their record in relation to the inclusion or integration of human rights in their work, they often invoke what I would call "the Molire defence". This refers to the famous quotation from Molière about Monsieur Jordan, who discovered that he had been speaking prose all his life without knowing it. In this, as in many other areas, the World Bank has been perhaps the principal exponent of this theory. For many years the Bank wanted nothing to do with human rights; they were not even prepared to discuss such matters in any serious fashion. Then, as human rights became more respectable and pressures upon the Bank grew, it suddenly "discovered" that, in fact, it had been actively prompting respect for human rights all along. Indeed, virtually everything it did could be seen as a contribution to the human rights cause. Of course, they had never used the language or the framework of human rights, but this was irrelevant. This was brought home to me a few years ago when I was engaged in a debate at a leading university in the United States with a representative of the World Bank. After I had referred to the international covenants he turned to me in public and asked if he could get a copy of those documents, which sounded very interesting. Yet he had been sent by the Bank to debate me in relation to human rights policy. I will return below to the reasons why, in this context as in many others, ignorance might be blissful.

Explaining the Marginalization of Human Rights within the Development Debate

Why are human rights excluded or marginalized from the development debate to such an extent? The starting point is to look briefly at the historical record. The Cold War politicized, in the sense of corrupting, what otherwise looked like a very promising area of involvement for the United Nations. We witnessed a period of what might be called "terminological expropriation", where the West sought to expropriate for itself the concept of democracy. A democracy was easily defined as any country that was anti-Soviet; if that criterion was unmistakably satisfied then it was not necessary to probe very much further. The East - the Second World of socialist countries - sought to take for itself the objective of development. Its approach was statist, predicated upon a degree of central planning, had a significant anti-colonial element, and was associated with claims for large-scale resource transfers as reparations for past exploitation.

The United Nations responded to this East-West battle over the fields of development and democracy by turning itself into a value-free middle ground. Development was pursued without an ethical dimension. It was portrayed and approached as a technocratic and apolitical exercise. One manifestation of this is that one will not find in the publications of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) before 1989 the words "human rights". They likewise do not appear in the publications of the World Bank before perhaps 1991. In this regard at least the Bank was a little slower than the UNDP.

In looking back on the approach of the UNDP during this period I am reminded of what Robert Jackson wrote in his famous capacity study of the UN development system. He wrote in 1969 that the UNDP was an organization without a brain. But his diagnosis was only partly complete. More importantly, the UNDP was an organization without a conscience. It was an organization that had no particular moral or ethical dimension or direction to motivate or define it. I should add that this comment is not designed to single out the UNDP unfairly. Very similar comments could be made in relation to most of the UN development activities at the time.

But one of the great ironies is that the human rights cause was actually a beneficiary, in some ways, although certainly not all, of the rivalry that energized the Cold War. The same can be said of the existence of the apartheid regime in South Africa. The demise of both the Cold War and apartheid deprived the human rights cause of some valuable allies. Let me explain this irony. Apartheid and the Cold War served to ensure that, within the UN setting, there would always be a certain number of countries wanting to take human rights initiatives, to stand up and be counted as the great opponents of apartheid, the great opponents of communism, or the great resisters of amoral capitalism. A good number of the most important procedural and substantive breakthroughs came as a result of the unholy alliances forged by countries whose motivation was largely opportunistic. Unfortunately, there are no longer any great champions in the human rights area. There are few, if any, great initiatives being promoted because governments can no longer score points against one another in the same easy way.

In addition to this historical dimension, it is possible to identify at least five other reasons for the continuing marginalization of human rights. The first reason is the continuation of ideological challenges to the validity of the concept. Bruce Russett's paper in the present volume contains a rather pithy encapsulation of this phenomenon. The cultural relativism argument is one that is by no means entirely devoid of merit. There is room for greater sensitivity to cultural values in the implementation of human rights and there are some areas which a more pluralistic approach than that which currently prevails would be justified.6 But, as Yash Ghai has argued very effectively,7 a large number of the claims made by governmental elites, including many of those based on the assertion of distinctive Asian values which should take precedence over human rights, have no authentic cultural foundations, are often internally inconsistent, and are put forward for largely self-serving purposes. Similar criticisms can be made of the approach pursued by the US government in its renewed assault on economic and social rights. In early 1995 the US representative to UNICEF's executive board objected to an inadvertent reference in a UNICEF document to a right to clean drinking water. The representative insisted that, as desirable a goal as this might represent, it was not a recognized human right. What it really represented was a dilution of the language of human rights. This was said in relation to a substance which is fundamental to human life and despite the fact that there has long been international recognition, dating from the Universal Declaration of 1948, of a right to an adequate standard of living, a right to health and a right to life. The partisan ideological nature of the objection became clear several months later when the United States insisted every single reference to a right to adequate housing be omitted from various documents being prepared for the Habitat II conference, to be held in June 1996.8 The second reason for the persistence of this marginalization is an abiding reluctance on the part of the United Nations and many of its agencies to insist that the United Nations stands for certain fundamental values. UNICEF has succeeded in doing this in relation to children's rights, but the organization itself has been much too timid to take a sustained stand in favour of human rights, preferring instead to hide behind the faade of value neutrality left over from the era of the Cold War.

That is not to suggest that a principled approach is easy either to design or to implement, but it can be achieved where there is a will. One of the lessons taught by recent experience is that any attempt to inculcate human rights values into the work of international agencies must be approached in a careful and professional manner. This was, unfortunately, not the case at the beginning of the 1990s, when the UNDP undertook a brave and thoroughly well-motivated initiative in designing a human freedom index. The initiative was very poorly executed and the agency left itself wide open to easy criticism from governments that were hostile to the effort to relate such concerns to the work of the UNDP. The agency appears to have subsequently dropped its efforts to develop more significantly our understanding of human rights in the development process, intimidated into that position by an unholy coalition.

In relation to economic, social and cultural rights there has also been a marked reluctance on the part of senior officials, including the Secretary-General, to speak of these rights as such. While they might occasionally be mentioned in speeches to human rights bodies, there is rarely any strong endorsement of the rights to food, education, health or housing in other contexts.

The third reason relates to the curious but abiding reluctance of the development community to make any use of human rights terminology, let alone of the broader normative framework provided by the relevant body of law. Instead, what we have seen from the development community over the past 30 years is a continuing quest to identify new slogans or euphemisms which avoid any reference to human rights while at the same time seeking to deal with much the same issues. In the 1960s the World Bank came up with "redistribution with growth", in the 1970s the ILO and others talked about "basic needs", while many economists talked about "participatory development". The 1980s brought us sustainable development. Today, the World Bank and the UNDP speak of "good governance" and "the rule of law". But the latest slogan emphasizes the importance of "human security". Why is there such apparent determination to avoid a specific reference to human rights, despite the conceptual proximity of many of the slogans?

There would seem to be two explanations. The first is the contrast between the relative normative certainty that goes with human rights and the inevitable open-endedness of the various slogans. "Human security" has no fixed meaning, nor will it ever acquire one. The UNDP can give us one meaning, a good academic will give us another, a clever diplomat will give us still another. This capacity for endless verbal manipulation will ensure that everyone can agree on the terminology but not on its content. The normative content of human rights by comparison is clearly spelled out in legal instruments with a reasonably clear indication of the obligations which governments are required to fulfil.

The other explanation for this aversion to the language of human rights is its potential to empower people. By affirming that education for girls or free popular elections are matters of right, rather than of beneficence on the part of a government if it is so moved, the entire equation is changed. But many governments do not want to hear that girls have such rights and so we avoid that terminology. Instead, we pursue our endeavours to come up with a new slogan through which we hope to convey a similar message. In another two or three years the slogan of human security will be replaced by another one, and it too will be devoid of a human rights component.

A fourth reason for the marginalization of human rights relates to the phenomenon of globalization. Globalization is a much-used but ill-defined term. Economists have tended to give it a relatively narrow, economistic sense. But this is inadequate. A better description is the following:

On the one hand, the process of globalization defines a universal process or set of processes that generate a multiplicity of linkages and interconnections that transcend the states and societies that make up the modern world system; the concept therefore has a spatial connotation. Social, political and economic activities are becoming "stretched" across the globe, such that events, decisions, and activities in one part of the world can come to have immediate significance for individuals and communities in quite distant parts of the global system. On the other hand, globalization also implies an intensification in the levels of interaction, interconnectedness, or interdependence between the states and societies that constitute the modern world community.9

Some commentators, as well as governments, have drawn the conclusion that, as a result of this process, "[t]he independent authority of governments to determine domestic policies is increasingly diluted by the extraordinary mobility of international capital, the footloose nature of mega-national capitalism and the understandable motives of self-interest" of peripatetic professionals.10 From there, many go on to suggest that human rights standards, especially in the economic and social spheres, must yield to global realities. But demands for the protection of human rights must surely also be seen to be part of the globalization phenomenon, as are also the anti-nuclear-testing movement and much of the pro-environmental agenda. None of the outcomes is inevitable; none will be dictated inexorably by market assessments of their financial viability. The slogan of globalization should not in this sense be permitted to act as a flimsy justification for an unreconstructed economic rationalism which squeezes out concern for human rights.

The fifth reason for marginalization of human rights within the UN context is a lack of specialist expertise. To take but one example, the United Nations Centre for Human Rights has over 100 professionals in it, but its staff possesses rather limited expertise in any other than the traditional matters relating to torture, arbitrary detention, disappearances, summary executions and so on. To the best of my knowledge there is not a single economist, nor a single specialist in economic and social rights, employed by the centre.

Some Prescriptions for Reform

First of all we need to pay more attention to consolidating what I would describe as the normative consensus. I mentioned earlier the Convention on the Rights of the Child which has now achieved near universal ratification. In many ways, happily, it is the Trojan Horse of the human rights movement, since even the most hardened dictator and the most cynical government have found it difficult to say that children do not have rights. The extent of ratification has come about in part because of a concerted promotional campaign by UNICEF. A similar effort needs to be undertaken by the United Nations in relation to the two international covenants. The UNDP, ILO, the World Bank and others should all be encouraging and facilitating the ratification, as well as the implementation, of those treaties.

Secondly, we need a more sustained and applied effort to develop our understanding of the implications of specific rights or, in other words, to spell out their normative content. Especially in relation to economic and social rights, for example, there have been very few studies undertaken, from a human rights perspective, by the UN specialized agencies and others with particular expertise, on the content of the rights to food, health, education, and culture.

Thirdly, there needs to be much greater recognition of the paradox that, while we need a much more sophisticated and effective international regime, the real action lies at the national level. We cannot treat the UN forums in New York and Geneva as though they are the principal locations in which human rights are going to be explored, developed and implemented, because they are not. Efforts need to be focused at the national level, and international agencies need to act accordingly.

Fourthly, there should be less emphasis on the illusion of enforcement (at least where it is primarily an illusion) and much more on strengthening both national and international institutions. Let me give a controversial example: the "social clause" debate around the work of the World Trade Organization. This has been approached in a wholly artificial fashion to date. The campaign has been led by the United States, which wants to cut off trade privileges to countries which tolerate exploitative child labour, which do not ensure freedom of association and so on. But if the United States were serious, would it at the same time be threatening withdrawal from the International Labour Organization and starving it of funds? It is, after all, in conjunction with UNICEF, the principal organization that does effective work in the area of child labour and the only one to defend freedom of association. If the United States were truly committed to these objectives internationally, would it have failed to ratify the principal ILO conventions dealing with child labour and freedom of association? If its real concern is children and trade unions, let it strengthen the ILO, let it strengthen the global norms, let it put its money and its weight behind those endeavours. On the other side of the equation, developing countries are also at fault. They have fought the United States in the WTO and ILO settings but they have, with only a few exceptions, failed to step up their own efforts to eliminate exploitative child labour, nor have they given freedom of association the priority it warrants.

My final prescription, which follows logically from the overall critique, is that a far greater effort should be made to integrate human rights dimensions into the regular activities and programmes of the United Nations and its agencies. It is astonishing that neither the Food and Agriculture Organization nor the World Health Organization has ever undertaken a thorough study of the right to food and the right to health, respectively. Neither agency has done more than make cosmetic or rhetorical use of those rights.

In practical terms, this prescription means that the agenda of the UN agencies must draw much more on the normative framework of human rights. That framework provides an accepted formulation of objectives and an opportunity to assist governments to implement obligations which they have voluntarily accepted. It is desirable to assist governments in setting benchmarks for their performance in promoting respect for particular rights. The United Nations should also be prepared to monitor and evaluate the extent to which governments live up to their obligations. These are some of the directions in which the United Nations needs to head. Until it takes human rights in development seriously, it's most unlikely that Member States will do so.

Part IV. States and Sovereignty in the Twenty-First Century


Volker Rittberger*
*(Volker Rittberger is Director of the Institute of Political Science, Eberhard-Karls-Universität, Tübingen)

Reflecting upon the future of sovereignty necessarily involves raising two questions: What role is state sovereignty likely to play in international politics in the twenty-first century? What role should it play?

The importance of these questions derives from the fact that there is hardly a concept more fundamental to the theory and practice of international relations than state sovereignty. The difficulty of this issue has both general and specific sources. It is a fact that there are tight limitations to forecasting in the field of international relations, and the future of sovereignty is no exception to this rule. Similarly, ethical judgement in the absence of a value consensus is generally problematic, and this certainly applies when state sovereignty is at issue.

But the questions suggested by this topic are difficult for yet another reason, which originates more specifically in this particular subject matter. As noted, sovereignty is a phenomenon that is of central importance to international relations in either meaning of the term: it is central to the social system of international relations as well as to the academic discipline that is preoccupied with the study of this system. However, theoretical and practical centrality of a phenomenon does not guarantee that it is better understood than other less fundamental concepts and relationships. This is not to deny that the vast and rapidly growing literature addressing this subject includes important insights and illuminating analyses. Nevertheless, the overall impression is one of considerable confusion. Why?

Firstly, the reader of this literature is amazed by the extent to which competent observers differ in their assessment of the contemporary significance of state sovereignty. There are those who are fascinated by apparently unambiguous indications of a secular erosion of sovereignty or even talk of the concept of sovereignty as of an anachronism which inhibits rather than facilitates our understanding of world politics in the late twentieth century.2 Others, while they do not deny the momentous changes that have been taking place in trans-boundary relations since the end of the Cold War, regard sovereignty as essentially alive and well. They contend that, overall, the power of states is probably greater today than in earlier periods which are commonly regarded as the heyday of sovereignty.3

Differences in opinion even about fundamental aspects of their field of study are not uncommon among international relations scholars. At least part of the difference may not be attributable to poor and ambiguous data or to a sloppy choice of indicators, but originates in the nature of the concept itself. State sovereignty is a complex notion which combines several ideas and dimensions.4 Moreover, the ubiquity of this term in a plurality of discourses - politics, law and normative theory - may have created a semantical situation in which the various referents of sovereignty no longer share a common set of features but are linked together only through relationships of family resemblance in the Wittgensteinean sense.5 In such a situation scholars are clearly in danger of talking past one another.

Two aspects of sovereignty may serve to illustrate this point. One can be referred to as material, the other as institutional. Sovereignty in the material sense refers to the de facto power and control of the state vis-ˆ-vis domestic society and the external environment. Sovereignty in the institutional sense can be a source of power, but is in itself not a form of power. Sovereignty as an institution is constituted by certain norms and rules which depend on the recognition by other actors, first and foremost other states.6 These two aspects of sovereignty may well account for some of the confusion and the "ritual of affirmation and denial", as Walker and Mendlovitz put it, that characterizes the academic literature on this subject. In particular, it is perfectly possible that sovereignty as state power vis-â-vis domestic society and the external environment is on the decline, while, at the same time, the inter-state institution of sovereignty is pretty much intact.7

These observations indicate that, before speculating about the future of sovereignty, scholars are well advised to rethink the concept of sovereignty and to take stock of its past and present manifestations. Consequently, the following remarks break down into two parts. First, the concept of sovereignty (in the material sense) will be examined, and a typology of states and (inter-) state systems will be developed which is based on two conventional dimensions of sovereignty, referred to as internal and external sovereignty. Thereafter, this typology will be used to delineate various scenarios of state sovereignty. In doing so, the contribution will focus on the interrelationship of models of state sovereignty and models of international organization with particular reference to the role that the UN system might play in these various scenarios. Normative questions will be touched upon, but, by and large, the discussion will be confined to examining possibilities and, to a lesser extent, probabilities.

Sovereignty in the Modern International System: Internal and External Sovereignty

Sovereignty as an institutional concept is inextricably related to the terri- torial and hierarchical organization of rule - Herrschaft in Max Weber's sense - in the modern state system. Territoriality creates a distinction between "inside" and "outside", the "domestic" and the "international".8 Hierarchical rule refers to the subordination of society to the state. Outside a state's territory, and in its relations to other states, anarchy reigns. The state's internal sovereignty thus consists of its claim of a hierarchical position vis-ˆ-vis domestic society, its external sovereignty in the recognition that it is not subordinated to foreign or supranational jurisdiction.

However, if one uses the concept to describe the factual power of the state vis-ˆ-vis domestic society and the external environment - "material sovereignty" - then sovereignty becomes a matter of degree. Table 1 distinguishes three degrees of internal and external sovereignty. This categorization represents pure types; real-world states usually fall in between them.

Internal sovereignty encompasses two aspects: the way in which policies are formed and selected and the way in which they are implemented. Internal sovereignty is at its zenith in an authoritarian or dictatorial political system; here, the state can hierarchically allocate social values without having to take into account societal interests or individual rights. By contrast, the liberal state is seen as an agent of society, as a mere regulator and referee for a relatively autonomous civil society. State sovereignty is reinterpreted as the sovereignty of the citizens of the state. According to the early liberal idea of the "state as watchman", the state was to withdraw from the intrusive regulation of social affairs and leave the allocation of social values to the market. Its only role was to guarantee domestic peace and the rule of law. The contemporary liberal-democratic state regulates societal transactions more actively and redistributes at least part of the values produced in civil society due to its role as a "welfare state". However, it still executes the popular will. In either form, the liberal state is considered an effective and efficient hierarchical organization: it is able to enforce the law, to aggregate and integrate societal interests and to regulate the market.

Internal sovereignty is at its nadir in a fragmented political system. In such a system, state-society relations are being de-hierarchized. The state loses its ability to integrate societal interests, to make binding decisions, to enforce the law and, eventually, to ensure domestic peace. If civil society is strong, as is the case in many highly developed countries, state hierarchy is transformed into sectoral policy networks in which public and private actors voluntarily coordinate their interests without necessarily producing lower levels of social peace and welfare than in the liberal state.9 In the absence of a well-ordered civil society, however, social relations may revert to the Hobbesian "state of nature" with civil wars and large-scale organized crime.

External sovereignty reaches a peak when states are completely independent or autarchic. Not only is the autarchic state free of external intrusion and able to control the trans-border activities of its society, it does not even need the cooperation of external actors in order to realize its goals.

--------------------- ------------------ ---------------------- ------------------
External sovereignty
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Internal sovereignty
totalitarian model
liberal model
"new medievalism"
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The interdependent state is relatively autonomous but certainly not autarchic. It is affected by, and may be vulnerable to, what other states do. It needs to cooperate with them in order to solve its problems and to maximize its utility. However, the interdependent state is capable of defining its goals itself and of engaging in cooperation voluntarily. This also means that the interdependent state possesses a veto competence or an exit option: it can withdraw from cooperation10 and prevent international actors from interfering with its domestic affairs against its will, for example when reciprocity is not maintained.

This also applies to transnational relations. The interdependent state opens its borders for inter-societal transactions and integrates into transnational markets. However, it is still able to regulate trans-border flows and to prevent domestic regulations from being undercut from the outside. External sovereignty is challenged when a state is either penetrated or dependent. Penetrated states are so interdependent and subject to transnational societal influences that they are not able to set their own agenda or to autonomously pursue their goals.11 They merely react and adapt to "globalizing pressures". By contrast, dependent states are subject to continuous interference and intervention by foreign states or international organizations.12 Either way, both penetrated and dependent states are neither able to withdraw from undesired international commitments nor in a position to protect their own borders, territory and domestic authority from undesired intrusion. In the special case of the penetrated or dependent state, therefore, the line between internal and external sovereignty becomes so blurred that a clear distinction between the two dimensions seems almost impossible and also unnecessary.

The different degrees of external and internal sovereignty can be freely combined, and it should be possible to find empirical referents for each of the nine cells of table 1. For example, the United States would fit into the middle left cell, small Western countries like Luxembourg or Denmark into the middle right cell. The former Warsaw Pact countries are best placed into the upper right cell. However, I would like to concentrate on the three ideal-typical models of sovereignty which can be found on the diagonal from the upper left cell to the lower right cell. For different eras in the development of the modern state system, these models correspond quite closely to the state of sovereignty in the most advanced states of the system.

Models of Sovereignty

The absolutist or totalitarian model is represented by the autarchic, authoritarian or dictatorial state. In the early modern era, absolutism - most typically realized in Louis XIV France - strove for unlimited monarchical rule in its internal affairs and for a maximum of independence and power in its external relations. A mercantilist economic policy was introduced to mobilize the domestic economy for the goals of the state and to make the state independent of imports. In the twentieth century, this model was realized again in the totalitarian systems of both the Fascist and the Stalinist types.

The liberal model is one of externally and internally limited, but still positive, sovereignty. In its nineteenth century version, the state was to be reduced to a "watchman" not only in internal but also in external affairs. International transactions were to follow the principle of an unregulated free flow; the task of the state was to provide external and internal security. Corresponding to the expansion of the welfare state in the twentieth century and following the breakdown of the world economic order in the 1930s, political regulation was conceived to be necessary not only domestically but also internationally. This gave rise to what Ruggie aptly called "embedded liberalism".13 Under the post-war liberal model, the market was still the basis of transnational relations. However, states cooperated in the regulation of these markets in order to correct market failures and to control the negative repercussions that international interdependence might have for states' ability to govern their territories effectively. In the liberal model, state sovereignty is still strong enough to reserve to them ultimate control internally as well as externally, despite a far-reaching internationalization of societal actors and transactions. The last model to be mentioned is the pre- as well as post-modern model of the medieval system. The units are so fragmented, penetrated or dependent, and the borders between the domestic and the international are so blurred and authority-relations are so unstable, that it is impossible to speak of "sovereignty" in any empirically tangible sense. The European medieval system was characterized by a dualism of temporal and spiritual powers and a complex, graded structure of feudal authorities and privileges, or - as John Ruggie put it - by heteronomy instead of sovereignty.14

The prospect of a "new medievalism"15 is based on the observation that sovereign state authority is increasingly transferred to international organizations as well as to non-governmental organizations and transnational corporations, and that these organizations increasingly interfere with the domestic affairs of states. It is viewed as the result of "globalization": transnational actors are increasingly able to allocate significant values beyond the reach and control of state actors. This is by no means a characterization which only fits the dependent "quasi-states" of the third world.16 The "globalization" and "policy network" literature explicitly deals with the state of affairs in the OECD world,17 where "penetration" and the more benign version of "fragmentation" are much more of an issue than "dependence" and internal disorder.

Models of Sovereignty and Models of International Organizations

A model of a world organization corresponds to each of the three models of state sovereignty. These models of international organization also have real-world referents in the history of the modern state system.

The Absolutist Model: The Great Power Concert

The absolutist model of sovereignty most strongly corresponds to international coordination in the form of a great power concert. This model is not compatible with any form of binding or permanent international organizations. However, it does lend itself to sporadic great power conferences, typically during crises or after great wars, convened to deal with the maintenance of peace and the management of territorial change.

To some extent this absolutist legacy can still be found in the United Nations: in the Security Council, five great powers, each endowed with a permanent seat and the right to veto, convene in the case of international crises more frequently than ever before. The decisions taken by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter are legally binding for all Member States. On the other hand, the Security Council consists of ten more, non-permanent members, seven of which can block any initiative by one or more of the permanent members. Moreover, the Security Council is only one part of the UN system, which, as a whole, rather conforms to the liberal model of international organization.

The Liberal Model: Permanent Multilateral Policy Coordination

According to the liberal model, a world organization is best conceived of as a permanent, multilateral system of inter-state policy coordination, an agency to facilitate agreements and build regimes. Its main purpose is to regulate increasing transnational transactions, solve problems of an international scope and to avoid the social traps which are typical of an interdependent but decentralized social system, such as the non-provision of collective goods and the overuse of common-pool resources. Liberal international organization can take on a more hegemonic form, as for example in the Bretton Woods system, or a more egalitarian form, as in the European Union. In contrast to a great power concert, however, there is room for all states, large and small, to participate. It is this role that the UN system has most often and most successfully played during the last 50 years: to provide a forum for international negotiation and coordination and to assist in the conclusion, administration and supervision of inter-state agreements.

The participation of non-governmental or, more generally, civil society actors in international governance is by no means alien to the liberal model. The spectrum of participatory activities can reach from lobbying via institutionalized consultation to co-decision-making. The spectrum of participating civil society actors ranges from transnational interest groups via parliamentary delegations to directly elected people's representatives. However, societal participation in policy-making is much less developed externally than internally. In the UN system, only some specialized organizations, such as the ILO, practise institutionalized interest group participation, and there is no role for parliamentary or individual representation in decision-making organs at all. The most advanced international organization in this respect is the European Union, which has a directly elected parliament possessing the right to co-decision-making in a considerable number of integrated policies.18

The liberal model is to some extent compatible with the international regulation of the domestic affairs of states. Following the liberal concept of sovereignty, the scope of such regulation includes all activities related to the promotion of the popular sovereignty of the people. Typical activities are decolonization and national self-determination, as well as the promotion of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Of course, the liberal model of international organization could not be fully implemented because a very considerable number of UN Member States did not and do not conform to the liberal model of internal sovereignty. This is the reason why the United Nations has always had to strike an uneasy balance between, for instance, the protection of human rights and the principle of non-interference. These ambiguities can be reduced to some extent together with the progress of democratization.19

There are limits to the liberal model, however. It is neither compatible with the notion of a cosmopolitan world people nor with a supranational world state, because both forms of international organization would invalidate the concept of national sovereignty. It presupposes that the subjects of the international system are states and that international regulation is based on the consensus of governments.

The (Neo-)Medieval Model: Syndicate or Mediator

The perspective of a "new medievalism" is based on the assumption that the constitutive characteristics of the liberal model increasingly lose ground to the forces of globalization, above all to the emancipation of transnational civil society. If this assumption about the evolution of the international system holds, which form of international organization would be adequate in a post-modern international system?

If we take a brief look back to the old European medieval system, we discover two "world organizations": the Empire and the Church. They appeared to correspond to the models of a "Global Manager" and a "Global Counsel". The (Holy Roman) Empire at least declared to possess the highest secular authority in the Occident. The Emperor claimed to be positioned above the kings, to arbitrate disputes between kingdoms and to be in charge of the security of the entire Occident. However, with the exception of certain periods, like the reign of Charlemagne, the Empire was not powerful enough to live up to its claims. Indeed, the perspective of a "Global Manager" presupposes an autonomous power base for the world organization, which is hardly detectable. There appears to be a paradox here: if state sovereignty is alive and well, states will not transfer their power to a higher authority; if it is waning, who else would provide the "Global Manager" with the necessary resources?

The (Roman Catholic) Church, on the other hand, was rather more than a "Counsel". It was the highest authority in spiritual affairs - and this had a far-reaching political impact at that time - the only educational organization at its time, and the only source of transnational law. The Church exceeded the tasks of an "international wise man", of an "international community" and of "monitoring and assessing the state of various global affairs" envisaged for the United Nations as a "Global Counsel" in the UNU theme. However, such a role presupposes a unitary world civilization, which is obviously not the case - even if one does not share the view that there will be a "clash of civilizations" (Huntington 1993).

Besides these old medieval models of an international organization, one can think of two other institutional responses to the pressures of globalization and the undermining of state sovereignty which appear to be more in line with the previous and current tasks of the United Nations. In a reactive and dissociative way, the United Nations could turn into an "intergovernmental syndicate": a narrowly defined interest organization of the political- administrative systems. Its main task would then be to defend the common interests of the states and to regain regulatory competence for the states which have slipped away from them. Although the United Nations has always been there to defend state sovereignty, it had primarily to defend one state against the encroachments of another state. The new focus would be to defend state sovereignty against any encroachments of society (Thomson 1995: 221f). In this case, states would attempt to mobilize "sovereignty" as a normative resource in very much the same way as "quasi-states" have mobilized it in their dealings with the more powerful states and international organizations. The prospects of success of such a strategy remain more than dubious, however.

In a proactive or associative way, the United Nations could act as a mediator between the states and the organizations of transnational civil society.20 This would entail enlarging its membership to include representatives of civil society, extending its services to non-governmental organizations and providing a forum for negotiation and coordination, not only for states but also for the relations between states and international civil society. Its "civilizing role" would then be to strengthen the positive possibilities inherent in fragmentation and penetration: to prevent the transition of the current sovereignty-based world order to a "state of nature" and to further an orderly association of global policy networks.

The Future of Sovereignty: Directions of Research

There is a heated debate between those who believe sovereignty is breaking down and those who emphasize its robustness. However, whilst we recognize the need for a "theoretically coherent conception of sovereignty which is both consistent with history and amenable to empirical analysis",21 there have been almost no serious attempts to actually define measurable indicators.22 It is essential to find adequate ways to test empirically these issues and questions. Only if this task is achieved will we be able to make well-founded statements about the degree to which sovereignty is still a defining characteristic of the state and the international system at the end of the twentieth century.23 It should also have become clear that any such research must be based on a historical analysis of the concept of sovereignty and the evolution of its meanings.

If the liberal model of sovereignty is to persist, what could a liberal model of world organization for the twenty-first century look like? Can participation and representation be adequately organized above the level of the state, and if so, how can this be done?24 If, on the other hand, the neo-medieval model transpires to be more appropriate to the evolution of state sovereignty, scholars and politicians will have to discuss the implications of this and how it is to be managed.

Moreover, in searching for the role of the UN in the twenty-first century, there is a pressing demand for clarification of the relationship between emerging supranationality and sovereignty. Do the two concepts form a zero-sum game? Does an increase of supranational decision-making automatically erode state sovereignty? Or does pooled sovereignty strengthen states? This is a highly controversial issue in the literature on the European Union.25 In other words, do politicians have to decide between the two, between a world state with the United Nations as global manager and an anarchical system of sovereign states with the United Nations as an instrument in the hands of the most powerful states? What concept of sovereignty would have to emerge to solve this dilemma?

Finally, in the face of growing internal violence, ethnic strife and human rights violations, it is essential to reassess sovereignty as the basic ordering principle of the international system from both an empirical and a normative standpoint. Empirically, one could question the extent to which the invocation of sovereignty was used to prevent international action in the face of massive human rights violation. Normatively, it would have to be debated whether sovereignty entails not only states' rights but also the obligation to provide for the security and well-being of citizens. The principle of sovereignty should not prevent the international community from responding to severe human suffering.


W. Andy Knight*
*(W. Andy Knight is Assistant professor of International Relations in the Political Studies Department at Bishop's University, Quebec, Canada. He is co-editor, with Dr. Keith Krause, of State, Society, and the UN System: Changing Perspectives on Multilateralism (Tokyo: United Nations University press, 1995)

The UN system embodies the concepts of international cooperation and multilateralism.1 As the only truly universal multilateral body, it is generally considered to be an organization with the potential for expressing and articulating the interests of the globe. However, to a very large degree the UN system is still a state-centric institution. As such, one cannot regard this organization as truly representing, or articulating, global interests. Clearly, the UN system reflects and expresses the multiple and sometimes conflicting views of its members - the 184 sovereign states. To the extent that it articulates global interests, the United Nations acts more or less like a discriminating sieve - sifting out carefully any concern that might threaten the traditional views held by its Member States, and particularly the most powerful ones.

In this paper I argue that we are moving beyond traditional politics, which tends to be based on a preoccupation with issues of national interest, towards a post-modern form of politics, which attempts to address concerns expressed by a transnational and global society. This "new" kind of politics, which articulates the global interest, as opposed to expressing an amalgam of national interests, requires different forms of multilateral institutional ex- pression than the ones created in 1945. In its present condition, the UN system is not the ideal institution for the articulation of global interests. There is a possibility that this body can, in the future, become such an institution. However, for this to come about, a number of substantial and transformative changes would have to be made to it.

Some of these changes include: (1) transferring elements of state sovereignty over to the UN body; (2) developing a global consensus over the goals of the organization and the role it ought to play in an international society, as opposed to a society of states; (3) ensuring that all Member States, including the major powers, abide by the organization's decisions, carry out its requests and give it the wherewithal to accomplish its tasks; (4) democratizing the organization by embracing the input of civil society groups and accepting the importance of their role in any new global governance arrangement; and (5) ensuring that equality of all humankind is more than a rhetorical statement.

At this particular juncture in our history, however, the UN system is still little more than an instrument of the inter-state system that created it, although there are signs that the world body at times can take on a life of its own and can thus act with a measure of autonomy in certain areas.2 For instance, it has opened up "political space" in which non-state actors, particularly those concerned with human rights, gender equality and ecological issues have been allowed to articulate demands for a greater role in decision-making.3 Yet, while some of the underlying premises and embedded principles upon which the United Nations is based are currently being tested, the fact that the organization is still essentially controlled by its state membership has ensured a measure of resistance against those challenges. Despite the global realignment at the end of the Cold War from a bizonal to a more multipolar world, the United Nations essentially remains an idealistic construct amidst a realpolitik environment. For those neo-liberal institutionalists who see the need for periodic multilateral adjustment, adaptation and even transformation (as a requirement for the United Nations to meet the changing needs of the global community), the world body can be negatively viewed as a "decision frozen in time".

Starting from the basic assumption that the conventional modern categories of understanding political life are no longer useful for explaining present-day events, this paper argues for a rethinking of the underlying premises and constitutive principles upon which the United Nations was founded, so that it can coherently represent and express the interests that embrace the entire globe. To this end, the paper is divided into two parts. Part one is a cursory examination of the differences between "national" and "global" interests. It provides a working definition of "global interests" and argues that the traditional view of politics is giving way to a post-modern one that is being shaped more by the agitation of civil society than by any action of the traditional actors of the international system, that is sovereign states. In fact, based on current trends, it may be that national interests could in the future be subordinated to global ones. If this occurs, then any future multilateral institutions that purport to articulate the global interests will be forced to become channels for the ideas and issues emerging out of global civil society.

The second section acknowledges that while the UN system is clearly not yet in a position to articulate the interests and views of global civil society, it is nevertheless undergoing a process of institutional adaptation and reform. Are these changes sufficient to make this organization a true institution of global governance? The answer at this stage is no. Clearly, what is required is a fairly radical transformation, rather than institutional tinkering. The rise of new social movements and the impact which they are having on "top-down" multilateral bodies like the UN system is briefly analysed. Based on this analysis, it is clear that if the United Nations fails to accommodate the demands of civil society, we could very well witness the emergence of a new brand of multilateralism - from the "bottom up" - that could eventually displace an irrelevant UN system.

Part One

National vs. Global Interests

Traditionally, politics has been preoccupied with the struggle for power and influence that takes place within and between states. The main political actors have been states represented by national leaders and/or their diplomats.4 The dominant political issues, traditionally, have been those that emerged out of the state agenda: how best to secure and defend the territor- ial integrity of the state, how best to organize and maximize wealth and welfare and how best to further the state's power and improve its position within the international system. Global interest, in contrast, can be defined as the sum total of people-centred issues and problems that captivate the attention of states and societies and which cannot be dealt with effectively and efficiently by individual states or state-centric organizations.

Recently, the debate over what constitutes international politics has intensified. Initially, international politics was conceived as a struggle between separate and distinct states in the pursuit of separate and distinct national interests. Thus, whatever global interests existed were articulated as an amalgam of the results of the competition and clashes of individual nation states and their respective interests.

The focus on complex interdependence changed all that.5 Modern communications appear to be uniting and fragmenting audiences, exacerbating social cleavages as well as bringing formerly disparate groups together, heightening existing antagonisms as well as providing a means through which such friction can be resolved; eroding national boundaries as well as propelling ultra-nationalist fervour; increasing political cynicism as well as raising the level of civil society's political consciousness. Individual citizens have been empowered as a result of the media's influence. At the same time, because of their adeptness with the utilization of communication systems, state leaders have also been empowered vis-ˆ-vis civil society. Modern transportation has allowed people of formerly distant societies to interact more frequently. It acts as a conduit for bringing individuals from different countries with similar interests together.

The overall effect of the above has been a shrinkage of social, political, economic and cultural distances.6 As a consequence of this, formerly dense and opaque frontiers are being dissolved, breaking down the Westphalian notion of inside versus outside. State boundaries are no longer able to divide friend from foe. The technological revolution seems to be creating in the minds of people around the world a sense of global citizenship which could result eventually in the transfer of individuals' loyalties from "sovereignty-bound" to "sovereignty-free" multilateral bodies. Indeed, "the changing relationship between the public and private spheres and the virtual collapse of the dividing line separating the domestic from the external environment suggests a fluid but closely integrated global system substantially at odds with the notion of a fragmented system of nationally delineated sovereign states."7

Globalization has also contributed to this global shrinkage. The globalization of trade, production and finance has resulted in a marked decline in governments' ability to control these sectors and has challenged the traditional concept of state sovereignty. It has also expanded the number of players that can be involved in multilateral processes.

In a rapidly shrinking globe, it soon became clear that the welfare of ordinary men and women could no longer be attained adequately through the competence of individual governments. Decisions made in faraway places were found to have enormous consequences for individual states and their civil societies. As Luard put it, the welfare of ordinary citizens now "depends, far more, on actions and decisions reached far beyond the frontiers of their own state, by other governments or by international bodies taking decisions collectively".8 Complex interdependence and the globalization phenomenon have made national political activity increasingly less relevant as we near the end of the twentieth century. It would seem that in order to bring about the changes that really matter in the lives of people today we have become heavily dependent on the political activity which affects decisions taken in the wider world.

To give an example, perhaps the single most important decisions that affect humans in the late twentieth century are those that in one way or another pertain to economic affairs. Economic affairs have, however, been profoundly affected by the technological, social and cultural changes that have brought the world's nations and civil societies more closely together. In effect, forces of economic globalization have effectively shrunk economic distances between states and people to the point where inflation, unemployment, fluctuating interest rates and economic recessions now depend not on the actions of a single government but on decisions and actions taken by a large number of states across the globe, or by decisions and actions of international bodies such as the G7, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or regional bodies and regimes such as the European Union, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, regional banks and multinational corporations.9

Even the most powerful of states, the United States, is now quite dependent on decisions made outside its territorial boundaries: decisions pertaining to the price of oil, interest rates and the pegging of the dollar. Thus, in the economic area, while the state is still a major player, its capacity to control and organize resources has been circumscribed by what some have called "supranational capitalism".10 The impact of supranational capitalism on the global division of labour and the distribution of economic power has been nothing short of "seismic". Countries that were once powerful, like the Soviet Union, have disintegrated in part because of this economic global force. It has also been responsible for inter-group conflicts in several parts of the globe, as those that have adapted to the new situation clash with those that have not. It has also helped to further widen the gap between the rich industrial North and the impoverished South even though some of the countries of the South have been rather successful in adjusting to globalizing forces. Addressing the problems created by this globalization cannot be done by individual states, no matter how powerful.

Similarly, significant decisions affecting the security of the state and its people are now generally being made beyond the boundaries of any single territorial jurisdiction. The nature of contemporary threats is such that no state can guarantee, on its own, that it will always be able to safeguard the lives of its people. Notions of human and common security are challenging the traditional concept of Westphalian national security. As we have seen over the past decade, security has been so linked to the regional and international contexts that it makes little sense to think and speak strictly in terms of national security. In fact, "What matters to the inhabitants of a state is not the decisions reached on security by their own government but the decisions reached by governments or groups of governments elsewhere. Here too it is no longer national politics but global politics which counts".11

Furthermore, other interests once considered to be "national" have worked their way on to the global agenda. Issues relating to terrorism, hijacking, the AIDS pandemic, illicit trade in narcotic drugs, refugee flows, internally displaced persons, famine-affected populations, financial assistance to the poor, the debt problem, development of welfare and social policy, environmental degradation, nuclear proliferation, human rights abuse, genocidal acts and gross tyranny and injustice, are not limited to the realm of the state.12 The articulation of global interests can be achieved through institutions that reflect global civil society and allow for cooperation between the state and other actors and forces.

Multilateral Evolution and a Changing UN System

Multilateral instruments are historically open systems in the sense that they are necessarily affected by their broader environment. However, they do not receive new demands and challenges from those environments as "empty vessels". They embody and to a large degree perpetuate relationships of power and world order at particular historical junctures. In this sense, the UN system must be considered as a by-product of the realist "power politics" and "embedded liberalism" that governed the immediate post-1945 period, as well as an outcrop of the broader phenomenon of modernity out of which those realist and liberal ideas emerged.

That institutional expression of world order acts as a constraint on the future potential of this organization. However, as international society changes, pressure will mount on multilateral institutions like the UN system to reform and adapt their processes and structures to accommodate such change. It is also possible that changes in world order could open up windows of opportunity for international institutions to be transformed or significantly altered. Some have referred to a "third generation" or "successor" organization13 whose task will be to establish a "new multilateralism" that is more conducive to a post-modern world and to the articulation of global interests.14

The basic problem, however, is that the UN system continues to operate within the framework of the constitutive principles upon which it was based in 1945. Most reform efforts over the years have tended to be of the incrementalist kind, precisely because most of the Member States and individuals within the UN Secretariat are hesitant to embrace the kind of transformative and radical institutional changes that are required. This is not to say that attempts at adaptation and learning have been non-existent within the organization.

Tinkering or Rethinking? Two Modes of Change in the United Nations

"Tinkering" best characterizes the approach to change that has been predominant in the UN system. This strategy allows only minimalist reforms, such as the reordering of an immediate set of priorities. The focus of this has generally been placed on improving organizational effectiveness and efficiency rather than on making the organization more relevant to changing circumstances. Under the tinkering approach, changes to the UN Charter are either not considered or ruled out completely, and emphasis is instead placed on managing change in a predetermined direction or responding in a haphazard manner to pressures for change coming from outside or within the organization.

What separates tinkering from the rethinking mode of change is its inability to question ends, to re-evaluate the ultimate purposes and goals of the organization, and its inability to engage in cognitive learning which fundamentally questions the principles upon which the organization is based. Martin Rochester describes the choices between organizational tinkering and rethinking as a choice "between mere nuts-and-bolts changes (which would not energize serious involvement in institution-building and would amount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic) and a sweeping rewriting of the Charter (which seems too titanic an endeavour)".15 A rethinking process of organizational change should therefore involve a level of critical evaluation and organizational learning that would allow those involved in the process to stand outside the traditional view of existing multilateral arrangements and to contemplate and conceptualize a complete metamorphosis of the organization under examination.

Although there have been several suggestions for radically altering certain features and functions of the United Nations, most of the changes so far have not questioned the underlying principles and structure of this body. In addition, those adaptive changes that attempted to give the organization greater relevance were generally brought about primarily through a reflexive process rather than by any purposive design. And, those changes that have been sought through a purposive design have more often than not succumbed to the incrementalist and limited agenda of status quo forces within the organization.16

Given that the reformist mode of change operating within the UN system has failed to bring about the modifications needed for the organization to reflect the global interest, perhaps the time has come to consider a different kind of organizational change strategy, one that can facilitate the progressive evolution of multilateralism without becoming too hung up on trying to ensure that the UN system remains intact.

It may be necessary to discard traditional approaches to change used in the UN system in favour of more radical approaches that would allow one to stand outside the prevailing wisdom concerning the appropriate role of this international organization in world affairs.

The germane change agenda for the United Nations at this time of transition should be one which is sensitive to the impact of forces for change coming from the organization's environment. Yet this agenda cannot be so far-fetched as to alienate those who will be in the strongest position to implement it, that is Member States and the organization's Secretariat. Realistically, some aspects of this new approach will necessarily involve a rethinking of some of the fundamental principles upon which the world body was founded, while others may simply call for an oiling of the machine and a pruning of its wasteful elements. This agenda can be conceptualized, therefore, as having two tracks. While it will be important to deal with pressing and immediate reform issues such as making the UN system's modalities and instrumentalities more efficient and effective, the primary purpose behind any attempt at adjusting the UN system should be to move the organization closer towards meeting the needs of global civil society. Relevance should become the watchword in future change in the UN system if the organization is to become better positioned to articulate global interests.

Part Two

Moving from National to Global Interests in a Reformed United Nations

There are a number of issues of national interests, with implications for global interests, that will occupy the UN reform agenda for many years to come. Those issues include: global security and peacemaking; arms control and disarmament; peacekeeping and field observation activity; preventive diplomacy and deployment devices; human rights protection; refugee management and humanitarian assistance; peace-building and economic and social assistance; environmental and sustainable development strategies; the administrative and financial operations of the UN system; and burden sharing between all the actors involved in global governance. In each of the above issue areas a number of important questions will have to be resolved by UN Member States. Developing an operational UN military capability may be one of the keys to maintaining a peaceful global environment.17 What form should this capability take? Which states will be required to muster the necessary political will to develop this capability? Should the United Nations create a permanent brigade or a vanguard force? If so, where will such a force train or be stationed? Should the UN Military Staff Committee be revitalized in order to be able to oversee the operations of this force? What role should the UN Security Council play in the development of this military capability? What role should the Secretary-General play? How will the United Nations overcome the tension between the protection of sovereignty and the need to deal with conflicts that are essentially within the jurisdiction of states?

Attempts at demilitarizing Iraq in the wake of the Gulf War constituted a major change in the way the United Nations has dealt with disarmament in the past.18 But will this approach be utilized by the organization in the future? Is there a need for a refinement in this approach?19 What impact will this have on the non-intervention principle in Article 2, paragraph 7 of the Charter? Should this article be reformulated? What will be required to entice more states to sign the non-proliferation treaty? How can the arms registry mechanism be strengthened? How will the problem of the black market in arms be resolved? What can be done to persuade states and military industries to refrain from engaging in the illicit arms trade? How can verification methods be improved so that arms control and disarmament agreements can be strengthened?

With respect to the improvement of UN peacekeeping and field observation, several questions need to be addressed. Has peacekeeping lost its relevance in a world in which intra-state conflicts are dominant? Are UN military and civilian peacekeepers adequately trained to deal sensitively with sociocultural differences? Should there be a greater institutionalization of peacekeeping training, with the creation of permanent training centres for international peacekeepers? What role should a UN rapid reaction force play in peacekeeping, if any? What role should NGOs and other elements of civil society play in UN peacekeeping and peace-building? Should such a role be formalized? What type of structures, financial arrangements and decision-making processes are necessary at UN headquarters to make UN peacekeeping operations more effective? Can the United Nations minimize dangers and risks to its peacekeeping forces in the field?

The issue of improving the preventive mechanisms of the UN system is worth considering because the proactive elements of the organization should be strengthened and this approach to peace is preferable to members of global civil society than the use of collective security and enforcement measures. A number of questions can be asked. How can the United Nations' fact-finding and early-warning abilities be improved? What technological instruments will be needed to ensure better data collection, evaluation and analysis? What communications networks need to be developed to enhance early detection of incipient conflicts? How should the UN Secretary-General's good offices be utilized in these endeavours? How can a UN preventive deployment force be utilized without damaging the credibility of the organization as an impartial mediator?

The issues of human rights protection, refugee management and humanitarian assistance have worked their way up the reform agenda. How can the United Nations move forward from standard setting and declarations to implementation and enforcement in this area? What role can the International Court of Justice play in this? How best can the Member States support the new International Criminal Tribunal that has been set up in the Hague? What else can be done to ensure that those who violate human rights will be brought to justice? What practical measures can be taken by the United States to address the problem of repatriating refugees and internally displaced persons? What socio-economic measures can be taken to stop the outflow of refugees from the developing world? How can states be encouraged to develop more humane policies with regards to refugees entering their countries? Is the current trend of "contracting out" to NGOs the best way for the United Nations to address humanitarian assistance? Should the military be involved in humanitarian assistance efforts? If so, in what way?

The globalization of international economics calls for a more cooperative, integrative and holistic approach to questions of economic and social policy. Can, or should, the United Nations take the lead in this coordination, or are the obstacles too great to be overcome? Is the UN system the correct institution to deal with this? It is clear that what is required today is a consolidated global negotiating forum to deal with such issues as trade, production and economic development issues. Is this given expression through the Bretton Woods institutions, UNCTAD, ECOSOC and the World Trade Organization?

Similar questions can be raised about the environmental and sustainable development issues. Is UNEP the best instrument for dealing with problems of environmental and ecological degradation? What role should the Bretton Woods institutions play in this area? What trade-offs will be necessary to ensure developing countries' compliance with the new environmental norms and standards through, for example, debt-for-nature swaps? What compensation packages can be devised to placate those states that have been affected most by environmental damage? Can the United Nations assist land reforms and community-based initiatives in countries experiencing problems with environmental degradation? Can a system of user rights, regulations, rents and charges be effectively implemented by the United Nations to better manage the global commons? Might the United Nations consider radical adaptations to its structure to embrace institutionally NGOs working in this area?

The history of UN reform has been filled with failed attempts to improve the administrative and financial functioning of the organization. What are the prospects? Since the existing financial arrangements are obviously inadequate for carrying out current tasks, can alternative financing schemes be found? Most of the tasks the United Nations is expected to undertake benefit states and their civil societies indirectly and directly: would a tax on certain transnational activities be acceptable and practical? What would be the practical, legal and political ramifications of employing such a scheme? What institutional arrangements would have to be made to ensure the collection and proper management of such a tax? Would UN Member States accept the notion of an independently funded UN system?

Finally, for a number of reasons - not least the organization's financial crisis - attention is focused upon burden sharing between the universal and regional bodies.20 How could regional organizations - ad hoc arrangements or formal agencies - take a greater share of the responsibility in this area? Should such a division of labour be attempted through formal constitutional or informal arrangements? How can Chapter VIII of the Charter be operationalized? Can the subsidiarity principle, as utilized by countries in the European Union, be workable in the global context?

The Rise of New Social Movements and the Development of New Multilateralism

The post-Cold War world has witnessed the multiplication of new social movements. These movements operate at all levels: local, national, transnational, subregional, regional, trans-regional and global. Some of them represent a geographically distinct community, while others have a global agenda. Some have interests that are issue specific, while others have a wide spectrum of cross-cutting concerns. Their activities have been described in a variety of ways: the "new politics of protest", "new populism", "neo-romanticism", "oppositional politics", "disorderly politics", "pressure group politics", "anti-institutionalism", and "revolutionary agitation". The causes they undertake vary from concerns with animal rights, ethnicity, ecology, the manufacture and proliferation of nuclear weapons, war and peace, feminism, gay liberation, communalism, religion, indigenous peoples, urban renewal, inner-city crime, taxation, racial justice, youth, "generation X", disabled groups, to the elderly.21 As Camilleri and Falk put it, "What makes these actors politically significant is that they are able to translate their alienation and exclusion into concrete social action. They are social movements by virtue of their ability to engender and organize social conflict."22

Many of these social movements reject existing legal and institutional arrangements at all levels, including multilateral institutions.23 Yet they are helping to define the agenda of global interests. They also seem, implicitly at least, to be jettisoning traditional international relations' dualistic conception of private/public, domestic/foreign and inside/outside spheres. These new social movements seem no longer willing to allow governments to act as exclusive agents on their behalf. Citizens everywhere appear to want more direct representation in the political decision-making that affects them. The best way to achieve this would be for the UN system to undergo major structural reforms that would allow NGOs and other non-state actors more than the consultative status already allowed for in Article 71 of the UN Charter. However, such changes are being resisted by the members of the United Nations.

Top-down, Bottom-up Intersection

The prominence of NGOs and social movements on the multilateral stage today indicates that "top-down" (or state-centric) multilateralism is being challenged by, or at least being forced to intersect with, "bottom-up" (or people-centred) multilateralism. Already, in some of the issue areas discussed above, some NGOs are effectively positioned at the table with states. They have also been included as major partners in some multilateral agenda setting and at major multilateral conferences such as those on the environment and development in Rio de Janeiro, the Nairobi and Beijing conferences on women, the Vienna conference on human rights, and the population conference in Cairo. Some governments have begun to include back- bench members into their delegations at the UN General Assembly sessions, while others have even included NGO representatives in some of their delegations at major multilateral conferences. More recently, NGOs have played a major role in helping the United Nations and other "top-down" multilateral bodies deal with humanitarian crises, for example in Somalia and Rwanda.

What this indicates is that a highly decentralized, almost chaotic, multi-centric system comprised of subnational and supranational "sovereignty-free" actors is being forced to intersect with the relatively coherent and structured state-centric world of "sovereignty-bound" actors. The results have not been particularly gratifying for the non-state actors.24 "Top-down" multilateralism institutions like the UN system must either be reconfigured to accommodate these new social movements and their lists of concerns by expanding their definition of what constitutes a legitimate political community, or they will be bypassed altogether.

One author has advocated a possible way out for the UN system. He recommends that Article 22 of the Charter be utilized to create a civil society- centric Parliamentary Assembly as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly.25 However, this particular proposal is highly problematic for a number of reasons: (a) representatives would be elected by national assemblies, rather than the general public within a state; (b) it is difficult to see how the Parliamentary Assembly would be able to pay for the salaries and travel of what could be over 1,000 representatives; (c) this proposal could increase the duplication and waste that already exist within multilateral bodies; (d) very few UN member governments would actually support this proposal.

Other recent calls for "new" multilateralism, however, recognize the emergence and importance of a cosmopolitan global culture and the operations of a global community dealing with matters that refuse to be confined within state boundaries. Most of these calls are pushing for the creation of a body whose members are elected by citizens rather than nominated by sovereign state governments.26 Proponents of this measure argue that the creation of a global parliament would enhance the institutional linkages that already exist between states and civil society. The existence of such a body would also allow those who are most affected by decisions made at the international level to have a direct input into their formulation.27 Calls for broadening the political participation, democratizing existing multilateral institutions and empowering civil societies to take decisions that affect them at the international level are symptomatic of a desire to expand the concept of multilateralism to include the "bottom-up" forces. If mainstream multilateralists continue to ignore such calls, it is possible that "bottom-up" multilateralism will persist outside of the confines of "top-down" multilateralism and could even pose a more direct challenge to it.

While one ought to be prudent in recognizing that "top-down" multilateralism will endure as long as the state system exists, one also has to consider that the demands and needs of the new social and political movements may not be fully accommodated within that "top-down" multilateral structure. Something will have to give. New social movements are forcing "top-down" multilateral institutions like the UN system to acknowledge their existence and importance. Perhaps, out of the dialectical clash between "top-down" and "bottom-up" multilateral activity, a window of opportunity might be opened for emancipatory social and political movements to make substantial gains in what was once the preserve of states.28


As we move slowly away from considerations of the national interest to those of the global interest, it becomes necessary to examine whether or not the UN system is the ideal forum for the articulation of the latter. It seems clear that it can be, if certain modifications are made. Organizations like the UN system cannot hope to function independently from the political environment in which they operate. In fact, "universal intergovernmental organizations are particularly sensitive to the movement of world forces".29

The problem for the United Nations is that while it is increasingly being called upon to address new problems, administrative and financial structures are proving to be inadequate for the tasks at hand. The global upheavals and dislocations we have witnessed since 1989 seem to indicate that the emergence of a new world order will be far more complex and protracted than at first anticipated.30 The role of the United Nations in any new global arrangement is thus very much unclear.

It is necessary to make a serious assessment of the changing international political, security and socio-economic environment in order to determine the extent to which existing multilateral arrangements are addressing the concerns of the global interests.31 It is equally important for academics to make a realistic assessment of the extent to which the United Nations' internal apparatus is adjusting to meet the challenges of the emerging world order. If the world body proves to be slow in making the necessary adjustment, we can expect that other multilateral bodies - perhaps of the "bottom- up" variety - will emerge to express and articulate the global interests more directly.

Part V. Global Citizenship


Leon Gordenker*
*(Leon Gordenker is Professor of International Relations in the Center of International Studies, Princeton University)

The fact that membership of the United Nations consists exclusively of states formally ignores their human subjects.1 Yet the Charter of the United Nations as well as the history of the organization suggest that the model of sovereign abstractions governing the world has somehow to be tempered with attention to individual humans and their unofficial organizations.2 From the beginning of the UN system, these opposing sets of concepts have resulted in varying levels of tension between official and unofficial views and actions.

Yet unofficial groups - non-governmental organizations, or NGOs in UN parlance - have made significant contributions to the agenda and practice of international cooperation despite their unfavourable position. In doing so, they evoke a more pluralistic3 image of, and in, international organization than the state-oriented, diplomatic presumptions about intergovernmental negotiations would imply. The continuous, sometimes explosive, growth and presence of NGOs in the working sphere of intergovernmental organization suggest they have become not only a factor to be reckoned with but also a potential nucleus for a now absent UN constituency in the twenty-first century.4 They could be indispensable in the promotion and practice of democracy that UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali asserts is integral in maintaining peace and imperative for its own sake.5

This essay examines the relationships between NGOs and the United Nations and to a lesser extent other organizations in the UN system.6 It sets out some of the issues involved in understanding the nature and function of NGOs. It gives particular attention to those aspects of the NGO relationship which are insufficiently understood in the making of policy and their execution. While it does not assume that NGOs can have only desirable effects, it marks out some topics for research in the twenty-first century with a view to increasing the utility of NGOs in international cooperation. It ends with a general hypothesis about the future of NGO activity in transnational cooperation.

Diplomatic Tone

From the outset, whatever hints appear of broader participation, the United Nations has been dominated by diplomatic practices and approaches that emphasize governmental hierarchies and strategic thinking. The organization was designed in foreign offices, its Charter approved by foreign ministers and ambassadors in a grand conference in 1945 and its language was largely that of international lawyers. Its meetings, its communications and its participants to this day continue to sound the tones of diplomatic parlance. The celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations in October 1995 in New York provided a dramatic example of the diplomatic approach, which emphasizes official relationships and has little place for persons outside of the national hierarchies and closely associated elites.

The formal design of the United Nations then implicitly sketches a faint hierarchy of state members that pool their policies to provide limited transnational governance. Any representation of the pluralism of civil society would take place indirectly through national governmental processes. These would result in instructions to the national missions to the United Nations and elsewhere in the UN system. The legitimacy of the United Nations then does not rely on the demonstrated acceptance by a broad public or by civil society. By implication, it is taken for granted that member governments represent their subjects; this is a proposition that deserves the scepticism that greets it. There is moreover no popular, or even generalist, representative organ in the UN system that functions outside of government hierarchies.

Challenges to Governmental Monopoly

The diplomatic matrix that emphasizes communications and cooperation strictly through official channels met direct as well as veiled challenges from the outset. The preamble of the Charter states pointedly in the opening line: "We the Peoples of the United Nations, Determined ..." This is followed by a reaffirmation of faith in fundamental human rights in which men and women as well as "nations" are mentioned. The binding text of the Charter includes specific provisions for the protection of human rights.7 While states bear the obligation to protect such rights, this language gave formal recognition to the fact that intergovernmental actions directly affect more than official channels. Since then, the system for protecting human rights has evolved to the degree that even individual complaints of violations can gingerly be treated in intergovernmental UN fora.8

Another, seemingly insipid, Charter provision authorizes the Economic and Social Council to "make suitable arrangements for consultations with non-governmental organizations" that deal with matters within its competence.9 It harks back to the much-advertised invitation from the US delegation to the San Francisco Conference to extend consultative facilities to 42 citizens' organizations that were deemed to stand for "a fair cross section of citizen groups".10 Representatives of these exclusively American organizations attended delegation meetings and reportedly had a significant effect. They had no official status in the intergovernmental sessions of the conference and, after some controversy, the Charter avoided granting non-governmental organizations formal status in the new organization. Moreover, it represented a rejection of the pattern employed in the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 1920. There, each national delegation of four representatives includes one each for labour unions and management; the latter can vote independently of the two public representatives.

Nevertheless, Article 17, applied amidst initial controversy and later with some bemusement, offered a narrow formal opening in the wall of governmental representation. NGOs apply to ECOSOC for consultative status in increasing numbers so that the most privileged category rose from 7 in 1948 to 41 in 1991, while the category with narrower access to the Council itself grew from 32 to 354. The category of NGOs that has the loosest affiliation with ECOSOC included some 2,000 by 1995. Furthermore, another group of several hundred NGOs was affiliated with the UN Department of Public Information. While these official relationships provide easier access to UN buildings, meetings and documentation, they certainly do not exclude the activities of unaffiliated NGOs.11

In fact, nobody really knows precisely how many NGOs exist, how many act in the UN context and how their fortunes wax and wane. One informed estimate includes 15,000 NGOs that operate in three or more countries and have financial support in more than one country.12 Their numbers grow continuously despite what is probably a high failure rate. Moreover, at the level of individual countries, an extremely varied set of NGOs operates, sometimes in cooperation with transnational organizations.

NGO Types and Tasks

Generally, the nature of NGOs13 of concern here contrasts sharply with that of governmental and intergovernmental organizations. By definition they are not part of government, but those that are relevant to UN activities have goals that substantially link with public policy or the welfare of social groups. They have no legal coercive or taxing capacity and make no decisions with legal quality for a society. Most profit-making organizations may be excluded as not having primarily a social purpose;14 so too may criminal organizations, as they intend no effect on public policy or welfare. Most of the organizations of interest here belong to what is termed "the civil society", but their work is not directed there alone. Some of them deliberately seek to shape global public policy or else are aware of its implications for themselves and their clients. That is a principal reason for affiliating with ECOSOC.

As for size, wealth, organizational structure, stability and nature of support and membership, the variations are extreme and not well documented. Such organizations as World Vision and CARE, both largely concerned with emergencies and economic development, have annual budgets greater than those of many small UN members. Some are centralized in the fashion of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Others are primarily decentralized, as in the case of Save the Children or Oxfam. Some - Greenpeace or ACT UP, for example - seek sensational publicity as a tool in campaigning. Others, such as the International Rescue Committee, labour without drama. Some organizations, such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace, have large individual memberships who pay the costs. Some enlist only scholarly or scientific specialists. Some derive their finances from governments and international organizations, sometimes as grants, sometimes for services rendered, such as caring for refugees. Some of them are deliberately organized by donor agencies and governments as chosen instruments for their programmes.

As for methods of work, these vary with the goals and capacities of the organizations. Some hope to gain their goals primarily by persuading governmental representatives. They may attempt this at the level of global organizations such as the United Nations but also coordinate it with efforts at the national or local level. Other organizations, such as Interaction and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies, are meta-organizations, representing the views of constituent agencies in international fora by means of speeches, documents and conversations. Their persuasiveness depends on the notion that they have wide support of other autonomous, far-reaching NGOs. Some organizations above all serve their memberships with monitoring and information about the operation of international organizations; sometimes this is combined with lobbying functions at the national level. Some organizations specialize in providing professional or technical information and assistance to decision makers; their research is not infrequently more expert and comprehensive than the products of the international secretariats. Without such technical and professional contributions, none of the great international conferences, such as those on the environment, population or women, could have had a solid basis in knowledge.

Inter-organizational Relationships

A central goal and practice of many NGOs encourages the formation of formal and informal bonds across state boundaries.15 These link like-minded individuals and the organizations in which they work. Communications that once required expensive air travel have now been complemented or replaced by quicker electronic means. In fact, the new communication channels facilitate linking grass-roots organizations with those that specialize in relations at transnational administrative summits. These new bonds are subsumed in the term "networking", an inexact but expressive slogan for an involved, significant process.

NGOs develop various relationships with organizations in the UN system either individually or by means of intergovernmental organizational links. Using these connections, they have widened the channels elaborated under Article 71 of the UN Charter and the similar devices that exist among the UN specialized agencies. These provide for a classification of NGOs according to assumed relevance to the international organization, conditional rights to monitor activities, to contribute information and argument and to address deliberative groups. In pristine legal form, these links are limiting, but in a political sense they provide access and opportunities.

Some of the relationships between NGOs and international organizations depend on personal acquaintance and common professional outlook. Others are built up for the purpose of specified agendas of relevance to a set of NGOs. Some others grow out of lobbying in which organizational representatives assiduously present arguments about issues to all who will listen in either formal or informal settings. Some NGOs strengthen their voices by joining formal coalitions which harmonize positions. Standing transnational coalitions allow decentralized units to seek to persuade national governments about an agreed programme. Finally, NGOs use meta-organization and inter-organizational links to organize coalitions around specific issues.

Formal Coordinative Arrangements

The UN organizations have designed various arrangements that, beyond mere access, are intended to coordinate whatever NGO participation in their work that their governmental members will accept. In some cases, IGOs encourage NGOs. Venerable ECOSOC arrangements16 seek primarily to provide some order in access to the Council and its governmental representatives. As a result of the burgeoning interest and participation of NGOs in the recent series of global conferences, especially the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, ECOSOC is engaged in a painful review of its arrangements that again raises all of the contradictions between an organization of states and participation by organization of their subjects.17

The UN specialized agencies also have usually developed relationships with NGOs under coordinative arrangements that range from close to distant. For instance, the ILO has worked closely with a range of NGOs interested in social issues. WHO works with a closely supervised list of professional and scientific agencies. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has long permitted a meta-organization to present to its main intergovernmental consultative organ common views of NGOs interested in refugees. These NGO-intergovernmental agency relationships have usually involved policy issues and expert advice. Part of the ECOSOC system, the UN Commission on Human Rights, presents a somewhat special case. In Commission meetings, and the preparations for them, a few expert NGOs have participated in discussions leading to decisions as if they were virtually equal in status to state representatives.18

The last decade, moreover, has seen ever greater involvement of NGOs in operational programmes of the UN system. With the huge growth of refugee numbers and the assumption of new duties with regard to internally displaced persons, UNHCR and NGOs serving the same clients have created a standing mechanism for coordination, cooperation and joint programming. The World Bank has organized arrangements involving NGOs in the administration of loans to developing countries. NGOs have also taken part in field programmes as contractors of UN agencies. As official development assistance declines and emergency needs multiply, governments and interested parties have urged NGOs to fill some of the gaps. In doing so and in working with international organizations, they provide services to governments, grass-roots NGOs and individual persons on behalf of a contracting UN agency or as a surrogate for it.

The UN Constituency and NGOs

The UN system, like any political organization, affects and is affected by a constituency. This consists of those persons who have reliable knowledge of the decision-making or executive process of the system, who have an interest in its outcome, and who are sometimes in a position to participate. Constituencies are a source of legitimacy for political bodies, whether or not the organization employs democratic processes.

The primary UN constituency consists of what Dag Hammarskjöld called a standing diplomatic conference. It comprises the personnel of the missions to various UN organs. Formally, these are delegates who have instructions from their governments. They only rarely include political leaders and then mainly for such formal occasions as the general debate of the General Assembly or a special summit gathering, such as the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the United Nations. The officials who participate closely in the decision process from which organizational policy emerges and on which any operations are based report back to their governments in varying styles.19 Generally, the rich countries are thought to follow the work of their representatives closely.

A further component of the constituency consists of representatives of other intergovernmental organizations. Most of the larger ones and virtually all of the UN family maintain permanent missions in New York and sometimes at other headquarters. Establishment of such representation follows from the consultative agreements that ECOSOC has established.20 A predictable consequence of this cross-hatching of organizational representation in various organs is a great deal of informal contact.21 It is, however, a rather closed universe because of the sometimes abstruse procedures of projects and decisions. It also remains closed because of the basic proposition that the United Nations seeks the cooperation and the execution of policies from governments that are officially represented.

The atmosphere in other agencies of the UN family has a similar nature. These organizations maintain relations with member governments through ministries with substantive portfolios - such as health, labour, telecommunications, finance - or specialized governmental institutions, such as patent offices. This set of channels heightens the likelihood that specialists with advanced knowledge will represent their governments in the policy processes of the agencies, but this outcome certainly is not guaranteed, especially when so-called "political questions" loom. These are issues which vault over ministerial boundaries to catch the attention of the political leadership of governments. An example of such an issue was the representation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in UN agencies. For some governments, human rights constitute such an issue. In such circumstances, expert arguments quickly fade as the basis of policy.

Usually farther away from the central constituency are NGOs. While a firm generalization seems impossible, some NGO personnel demonstrably understand the UN process and participate in parts of it. But in contrast to the diplomatic component of the constituency, the participation of NGOs ebbs and flows, depending on the issue, their own decisional processes and numerous other factors. In no sense, however, is the UN constituency popular or based on the presumption of even indirect popular participation. Because popular views and even those of persons and organizations with expert knowledge are filtered through intergovernmental organs and official hierarchies, a state-centric tone dominates all operations of the UN system. As no formal organ of democratic representation exists in the UN system, approaches to an informal representation of a wide public are limited to an occasional unofficial forum at a global conference.

From the point of view of democratization, then, the design and practice of the UN system omit the required factor of popular participation. One probable consequence may be that understanding of the process of intergovernmental organizations is restricted to very narrow publics. The UN system has steady contact with only the diplomatic and official governmental public and with a restricted sample of the NGO world.

Nevertheless, in some respects, NGOs have begun to serve as surrogates for organs of popular representation in the UN system. Their presence at the global topical conferences have served to inform and involve a broader public on the contents of the UN agenda. NGO persuasion and pressure have substantially contributed to the UN agenda, most visibly in human rights, the environment, the status of women and development. Personnel from scientific, professional and technical organizations have long and effectively participated in some phases of the UN process.22

Yet the NGO relationship with the UN system remains restricted and fragile. Its formal, constitutional basis is in many respects narrow and controversial. The informal approaches of NGOs are regarded with suspicion by some governments and their representatives. Some Secretariat personnel regard them as importuning and superfluous. NGO representatives sometimes criticize governmental delegates and Secretariat personnel as sheltered elitists who prefer authoritarian practices. Some NGOs in the development field complain that they are reduced to the status of paid servants. Others keep their distance from field projects of intergovernmental agencies as tainted by official, and thus elitist, strategy and even oppression.

The NGO relationship with ECOSOC formally requires that the unofficial bodies represent their members. This does not, however, appear to have much practical application. Yet if NGOs serve as a surrogate organ of popular consultation, the question of what they represent and how they do so is crucial. Knowledge of their internal governing arrangements, however, cannot be judged as more than fragmentary.

With few exceptions, NGOs fiercely resist anything that appears to limit their independence. They avoid any suggestion of hierarchy and thus have treated any official "coordination" in the UN system with suspicion and distance. At the same time, many of them demand access to UN activities within their subject matter.

From the side of the UN system, as one official has remarked, dealing with NGOs resembles "herding cats". Relations with them in their large numbers and variations are time consuming and fraught with individual demands that may verge on the eccentric. Even when their services prove valuable and well-nigh essential, as in providing aid for refugees, in order to obtain them, arrangements of an extraordinary nature for intergovernmental agencies are required. It is a sign of mutual coordination, however, that such arrangements can be developed and that they have become more common in the last decade.

Given the robust activity of NGOs and the increasing prominence of their presence in the UN system, they could be expected to pose issues that remain unresolved and offer opportunities for action well into the next century. The calls for democratization of the UN system and of members' political systems, so vehemently posed by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, suggest a favourable ideological climate for NGO functions. In this regard, the need for a broader UN constituency also favours NGO approaches.

It would be unwise, however, to conclude that NGOs and their work always advance international cooperation and democratization. Some NGOs take positions contrary to international norms and policies; some may actively attempt to obviate their application. Moreover, the doctrinal purity of NGOs is no more immune from adultery than some of the best-intentioned governments of the world. With advancing NGO activity, a stronger element of opposition to UN recommendations and programmes and indeed to the whole practice of international organization might also surface during the years ahead.

Some Topics for Further Research

Knowledge of the NGO universe is rather primitive.23 Consequently, forecasting, understanding and explaining what happens there remain tenuous at best. Much of what passes for knowledge is based on anecdote and individual memory. The usual NGO programme is so packed with budget-consuming activity that little time or inclination remain for reflection. While academic research on NGOs promoting economic development is more substantial,24 much of it is directed towards improving operating methods, rather than understanding the phenomenon. On other parts of the NGO spectrum, research is anything but comprehensive and profound. A considerable legal literature formalistically analyses relationships between NGOs and the United Nations25 but rarely sheds much light on political processes.

A better understanding of the NGO universe is essential in understanding its relationship to democratization and popular representation. Further research could address the following topics and questions:

The tendencies of unofficial organizations. What is the rate of growth of NGOs in developed and developing countries? To what degree are grass-roots NGOs developing? How can NGOs best be characterized and classified? What differences in size, geographical scope and clients are there among NGOs? To what extent and how do such organizations come into contact with the UN system?

The internal structures of NGOs. How are NGO policies and operations determined? To what extent does organizational membership determine or affect these decisions? What are the sources and extent of financial resources of NGOs? To what extent is personnel of NGOs equipped with professional and organizational skills and with experience in governmental processes?

The development of informal contacts. To what extent have NGOs and their personnel formed transnational social networks? How do these intersect or encompass the UN system? What kinds of information and resources are exchanged via networks? To what extent do interpersonal relationships supplement, complement or result in inter-organizational relationships? What are the substantive outcomes of such relationships in terms of policies and programmes?

Constituency functions. To what extent do various categories of NGOs engage themselves in the decisional or executive processes of the UN system? What level of knowledge of the system do they exhibit? To what extent do they engage their membership with their knowledge and operations? To what extent do these NGOs attempt to shape policies of member governments in their own capitals? To what extent are personnel of NGOs co-opted into international and national deliberative and executive organs? To what extent has leadership formed coalitions around particular issues emanated from NGOs and from international personnel? What are the limits of meta-organization among NGOs and what role would these organizations have in the UN system?

Training. What training programmes for participation in NGO activities and in relationship with them could be designed for their officials and those of UN agencies? What would be the long-term aim of such training in terms of a surrogate UN constituency and in the operations of NGOs?

Theory development. What theoretical concepts and developments would most assist the emergence of additional knowledge about NGOs and the UN system? Are inter-organizational relationships and social network theory highly applicable? How does the current interest in neo-institutional theory apply? What insights may be offered by rational choice theory? To what extent would statistical analysis provide insightful correlation and what preparation of data would be required? What other theoretical approaches would be helpful?

Concluding Observation NGO activity raises issues of doctrine and practice for the UN system. It also contains the promise of further development towards the goals of popular acceptance, democratization, expert participation in decision-making, and linking citizens' organizations at all levels to the process of international cooperation. Furthermore, it is intimately linked to what may be a changing state system. Consequently, the NGO universe and its relationship with the United Nations should be given vigorous attention in thinking about the twenty-first century.

Part VI. Regionalism in the Twenty-first Century


Benjamin Rivlin*
*(Benjamin Rivlin is Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute on the United Nations, City University of New York, New York)

Regionalism is one of those elusive social science terms that defies precise definition. In the area of governance, it represents an intermediate stage between centralization and localism, on the national or universal levels. Looking at it from the national vantage point, regionalism is a form of supranationalism that transcends local nationalisms. Looking at it from the vantage of a world organization such as the United Nations, it is a form of sub-globalism that is juxtaposed to universalism. The major difficulty with the regional concept is the variety of criteria used in its implementation. Ethnicity, religion, language, culture and lifestyle, ecology, resources, and level of development, usually subsumed under a geographic label, are all utilized in one way or another in defining a regional arrangement. Unfortunately, the world does not fall easily into neat regional compartments. Neither do states, within which one finds subregions and sub-subregions. The various criteria are not coterminous with each other. Despite these difficulties, regionalism is an extremely useful mechanism in the human effort to establish orderly and rewarding societal relations in an increasingly interdependent world.

Globalization in its contemporary manifestation is the process of transcending local, national and regional boundaries by the operation of a worldwide market economy driven by the technological revolution in information and communications. Globalizing tendencies have existed since the dawn of the world economy some five centuries ago. The emergence of international functional agencies during the nineteenth century followed by the creation of the League of Nations after the First World War and the United Nations after the Second World War is testimony to the gradual evolution of global institutions in response to humanity's growing interconnectedness and interdependence. Unlike another of the recent manifestations of globalism, the third world's demands two decades ago for the creation of a more centrally managed international economy - the New International Economic Order - the underlying premise of the contemporary era of globalization is the existence of forces within the free market system impelling the world towards a single global economy.

This paper seeks to address the phenomenon of regionalism in the United Nations in this contemporary era of globalization. It will look first at the various ways regionalism is manifested in the United Nations. It will then consider the recent focus of scholars and practitioners on regionalism's role in UN peacekeeping efforts, with particular attention to the division of labour between the Security Council and regional bodies, before presenting some concluding observations on the tasks facing us as we try to understand the regional phenomenon and its relationship to the United Nations as it approaches the twenty-first century.

Regionalism in the UN System

The Maintenance of International Peace and Security

The UN Charter invokes regionalism in relationship to only one function of the organization, "the maintenance of international peace and security". Chapter VI, "Pacific Settlement of Disputes", includes "resort to regional agencies or arrangements" as one of the "peaceful means" that parties to a dispute are urged to utilize. It also stipulates that the Security Council may specifically call upon the parties to use this mechanism to settle their dispute. This is reiterated in Chapter VIII, "Regional Arrangements", where Article 52 recognizes "the existence of regional arrangements and agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action". In addition, Article 53 calls upon the Security Council, where appropriate, to "utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action" provided that no such action "shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council". The Charter does not spell out what a regional arrangement is, nor does it establish any such agencies or define the geographic or any other determinants of a regional arrangement. The matter of their establishment is left to the states within a region.

Regional Economic Commissions

Although the Charter makes no reference to regionalism in the fulfilment of the United Nations' economic and social mission, today there exist five regional economic commissions under the aegis of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The creation of these commissions was not foreseen, and was consciously avoided, at San Francisco, but Article 68 of the Charter authorizes the Economic and Social Council "to set up commissions in economic and social fields and for the promotion of human rights, and such other commissions as may be required for the performance of its functions". Using this authority, ECOSOC, at its first session in 1947 at the behest of the General Assembly, created two regional commissions - the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) to address the problems of the economic reconstruction of war devastated countries. One year later, in 1948, responding to pressure from Latin American members of the United Nations, who argued that they too had economic problems that could best be dealt with regionally, the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) was established. Thus, what had at the outset been a response to the immediate problem of post-war rehabilitation was transformed into a broader mandate, dealing with the overall economic welfare of a region.

Efforts to create regional commissions for other regions, notably for the Middle East and for Africa, were stalled for a number of years due to Arab opposition to the inclusion of Israel in a Middle East regional body and the reluctance on the part of the colonial powers to create a regional commission in Africa. Eventually, a change in the world's political climate set the stage for the establishment of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in 1958 and a commission for the Middle East, called the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), in 1973 without Israel's membership. Changes in the political climate also led to the transformation in 1974 of ECAFE to ESCAP, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and in 1983 of ECLA to ECLAC, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The establishment of regional economic commissions was originally viewed with some misgiving by some countries for fear of fostering "potential conflicts between regional and global approaches to economic problems".1 This concern has persisted over the years. Indeed, in late 1995 at a UNDP panel the Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations and president of ECOSOC, Ahmad Kamel, noted that "too much reliance on regionalism promotes exclusivism and economic tribalism".2 When the formation of regional economic commissions was under discussion, their advocates contended that certain advantages were inherent in them, particularly their being close to the problems of their respective areas and the fostering of the spirit of self-help in meeting regional problems.

In the early years of the United Nations, the regional economic commissions were viewed quite positively as making substantial contributions to economic development in encouraging the mutual education of regional members, facilitating the systematic study of regional problems and stimulating joint action in addressing these problems.3 Basically, the regional commissions represented an attempt to provide an integrated mechanism on the local level of the highly compartmentalized structure of the United Nations' functional specialized agencies and the ECOSOC functional commissions.

Regional Blocs

Regionalism is manifested in another way in the United Nations: the requirement for "equitable geographic distribution" in the election of non-permanent members of the Security Council. This requirement is not the prime criterion since the Charter states that in this election process "due regard ... [is] specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization". However, over the years geography has become the main determinant in the allocation of the non-permanent seats to regional blocs in the General Assembly.

The make-up of the respective blocs is very much a function of the climate of world politics and the changes in the organization's membership. Originally, when the United Nations had only 51 members, the first six non-permanent seats on the Security Council were elected from several geographic regions, as were the Assembly's seven vice-presidents and chairs of the six main committees "on the basis of ensuring the representative character of the General Committee".4 As the original terms of office of the non-permanent members expired, the incumbent was replaced by a state from the same region. Thus was the stage set for the emergence of regional claims to particular seats in the Council.

Although the regional electoral blocs were not created by General Assembly resolution, their existence and, in a sense, legitimacy were established by the General Assembly when it voted to enlarge the Security Council to 15 members by stipulating that "the ten non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected according to the following pattern: (a) Five from African and Asian States; (b) One from Eastern European States; (c) Two from Latin American States; (d) Two from Western European and Other States".5 The last is known as "WEO" - Western Europe and Others, the others being Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The blocs are not "subsidiary organs", which the General Assembly may establish under Article 22. Rather they are informal groupings of states that play an important role in determining how the General Assembly functions. Their existence as formal blocs or groups is not provided for in the rules of procedure of the General Assembly. Through general understanding among the Member States, various offices, including that of Secretary-General and President of the General Assembly, its vice-presidents and committee chairs are parcelled out among the regional blocs under a carefully worked out rotation system that takes on the virtual force of law. Each bloc operates under its own worked out procedures. Some function exclusively as an electoral bloc for selecting candidates under the geographic distribution formula. Others serve as a clearing house for working out and adopting a common policy on issues before the General Assembly. This is particularly evident among segments of the Non-aligned Movement. As early as 1949, when the General Assembly decided the fate of Italy's African colonies, two blocs - a large one made up of 20 Latin American states and a smaller African-Asian group of 14 states - markedly influenced the outcome through bloc voting.6

The current debate over restructuring the Security Council has reinforced the salience of regionalism as a basis for selecting its permanent and non-permanent members. Although no consensus has been reached on the matter in the discussions that took place before, during and after the General Assembly's fiftieth regular session, it was clear that most members opted for the application of some form of regional criterion. The suggestions range from merely allocating a number of seats to five to seven groups,7 to a proposal that the selection of regional members be made exclusively within the group itself rather than globally by the General Assembly. Another issue receiving attention is the possibility of establishing uniformity in the way UN regional groups select representative states for membership in the Council.8

Cooperation with Regional Organizations

Besides the aforementioned informal regional blocs there are formally organized regional organizations which are recognized by the United Nations through bilateral cooperation agreements and General Assembly resolutions. These include the Organization of American States (OAS), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the League of Arab States (LAS), the European Union (EU), the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the African-Asian Legal Consultative Committee and the most recently formed Caribbean Community. In addition there are other sub-global groups, which transcend regions, such as the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), the Commonwealth and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which in varying degrees make their presence felt at the United Nations.

Within the past two years, the Security Council has established a relationship with NATO, a questionable newcomer to the array of regional organizations. After years of mutual benign neglect, the United Nations and NATO were coupled by the crisis in Bosnia.9 The failure of European regional institutions to deal effectively with the situation in Bosnia created a situation which called for a more forceful response and led to the involvement of NATO. Since its leading power is the United States, NATO was not exclusively a European entity, and hence not strictly a regional organization. Throughout its history, NATO had not been viewed as a "territorial arrangement" under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter; it was considered an alliance system for collective self-defence rather than a collective security system. In An Agenda for Peace, Boutros Boutros-Ghali mentioned the Organization of African Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, the Organization of American States, and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). With regard to Europe he wrote: "Efforts undertaken by the European Community and its Member States, with the support of States participating in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, have been of central importance in dealing with the crisis in the Balkans and neighbouring areas."10 NATO was not mentioned in this report. Within the year, in An Agenda for Peace: One Year Later, Boutros Boutros-Ghali included NATO as a regional body with which the United Nations was shaping "unprecedented new forms of practical cooperation ... regarding Bosnia".11 How this gap between the United Nations and NATO was bridged is beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it to say, it involved intricate and protracted negotiations among the members of NATO, notably the United States, France and Britain, and the United Nations Secretary-General. However, the relationship between the United Nations and NATO has proven tenuous, as demonstrated by the "dual key" haggling, and so far is not as "practical" as the Secretary-General had envisaged.

Regionalism and Peacekeeping

The NATO episode underscores the point that in recent years greatest interest in regionalism has been with regard to the United Nations' mission for the maintenance of international peace and security. As pent-up ethnic, civil and regional conflicts unleashed following the end of the Cold War stretched the organization's peacekeeping capabilities beyond their limits, sharing the burden with regional organizations seemed to be the logical direction into which to move. In addition, an aura of disenchantment was setting in within the General Assembly over the position in the United Nations assumed by the Security Council due to its activities in the area of peacekeeping. The Security Council, dominated by its permanent members and operating under a set of secretive working practices, was perceived as unrepresentative of the United Nations. Chapter VIII was seen as bringing an ancillary or alternative mechanism into the arena. Under these circumstances the notion of a "division of labour" between the Security Council and regional bodies in carrying out the United Nations' prime responsibility to maintain international peace and security seemed to provide part of an answer to this situation.

Interest in involving regional organizations in the UN's peace mission under Chapter VIII predates the current crisis over the Security Council's peacekeeping function. Former Secretary-General Javier PŽrez de CuŽllar noted in his penultimate Report on the Work of the Organization (1990) that "for dealing with new kinds of security challenges, regional arrangements or agencies can render assistance of great value" presupposing "the existence of the relationship envisaged in Chapter VIII of the Charter" and "that efforts of regional agencies should be in harmony with those of the United Nations and in accordance with the Charter". In 1991, this interest in a revived Chapter VIII was manifested in General Assembly Resolution 46/58 that requested the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization "to consider the proposal on the enhancement of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations ... relating to the maintenance of international peace and security". This was not the first time that the General Assembly expressed interest in linkages between the United Nations and regional organizations. As noted above, the General Assembly has annually for many years perfunctorily adopted resolutions commending cooperation between regional organizations and the United Nations, not necessarily restricted to Chapter VIII but to all areas. While this annual recital, supportive of cooperation, amounted to little more than a wish-list given the non-binding character of General Assembly resolutions, it nevertheless represents a recognition by the broader international community of the potential utility of closer collaboration between the United Nations and regional organizations. The debate at the forty-ninth session of the General Assembly elicited more interest in Chapter VIII cooperation than at earlier sessions.12 At this session, the General Assembly had before it the lengthy "Declaration on the Enhancement of Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional Arrangements of Agencies in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security" that had been drafted in March 1944 by the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization.13 The Assembly reiterated its interest in the regional approach, urging that "every effort be made to ensure that the Declaration become generally known and fully implemented".14

Under Boutros Boutros-Ghali's watch as Secretary-General, interest in Chapter VIII has intensified. It began within his first month in office, when the Secretary-General was called upon by the Security Council summit meeting of 31 January 1992 to prepare recommendations on ways of strengthening the capacity of the United Nations for preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping. Inter alia, he was asked to cover "the contribution to be made by regional organizations in accordance with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter in helping the work of the Council".15 In June 1992, Boutros Boutros-Ghali responded with An Agenda for Peace,16 which includes the following:

The Charter deliberately provides no precise definition of regional arrangements and agencies, thus allowing useful flexibility for undertakings by a group of States to deal with a matter appropriate for regional action which also could contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security. ... Just as no two regions or situations are the same, so the design of cooperative work and its division of labour must adapt to the realities of each case with flexibility and creativity. ... In this era of opportunity, regional arrangements or agencies can render great service if their activities are undertaken in a manner consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter, and if their relationship with the United Nations, and particularly, the Security Council is governed by Chapter VIII. ... Under the Charter, the Security Council has and will continue to have primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, but regional action as a matter of decentralization, delegation and cooperation with United Nations efforts could not only lighten the burden of the Security Council but also contribute to a deeper sense of participation, consensus and democratization in international affairs. Regional arrangements and agencies have not yet in recent decades been considered in this light. ... Today a new sense exists that they have contributions to make.

The Secretary-General's statement, while reiterating the "primary responsibility of the Security Council for maintaining international peace and security", raised some fundamental questions about implementing Chapter VIII, particularly at this time. Has a "new era of opportunity" and "new sense" really opened the door for regional actors to assume a role in the peace- keeping and peacemaking business? What contributions can they make in the process? How can regional bodies "lighten the burden of the Security Council"? How can the "division of labour" be achieved?

A Division of Labour

Is there a logical division of labour between the United Nations and regional entities? Does either hold a comparative advantage over the other? Can the principle of subsidiarity be applied to this relationship? These three related concepts are at the heart of any consideration of the future of regionalism within the UN system. Simply put, a division of labour suggests that responsibilities may be shared, alleviating the parties from undue burdens; the principle of comparative advantage suggests that entities should specialize in matters in which they are relatively more efficient; and the notion of subsidiarity emphasizes assigning responsibilities in the first instance to lower levels rather than to a central authority which "should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level".17

Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali advanced the idea of a "division of labour", noting that it "is in conformity with Chapter VIII of the Charter ... [but] is a new approach of the United Nations". In pursuing it, he argued, "we are trying to have a kind of decentralization in the different peace-keeping operations by asking regional organizations or the States which belong to the region to play a role in finding a peaceful solution to certain problems". In putting forward the division of labour principle, Boutros Boutros-Ghali has repeatedly insisted that "the United Nations has never claimed that it alone can carry out peace-keeping operations" and that "an effort should be made to 'decentralize' the responsibilities for peace-keeping and peacemaking" with "the regional organizations [being] the obvious candidates for larger roles".18 In his Supplement to an Agenda for Peace he reiterated that "the United Nations does not have or claim a monopoly to any of the[se] instruments" for "controlling and resolving conflicts between and within States".19

It is now more than three years since Boutros Boutros-Ghali first spoke of a "division of labour" between the Security Council and regional bodies in the maintenance of international peace and security. During this period, the "era of opportunity" that the Secretary-General noted in An Agenda for Peace tested the "division of labour" concept in a number of cases. Of the 21 peacekeeping operations established since the end of the Cold War, 11 came into existence since the 1992 Security Council summit.20 According to the Secretary-General's 1994 annual report, "mechanisms of consultation and cooperation are being strengthened between the United Nations and regional arrangements and organizations".21 The increase in the number of crisis situations dealt with by the Security Council is reflected in the growth of the number of cooperative arrangements between the United Nations and regional organizations.

The cooperative arrangements are by no means all alike. Subsumed under this label are UN operations that quantitatively involve no more than a dozen civilian observers (Tajikistan) to a major military deployment involving tens of thousands of soldiers (Bosnia, Somalia). Similarly, the substance of the operations varies from observing elections to providing protection and logistical support for massive humanitarian assistance. Understandably, the nature and extent of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations vary in each case. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has identified five forms cooperative undertakings take:22

  1. Consultation: an established practice for an exchange of views on conflicts that both the United Nations and a regional organization may be trying to solve;

  2. Diplomatic support: mutual support including diplomatic initiatives and/or technical input in particular peacemaking activities;

  3. Operational support: may take the form of military support for a UN operation by a regional agency - such as NATO air power for UNPROFOR - or provision of technical advice by the United Nations to regional organizations that undertake peacekeeping operations of their own;

  4. Co-deployment of field missions: small UN missions are deployed in conjunction with a regional organization that carries the main burden, as with ECOWAS in Liberia;

  5. Joint operations: an operation in which staffing, direction and financing are shared between the United Nations and the regional organization, as with OAS in Haiti.
Not all of these forms of cooperative arrangements involve a significant application of the division of labour principle. A division of labour implies undertaking an actual operation. "Consultation" and "diplomatic support" carry no such implication. Of the five forms, "operational support", "co-deployment of field missions" and "joint operations" are most germane to implementing a division of labour that involves the allocation of specific tasks to the cooperating parties. The experience to date has not varied from apparent success in Haiti with the OAS, to partial success in Liberia with ECOWAS, to near failure in Bosnia with NATO and to total failure with the OAS in Rwanda. In a sense one can say that the first steps have been taken on the road of collaboration between the United Nations and regional organizations. The road ahead is long and tortuous. Each of the aforementioned cases, as well as several cases of cooperation with the OSCE and the CIS in the former Soviet Union - Tajikistan, Georgia, Nagorny-Karabakh - and elsewhere in Africa requires careful examination and analysis.

UN Regionalism and Globalization

In thinking ahead to the United Nations in the twenty-first century, what is the place of regionalism in this era of globalization? Is regionalism, in its various manifestations, a viable concept at the moment in history when a single global economy is being shaped at breakneck speed and when the world is witnessing accompanying global population dislocations, environmental degradation across borders, transnational criminality, a widening gap between rich and poor countries and a revolution in communications and information that has virtually transformed the world into a global village?

Do not these momentous developments prescribe a global approach rather than a regional one? Does not the situation call for global policy-making rather than the more parochial local perspective, be it national or regional? In the abstract, the answer is probably yes. The world is shrinking. Its problems transcend state and regional boundaries; and logically these overarching conditions should be addressed globally.

The debate over the merits of globalism vs. regionalism is not new. It goes back to the UN Charter-drafting conference in 1945 where it "generated as much heat as any other issue ... with the possible exception of the veto".23 Both concepts were incorporated in the Charter with globalism coming out clearly ahead by virtue of the authority given to the Security Council in Chapters VI and VII and Article 2, paragraph 7. But in Chapter VIII, a role was also envisaged, though not precisely, for "regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action".

With the Security Council often paralysed during the Cold War by superpower rivalry, there was hardly any opportunity to put to a test the Charter provisions for collaboration between the Security Council and regional arrangements during this period. Regional arrangements were used, in the words of Inis Claude, "as jurisdictional refugees, providing pretexts for keeping disputes out of UN hands".24 The major antagonists of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union, were unwilling to permit Security Council involvement in regional conflicts in which they were respectively involved. In such instances, they much preferred the friendly jurisdiction of a regional organization, the Organization of American States (OAS) for the United States and the Warsaw Pact for the Soviet Union, to that of the Cold War-dominated Security Council.25 Regional organizations were utilized by each superpower as instruments for hegemonic supremacy in a region and not as agencies for broader collective security and conflict resolution.

Even before the growing relaxation of Cold War tensions prior to the Iraq-Kuwait crisis and after the Gulf War, interest in the potential utility of regional organizations in collective security and peace enforcement was expressed. The UN Association-USA study in 1988, A Successor Vision, called for more institutionalized contacts between the United Nations and regional organizations on the assumption that "most conflicts, particularly those with local roots and a sub-national or transnational character, can be addressed best by regional organizations, where they exist ...".26

During and after the Gulf crisis, references to a new role for regionalism in collective security increased. In October 1990, in the midst of the Security Council's preoccupation with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Soviet Union presented a far-ranging memorandum to the General Assembly and the Security Council entitled "the United Nations in the post-confrontation world", which included the suggestion that "our long-term course of action would be to organize all-round cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations ... and to give full effect to Chapter VIII of the Charter, on regional arrangements. These purposes would be served by the preparation of a comprehensive study by the United Nations on ways of establishing a regional security structure with the United Nations performing the central role".27 This interest in co-opting regional agencies in the pursuit of peace has been intensified since these expressions of nearly a decade ago. A role for regionalism in the world order of things was raised with increasing frequency at various conferences, study groups and commissions by scholars and practitioners.28 In addition, from within the United Nations, both from its Secretary-General and its deliberative bodies, regional mechanisms are viewed as important potential components of global governance. It is generally recognized that the United Nations can not do the job alone, whether in the area of conflict containment or in the social and economic spheres. Regional bodies are viewed as one way of alleviating the United Nations of some of the burdens that have stretched its resources and capabilities beyond its limits.

Concluding Observations

It is rather ironic that at a time in history when global tendencies are pervasive the only institution with a global scope - the United Nations - is under a veritable state of siege and regionalism is being advanced as one way of alleviating the pressure on the world body.

A retreat from compelling globalism is not surprising. Although the world is shrinking, the planet Earth is a global village of bewildering complexity, with far more divisions than is conveyed by the image of a world neatly organized into 185 UN Member States. This is a planet inhabited by a heterogeneous humanity boasting a dazzling diversity of people in race, culture, religion, history, language and level of development. Moreover, the central pillar of the contemporary era of globalization - an open, market-oriented world trade and financial order - has not brought about a unified global economy and a highly concentrated centralized economic power. Despite all the globalizing tendencies of the liberal world market economy, economic power is still dispersed among "different layers and categories of trade relationships - multilateral, regional, sub-regional and bilateral".29 But regional arrangements, at least in their current state, can not be an alternative to universalism whether in the area of immediate political-military concerns of peace maintenance or in longer-range social and economic concerns of human security.

An examination of the most current issues involving regional bodies in peace maintenance clearly demonstrates the present lack of regional arrangements playing a leading or even an ameliorating role in conflict resolution and peacekeeping. It is difficult to generalize about the capabilities of the various regional agencies involved because they differ so much in structure, experience and resources. Largely in disuse for four decades, it seems somewhat unrealistic to expect regional organizations suddenly to blossom as conciliators and peace enforcers. For the most part, they lack either the resources or experience. But above all, crucial regional actors are often too close to the conflict to behave in the non-partisan manner required of a third-party intervener. In sum, regional organizations generally lack the credibility, the capacity and hence, the clout to act effectively as agents for collective security and peaceful settlement.30 The shortcomings of existing regional arrangements are often overlooked by their advocates, who have a tendency to advance untested premises, such as the existence of "permanent interests of regions" which "provide the interlocking network for globalism".31 This is wishful thinking rather than a realistic assessment of the state of regional organizations today.

This is not the place to draw conclusions from the United Nations' experience with regional economic commissions. The basic question is how they contribute to the multilateral approach in addressing the world body's social and economic mission, the promotion of international economic cooperation in dealing with the root causes of disequilibrium in the world - development and human security. Their future must be thought out in the context of the restructuring of ECOSOC and the overall economic and social mission of the UN system, with particular attention to rationalizing the often overlapping activities with other UN agencies in the region.32

In conclusion, what has been presented here is by no means a definitive statement on "the United Nations and regionalism in the era of globalization". Rather it should be considered as a sort of tour d'horizon with some implications of the areas that have to be explored more deeply as the United Nations approaches the twenty-first century. It is beyond the scope of this paper to enter into a detailed analysis of specific cases of United Nations- regional collaboration, whether in the area of peacekeeping or human security. Work has to be undertaken to gain an understanding of the expectation gap between what is demanded of regional organizations and what they can deliver. This involves a better appreciation of the general structural problems of regionalism in the changing system of world order. The issue is not "regionalism versus globalism" but the relationship between regionalism and universalism in this era of globalization. All regional organizations are not equal, certainly not in capability and structure. What are the implications of this incongruity for finding a place for regional arrangements in the scheme of global governance? What about regions, such as the North-East Asian Pacific Rim, that do not have regional agencies? Finally, regarding the division of labour, comparative advantage and subsidiarity - how are these to be determined?

Regionalism is no panacea. Indeed, the "Declaration on the Enhancement of Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional Arrangements or Agencies in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security" of December 1994 reveals how tentative and circumscribed is the concept. Little new ground is broken in this declaration; rather, the limited potential of regional bodies is reiterated.33 Moreover, regional arrangements are too inchoate, too disparate in structure and function, and usually lacking strong binding qualities to overcome the particularism of the states located within them to provide ready answers to the pressing problems of interdependence in the evolving era of globalization. As James Leonard has noted, "it is often forgotten, however, that countries and peoples of a region have long histories of relations with each other, and human nature being what it is, those histories are generally filled with bitter memories".34 In conclusion, there is no single vision of regionalism nor is there a single vision of globalization. As the world approaches the twenty-first century, a major task for the Member States of the United Nations and the Secretariat which serves them is to develop a coherent vision of global governance that reconciles the overlapping and often contending tendencies of regionalism and globalism.


Muthiah Alagappa*
*(Muthiah Alagappa is a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii, Honolulu)

Regionalism (and more generally, multilateralism) is commanding considerable attention in the policy and intellectual communities. In the security domain, this interest can be traced to a number of developments. One is the regionalization of international society brought about by the dramatic change in the dynamics of the international political system. In the absence of a new overarching and overriding global-level security dynamic, domestic, bilateral and regional dynamics have become more salient and have to be addressed in their own terms. It is now much more necessary and possible, for example, to discuss security in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East in regional and subregional contexts, quite independent of a global dynamic or developments in other regions. While the interest and linkages arising from the involvement of external powers must still be taken into account, the context is qualitatively different from the Cold War era, when the dynamics of the superpower conflict permeated and in many cases subsumed the local dynamics of conflicts.

Second, and closely linked to the first development, is the collapse of the bipolar post-World War II security architecture and the consequent search for a new (and still quite elusive) world order. No one state or organization appears capable of managing the post-Cold War world. The United States, the only remaining superpower, has neither the political will nor the resources to become the world policeman. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations have expressed support for strengthening the UN peacekeeping function and have encouraged a lead role for regional organizations in the management of local conflicts. Even in Europe and the Asia-Pacific, where it has vital interests, the United States is urging regional powers and organizations to carry more of the burden in maintaining peace and security in their respective regions. In Africa, where the United States has no strategic interest in the post-Cold War era and its economic interests are minuscule, Washington is reluctant even to become involved. It expects and encourages African regional organizations to manage conflicts in that continent.

Similarly, although the security role of the United Nations has been reaffirmed and broadened, it too is unable to carry the entire burden of maintaining world peace and security. Already committed in the Gulf War, in Yugoslavia and in Somalia, the United Nations did not want to become involved, for example, in the Liberian and Rwandan conflicts. The latter were not seen as serious threats to international peace and security and African organizations were encouraged to manage these conflicts. The need for regional organizations to assume greater responsibility was formally stated by the UN Secretary-General in the landmark report An Agenda for Peace. The persistence of some old regional conflicts and the outbreak of new ones have made it more necessary for regional powers and organizations to become more actively involved in managing conflicts in their own regions.

Third, the increasing salience of regional powers - China, Japan, India, unified Germany, Nigeria - further contributes to the regionalization of international security. Some regional powers - France, Germany, Japan, Nigeria - also view regional arrangements as a means of enhancing their power, influence and role in global and regional affairs. The rising prominence of regional powers and the termination or weakening of security guarantees in the post-Cold War era have in some cases increased the apprehension of smaller regional states, who view regional arrangements as a way of constraining global and regional powers.

There is also a renewed desire on the part of medium and small powers for greater control over their strategic environment based on the belief that collective action can mitigate their disadvantaged position in the international system. This has been a long-standing goal of developing countries, reflected in slogans like "Try Africa first", "African solutions to African problems" and more recently "Asian solutions to Asian problems".1 Regionalization of world politics has now made the attainment of such aspirations more feasible, at least in theory, and, in the case of marginalized regions like Africa, more necessary.2 The growing political resilience of some developing states and success in regional cooperation, as for example in the case of South-East Asia and the South Pacific, have made regionalism more acceptable and attractive to these and other countries.

Finally, interest in security regionalism has been stimulated by economic regionalism, which in turn has been spurred by the demonstration effect of the Maastricht Treaty and the perception in some quarters that global multilateralism has been giving way to bilateralism and regional trading blocs.3 The successful conclusion of the GATT Uruguay Round reinforced global multilateralism and deflected tendencies toward regional trading blocs, but it is unlikely to roll back economic union in Europe or intergovernmental arrangements like the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). These regional arrangements and new ones are likely to continue to be key features of the international economic system which will coexist with global multilateral arrangements.

From a security perspective, economic regionalism has the potential to affect the "we-they" identity and to modify if not transform geopolitically driven security dynamics. If successful, economic regionalism can also enhance self-confidence and encourage greater self-reliance in matters of security. In Europe, for example, those interested in promoting European political identity argue that, in moving toward the European Union, the European community must, of necessity, have a strong security dimension.4 Similarly, growing economic power, increasing economic interdependence, tension in trans-Pacific economic relations and a perception that the world is moving toward regional trading groups, each helps explain the attraction of regionalism, including security regionalism, for the East Asian countries.5

The foregoing developments and considerations, in various degrees, inform the attempts to broaden and strengthen existing regional security institutions in Europe, to revitalize those in Latin America and Africa and to forge new ones in the Asia-Pacific. Regional actors, regional interaction and regional approaches, as outlined above, have become relatively more important in the post-Cold War era. This is not to imply that regions are becoming self-contained or that regionalism is the appropriate vehicle for the resolution of all or even most regional problems - only that the regional level has become more salient and that regionalism, as an option, is likely to receive greater attention. Ultimately, however, the significance and place of regionalism in post-Cold War security will be determined by its effectiveness in promoting the security of participating states.

In light of this new interest and the dearth of conceptual literature on security regionalism, this article seeks (1) to develop a conceptual framework for thinking about regionalism and security, specifically conflict management and (2) to suggest potential strengths and weaknesses of regionalism in this issue area. It begins with definitions and discussion of the dynamics of the key variables: regionalism, security and conflict management.


Considerable effort was made in the 1960s and early 1970s to define regions and regional subsystems.6 Comparatively less effort has been devoted to defining regionalism.7 Often its meaning is assumed, with discussion focusing, for example, on the emergence, utility or merit of regionalism as compared with such approaches as globalism and self-help.8 Regionalism has also been used as a label to discuss almost anything regional - regionalization of world politics, regional international relations, interests and policies of regional states, regional conflict and regional cooperation. Thus, whenever the term is used, its meaning is not immediately clear. To make it analytically relevant, regionalism has to be delimited and defined.

Notwithstanding this loose usage and appropriation to cover multiple activities, it is possible to discern a core meaning of the term regionalism, which relates to cooperation among regional states to enhance their national well-being. Building on this, regionalism may be defined as: cooperation among governments or non-governmental organizations in three or more geographically proximate and interdependent countries for the pursuit of mutual gain in one or more issue areas. Although non-governmental organizations can undertake regional cooperation, the concern in this paper and hence the ensuing elaboration are on cooperation among governments. Such cooperation is motivated chiefly by national self-interest. It is viewed as a necessary vehicle to go beyond the state. Although limitations are accepted, sovereignty is a crucial constitutive principle of regional arrangements.

The key elements of the above definition of regionalism are cooperation for mutual gain, geographical proximity, interdependence, a minimum of three participating countries and non-limitation in terms of issue areas. Cooperation entails policy adjustment among actors so that eventually all will be better off than had they acted independently.9 Such adjustment is usually based on a set of goals, principles and norms, and, where these are established, on rules and procedures.10 Cooperation is goal-directed behaviour. In the case of regionalism the goal is the mutual enhancement of the well-being of all contracting states. However, mutual does not imply equal gain for all. The latter is to be achieved through diffuse reciprocity.11 A long time horizon and continued interaction are essential for diffuse reciprocity. How to create a long shadow is a fundamental problem at the outset. But once assurances and expectations take root, the positive pay-offs will strengthen regionalism in the specific issue area and may stimulate cooperation in others. Over time these developments can begin to affect the definition and pursuit of national identity and interests as well.

Specification of geographical proximity ensures that the suggested analytical construction does not depart from the common understanding and practice of regionalism. The geographical characteristic is a key feature of a number of regional arrangements: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Economic Community of West African States, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, for example. It also distinguishes regionalism from such multilateral institutions as the Commonwealth of Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). However, geographical proximity alone is not enough. The concerns of participating countries must also be interdependent. Only then is there the likelihood of common interests and aversions, and hence the need for cooperation.12 Security interdependence is usually high among geographically proximate states. Further, countries in a region often share common or similar historical and cultural experiences that can be critical in the emergence and development of regionalism.

As a multilateral institution, regionalism requires the participation of a minimum of three countries. There is no theoretical upper limit, but two criteria - interdependence and internal and external recognition of distinctness - may be useful in determining membership and therefore the "boundary" of regionalism. Based on the criterion of interdependence, regionalism in the security domain can encompass all countries whose security concerns are linked and cannot be addressed in isolation from the others. Barry Buzan has termed this a security complex.13 Similarly, internal and external recognition of distinctiveness is crucial in determining identity and thus the membership and boundary of regionalism. Such recognition, however, need not always exist. It may be created following an institutional event - as in the North Atlantic and the Asia-Pacific. Distinctiveness and identity of regions can and do evolve over time. Regions and their dynamics are not immutable. Comprehensiveness of participation is not a criterion, although numbers as well as participation by "core" states will undoubtedly affect the tasks, strategies and effectiveness of regionalism.14 Regionalism can be issue specific: a collective self-defence arrangement to confront a specific external threat or a collective security arrangement to maintain order among member states or a nuclear-free regime to regulate nuclear activities. Or it can encompass an issue area or a number of issue areas.15 Often, as for example in the case of the OAS, the OAU and ASEAN, it is a broad framework embracing several specific regimes and a number of issues and issue areas.16

The definition advanced above is essentially functional, limiting regionalism to an approach in pursuit of one or more common goals by geographically proximate states. Such pursuit is rooted in the calculation of national interest, although over time such national interest may be modified by considerations of the regional collective as well. For ease of discussion, regionalism in this paper is treated as a constant, but in practice its strength, nature and scope, and hence its role and effectiveness in conflict management, will vary. The degree of commitment to principles and norms will determine the effectiveness of rules and procedures and, hence, the strength of regionalism. Regionalism may be open or closed. It may, as noted earlier, be issue specific or cover an issue area or a number of issue areas. Further, the state of relations in one issue or issue area may affect cooperation in another. Improving security, for example, may stimulate a higher level of regionalism in trade and investment, which in turn may further enhance security cooperation, thus contributing to a virtuous circle. The reverse can also be the case, with, for example, escalating tension in economic relations weakening security cooperation. In other words, regionalism is an independent as well as a dependent variable. It is difficult to factor all these combinations and contingencies into a conceptual discussion, but empirical studies must take due account of them.

Regionalism has the potential to facilitate communications and socialization, information sharing, increase in consensual knowledge and collective action. These in turn can facilitate orderly interaction, resolution of substantive problems, the enhancement of a set of values or an increase in the power and influence of the collective vis-â-vis other actors. The relevance and effectiveness of these possibilities in the area of conflict management are explored later, but first we proceed to define the nature of the security problem and sources of conflict.

Security and Sources of Conflict

There is a growing body of literature that questions the effectiveness of the sovereign state and its continued relevance as the referent of security.17 It should be acknowledged here that (1) the scope of state sovereignty in a number of issue areas is becoming substantially limited; (2) non-state actors (subnational and international) have proliferated and in some cases play a central role in domestic and international regulation in the specific issue area of their concern;18 and (3) the state can protect as well as oppress its citizens. These developments, by no means uniform across states, should be given due consideration in analysis and policy-making, but they should not be interpreted as eclipsing the importance of the state. The sovereign state continues to be the most effective unit with respect to political identity and allegiance, as well as to the fulfilment of the security and welfare functions, and it is the principal actor in the international system.

It may be, as suggested by John Ruggie, that the activities of the contemporary "medieval trade fair" will challenge and eventually bring about the demise of the state, but, as he himself notes, states will for the foreseeable future continue to be "the most powerful form of political organization".19 Even in Western Europe, where integration is advanced, the state continues to be resilient.20 In a number of developing countries, particularly in Asia, the penetration, extraction, appropriation and application capabilities of the state have in fact become stronger.21 The growing salience of the state is reflected in the increased attention devoted to it in political economy as well as in comparative politics literature.22 The proliferation of secessionist movements, while reflective of the weakness of the constitution of specific states, is not indicative of the obsolescence of the state.23 On the contrary, it is a vindication of the state's continued vitality: the goal of most secessionist movements is to create new states in which the fit between ethno- or religious-nation and state will be closer.

Concurrent with the questioning of the relevance of the state as the security referent, it has been argued that survival in the traditional sense has ceased to be a concern for a so-called developed or core group of states.24 Moreover, it is suggested that security has to be defined broadly to encompass economic, environmental, social and other dimensions in addition to the more traditional political-military dimension.25 While acknowledging some aspects of this school, for the purpose of this paper I define security in conventional terms: political survival. The concerns of political independence and territorial integrity continue to be salient for the vast majority of states, including some of the developed ones.

Basically, one or more of four sources of insecurity (one international and three domestic) confront most countries. For analytical purposes these sources of conflict may be discussed separately, but in reality they are often interconnected. The international source of conflict is rooted in anarchy and the logic it is deemed to imply.26 In a system of sovereign states, there can be no central political authority. The structure of the system is necessarily anarchic, with each state retaining the right to judge its own course and decide on the use of force. International politics is, according to the neo-realists, characterized by "power, struggle and accommodation" rather than by authority and law. The incentives for aggression, the risk of tension, conflict and war in such a system are high. Survival becomes the supreme goal of states.27 Security is relative and must rely on self-help. In arming for their security, states set in motion a vicious circle. Attempts to increase the security of one state undermine the security of another, creating a security dilemma.28

This structural aspect, however, is only one of the two component layers that constitute the security dilemma.29 The insecurity caused by the anarchic structure is unintended, a "tragic consequence" of the desire for state autonomy. The second component of the security dilemma is more intentional and dynamic, a product of state policy rooted in the ideological beliefs and goals of man and the state, and in their orientation toward the international political and territorial status quo. A policy seeking revolutionary change, hegemony or domination will inevitably contribute to an expansive conception of security, intensify the struggle for power and sharpen the insecurity caused by the anarchic structure. Although these two layers of the security dilemma (structural and policy driven) are often intertwined in practice, distinguishing them is useful in investigating when, why and how regionalism can contribute to national security.

Domestic threats to national security are rooted in problems of political identity, legitimacy and socio-economic inequality. The idea of the nation as the basis of political community and the related construct of the nation state have now become universal norms. But the nation is an "imagined community", and, in many cases, the idea of the nation on the basis of which the state is constituted is relatively new and not deep rooted.30 Colonial states have in many cases been transformed into nation states. The arbitrary state boundaries drawn by the colonial powers - and the mass intra- and inter-state migration they encouraged in pursuit of extractive and commercial goals - resulted in "multi-ethnic territorialisms" that had no political rationale for existence other than as dependencies of the metropolitan powers.31 With the dissipation of the unity fostered by anti-colonial nationalism, ethnic, racial, linguistic and religious consciousness have been on the rise in some countries, contributing to disenchantment with the nation and nation state.32

Concerned that even minor revisions will lead to the collapse of their nation states, political leaders reject further rights to national self-determination.33 They seek to forge nations and states on the basis of their present territorial boundaries. The projected national community commonly incorporates a disproportionate share of the values of the Staatsvolk. This hegemonic attempt to forge a national political community usually undermines the political-economic position and sociocultural identity of other indigenous (minority) communities, leading to their alienation from the nation state as constituted. Some of these groups identify themselves as separate nations and seek to form new nation states, giving rise to tension between state security and subnational group security. The pursuit of one undermines or is perceived to undermine the security of the other, giving rise to a domestic security dilemma.

Dissonance between power and legitimate authority is a second domestic source of conflict. This is relevant to states in which the normative and institutional frameworks for the acquisition and exercise of political power are not well established. In situations where the exercise of state power is not rooted in moral authority, the legitimacy of the regime as well as that of the incumbent government is likely to be contested by rival claimants to power on the basis of competing ideologies, the promise of better performance or greater force.34 In the absence of accepted mechanisms and procedures to manage them, such competition is likely to translate into extra-legal and violent means, including rebellion and revolution. Groups disaffected with the nation state may also contest the legitimacy of the regime. Political legitimacy has been and is likely to continue to be an acute and persistent problem for most modern states.

Large and growing socio-economic inequality is yet another source of domestic conflict. However, although socio-economic grievances can fuel peasant rebellions or protests and strikes by farmers and industrial workers, their consequences are likely to be limited unless they feed into conflicts over political identity or legitimacy. Often there is an overlap. Economically backward regions provide fertile ground for the development and support of separatist movements or for political organizations that challenge the legitimacy of incumbent regimes and governments on the basis of competing ideologies or promises of better performance.

Conflicts rooted in the problem of political identity affect the political survival of the state as constituted, while those rooted in the legitimacy problem and socio-economic grievances affect law and order and political stability. In both cases, but particularly the first, the state as the referent of security becomes problematic. For dissidents, individual and group security is paramount. National security as projected by the power holders becomes a threat. Thus, in situations of domestic conflict there is usually more than one referent of security. The sharp distinction in the neo-realist paradigm between domestic and international politics, and the associated depiction of the domestic political arena as centralized and hierarchic with government monopoly over the legitimate use of force, and as characterized by authority, administration and law, have contributed to considerable neglect of this key aspect of the security problematique since World War II.35

The structural and dynamic sources of insecurity and conflict at the international level are inherent in the principle of anarchy which underpins the international system and cannot be resolved as long as sovereign political units exist. At the domestic level, the problems of political identity, legitimacy and socio-economic grievances are rooted in the nation- and state-formation processes and cannot be resolved quickly. Creation of political identities takes decades if not centuries; the cultivation of political legitimacy is unending; and the attainment and maintenance of socio-economic equality require continuous monitoring and action. These problems are not amenable to a once-and-for-all solution. Still, though the sources of conflict cannot be eliminated, they can nevertheless be managed and ameliorated.

Conflict Management

Conflict prevention, containment and termination are the three component elements of conflict management. In conflict prevention, the goal is to forestall conflict situations and prevent the outbreak of hostilities or other forms of disruptive behaviour. A conflict situation is one in which "two or more social entities or parties ... perceive that they possess mutually incompatible goals".36 Conflict prevention will require the redefinition of the identity, interests and capabilities of the states concerned. In conflict containment, the goal is to deny victory to the aggressor and to prevent the spread of conflict. Denial of victory includes stopping aggressors short of attaining their full goal and persuading them to undo their action. Preventing the spread of conflict includes stopping horizontal escalation in which other countries and issue areas become involved. It may also be directed to halt vertical escalation up the ladder of violence, including the use of weapons of mass destruction.

In conflict termination, the goal is to halt and bring hostilities to a satisfactory conclusion through settlement or resolution. A satisfactory conclusion includes defeating the aggressor and re-establishing the status quo ante-bellum, achieving a compromise through splitting the difference or removing the source of the conflict. Conflict settlement focuses on achieving an agreement to end the use of violence and resolve the more immediate and overt dimensions of the conflict.37 Conflict resolution, on the other hand, seeks to remove the source of conflict altogether. This requires changes in the goals, attitudes and perceptions of the conflicting parties. While these two aspects of conflict termination are not mutually exclusive, conflict resolution usually follows conflict settlement and requires long-range political and economic strategies to alter, if not completely transform, the underlying dynamics of the conflict. In a sense, this brings conflict management back to conflict prevention.


In theory, because of the potential of regionalism to facilitate communications and socialization, information sharing, increase in consensual knowledge, increase in power through the pooling of resources and collective action, regional organizations should be able to avail themselves of one or more of the following strategies: assurance, community building, deterrence, non-intervention, isolation, intervention, intermediation and internationalization. Assurance strategies can increase transparency, reduce uncertainty, limit and regulate competition and thus help to build confidence and avoid unintended outbreak and escalation of hostilities. The purpose of assurance strategies is to mitigate the security dilemma and minimize and regulate the use of force, not to eliminate them. Community-building strategies take this one step further and seek to eliminate the role of force in the resolution of political disputes. The culmination point is a security community in which "there is real assurance that the members of the community will not fight each other physically but will settle their disputes in some other way".38 Deterrence strategies, collective security and collective defence seek to deter aggressive behaviour on the part of member states as well as non-member states. Collective security comprising political, diplomatic, economic and military measures is the more appropriate measure for maintaining order among member states since it is not directed against a specific country or group of countries.39 Collective defence - such as alliances like NATO and the now defunct Warsaw Pact - based on an identified common threat is more appropriate in dealing with external aggression. These two strategies are not, however, mutually exclusive, as illustrated by the provisions of the Rio Treaty. Assurance, community building and deterrence strategies are primarily concerned with conflict prevention, although many of the specific arrangements, particularly alliance and collective security, have a role in conflict containment and termination as well.

Non-intervention is an option when, for whatever reason, the regional organization does not seek to become involved in a particular conflict. Closely linked to non-intervention, but quite distinct, is isolation, the purpose of which is to prevent geographical spillover or widening of the conflict through the involvement of other parties. The intention in adopting these strategies may be to allow the protagonists to resolve the conflict among themselves, or to preserve a future intermediation role for the regional institution. Intervention refers to direct and active involvement in the conflict through the application of a regional organization's collective political, economic and military resources to contain and terminate the conflict. Intervention can be undertaken to enforce collective security and collective defence or to keep the peace among the warring parties. Collective security and collective defence are implemented against an identified aggressor. Peacekeeping, the interposition of forces between belligerents to prevent further fighting, is undertaken to provide a cooling off period and to facilitate mediation efforts.

Intermediation and internationalization are two strategies applicable to conflict termination. Intermediation refers to a non-partisan and usually non-coercive approach to settlement. Regional institutions may urge conflicting parties to use regional or global mechanisms and procedures for pacific settlement of disputes, or they may attempt to play a more direct and active role by engaging in conciliation and mediation.40 The strategy of internationalization becomes relevant when conflict prevention, containment and termination are beyond the capabilities of the regional arrangements or when extra-regional actors become involved. Through internationalization, regional organizations can mobilize the resources of external actors and organizations in support of their strategies, while denying the same resources to their adversaries.

As noted earlier, in theory these strategies should be available to regional organizations. Their feasibility in practice and their relevance for conflict management at the international and domestic levels, with the former further subdivided into intramural and extramural levels, are explored next.

Intramural Conflict Management

Regionalism at the intramural level, among member countries, may be able to mitigate the insecurity issuing from the anarchic structure of the international system, but its potential to deal with the policy-driven power struggle component of the security dilemma, at least to begin with, will be limited. In fact, the existence of conflicts and rivalries that give rise to an intense zero-sum struggle will more than likely prevent the emergence of regionalism itself.41 In South-East Asia, for example, regional cooperation became possible only after the end of the Indonesian confrontation against Malaysia and Singapore. Even after that, the residual tensions among these countries and the Sabah dispute between Malaysia and the Philippines nearly wrecked ASEAN during its first decade of existence. The conflict between India and Pakistan has stultified the development of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and the Russo-Japanese territorial conflict and the Korean problem are among the obstructions to regional cooperation in North-East Asia. Once in place, and if the experience has been positive for all parties, regionalism may over the long term prevent future power struggles. To begin with, however, regionalism will emerge and be effective only among countries that have accepted the status quo or at least do not seek to transform it radically.42 These countries do not have an interest in territorial conquest, or in political or ideological hegemony. They conceive of their security in limited terms.

The central security concern in this situation stems from the uncertainty and potential for misperception inherent in anarchy. In the absence of channels of communication, even countries positively disposed toward the status quo can, acting independently, end up with outcomes which none of them prefers. In this situation regionalism would appear to be well placed to play a direct role in reducing if not eliminating uncertainty and in ameliorating the security dilemma through the construction of regimes to increase transparency, to regulate the acquisition and deployment of arms, to settle disputes peacefully and to regulate the conduct of external powers in the region. These measures will help lift the fog of suspicion, enable a more accurate reading of the intentions of other countries and prevent misperception and unintended escalation of tension and conflict. Instead of planning for worst-case scenarios, which can become self-fulfilling, countries interested in preserving the status quo, assured that others have a similar commitment, can follow a more moderate course, one that emphasizes security through defence rather than offence.43 Strategic doctrines, force structure, acquisition of weapon systems, planning and training, alignments and alliances can all be tailored accordingly.

The benefits resulting from the implementation of assurance strategies can foster higher levels of cooperation in the same and/or other issue areas, as for example in the economic domain or in collective action vis-â-vis external actors or on global issues.44 Such spillover will enhance the web of interdependence, increasing the cost and restraint on the use of force while reducing its utility, and in general it will alter the cost-benefit calculus in favour of peaceful resolution of political disputes. By enhancing interdependence, which some argue is as fundamental a fact of international politics as anarchy, the negative effects of the latter are mitigated.45

The preceding two aspects of intramural conflict prevention - reducing uncertainty and increasing the cost of resorting to force - are rooted essentially in the rational calculation of self-interest and reciprocity on the part of participating states. A third aspect of conflict prevention, potentially more enduring and with the prospect of preventing the emergence of new power struggles, is the socio-communicative or normative dimension.46 The thrust of the argument here is that the definition and pursuit of national interest are not exogenously given but are embedded in norms and values. By providing an environment in which socialization and learning can occur, regionalism contributes to the internalization of "new understandings of self and other, of acquiring new role identities", and over the long term makes for a gradual transformation of identity and interest, and of power politics.47 In addition to legitimating the regional order, the shared norms and values forged and consolidated through the process of regionalism may strengthen international society48 and lead to the eventual development of a community in which force is no longer an option in resolving disputes.

This quite considerable potential of regionalism in conflict prevention, however, has only been partially realized in practice. Zealous protection of sovereignty and apprehension to any kind of supranationalism coupled with continuing suspicion, divergent national interests and, in some cases, the involvement of external powers have inhibited regional organizations like the OAS, the OAU and ASEAN from formulating and implementing far-reaching assurance strategies. Their charters and associated treaties, for example, embody principles and procedures for pacific settlement of disputes, but with the exception of the treaties and pacts associated with the OAS, these have not been operationalized. Member states are not obligated to and have been reluctant to utilize the formal regional arrangements. The secretary-general of the OAU, Ahmed Salim Ahmed, has identified the high premium placed on sovereignty as in large measure responsible for the reluctance of African states to resort to the organization's mechanisms for mediation, conciliation and arbitration.49 Even in the OAS, very few cases have been settled within the formal framework. The 1948 Pact of Bogotá, which coordinates all previous measures of the Organization and which calls for obligatory settlement by all contracting parties, has been ratified by only 13 states. The others favour voluntary settlement procedures. The OAS and, to a much lesser degree, the OAU have had a number of successes in mediation, inquiry and arbitration, but outside the formal framework.50 In general, member states prefer ad hoc and informal arrangements, since these permit a much higher degree of national control.

A similar situation prevails with regard to regional arms control. The few regimes that are in place are in relatively peripheral strategic regions or relate to weapons of mass destruction which by and large are not central to the war-waging capability of most countries. Even these, as for example the Tlatelolco and Rarotonga treaties, are so watered down to secure the support of all member states and related external powers that their practical effect pales in comparison to promise. Their non-ratification by some key internal and external states (or the attachment of qualifications that effectively nullify the intended effects of the treaty), coupled with the verification and enforcement problems that attend such treaties, further reduce the significance of such regimes. There are no conventional arms controls, and very few confidence- and security-building regimes, at the regional level except in Europe. Apart from the difficulties associated with conventional arms control, divergent security concerns, variations in national endowments and the continuation of mutual suspicions make such arms control measures difficult.

Deterrence strategies are even more difficult. A credible collective security arrangement can deter aggressive behaviour, and belief that all states will be so deterred will reinforce assurance strategies.51 Credible collective security, however, requires the surrender of state autonomy in a crucial area and satisfaction of other stringent conditions which, as illustrated by the experiences at the global level of the League of Nations and the UN Security Council, are extremely difficult. The regional level does not appear to have any special advantage in this regard. In fact, the probability is high that regional organizations will be unable to muster the necessary power and the political will for effective collective action in the event of aggression committed by a substantive member state. This is reflected by the fact that very few regional organizations have formal provisions for collective security.

The OAU and ASEAN do not even have provisions for peacekeeping. ECOWAS has a Protocol on Mutual Assistance on Defence. Under this Protocol, the designated authority shall meet urgently and take appropriate action for mediation, which shall be primarily in the form of deploying a peacekeeping force.52 Only the OAS has an arrangement approaching collective security. In the event of conflict between member states, the Rio Treaty requires the high contracting parties to "call upon the contending states to suspend hostilities and restore matters to the status quo ante-bellum" and to take any other appropriate action to maintain or restore peace and settle the dispute peacefully.

Between 1948 and 1983 the Rio Treaty was invoked in 20 situations, mostly involving inter-American disputes.53 All but one dealt with the Caribbean area. Sanctions were applied three times and most of the inter-American hostilities were halted. This apparent success, however, must be qualified. As the largest power in the organization and a global power, the United States did not consider the OAS as a substitute for its own foreign policy. Often the OAS served as a legitimizing device for what was essentially unilateral US action. Where the United States could not muster the necessary support within the OAS or other subregional organizations, it took unilateral action. The attempts by the United States to convert the OAS into an anti-communist alliance and by some Latin American states to make it an anti-dictatorial alliance created disenchantment among many member states, weakening the OAS and contributing to a decline of the inter-American security system until the early 1990s. The 1993 Santiago commitment would appear to have injected new life into the system.

Highlighting some of its practical limitations should not obscure the successes of regionalism in intramural conflict prevention. ASEAN, for example, by facilitating socialization among elites, the consolidation of some regional norms and relatively successful collective action on a number of external issues (Cambodia, economic dialogue with major trading partners), has contributed to the creation of a sense of community among member states. While mutual threat perceptions have not been eliminated, they are at a much lower level now and counterbalanced by other, more positive dynamics as well. Despite the lack of progress in settling disputes, no member state currently contemplates the use of force to resolve them. The norm regarding the non-use of force to resolve political disputes has become quite well established. The recent decision by Malaysia and Singapore to submit their territorial dispute over the island of Pedra Branca to international adjudication is a major advance and could have a demonstration effect for the resolution of other such disputes in South-East Asia. The sense of an ASEAN community and its impact upon the definition of national interests would also appear, at least thus far, to have prevented the emergence of a new power struggle among member states. By helping to strengthen the political and territorial status quo in the region, ASEAN has contributed to the transformation of a volatile region into a stable and prosperous one.

Similarly, it has been argued that through the consolidation of principles and norms (territorial integrity, non-intervention and selective interpretation of self-determination), the OAU has helped to neutralize some difficult boundary problems in Africa.54 Except in the Horn, no new state has emerged. This is no mean achievement considering the artificiality of boundaries and the cultural heterogeneity that characterize nearly all the African states. These status quo reinforcing principles and norms, however, as noted later, may have contributed to the intensification and prolongation of some domestic conflicts. At the subregional level, ECOWAS is credited with having become a reference group with powers to (1) confer collective subregional (and ultimately continental) legitimacy on a leader, (2) to provide diplomatic support against internal and external subversion, and (3) to enhance the global acceptability of leaders.55 These powers, it is asserted, have been successfully used by ECOWAS to compel initially radical governments in Ghana (Jerry Rawlings), Burkina Faso (Thomas Sankara) and Liberia (Samuel Doe) to observe regional principles and norms designed to protect the regional political and territorial status quo. The role of regionalism in the containment and termination of intramural hostilities may be more limited. The very act of using force to resolve a dispute is an indication of rejection by the parties concerned of the status quo as well as the normative constraints, rules and procedures associated with regionalism. In this context considerations of power predominate. Regional organizations, as noted earlier, with rare exceptions like the OAS, are unlikely to command the necessary coercive power and political will to take collective action to stop the fighting and bring the parties to the negotiating table.

Often they command only diplomatic power, which they may deploy to prevent horizontal and vertical escalation of the conflict, exert diplomatic pressure to stop the conflict and offer their services for peacekeeping and intermediation. Even these roles, as will be noted below, can become controversial. Regional organizations may also seek the assistance of the United Nations or a friendly external power, or these actors may become involved on their own accord. In either case, the conflict will become internationalized. Then, at best, the regional organization can act in conjunction with the external actor. At worst, it will become a bystander. Quite apart from the above weaknesses, regionalism itself can be negatively affected by the outbreak of hostilities among member states, especially among core countries. Such a development has the potential to paralyse and even bring about the collapse of regionalism.

Several of these limitations can be illustrated with reference to the experience of the OAU in the Western Sahara conflict from 1976 to 1983.56 The conflict was rooted in the clash between the nationalist Saharan elite claim to self-determination backed by Algeria and the sovereignty claims by Morocco and Mauritania over Western Sahara. Based on an earlier advisory opinion of the ICJ, the OAU in 1976 affirmed the right of the Saharan people to self-determination and independence. By 1980, 26 of the 50 African countries had recognized the Sharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), and in 1981 the OAU council of ministers decided to admit the SADR to OAU membership. This decision had two negative implications for the OAU. One, from the perspective of Morocco, the OAU was no longer impartial and therefore not credible as a mediator. Morocco stopped attending meetings organized by the OAU, preferring the United Nations as the mediator. Because the OAU had no leverage over Morocco, it ceased to be a suitable forum for conflict termination. Second, the 1981 decision precipitated the deepest ever political and constitutional crisis for the OAU. Declaring the decision to admit the SADR as inadmissible, on the ground that it was not an independent state, 19 members walked out. The crisis was not resolved until June of the following year. From 1983 the OAU had to take a back seat. The United Nations, in conjunction with the secretary-general of the OAU, set in train a number of initiatives culminating in the UN plan for a referendum, which was approved by the UN Security Council and the conflicting parties in 1991. Because of Morocco's objections, the OAU has almost no role in the implementation of this plan.

The Western Sahara case illustrates the difficulties in forging a common position and remaining impartial in conflicts involving member states. It also illustrates the lack of moral authority and physical power to enforce settlements, the possible negative consequences for the regional organization itself and the key role of universal organizations like the United Nations in the management of intramural conflicts.

Extramural Conflict Management

The extramural goal of security regionalism is the protection of member states from insecurity created by other states and organizations. There is no sense of community at this level, and the regional organization has to deal with countries that are not necessarily committed to the status quo. Some may even be categorically opposed and seek to overthrow it. Revolutionary states have no interest in legitimating or abiding by an order designed to preserve the status quo except as a temporary expedient. In fact, regionalism could be perceived by these countries as directed against them, provoking counter-groups and exacerbating the security dilemma. In this situation it is not possible to implement far-reaching assurance strategies. In the post-1975 period, for example, Viet Nam, viewing ASEAN negatively, dismissed its proposals to create a zone of peace in South-East Asia as reactionary. Limited regimes to avoid mutually undesirable outcomes, such as US-Soviet agreements during the Cold War and one between Israel and Egypt after the 1973 war, may however be possible.57

Even countries that are not opposed to the status quo may not be positively disposed toward the construction of regulatory regimes. Because of their wide-ranging interests and the perceived need to preserve autonomy in foreign policy, global powers may seek to avoid being tied down by such regimes. The United States, for example, while friendly to and supportive of ASEAN and the South Pacific Forum (SPF), was opposed to the nuclear free zone proposals of both organizations. It viewed the proposals, particularly the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ), as undermining its global strategy while working to the advantage of its rival, the Soviet Union.58 Even smaller powers without a revolutionary orientation may not be supportive of regional regimes. This has been the case, until quite recently, with Myanmar, which viewed participation in the regimes proposed by ASEAN as undermining its non-aligned and later neutral orientation - the cornerstone of its foreign policy.

In theory, regionalism can and should enhance the power - defined broadly to encompass military, economic and diplomatic elements - of the collective. In practice, regional organizations, especially among developing countries, seldom command the required power and/or a common threat perception for an effective alliance. They can seek to enhance their power through alliance or alignment with extra-regional powers, as for example the Western European states with the United States to contain the Soviet threat and the ASEAN countries with China to contain the Vietnamese and Soviet threats. The internationalization strategy, however, may restrict the freedom and flexibility of regional efforts. There is also the possibility that the interests of regional states may be overridden by those of the major powers. Beijing's own objectives of punishing Viet Nam and containing the Soviet threat overrode ASEAN's concerns and its peace proposals on several occasions. Even the EC has not been exempt from this. During the Cold War, American interests and policies frequently took priority over Western European concerns.

Even the availability of sufficient power need not deter external aggression if the commitment of the contracting parties is in doubt. The United Kingdom, for example, was not deterred from attacking Argentinean forces in the Falklands/Malvinas by the fact that Argentina was a member of the Rio Treaty. Despite the provision that aggression against one is an aggression against all American states, Argentina was not able to secure the effective support of the OAS during the Falklands conflict.59 The United States, caught between two allies, finally opted to side with the United Kingdom on the ground that the Falklands was not covered by the Rio Treaty and that, because Argentina had used force first, the United Kingdom had not committed aggression. Most Latin American states strongly supported Argentina's sovereignty claim, but several (Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Colombia) had misgivings about Argentina's first use of force, which went against the regional norm that disputes should be resolved peacefully.

The final OAS resolution (29 May 1982) was strong on rhetoric but meant little in terms of effective support for Argentina. It condemned most vigorously the unjustified and disproportionate attack perpetuated by the United Kingdom, urged the United States to end sanctions against Argentina and to end assistance to the United Kingdom and called upon members to support Argentina in the manner each considered appropriate. The US position and the differences within Latin American states, and more generally the paralysis of the OAS during the conflict, dealt a severe blow to the Organization. Despite the peculiarities of the case, it does illustrate the points made earlier regarding inadequate power of regional organizations (in this case, without US support the OAS could do little against a relatively major power) and the difficulty of forging a common position in an open alliance, that is one with no predetermined threat.

Though weak in military power, regional organizations may be relatively strong in diplomatic or economic power. If such power constitutes critical mass, then they can play a critical role in shaping the rules of the larger regional game, as with the EC in relation to Eastern Europe in the post-1989 period and ASEAN in relation to the Indo-China states. Even when the power of a regional organization does not constitute critical mass, the organization may be able to take the initiative in constructing the larger regional order, as is currently the case with ASEAN's successful initiative in creating the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to begin a dialogue on security matters in the Asia-Pacific region. But for this to be possible the status quo has to be acceptable or at least tolerable to all the major powers, and they must support, or at least not oppose, such initiatives. The abatement of the struggle for power among the major countries is a necessary precondition for such initiatives to succeed.

The diplomatic power of a regional organization can also be deployed to contain extramural conflict. It may be particularly useful in influencing UN debate and action. The arms embargo against Yugoslavia was sanctioned by the Security Council at the request of the EC. Indeed, the United Nations became involved in trying to negotiate an end to that conflict at the urging of the EC. Similarly, the support of the OAS was crucial in getting the Security Council to impose sanctions on Haiti. The OAU successfully pushed for UN sanctions against Taylor in Liberia. Diplomatic power, however, is only enabling, providing the regional organization with the power of initiative. It cannot guarantee success. That will still depend on the disposition of non-member states, the dynamics of the larger international system and the competence of member states in harnessing the power of external states in the service of their cause.

ASEAN's success in denying victory to Viet Nam in Cambodia and preventing the spread of the conflict to Thailand, for example, was only partly due to its diplomatic power. The latter kept the Cambodian conflict in the forefront of the international agenda, structured the international debate on the issue in the terms articulated by ASEAN, harnessed international support for its position and denied international recognition to the Vietnamese-installed government in Phnom Penh. Equally if not more significant was the support it received from key external actors whose interests overlapped with those of ASEAN. Through alignment with China and the support of the United States, Japan and the EC, the Association was able to bring considerable military and economic pressure to bear upon Viet Nam which was vital for the success of its coercive diplomacy strategy.

The lack of power and influence to alter the underlying capabilities and dynamics of the situation, and thus to redefine the interests and goals of the parties to a conflict, severely limits a regional organization's ability to terminate extramural conflicts. The partisan role of regional organizations in such conflicts also renders them unacceptable as intermediaries. While they may in certain situations still be able to mediate, this will have to be in conjunction with the United Nations or an extra-regional actor. Further, most regional organizations are unlikely to command the resources necessary to negotiate and guarantee the enforcement of an international settlement of a substantive conflict. Usually they have to rely on an external power or the United Nations.

Here again the experience of ASEAN in relation to the Cambodian conflict is instructive. Despite the many attempts of the Association, the conflict continued to be stalemated. Only when relations among the major powers and the interests of the immediate parties to the conflict changed did the peace process move forward.60 ASEAN's attempt to mediate was rejected by Viet Nam, which viewed the Association as a party to the conflict. ASEAN became partially acceptable at a later stage, but only after a change of Thailand's government and its Cambodia policy. Even then ASEAN had only a subordinate role. Negotiations among the United States, China and the Soviet Union, all members of the UN Security Council, supplemented by discussions and agreements between China and Viet Nam and among the warring Cambodian factions, led to the October 1991 settlement. The United Nations also invested its moral authority and a huge amount of manpower and intellectual and financial resources to implement the international settlement; these are clearly beyond the means of any regional organization.

From the foregoing discussion it appears that, at the extramural level, regionalism is not privileged in conflict prevention as it is at the intramural level. In fact, its exclusionary nature and status quo orientation may exacerbate the security dilemma. However, the collective weight, especially the diplomatic power, that can be brought to bear through regional cooperation may in certain situations enable regional organizations to initiate and foster the development of assurance strategies and help prevent conflicts. Their limited power and status as participants minimizes the role of regional organizations in conflict termination. By comparison, they appear to have greater potential in conflict containment through the mobilization of their own power as well as that of allies. But for this to happen, there must be unity of purpose among member states and the international circumstances must be favourable. The effectiveness of regionalism in promoting security at this level, much more than at the intramural level, is a function of its power potential and ability to act collectively.

Domestic Conflict Management

Conflicts at the domestic level pose the most serious security problems for many developing and some developed countries. Domestic conflicts often spill over into neighbouring countries and/or invite major power intervention, threatening regional peace and security as well. Yet the basis on which governments often enter into regional cooperation precludes any formal role for regional institutions in the management of domestic conflict.

Non-interference in domestic affairs is a key principle of the Charter of the United Nations - save for collective action under Chapter VII - as well as that of regional organizations. Concerned with US intervention, the Latin American states pushed for the primacy of the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention. These principles became the cornerstones of the inter-American system.61 Beginning in 1993 these principles have been relaxed to enable the goal of protecting democracy. In what has come to be known as the Santiago commitment, the foreign ministers of the OAS pledged to adopt "timely and expeditious procedures to ensure the promotion and defence of representative democracy". In the event of interruption of the democratic process in a member state, the foreign ministers will meet in an emergency session to decide on the course of action. In practice, the OAS has condemned the upheavals in Guatemala, Haiti and Peru and has applied economic sanctions to back its demand for return to democratic rule in these countries.62 While the Santiago commitment emphasizes the protection of democratic regimes at the expense of the principle of non-intervention, the latter is far from dead.63

Non-intervention is accorded a key place in the OAU charter and resolutions as a means to strengthen the African state and prevent subversion.64 Member states do not want the OAU interfering in their own domestic conflicts. The ASEAN and more generally a large number of Asian states believe that what happens within their borders is of no concern to the international community. Consequently, regional organizations have been deliberately excluded from domestic conflict management (the OAU, ASEAN) or accorded a role subject to the invitation of member states (ECOWAS and until recently the OAS).

The sanctity of the principle of non-intervention is now under challenge. A growing number of Western policy makers and scholars make the case for intervention by the international community on humanitarian grounds and to protect democratic regimes, in addition to intervention under Chapter VII.65 This case is contested in Asia and Africa, but some change, particularly with regard to gross violation of human rights, may be in the offing.66 Humanitarian intervention is receiving greater attention in the United Nations and the OAU. In justifying the proposed OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, the OAU secretary-general states that "the image of a continent in which conflicts seem endemic and in which human suffering seems to be callously taken for granted, must be effaced and be done so without delay".67

But humanitarian concern has yet to be accepted as a basis for international intervention. UN interventions in Yugoslavia and later in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda have all been taken under Chapter VII. Even if a legal basis is established for regional bodies to intervene in domestic conflicts, this is only the first step. What roles can regional organizations play, and how effective will they be in managing domestic conflicts? Some possible answers to these questions may be gleaned from examining the feasibility, strengths and weaknesses of regional strategies relevant for domestic conflict management, drawing upon the experience of regional organizations that have intervened in domestic conflicts.

Norm setting, development of regional political identity and the creation of a stable international environment might be viewed as possible contributions of regionalism to domestic conflict prevention. The norms promoted by regional organizations - territorial integrity, selective application of self-determination and the promotion and protection of incumbent regimes and governments - are essentially conservative. They may discourage secessionist and irredentist movements and prevent violent political change, although this does not seem to have been the case in practice. Conflict has been widespread in Africa and, to a lesser degree, in Asia and Latin America. Some argue that, although internal conflicts have not been eliminated, regional norms have helped reduce the number of secessionist movements and should be judged as remarkably successful in light of the fact that no new state except for Eritrea has emerged in Africa.

From the perspective of aggrieved groups, this does not represent successful conflict prevention, but oppression and suppression of their legitimate aspirations. Rigid adherence to the principle of territorial integrity and denial of any further right to self-determination may intensify and prolong conflict, increasing human suffering, as was the case, for example, in Nigeria during the Biafran war and in Ethiopia until the creation of Eritrea. Similarly, regional norms that perpetuate leaders and regimes, regardless of their legitimacy, will not be acceptable to those who contest the legitimacy of the power holders and their institutions. In this situation purely status quo norms will have no credibility in the eyes of the challengers and will be rejected. For regional norms to contribute to conflict prevention, they must, in addition to preserving the status quo, enable protection of human rights, political, economic and cultural autonomy for minority groups, self-determination in certain situations and provide recourse for subnational groups to regional and international regimes. These are difficult issues but they will have to be addressed if regional norms are to have impact. Development of norms in these areas requires a more flexible approach to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It has been asserted that minority groups can find security in a larger regional political community and that this will "soften domestic conflict".68 This claim rests on at least two assumptions, that a regional political community and identity can be developed and that such an identity will be sufficient to satisfy the aspirations and demands of subnational groups. An additional layer of identity and allegiance may in some situations mitigate conflict, but it is unclear whether it can be a substitute for national identity.69 Even the European identity, which is by far the most significant at the regional level, does not appear to have made any significant contribution to the resolution of the problems of identity in Northern Ireland or in Basque Spain, although some would argue that it has helped to contain fragmentation.70 Apart from the issue of substitutability, in so far as the developing countries are concerned an additional level of political identity and allegiance - often equated with supranationalism - is not desired. And even when promoted, it has not prospered. Pan-Africanism, for example, was promoted actively in the 1960s to identify the commonalty of the African peoples in the belief that it could counteract and ease temptations to highlight ethnic and tribal cleavages. But because of the emphasis on sovereignty and the divergent national interests, Pan-Africanism has become a hollow slogan.

By creating a stable environment, regionalism might enable member states to concentrate on domestic problems and foster economic growth and development, and these in turn may contribute to conflict prevention and termination. There may be some truth to this assertion. However, the assumptions that underscore it, that the government is intent on resolving the problems in a just and amicable way, that the benefits of economic growth will be shared by all sections of the population, that economic performance can resolve political problems relating to identity and political legitimacy, are not necessarily correct. Incumbent governments could well take advantage of a stable international situation or international support to deploy maximum resources to eliminate domestic opposition and in the process increase the insecurity for the affected groups and individuals, as is currently happening in Myanmar. Economic growth as well as the lack of it can make for contestation of legitimacy. Problems relating to political identity and legitimacy cannot be resolved by economic means alone or even primarily by them.

From the foregoing discussion it is clear that the conflict prevention role of regionalism would appear to be much more limited at the domestic level compared to the other two levels. Once a conflict has erupted, regional organizations have the options of non-intervention, isolation, intervention or mediation and conciliation. Non-intervention has been the preferred strategy of most regional organizations, for a variety of reasons: adherence to the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs, lack of invitation from the incumbent government, lack of capability, intractability of conflict, anticipated human and material cost, difficulty in forging a common position (the EC in relation to Yugoslavia), difficulty in determining aggression and aggressor, tension between competing principles (territorial integrity versus self-determination in the case of Yugoslavia, or non-intervention versus the promotion of democracy in several Latin American cases), firm belief that external actors can have only a marginal impact on the resolution of domestic conflicts and that these have to be resolved by domestic contestants even if the political, economic and human costs are high. The OAU, for example, restricted its involvement to internal conflicts related to decolonization and apartheid. A common position was not difficult to formulate in these situations. It did not intervene in the numerous other internal conflicts on the continent.

Concurrent with non-intervention, regional organizations often seek to isolate conflicts to prevent external interference and escalation, urging contestants to resolve the conflict by themselves. This has been the preferred option in ASEAN. In February 1986 when the Philippines was confronted with a critical situation which "portended bloodshed and civil war", the other ASEAN member states called upon all Filipino leaders to join efforts to pave the way for peaceful resolution.71 But as demonstrated in the case of the Philippines as well as by the ECOWAS experience in Liberia, isolation can be rather difficult. Domestic contestants will appeal and, in the absence of unanimity in the international community, are likely to receive external support. It should be noted here that non-intervention and isolation, while giving the appearance of neutrality, can and often do work to the advantage of the incumbent power holders. In the case of Myanmar, for example, the non-intervention approach advocated by ASEAN has strengthened the hand of the government.

Non-intervention in the context of endemic internal conflict, as in Africa, projects an image of the regional organization as irrelevant and useless. The OAU's reputation in and out of Africa has suffered much because of its reluctance to become involved in domestic conflicts. Such considerations, as noted earlier, are pushing it to become more involved. But intervention too carries its own limitations and dangers. Difficulty in forging and maintaining unity among member states, difficulty in maintaining the neutrality of the intervention force, limited authority and capability of regional institutions, lack of financial resources and difficulty in arriving at and implementing an international settlement limit the containment and termination roles of regionalism. These constraints are illustrated below with reference to the ECOWAS and OAU interventions in Liberia and Chad, respectively.

The division between Nigeria, which supported incumbent president Doe, and Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Libya, which supported insurrection leader Taylor, as well as the Nigerian attempt to dominate the whole operation, had at least two negative consequences for the ECOWAS intervention in Liberia.72 The Economic Community of West African States Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) was perceived by Taylor as a Nigerian operation to shore up the Doe government. From Taylor's perspective, ECOWAS was not impartial and its peace plans were unacceptable. The mediation role of ECOWAS was thus compromised from the outset. Second, the support of the three West African countries as well as strong support from business interests in France and the United States made it impossible for ECOWAS to diplomatically and economically isolate Taylor. He continued to receive military supplies through C(tm)te d'Ivoire. ECOWAS also could not prevent conflict spillover. By mid-1991, NPFL-supported elements had captured 25 per cent of Sierra Leone territory.

Unable to raise a superior force, ECOWAS could not dislodge Taylor from 90 per cent of the territories he controlled. The stalemate lasted until July 1993, when ECOMOG, having tripled its force level to 16,000 and added naval and air elements, launched a massive offensive which forced Taylor to adopt a more conciliatory posture. Financial constraint had been a primary reason for the smallness of the force first fielded. ECOWAS had to seek external funding, but Nigeria was concerned that regional autonomy and its own control would be undermined. The tension between autonomy and external financing may be partly resolved by resorting to UN funding. But the United Nations, itself under financial strain, is unable to assist substantially. In the case of the OAU force in Chad, for example, the United Nations set up a special fund for $35 million, which was way below the actual requirement of $500 million. Finally, because of its distance, prestige and much greater resources, the United Nations was much more acceptable than ECOWAS to Taylor. From very early on he indicated a willingness to disarm under UN supervision, but Nigeria, eager to keep external forces out, rejected this. Eventually ECOWAS had to seek the assistance of the United Nations to enforce the arms embargo and in mediating a final ceasefire in July 1993.

Despite its many limitations, ECOMOG did register some successes. It stopped the fighting and kept the warring factions apart for two years. It also developed a framework for settlement that was in large measure incorporated into the UN plan. This limited success revived some faith in African institutions, which had plummeted after the disastrous OAU peacekeeping experience in Chad.

The latter was a UN-type peacekeeping effort, but the situation in Chad was far from conducive to such an operation.73 Two key countries, Egypt and Sudan, did not support the OAU undertaking and sought to undermine it. Chadian President Weddye consented to OAU peacekeeping on the assumption that the OAU force would protect him and his regime. But when the OAU force did not see this as its mission, Weddye became disenchanted. The neutral position of the OAU force also had the unintended effect of emboldening the opposition. There were many other political, institutional and operational problems. Most crucially, the OAU could not fund the force. Financial constraints delayed the assembly and deployment of the force and accounted for its small size.

The failure of OAU peacekeeping in Chad, which was initially greeted as an important milestone fulfilling the earlier dreams of an African high command, had two negative consequences. One, it had a humiliating effect on the OAU. The OAU suffered a "crushing blow to its prestige and credibility" and became reluctant to enter other domestic conflicts. Second, after President Weddye's experience, no African leader was likely to invite or consent to a peacekeeping or enforcement operation in his country. The preference now appears to be for bilateral or multilateral defence arrangements with extra-regional powers or with other African countries.74 This ensures that external support, when forthcoming, is indeed for the incumbent leader and government.

Finally, because of their intensity - often zero-sum - international agreements to settle domestic conflicts are difficult to negotiate and implement. They are frequently beyond the capability of regional organizations. Further, it is not uncommon for such agreements to be aborted or to break down a few months or years down the road. There are many such examples in recent history - Somalia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Liberia and Western Sahara to name a few. Unlike decolonization, where there is a clean break with the metropolitan power, in the case of other internal conflicts the domestic groups and the dynamics associated with them remain in place and can easily be reignited. Nation and state formation, in which most of the domestic conflicts are rooted, is a long, drawn out, often bloody process.

The above discussion suggests several observations. First, regional organizations are severely limited as an agent of domestic conflict management. Preclusion from domestic politics and the complex and intense dynamics of domestic conflicts severely limit their possibilities for conflict prevention. They may have a relatively greater role in conflict containment and termination, but this is likely to be limited to a select few situations. Even then, regional organizations may have to enlist the support of the United Nations or other external actors. Second, to the extent that regional organizations do have a role in domestic conflict management, because of their status quo character they are likely to favour the incumbent power holders: governments tend to support each other. As former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere is reported to have said, "the OAU exists only for the protection of the African Heads of State".75 Similarly, the primary rationale for the Gulf Cooperation Council is the protection of the incumbent monarchs and their conservative kingdoms.76 Even non-intervention and isolation, as noted above, are likely to work in favour of the incumbent power holders. Third, and related to the second, instead of containing and terminating domestic conflict, regionalism can also prolong and intensify it. By strengthening the hand of the government, as for example in Myanmar, regional support increases the persecution and insecurity of groups seeking political change.


Regionalism has its greatest value at the intramural level when the policy-driven power struggle component of the security dilemma has abated. In this situation, regional strategies can be effectively deployed to reduce the uncertainty inherent in anarchy and the misperception that can issue from it. Because of the commitment of member states to the status quo, regionalism can be particularly effective in conflict prevention. Through the construction of security regimes in the areas of confidence- and security-building and pacific settlement of disputes, and promoting defensive defence, it can mitigate the negative effects of anarchy. The resulting secure environment can foster cooperation in other issue areas, increase interdependence, alter the cost-benefit calculus in favour of the peaceful resolution of disputes and contribute to the forging and consolidation of shared norms and values. This will further strengthen international society and in the long run make for the development of a pluralistic security community. Regionalism is not as privileged in conflict prevention at the extramural level. Here the countries are not necessarily committed to the status quo, and the regional organization is one of many actors. Its collective weight may give the regional organization the power of initiative, but success in building regimes for conflict prevention at this level will depend on the disposition and support of the other actors.

Regionalism is much less useful in coping with the policy-driven power struggle component of the security dilemma. When the latter operates unabated, as is the case at the intramural level when hostilities break out among member states and most of the time at the extramural level, the collective power that regionalism can bring to bear will be the crucial determinant of its role in conflict prevention, containment and termination. The power of the regional organization should in theory be greater than that of individual states, but the realization of this potential will be dependent upon the unity of purpose among member states and their willingness to pool national power and act collectively on the issue in concern. Even when these stringent conditions are met, the power of the collective may still be insufficient to redefine the interests and goals of the parties to the conflict. Usually regional organizations are strong only in terms of diplomatic power, which can be useful in mobilizing international support and structuring international, especially UN, action.

To be effective in terms of deterrence, however, diplomatic power has to be complemented with economic and military power. This will require the regional organization to ally or align with one or more major powers or seek the assistance of the United Nations. Though the diplomatic power of a regional organization can be deployed to harness international power in support of its policies, success will depend on the pattern of relations among the major powers and the congruence of interest the regional organization can establish with the target actor. The internationalization strategy will also constrain the freedom and flexibility of the regional organization. Thus, such an organization's effectiveness in conflict containment and termination is much more limited than its effectiveness in conflict prevention. And because of its partisan role in conflict containment, its conflict termination role will be even more limited.

Regionalism is not directly relevant to the management of domestic conflict. Its impact is indirect and rather limited. Because of its status quo orientation, if a regional organization becomes involved in domestic conflict management it is likely to favour the incumbent power holders over those seeking change. This will not be problematic if the power holders enjoy a substantial degree of legitimacy. However, in situations of domestic conflict this will usually not be the case. Support of the regional organization for incumbent power holders in these circumstances may intensify domestic conflict and increase insecurity for opposing groups. In light of the many dilemmas and limitations, the optimal strategies of regional organizations in dealing with domestic conflicts would appear to be non-intervention, isolation, diplomatic pressure urging peaceful settlement of the dispute, the offering of services and enlisting the support and role of the United Nations or a key external power.

Finally, while regionalism has considerable potential, it also suffers severe limitations. On its own, regionalism will be ineffective in ensuring the security of participating countries. It has to be viewed as part of a package that includes national self-help, regional and global balances of power, alliance with extra-regional powers, and the UN security system. The salience of each of these elements and the "right" combination will vary with the circumstances of each country.


John Renninger*
*(John Renninger is Deputy Director in the European Division, Department of Political Affairs, United Nations. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations)

By way of introduction, a number of basic points regarding cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in peacemaking and peacekeeping can be made.1 The remainder of this paper will then focus on some of the more important policy questions regarding the United Nations and regional organizations which will need to be addressed in the future.

  1. The founders of the United Nations envisaged a significant role for regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security. The basic legal and constitutional framework for this is found in Chapter VIII of the Charter (Articles 52-54). Important provisions are also found in other chapters of the Charter.

  2. There is a long history of involvement by regional organizations alongside the United Nations in peacemaking and peacekeeping. However, given the limitations on the United Nations' role in international peace and security during the Cold War, until recently examples of such cooperation have been limited. There were, in fact, some instances of spirited competition in the Cold War period.

  3. The new interest in involving regional organizations more closely with the work of the United Nations is seen in various Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, in reports of the Secretary-General - such as An Agenda for Peace and its supplement - and in reports of meetings organized by NGOs and research institutions.

  4. At a time of retrenchment and consolidation, following the rapid expansion of UN activities in the immediate aftermath of the end of the Cold War, the United Nations is now entering into a more intensive and organized pattern of cooperation with regional organizations. Recent reports of the Secretary-General contain a catalogue of current cooperative arrangements. As a reflection of this evolving relationship, on 1 August 1994 the Secretary-General held the first meeting with the heads of 10 regional organizations to discuss common interests in the peacemaking and peacekeeping fields. A second such meeting, involving additional organizations, was held 15-16 February 1996.

The Case for Greater Cooperation with Regional Organizations

The United Nations is now under strong criticism for its perceived failures in Somalia and Bosnia. In the view of many, its approach to crisis management could be improved by the strengthening and formalizing of the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations.

Indeed, an emerging conventional wisdom can be discerned which holds that regional organizations can and should play greater roles in peacemaking and peacekeeping and in so doing share some of the burden now being carried by the United Nations itself. Such cooperation is increasingly seen in "win-win" terms. For example, Alan Henrikson has stated that "the novel possibility today is that both the universal body - the United Nations - and the regional institutions that have come into existence will become stronger and gain in acceptability as producers of international peace and security".2 The rationale for closer involvement of regional organizations in peace and security was well summarized by the Secretary-General himself in a recent speech:

Finding the right division of labour between the United Nations and regional organizations is not easy. But such cooperation brings greater legitimacy and support to international efforts. It eases the material and financial burden on the United Nations. It allows for comparative advantage. And it brings more actors to the world stage, helping to democratize the international system. The founders of the United Nations proposed regionalism and universalism working not at odds, but together. The search for closer and more effective United Nations regional cooperation will be a positive factor for the future of peace-keeping.3

As an aspiration, and guideline for the future, one cannot quarrel with such a statement. In general terms, greater involvement by regional organizations can promote pluralism and diversity in the international system. There are also compelling practical reasons. Due to the financial crisis now facing the United Nations, there are obvious limitations on UN action. The utility and indeed necessity for closer cooperation with other actors, not only regional organizations, cannot be doubted.

But what exactly are the comparative advantages of regional organizations? And do they validate the new conventional wisdom? These are relevant questions, for there is an unfortunate tendency to treat greater reliance on regional organizations as a panacea that can be magically utilized to solve many of the problems now confronting the United Nations.

In the broadest sense the future role of regional organizations is a question of global governance and an emerging network of international institutions. Some commentators certainly foresee a world system based on regionalism, with at least an implied greatly expanded role for regional organizations in peacemaking and peacekeeping, as well as in other fields. This question, however fascinating, is one I will not explore. I would like instead to look at recent experiences of cooperation in the peacemaking and peacekeeping areas as a way of testing the validity of the new conventional wisdom regarding regional organizations.

Patterns of Cooperation

The Secretary-General, in the Supplement to an Agenda for Peace, identified five different modalities of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, of which there are various current examples. As will be seen, some of these forms of cooperation involve ad hoc groupings of states, not joined into any kind of formal regional organization or arrangement: First, consultations are routine and go on all the time in a variety of contexts, either formal or informal; second, diplomatic support groups of "friends" of the Secretary-General for specific situations, such as Haiti, Western Sahara, and Georgia; third, operational support, such as NATO support for UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia; fourth, co-deployment - UNOMIL in Liberia and UNOMIG in Georgia - where UN observer missions work in close contact with the peacekeeping force of a regional organization. There is now a new variant of this in the former Yugoslavia; finally, joint operations, for example with the OAS in Haiti under the international civilian mission (MICIVIH).

Do Regional Organizations Have Comparative Advantages? Can a Model of Cooperation Be Developed?

Do recent experiences of cooperation reveal comparative advantages within regional organizations? And can these examples be said to constitute the basis for a potential model of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations?

It is often asserted that regional organizations are in a better position, because of their proximity and more intimate knowledge of conditions in their regions, to perform such functions as early warning, preventive diplomacy and even peacekeeping, including peace enforcement. The fact that many conflicts are now internal to states adds weight to these particular arguments.

Based on these assumptions, different models of cooperation could then be envisaged. One possible model would anchor the relations between the universal organization and regional organizations on the principle of subsidiarity, the principle that problems should be dealt with first by the organizational entity closest to the source of the problem. This principle is now in vogue in the European Union, where there is great concern over excessive bureaucratization and centralization.

In my view subsidiarity, as a general principle, cannot be applied to the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations. The first and most crucial reason is that it would effectively deny to Member States of the United Nations their right to avail themselves of the options available in the Charter for gaining a hearing and having action taken by the Security Council if they have a legitimate reason.

It must be recalled that the relevant Charter provisions in Chapter VIII in no way impair the application of Articles 34 and 35 of the Charter, which refer to the right of the Security Council to investigate any dispute to determine if it constitutes a threat to international peace and security. At the summit meeting of the OSCE (then CSCE) held in Budapest in December of 1994, the proposal for a "CSCE first" policy - a policy eventually not adopted - could have caused some difficulties in regard to these provisions of the Charter.

If subsidiarity is not valid, is it possible to envisage a model based on a standing division of labour between the United Nations and regional organizations? It has been proposed, for example, that the United Nations could concentrate on peacekeeping while regional organizations take responsibility for such functions as human rights monitoring and the supervision of elections.

Again, it is difficult to see how such a "natural" division of labour, applied across the board, could be reconciled with the responsibilities that have been given to the United Nations in areas such as human rights. How could states or individuals be denied access to the human rights machinery of the United Nations? The notion of a model also implies that regional organizations have broadly similar capacities to engage in peacemaking and peacekeeping activities. In matter of fact, the capacity of regional organizations for peacemaking and peacekeeping varies considerably.

This is not to deny that certain regional organizations do indeed enjoy some comparative advantages. If one examines closely the recent experiences of cooperation, comparative advantages of regional organizations become evident.

The difficulties faced by the United Nations in Somalia and Bosnia have, for example, demonstrated that the United Nations is ill-suited to carry out peace enforcement actions. Coalitions of Member States or military organizations such as NATO are better suited. In other situations it has been shown that groups of "friends" can command political support that the Secretary-General alone could not bring to bear on the settlement of different conflicts.

Furthermore, regional organizations can sometimes act with greater dispatch than the United Nations and can mount operations in their own regions when the Security Council has limited interest in these situations. Georgia and Liberia are examples. Some regional organizations also have access to financial resources that dwarf those of the United Nations.

However, some of the other purported comparative advantages of regional organizations can be double-edged swords. Proximity to a conflict, for example, can make it difficult for a regional organization to be viewed impartially. Similarly, it is difficult for regional organizations to view conflicts or potential conflicts impartially. Again, to quote the Secretary-General, "those close to a problem and well equipped to handle it may also be too close to its living historical associations: in short, regional involvement may raise old fears of regional hegemony and intervention".4

In my personal view, the examples of completely successful cooperation with regional organizations are not numerous. Many of the examples cited as successes, on close examination, reveal a more mixed evaluation. For example, in Liberia a UN mission, UNOMIL, has been co-deployed with the ECOWAS peacekeeping force, ECOMOG. In the view of some observers, and this has been alluded to in several UN reports, ECOMOG has not been entirely impartial and in fact has often given the appearance of promoting the interests of one state rather than those of West Africa as a whole. One could also cite the numerous instances in which regional organizations have failed to prevent or resolve a conflict which has then led to the involvement of the United Nations (Somalia, Western Sahara, Burundi).

For all of its faults and weaknesses, the United Nations is often financially and administratively in a better position to take action than most regional organizations, and many "clients" seem to prefer a universal organization that can be relied upon to be impartial. Even organizations with a very secure financial and administrative base, such as the European Union, cannot be said to have had great success in peacemaking. Witness the role of the EU in the former Yugoslavia. It is not clear if the OSCE will be able to mount a peacekeeping operation in Nagorny-Karabakh. For this and other reasons, the executive heads of regional organizations who met with the Secretary-General over a year ago agreed that it was not possible to develop a universal model of cooperation to regulate relations between the United Nations and regional organizations. This was reaffirmed at the second meeting held in February of 1996. This is also the reason that the Secretary-General, in the Supplement to an Agenda for Peace, has proposed certain principles on which cooperation should be based, as an alternative to a universal model. These principles include:

  1. Agreed mechanisms for consultation should be established.
  2. The primacy of the United Nations, as stipulated in the Charter, must be respected.
  3. When involvement of the United Nations and a regional organization occurs, a clear division of labour must be established, as is the case now with the OSCE.
  4. Consistency by members of regional organizations is needed in dealing with common problems.
At the most recent meeting between the United Nations and regional organizations, there was broad agreement on the validity of these principles.


Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations must essentially be carried out in an ad hoc and flexible manner. The extent and nature of such cooperation will depend on the nature of the situation being addressed, the capacities and experience of the regional organization involved, as well as the approach to the problem adopted by the Security Council.

I have described some of the difficulties faced by regional organizations in cooperating in an effective manner with the United Nations. Some of these can be characterized as "teething" problems. It is clear that regional organizations will be more active in the peacemaking and peacekeeping fields in the future. What are some of the issues that need to be addressed in the future?

One of the main issues to be addressed is the problem of coordination and coherence: how to avoid duplication, working at cross purposes, "forum shopping" and similar phenomena. The principles put forward by the Secretary-General seek to address these. Another question which will loom large in the future is that of the equitable sharing of resources. There are two kinds of regional organizations, those with money and those without. If indeed the international community finds it desirable to involve a range of regional organizations in peacemaking and peacekeeping in a more consistent and systematic manner, then some attention has to be devoted to the resource issue.

The resource issue is of course only one aspect of the larger problem of upgrading the capacities of regional organizations to enable them to be better prepared to engage in peacemaking and peacekeeping in their regions. In a recent report (UN Doc. A/50/711) the Secretary-General has suggested some specific steps to strengthen the capabilities of the OAU. New and innovative measures of this kind must be developed if the full potential of regional organizations is to be realized.



1. Robert E. Riggs et al. "Behavioralism in the Study of the United Nations", World Politics 22 (January 1970). Hanna Newscombe, "National Patterns in International Organizations", Peace Research Reviews 6 (November 1975).

2. Ingvar Carlsson, "The UN at 50: A Time to Reform", Foreign Policy 100 (Fall 1995), p. 3.

3. David A. Kay, "The Politics of Decolonization: The New Nations and the United Nations Political Process", International Organization 21, no. 4 (Autumn 1967).

4. Donald J. Puchala and Raymond F. Hopkins, The Global Political Economy of Food (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979).

5. "Depending on the analytical purpose and vantage point, an international organization may be viewed either as an actor, along with other actors in the systems including the members of the organization, or as one of the many possible structures through which the members of the system address themselves to tasks and projects which arise from the ends-means relationship of the system." Wolfram F. Hanrieder, "International Organizations and International Systems", Journal of Conflict Resolution 10 (September 1966).

6. William J. Dixon, "The Emerging Image of UN Politics", World Politics 34, no. 1 (1981), pp. 50-51.

7. Focusing on the manner in which institutional tasks are performed, Robert W. Cox and Harold K. Jacobson made a distinction between "forum" and "service" organizations. Robert W. Cox and Harold K. Jacobson et al., The Anatomy of Influence: Decision Making in International Organizations (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974).


1. The "peace and security agenda of the United Nations" is a broad term which refers to the various activities being developed by the United Nations in response to conflict situations. These activities include preventive measures aimed at averting or de-escalating conflict; political, economic and social actions designed to provide the basis for long-term peace, consent-based peacekeeping operations; provision of humanitarian assistance to populations in distress; promotion of political settlement in the context of ongoing conflicts; the use of collective, diplomatic, political and economic sanctions to induce change of policy; and coercive collective military action in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

2. See Development Cooperation 1994: Efforts and Policies of the Development Assistance Committee. Report by James H. Michel (OECD, 1995), pp. 773-81.

3. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Building Peace and Development 1994: Annual Report of the Work of the Organization (United Nations: New York, 1994), p. 66.

4. According to Terry Denny, spokesman for the International Air Transport Association, approximately 315 million international passengers are carried by airlines each year. See David Rolf, "Alternative Financial Reform for the United Nations: Impractical and Unfair, or Viable Sources of Funding?" Unpublished paper, Princeton University, 3 January 1995.

5. See James Tobin, "A Tax on International Currency Transactions", in Human Development Report 1994 (UNDP, 1994).


1. Donald C. F. Daniel and Bradd C. Hayes, eds., Beyond Traditional Peacekeeping (New York: St. Martin's, 1995); Lori Fisler Damrosch, ed., Enforcing Restraint: Collective Intervention in Internal Conflicts (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1993).

2. Major ones include Erskine Childers with Brian Urquhart, Renewing the United Nations System (Uppsala: Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, 1994); Reforming the United Nations: A View from the South (Geneva: South Centre, 1995); Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighbourhood (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); Independent Working Group on the Future of the United Nations, The United Nations in Its Second Half-Century (New York: Ford Foundation, 1995).

3. Bruce Russett, Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a Post-Cold War World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993); John Oneal, Frances Oneal, Zeev Maoz and Bruce Russett, "The Liberal Peace: Interdependence, Democracy, and International Conflict, 1950-1985", Journal of Peace Research 33, no. 1 (February 1996).

4. This term is used explicitly by the Commission on Global Governance and the Independent Working Group, see n. 1; also United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1994 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

5. I served, with Paul Kennedy, as co-director of the secretariat of the Working Group. For that reason I avoid commenting at all on the particulars of other reports. A Kantian vision certainly underlay my contributions, and whereas I believe Professor Kennedy and most - perhaps all - of the members of the Working Group implicitly shared that vision in some degree, neither they nor the Ford Foundation, which funded the effort, are responsible for any of the remarks in this article. Nor would I pretend that all of the balances proposed here were ever considered overtly or consciously; they are, however, relevant both to post hoc evaluation and to any effort to synthesize recommendations from the various studies and reports.

6. See Adam Watson, ed., The Evolution of International Society: A Comparative Historical Analysis (London: Routledge, 1994); Mark Zacher, "The Decaying Pillars of the Westphalian System", in Ernst-Otto Czempiel and James Rosenau, eds., Governance Without Government: Order and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); David J. Elkins, Beyond Sovereignty: Territorial and Political Economy in the Twenty-first Century (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995); Michael Barnett, "The New UN Politics of Peace", Global Governance 1, no. 1 (January 1995), pp. 79-98. 7. Steven Ratner, The New UN Peacekeeping: Building Peace in Lands of Conflict after the Cold War (New York: St. Martin's, 1995); I. William Zartman, ed. Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1995).

8. For some possibilities, see the special issue, "The UN at Fifty: Policy and Financing Alternatives", Futures: The Journal of Forecasting, Planning, and Policy 27, no. 2 (March 1995), and Dragoljub Najman and Hans d'Orville, Towards a New Multilateralism: Funding Global Priorities (Paris/New York: Independent Commission on Population and Quality of Life, 1995).

9. Alberto Allesina and Roberto Perotti, "The Political Economy of Growth: A Critical Survey of the Recent Literature", World Bank Economic Review 8, no. 3 (September 1994), pp. 354-55.

10. Allesina and Perotti, "The Political Economy of Growth", pp. 351-74; also Ross Burkhart and Michael Lewis-Beck, "Comparative Democracy: The Economic Development Thesis", American Political Science Review 88, no. 4 (December 1994), pp. 903-10; Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi, "Political Regimes and Economic Growth", Journal of Economic Perspectives 7, no. 3 (Summer 1993), pp. 51-70; John F. Helliwell, "Empirical Linkages between Democracy and Economic Growth", British Journal of Political Science 24 (1994), pp. 175-98; Robert Putnam, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

11. Mancur Olson, "Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development", American Political Science Review 87, no. 3 (September 1993), pp. 567-76.

12. Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981). 13. (New York: United Nations, 1992), p. 26.

14. Bruce Russett, Barry O'Neill, and James Sutterlin, "Breaking the Security Council Restructuring Logjam", Global Governance 2, no. 1 (January - April 1996), pp. 65-80.

15. Robert C. Hilderbrand, Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

16. Article 39 becomes the escape clause to permit intervention: "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 ... to restore international peace and security."

17. See Alvaro de Soto and Graciana del Castillo, "Obstacles to Peacebuilding", Foreign Policy 94 (Spring 1994), pp. 69-83; also Eva Bertram, "Reinventing Conflict Resolution Government: The Promise and Perils of Peacebuilding", Journal of Conflict Resolution 39, no. 3 (September 1995).


1. See Erskine Childers with Brian Urquhart, Renewing the United Nations System (Uppsala: Dag Hammarskjšld Foundation, 1994), where the authors argue for a consolidation of the UN system relief agencies (UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF) into one single entity. Similar proposals have been made by Gareth Evans, Cooperating for Peace (St. Leonards, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 1993), and Oxfam in a paper circulated in January 1995 (and now re-posted in the electronic Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, Cambridge University,, and in a "non-paper" distributed by the US delegation at ECOSOC in July 1995. A more radical proposal for the "internationalization" of the ICRC or for the creation of a separate, non-UN organization, for the provision of emergency relief, was made by James Ingram, former head of the WFP, "The Future Architecture for International Humanitarian Assistance", in Thomas G. Weiss and Larry Minear, eds. Humanitarianism across Borders: Sustaining Civilians in Times of War (Boulder and London: Lynn Rienner, 1994).

2. DHA estimates, October 1995.

3. "Bureaucratese" would be the best approximation with which to translate this term, unless the Orwellian Newspeak is preferred.

4. United Nations, Department of Public Information, "Mozambique: Out of the Ruins of War", Africa Recovery Briefing Paper, no. 8 (May 1993).

5. Allan Fowler, "Distant Obligations: Speculations on NGO Funding and the Global Market", Review of African Political Economy, no. 55 (1992).

6. Ibid.


1. UN Document A/45/665.

2. Ibid., paragraph 39.

3. Ibid., paragraph 9.

4. Ibid., paragraphs 6 and 9.

5. Ibid., paragraphs 81-82.

6. For an overview of the issues involved in this area, see Henry Steiner and Philip Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 166-255.

7. Yash Ghai, "Human Rights and Governance: The Asia Debate", Australian Yearbook of International Law (1994), p. 1.

8. See Philip Alston, "The US and the Right to Housing: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", European Human Rights Law Review (1996).

9. David Held and Anthony McGrew, "Globalization and the Liberal Democratic State", in Y. Sakamoto, ed., Global Transformation: Challenges to the State System (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 1994), p. 57.

10. Bill Hayden, "End of History Will Lead to More Pragmatic Age", The Australian, 5 September 1995, p. 15.


1. In the preparation of this paper the author was assisted by Andreas Hasenclever, Peter Mayer, Frank Schimmelfennig and Christina Schrade. He gratefully acknowledges the intellectual input provided by them.

2. The term "anachronistic sovereignty" was coined by Ernst-Otto Czempiel as early as 1969. The erosion of state sovereignty has lately been restated by Czempiel (1993) and - with different points of emphasis - by Knieper (1991:43, 98, 194), Nohlen (1995:675f), Scharpf (1991:620f) and ZŸrn (1992:494f).

3. Advocates of this viewpoint are Jackson/James (1993:24); Krasner/Thomson (1989:206f) and Zacher (1992:61, 100).

4. For one of the latest attempts to clarify the concept of sovereignty see Thomson (1995).

5. That is, a class of objects comes under a given concept not by virtue of some property they all share, but because they are linked through a set of properties each of which is shared by a subclass of these objects: A is like B in some respect, but resembles C in another, etc. Wittgenstein's famous example is the concept of game; see Wittgenstein (1953).

6. The institutional dimension of sovereignty is emphasized by Barkin/Cronin (1944), Keohane (1995), Krasner (1988), Ruggie (1986) and Thomson (1995).

7. However, the institution of sovereignty has also undergone a profound change in meaning over time. As Keohane argues convincingly, the traditional concept of sovereignty as "a set of barriers to intervention" had to be modified in the context of growing interdependence and globalization. It is now "less a territorially defined barrier" than a "resource to be traded off in exchange for partial authority over others' policies" (1995:175, 185).

8. John Ruggie, "Continuity and Transformation in the World Polity: Toward a Neorealist Synthesis", in Robert O. Keohane, ed., Neorealism and Its Critics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986).

9. Fritz W. Scharpf, "Die Handlungsfähigkeit des Staates am Ende des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts", Politische Vierteljahresschrift 32, no. 4, pp. 621-35.

10. Albeit not in toto and potentially at great cost to itself; see Krasner (1993:236).

11. For a more detailed discussion of the concept of the penetrated state see Hanrieder (1971:256ff).

12. On the subject of the dependent state see Hey (1995), Knieper (1991) and Jackson (1990).

13. For a detailed discussion see Ruggie (1983:209).

14. Ruggie (1986:143).

15. Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1977), pp. 254f, 264-76.

16. Robert H. Jackson, Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

17. See, for example, Bšhret/Wewer (1994), Scharpf (1993), Mayntz/Scharpf (1995) and ZŸrn (1995).

18. The right to co-decision was established in the Maastricht Treaty. It endows the European Parliament with a (limited) right to reject legislation approved by the Council of Ministers in such diverse areas as the free movement of persons, the internal market, education, culture, trans-European networks and environmental action programmes. For an overview of the co-decision procedure see Dinana (1994:280f).

19. See Huntington (1991).

20. This option is discussed in more detail in the contribution in this volume by W. Andy Knight.

21. Janice E. Thomson, "State Sovereignty and International Relations: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Empirical Research", International Studies Quarterly 39 (1995), p. 213.

22. One exception is, again, Thomson (1995).

23. To this end, it also seems crucial to define more clearly the relationship between the material and the institutional dimensions of sovereignty.

24. For a discussion of these questions see Held.

25. See Evers (1994), Moravcsik (1994) and Scharpf (1993).


1. Multilateralism here is used in two senses: (1) "as the institutionalization and regulation of established order" and (2) "as the locus of interaction for the transformation of existing order". See Robert Cox, "Multilateralism and World Order", Review of International Studies 18 (1992), p. 163.

2. Tom Keating, "The Future of Canadian Multilateralism", in Maureen Appel Molot and Harald von Riekhoff, eds., Canada Among Nations 1994: A Part of the Peace (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1994).

3. Adam Roberts and Benedict Kingsbury, eds., United Nations, Divided World: The UN's Roles in International Relations, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 2-3.

4. For a greater elaboration see Gene Lyons, "International Organizations and National Interests", in International Social Science Journal, special issue on Organizing International Relations: Fifty Years after the United Nations Charter 144 (June 1995), pp. 261-76.

5. See Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition (Boston: Little Brown, 1977).

6. James Rosenau, "Distant Proximities: The Dynamics and Dialectics of Globalization", paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Washington, D.C., 30 March 1994, p. 1. Also see Mihály Simai, The Future of Global Governance: Managing Risk and Change in the International System, p. xvi.

7. Joseph A. Camilleri and Jim Falk, The End of Sovereignty? The Politics of a Shrinking and Fragmenting World (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1992), p. 88.

8. Evan Luard, The Globalization of Politics: The Changed Focus of Political Action in the Modern World (London: The Macmillan Press, 1990), p. vi.

9. On this point also see Ralph C. Bryant, "Global Change: Increasing Economic Integration and Eroding Political Sovereignty", in Robert M. Jackson, ed., Global Issues 95/96, 11th ed. (Guilford, Conn.: Dushkin Publishing Group, 1995), pp. 25-28, and Benjamin R. Barber, "Jihad vs. McWorld", The Atlantic Monthly (March 1992), pp. 53-63.

10. See Michael Klare, "The New Challenges to Global Security", in Robert M. Jackson, ed., Global Issues 95/96, 11th ed. (Guilford, Conn.: Dushkin Publishing Group, 1995), p. 189.

11. Evan Luard, The Globalization of Politics, p. viii.

12. On this issue see Abdul Aziz Said, Charles O. Lerche, Jr., Charles O. Lerche III, Concepts of International Politics in Global Perspective, 4th ed. (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995).

13. See Maurice Bertrand, "The Role of the UN System in the Context of Changing Global Structure", paper presented at an international conference on Changing World Order and the United Nations System, Yokohama, Japan, 24-27 March 1992, p. 9; Maurice Bertrand, Some Reflections on Reform of the United Nations (Geneva: Joint Inspection Unit, 1985), JIU/REP/85/9, especially para. 1; and, United Nations Association of the United States of America, A Successor Vision: The United Nations of Tomorrow (New York: UNA-USA, 1987).

14. The term "new multilateralism" emerged out of discussions at a symposium in Fiesole, Italy, in September 1992 (part of the MUNS project conceptualized by Robert Cox) which considered the implications for multilateralism of world order changes, different philosophical approaches to the study of multilateralism and the views of world order held by different civilizations. The new multilateralism envisaged would be one that is coherent with a future post-Westphalian, post-globalization and post-hegemonic world.

15. J. Martin Rochester, Waiting for the Millennium: The United Nations and the Future of World Order (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1993), p. 153.

16. W. Andy Knight, "United Nations Structural and Financial Reform", in Maureen Appel Molot and Harald von Riekhoff, eds., Canada Among Nations 1994: A Part of the Peace (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1994), pp. 76-100.

17. John Mackinlay and Jarat Chopra, A Draft Concept of Second Generation Multinational Operations (Providence, R.I.: Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, Brown University, 1993).

18. See US Congress, UN Security Council Resolutions on Iraq: Compliance and Implementation, report prepared for the Sub-Committee on Europe and the Middle East of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives, 102nd Congress, 2nd session (Washington, D.C.: CRS, Library of Congress, March 1992). 19. Preliminary answers to some of these questions can be found in Dorinda Dallmeyer, "The Future Role of the United Nations in Disarmament: The Iraq Experience", unpublished paper, 1993.

20. See, for example, Benjamin Rivlin, "Prospects for a Division of Labour between the UN and Regional Bodies in Peacekeeping: A Long-Term Challenge", in Klaus Hüfner, ed., Agenda for Change: New Tasks for the United Nations (Opladen, Ger.: Leske and Budrich, 1995), pp. 137-50.

21. See Alain Touraine, "An Introduction to the Study of Social Movements", Social Research 52, no. 4 (Winter 1985), pp. 774-82, JŸrgen Habermas, "New Social Movements", Telos 49 (Fall 1981), and M. Fuentes and A. Gunder Frank, "Ten Theses on Social Movements", World Development 17, no. 2 (February 1989).

22. Joseph A. Camilleri and Jim Falk, The End of Sovereignty? The Politics of a Shrinking and Fragmenting World, p. 207.

23. See Claus Offe, "New Social Movements: Challenging the Boundaries of Institutional Politics", Social Research 52, no. 4 (Winter 1985), p. 827.

24. James N. Rosenau, "Patterned Chaos in Global Life: Structure and Process in the Two Worlds of World Politics", International Political Science Review 9, no. 4 (October 1988), pp. 334-35.

25. Dieter Heinrich, "A United Nations Parliamentary Assembly", in Eric Fawcett and Hanna Newcombe, eds., United Nations Reform: Looking Ahead After Fifty Years (Toronto: Science for Peace, University of Toronto, 1995), pp. 95-99.

26. Jonas Zoninsein, "Implications of the Evolving Global Structure for the U.N. System: A View from the South", in Michael G. Schechter, ed., Innovation in Multilateralism: The Political and Social Framework (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1997).

27. The value preferences of this proposed global body would include greater social equity, greater diffusion of power, protection of the biosphere, peaceful resolution of conflicts, human security and equality.

28. See W. Andy Knight, "Multilatéralisme ascendant ou descendant: deux voies dans la quête d'une gouverne globale", Etudes Internationale 26, no. 4 (December 1995).

29. Robert Cox, "The Crisis of World Order and the Problem of International Organization in the 1980s", International Journal 35, no. 2 (Spring 1980), p. 395.

30. See Zaki Laidi, ed., Power and Purpose after the Cold War (Providence, R.I.: Berg Publishers, 1994).

31. Some recent studies are addressing this problem. See David Dewitt, David Haglund and John Kirton, eds., Building a New Global Order: Emerging Trends in International Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).


1. UN Charter, Articles 3-4. All UN members are represented by governments. This constitutional document makes no provision for any other kind of representation. Almost all other international organizations of global or broad regional scope follow this pattern.

2. The broadest conception of unofficial bodies of interest in international cooperation may be summed up in the term non-state entities. Only a minority of these, it may be assumed, have an active role in transnational cooperation, although they may be effective in markets or in domestic political affairs. Therefore, a more specialized terminology will be used here.

3. This term refers to an organizational situation that includes organizations and persons with heterogeneous practices and goals. They operate mainly on the basis of their own decisions and not as a result of hierarchical social authority. As used here, it does not assume a teleological process of ethical approval.

4. Peter J. Spiro, "New Global Communites: Nongovernmental Organizations in International Decision-making Institutions", The Washington Quarterly 18, no. 1, pp. 45-56.

5. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, "Democracy: A Newly Recognized Imperative", Global Governance 1, no. 1 (Winter 1995), pp. 3, 10.

6. Although much of what follows is set out as if a great deal of certainty existed about the NGO world and its functions, in fact as is indicated at the end of this essay, knowledge of the subject is far from comprehensive and is in large part anecdotal. This essay is developed from what is known and what can reasonably be surmised. See also the essays in a special issue, edited by Leon Gordenker and Thomas G. Weiss, of Third World Quarterly, "NGOs, the UN and Global Governance" 16, no. 3 (September 1995).

7. See especially Articles 1, 55, 56, 62 and 68 of the UN Charter.

8. See David P. Forsythe, The Internationalisation of Human Rights (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1991).

9. See Article 71.

10. Ruth B. Russel, A History of the United Nations Charter (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1958), p. 595.

11. See Leon Gordenker and Thomas G. Weiss, "Pluralizing Global Governance", Third World Quarterly 16, no. 3 (September 1995), pp. 357-87, for a conceptual elaboration of forms and relationships.

12. Yearbook of International Associations (Brussels: Union of International Associations, 1993/94). See also Gordenker and Weiss, op. cit., note 6.

13. For a discussion, see Gordenker and Weiss, "Pluralizing Global Governance", op. cit., note 11, and other articles in Third World Quarterly, op. cit.

14. They do, of course, have social effects whether or not that is intended. These effects underlie the interest shown by the United Nations to transnational corporations. This activity is now centred in the UN Conference on Trade and Development. See UN document A/49/726 (1994).

15. For a recent discussion of some of the theoretical issues posed by this phenomenon, see Leon Gordenker, Roger A. Coate, Christer Jšnnson and Peter Sšderholm, International Cooperation in Response to AIDS (London: Pinter Publishers, 1995), chap. 2.

16. ECOSOC resolution 1297 (XLIV). It dates from 1968 and represents the revision of an even more restrictive matrix.

17. See UN document E/AC.70/1994/5 (26 May 1994) and UN Economic and Social Council Resolution E/1993/80. Cf. discussion in Gordenker and Weiss, "Pluralizing Global Governance" op. cit., note 11, and Antonio Donini, "The Bureaucracy and Free Spirits: Stagnation and Innovation in the Relationship between the UN and NGOs", Third World Quarterly 16, no. 3, pp. 421-23.

18. See Felice Gaer, "Reality Check: Human Rights NGOs Confront Governments at the UN", Third World Quarterly 16, no. 3, and Forsythe, op. cit., note 8, pp. 72, 73.

19. See Johan Kaufmann, United Nations Decision-making (Alphen a/d Rijn, Netherlands: Sijthoff and Nordhoff, 1980), chap. 6, and M. J. Peterson, The General Assembly in World Politics (Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1986), chap. 5.

20. Douglas Williams, The Specialized Agencies and the United Nations (London: C. Hurst and Co., 1987), pp. 106-10.

21. See Leon Gordenker, "UN at 50: Institutional Development", International Social Science Journal 47, no. 2 (1995), pp. 241-51; and M. J. Peterson, op. cit., note 19.

22. Spiro, op. cit., note 4, pp. 49ff.

23. Leon Gordenker and Thomas G. Weiss, "NGO Participation in the International Policy Process", Third World Quarterly 16, no. 3, pp. 541-51.

24. For example, see L. David Brown and David C. Korten, "Understanding Voluntary Organizations: Guidelines for Donors", Working Papers No. 258, Country Economics Department, The World Bank, 1989; Thomas F. Carroll, Intermediary NGOs: The Supporting Link in Grassroots Development (West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press, 1992); John Clark, Democratizing Development (West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press, 1992); United Nations, Joint Inspection Unit, "Working with NGOs: Operational Activities for Development of the United Nations System with Non-governmental Organizations and Governments at the Grass-roots and National Levels", UN document JIU/REP/93/1 (Geneva, 1993).

25. See, for examples, the symposia in Les O.N.G. et le droit international (Paris: Economica, 1986) and in Transnational Associations 38, no. 3 (May-June 1986). Other examples include Dinah Shelton, "The Participation of Nongovernmental Organizations in International Judicial Proceedings", American Journal of International Law 88 (October 1994), pp. 611-42; Theo van Boven, "The Role of Nongovernmental Organizations in International Human Rights Standard-Setting: A Prerequisite of Democracy", California Western International Law Review 20 (1989-90), pp. 207-25; and Christopher Tracy, "The Roots of Influence: Nongovernmental Organizations and the Relationship between Human Rights and the Environment", Journal of International Law and Practice 3 (1994), pp. 21-46.


1. Robert E. Asher and Associates, The United Nations and the Promotion of the General Welfare (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1957), p. 52.

2. Presentation at a UNDP panel on "The UN at 50: On the Road to Empowerment", Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium, United Nations, New York, 6 November 1995.

3. Commission to Study the Organization of the Peace, Strengthening the United Nations (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957), p. 197.

4. Rule 31 of the original Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, 1950.

5. GA Res. 1991 A (XVIII), 1963.

6. See Benjamin Rivlin, The United Nations and the Italian Colonies, United Nations Action, Case Histories: 1 (New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1950).

7. According to one formulation the new groupings would be: Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Maghreb, Africa, Central Asia and Indian Ocean, East Asia and Oceania, and the Americas. UN Doc. A/49/965, "Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters", 18 September 1995, p. 67.

8. Ibid., p. 8.

9. For an excellent examination of the evolving relationship between the United Nations and NATO see "NATO and the United Nations: Toward a Non-allergic Relationship" by Alan K. Henrikson, in S. Victor Papacosma and Mary Ann Heiss, eds., NATO in the post-Cold War Era: Does It Have a Future (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995).

10. Paragraph 62, p. 36.

11. Orbis (Summer 1993), p. 330.

12. United Nations Press Release, GA/8805, 15 November 1994.

13. Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-ninth Session, Supplement No. 33, A/49/33.

14. UNGA Res. 49/57, 9 December 1994.

15. UN Doc. S/PV.3046, 31 January 1992, p. 144.

16. UN Doc. A/47/277-S/241 I 1, Chapter VII, "Cooperation with Regional Arrangements and Organizations", 17 June 1992.

17. This is from the definition adopted by the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities in 1990 and quoted in W. Andy Knight, "Towards a Subsidiarity Model of Global Governance: Making Chapter VIII of the UN Charter Operational", paper presented at the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System, The Hague, Netherlands, 22-24 June 1994. 18. United Nations Press Release, SG/SM/4748, 13 May 1992.

19. UN Doc. A/50-60-S/1995/1, 3 January 1995, Supplement to an Agenda for Peace: Position Paper of the Secretary-General, on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations, paragraph 23.

20. See table, "Some Statistics on United Nations Activities Related to Peace and Security, 1988 to 1994", in Supplement to an Agenda for Peace, ibid.

21. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Building Peace and Development, 1994: Report on the Work of the Organization from the Forty-eighth to the Forty-ninth Session of the General Assembly (New York: United Nations, 1994), paragraph 733.

22. Paragraph 86, Supplement to an Agenda for Peace, see note 19 above.

23. Francis O. Wilcox, "Regionalism and the United Nations", International Organization 19, no. 3 (Summer 1965), p. 789.

24. Inis L. Claude, Jr., "Implications and Questions for the Future", International Organization 19, no. 3 (Summer 1965), p. 843.

25. Beginning with the Guatemala case in 1954 through the Cuban complaint against the United States in 1962, that of Panama in 1964, and the American sending of troops into the Dominican Republic in 1965 - all matters which came up before the Security Council - the United States successfully insisted that these matters belonged in the Organization of American States and not in the Security Council. In similar fashion, the USSR denied the Security Council's competence to deal with the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the 1968 Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, contending that these matters were properly the concern of the "socialist community" bound together in the Warsaw Pact.

26. Peter J. Fromuth, A Successor Vision: The United Nations of Tomorrow (UNA-USA study) (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1988), p. 64.

27. UN Doc. A/45/626-S/21869, 12 October 1990, p. 4.

28. For an earlier discussion of this trend see Benjamin Rivlin, "Regional Arrangements and the UN System for Collective Security and Conflict Resolution: A New Road Ahead?", International Relations (London) 11, no. 2 (August 1992). More recent expressions can be found in the Report of the Commission on Global Governance: Our Global Neighborhood (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); report of the Thirtieth United Nations of the Next Decade conference, Making Peace with the Future: The United Nations and World Security (The Stanley Foundation, 1995); Raimo Väyrynen, "The United Nations at a Crossroads: New Actors, New Challenges, New Solutions", in The Nordic Countries in the United Nations: Status and Future Perspectives (Stockholm: The Nordic Council, 1995).

29. Robert D. Hormats, "Making Regionalism Safe", Foreign Affairs 73, no. 2 (March/April 1994), p. 99.

30. For a fuller discussion of regional capabilities see Rivlin, "Regional Arrangements ..." op. cit., note 28.

31. See UN Doc. A/49/965, op. cit., note 7, p. 29.

32. See Erskine Childers with Brian Urquhart, Renewing the United Nations System (Uppsala: Dag Hammarskjšld Foundation, 1994), pp. 199-200.

33. See UN Doc. A/49/33, op. cit., note 13.

34. James F. Leonard, "U.S. Policy Toward the United Nations", in Roger A. Coate, ed., U.S. Policy and the Future of the United Nations (New York: The Twentieth Century Fund Press, 1994), p. 243.


1. Paul Taylor, "Regionalism: The Thought and the Deed", in A.J.R. Groom and Paul Taylor, eds., Framework for International Relations (New York, 1990), pp. 151-71.

2. Conflict management has risen to the top of the OAU's agenda. See Peter da Costa, "Combining Against Conflict", Africa Report 37 (1992), pp. 21-25.

3. See Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of International Relations (Princeton, 1987), pp. 397-401; Joseph Nye, Kurt Biedenkopf and Motoo Shiina, Global Cooperation after the Cold War: A Reassessment of Trilateralism (A Task Force Report to the Trilateral Commission, New York, 1991); and Jagdish Baghwati, "The Diminishing Giant Syndrome: How Declinism Drives Trade Policy", Foreign Affairs 72 (1993), p. 26.

4. Mathias Jopp, Reinhardt Rummel and Peter Schmidt, eds., Integration and Security in Western Europe: Inside the European Pillar (Boulder, Colo., 1991), pp. 54-58.

5. For a discussion of the factors underscoring economic cooperation in the Pacific, see Donald Crone, "The Politics of Emerging Pacific Cooperation", Pacific Affairs 65 (1992), pp. 68-83.

6. For an overview of the effort to define a region, see Bruce M. Russett, "International Regions and the International System", in Richard A. Falk and Saul H. Mendlovitz, eds., Regional Politics and World Order (San Francisco, 1973), pp. 181-87. On the effort to define a regional subsystem and specify the necessary and sufficient conditions for it, see William R. Thompson, "The Regional Subsystem: A Conceptual Explication and a Propositional Inventory", International Studies Quarterly 17 (1973), pp. 89-117.

7. Among the few definitions of regionalism are those by Donald J. Puchala and Stuart I. Fanagan, and by Joseph Nye. See Puchala and Fanagan, "International Politics in the 1970s: The Search for a Perspective", International Organization 28 (1974), p. 259, and Nye, International Regionalism (Boston, 1968), p. vii.

8. See, for example, Inis Claude, Swords into Plowshares: The Problems and Progress of International Organizations (New York, 1956), pp. 102-17, and Richard Rosecrance, "Regionalism and the Post-Cold War Era", International Journal 46 (1991), pp. 373-93.

9. On cooperation, see Robert O. Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton, 1984), p. 54. For a review of the theories of cooperation, see Helen Milner, "International Theories of Cooperation Among Nations", World Politics 44 (1992), pp. 466-96.

10. These are the elements of a regime. For a common definition of a regime, see Stephen D. Krasner, ed., International Regimes (Ithaca, 1983), p. 2. Vinor Agarwal makes a useful distinction between principles and norms (meta-regime) and rules and procedures (regime). See his Liberal Protectionism (Berkeley, 1985), pp. 18-19.

11. On diffuse reciprocity, see Robert O. Keohane, "Reciprocity in International Relations", International Organizations 40 (1986).

12. On common interests and aversions, see Arthur Stein, Why Nations Cooperate (Ithaca, 1990), chap. 2.

13. Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: The National Security Problem in International Relations (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1983), pp. 105-16.

14. On numbers and cooperation, see Miles Kahler, "Multilateralism with Small and Large Numbers", in John Gerard Ruggie, ed., Multilateralism Matters: The Theory and Praxis of an Institutional Form (New York, 1993), pp. 295-396.

15. On issues and issue areas, see Ernst B. Haas, "Why Collaborate? Issue-Linkage and International Regimes", World Politics (1980), pp. 364-67.

16. On "nesting", see Aggarwal, Liberal Protectionism, cited in note 10, p. 27.

17. For a critique of the state as the security referent, see Ken Booth, "Security and Emancipation", Review of International Studies, no. 17 (1991), and Simon Dalby, "Security, Modernity and Ecology: The Dilemmas of Post-Cold War Security Discourse", Alternatives 17 (1992). On the declining relevance of the state, see, for example, James N. Rosenau, "Global Changes and Theoretical Challenges", in Ernst-Otto Czempiel and James N. Rosenau, eds., Global Changes and Theoretical Challenges: Approaches to World Politics for the 1990s (Lexington, 1989), pp. 1-20. For argument in favour of the continued vitality of the state, see for example Janice E. Thompson and Stephen D. Krasner, "Global Transactions and the Consolidation of Sovereignty", in Czempiel and Rosenau, Global Changes, pp. 195-219.

18. For a good discussion of how the scope and limits of sovereignty in the human rights issue area have been transformed in Latin America and the role of principled issue networks in this transformation, see Kathryn Sikkink, "Human Rights, Principled Issue-Networks, and Sovereignty in Latin America", International Organization 47 (1993), pp. 411-41.

19. Ruggie's primary contention is that the state-centric model is not useful in detecting incremental systemic changes which may eventually overwhelm the state. See his "Territoriality and Beyond: Problematizing Modernity in International Relations", International Organization 47 (1993), pp. 139-74, and his response to Ethan B. Kapstein in International Organization 47 (1993), pp. 503-5.

20. Paul Taylor argues that regional integration and the state have and continue to be mutually supportive, each living off the other. See his "The Political Community and the State: Assumptions, Theories, and Propositions", Review of International Studies 17 (1991), pp. 109-25. See also Stanley Hoffman, "Balance, Concert, Anarchy or None of the Above", in Gregory F. Treverton, ed., The Shape of the New Europe (New York, 1991), pp. 204-6. 21. This classification of capabilities is that of Joel S. Migdal. See his Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World (Princeton, 1988), pp. 4-9. Migdal's argument, however, is that developing states are weak in terms of these capabilities. This is still the case in most African countries but less so in Asia and Latin America. There is the possibility that in a post-Cold War setting the state in many African countries may further weaken or even disintegrate. Presently chaos and anarchy are tearing apart Somalia, Rwanda, Angola, Sudan and Liberia.

22. Theda Skocpol notes this upsurge of interest in the state. See her "Bringing the State Back In: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research", in Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer and Theda Skocpol, eds., Bringing the State Back In (New York, 1985), pp. 1-37.

23. Rosenau views the trend toward subgroupism as evidence of the decline of the nation-state. See his Global Changes, cited in note 17, pp. 1-20.

24. See, for example, Robert O. Keohane, "Multilateralism: An Agenda for Research", International Journal 45 (1990), pp. 733-36; Robert Jervis, "The Future of World Politics: Will It Resemble the Past?", International Security 16 (1991/92), pp. 39-73; and James M. Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, "A Tale of Two Worlds: Core and Periphery in the Post-Cold War Era", International Organization 46 (1992), pp. 467-91. Neo-realists reject this argument. For example, see John J. Mearsheimer, "Back to the Future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War", International Security 15 (1990), pp. 4-56. See also the comments by Stanley Hoffman and Robert O. Keohane and the reply by Mearsheimer in International Security 15 (1990), pp. 191-99.

25. Many have argued for a redefinition of security, although a good conceptual case as to the why and how questions has yet to be made. It is pertinent to note here that Asian states, particularly those in East and South-East Asia, have since the early post-World War II era defined security in a more comprehensive manner compared to the Western states. See Muthiah Alagappa, "Comprehensive Security: Interpretations in the ASEAN Countries", in Robert Scalapino et al., eds., Asian Security Issues: Regional and Global (Berkeley, 1988), pp. 50-78.

26. Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York, 1979), pp. 102-28.

27. Ibid., pp. 91-92.

28. On the security dilemma, see John H. Herz, "Idealist Internationalism and the Security Dilemma", World Politics 1 (1950), pp. 157-80; Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, 1976), pp. 72-76; and Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era (Boulder, 1991), chap. 8.

29. The two components of the security dilemma derive from Waltz's three-image analysis of world politics. He posits the third image (the structure) as describing the framework of world politics and as the permissive cause of war, and the first and second images (man and the state) as the forces of world politics, the immediate or efficient causes of war. See his Man, the State and War (New York, 1959). Barry Buzan terms the two components as the power dilemma and the security dilemma, and their combination as the power-security dilemma. See his People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies (Boulder, 1991), pp. 294-98.

30. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London, 1992), p. 6. See also Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York, 1973), pp. 317-19.

31. For a discussion of the formation of national-territorial states in the third world, see Anthony D. Smith, State and the Nation in the Third World (New York, 1983), chap. 7.

32. The phrase "internal colonialism" is used by Michael Hechter, Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development (Berkeley, 1975).

33. On the continuing selective interpretation of self-determination, see the Report of the Regional Meeting of the World Conference for Asia on Human Rights (New York: United Nations, 7 April 1993).

34. For an expanded discussion of the problem of political legitimacy, see Muthiah Alagappa, ed., Political Legitimacy in Southeast Asia: The Quest for Moral Authority (Stanford, 1995), chaps. 1-3.

35. Recent works on the security of developing states have addressed the domestic dimension of security. See for example Muthiah Alagappa, The National Security of Developing States: Lessons from Thailand (Dover, 1987), chap. 1; Edward E. Azar and Chung-in Moon, eds., National Security in the Third World: The Management of Internal and External Threats (Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, 1988); Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear, chaps. 1-3; Brian Job, ed., The Insecurity Dilemma: National Security of Third World States (Boulder, 1992); and Caroline Thomas, In Search of Security (Boulder, 1987).

36. C.R. Mitchell, The Structure of International Conflict (New York, 1981), p. 17.

37. For the differences between conflict settlement and resolution, see Mitchell, The Structure of International Conflict, cited in note 36, pp. 275-77.

38. On security community, see Karl Deutsch, Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Westport, 1957), pp. 5-7.

39. For a good discussion of collective security, see Claude, Swords into Plowshares, cited in note 8, pp. 245-85. For a summary of the theory of collective security, see Jerome Slater, A Revaluation of Collective Security: The OAS in Action, Mershon National Security Program Pamphlet Series, No. 1 (Columbus, 1965), pp. 9-23.

40. On intermediation, qualifications required and the intervener's repertory of practice, see Oran R. Young, The Intermediaries (Princeton, 1967), pp. 50-79.

41. See Robert Jervis, "Security Regimes", in Krasner, International Regimes, cited in note 10, pp. 174-76; and Patrick Morgan, "Multilateralism and Security: Prospects for Europe", in Ruggie, Multilateralism Matters, cited in note 14, p. 340. On limited security regimes between adversaries, see Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, "Beyond Deterrence", Journal of Social Issues 43 (1987), pp. 56-63.

42. Because of this, realists decry the role of institutions. See John M. Grieco, "Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation: A Realist Critique of the Newest Liberal Institutionalism", in David Baldwin, ed., Neorealism and Neoliberalism: The Contemporary Debate (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), pp. 116-42; and John Mearsheimer, "The False Promise of International Institutions", International Security 19, no. 3 (Winter 1994/95). See also Susan Strange, "Cave! hic dragones: A Critique of Regime Analysis", in Krasner, International Regimes, cited in note 10, pp. 337-54.

43. Though problematic, the offence-defence distinction is not without meaning and utility.

44. This is the thesis of neo-functionalism. For a summary of neo-functionalism, see Reginald J. Harrison, Europe in Question: Theories of Regional Integration (London, 1974).

45. See Helen Milner, "The Assumptions of Anarchy in International Relations Theory: A Critique", Review of International Studies (1991), p. 82; and Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy Is What States Make of It", International Organization 46 (1992), pp. 394-95.

46. The socio-communicative approach to cooperation has been labelled as "reflectivist" by Robert O. Keohane and "constructivist" by Nicholas Onuf. See Keohane, "International Institutions: Two Approaches", International Studies Quarterly 32 (1988), pp. 379-96; and Onuf, World of Our Making (Columbia, 1989).

47. Wendt, "Anarchy Is What States Make of It", cited in note 45, p. 417. On the socializing effects of institutions, see James A. Caparaso, "International Relations Theory and Multilateralism: The Search for Foundations", in Ruggie, Multilateralism Matters, cited in note 14, pp. 66-81.

48. On the meaning of international society, see Hedley Bull and Adam Watson, eds., The Expansion of International Society (Oxford, 1984), p. 1.

49. Yassin El-Ayouty, "An OAU for the Future: An Assessment", in Yassin El-Ayouty, ed., The Organization of African Unity Thirty Years On (Westport, 1994), p. 188.

50. On the practice of pacific settlement in the OAS, see M. Margaret Ball, The OAS in Transition (Durham, 1969), pp. 430-35.

51. For a good discussion of the role and distinctions between the strategies of deterrence and reassurance, see Lebow and Gross Stein, "Beyond Deterrence", cited in note 41, pp. 5-71.

52. For details of the defence pact, see Julius Emeka Okolo, "Integrative and Cooperative Regionalism: The Economic Community of West African States", International Organization 39 (1985), pp. 146-48.

53. On the practice of collective security in the OAS, see G. Pope Atkins, Latin America in the International Political System (Boulder, 1989), pp. 218-26.

54. William J. Foltz, "The Organization of African Unity and the Resolution of Africa's Conflicts", in Francis M. Deng and I. William Zartman, eds., Conflict Resolution in Africa (Washington, D.C., 1991), p. 332.

55. Baffour Agyeman-Duah and Olatunde J. Ojo, "Interstate Conflict in West Africa: The Reference Group Theory Perspective", Comparative Political Studies 24 (1991), pp. 299-318.

56. This discussion of the Western Sahara case is drawn primarily from Azzedine Layachi, "The OAU and Western Sahara: A Case Study", in El-Ayouty, The Organization of African Unity, cited in note 49, pp. 27-39; and Benjamin Rivlin, "The Western Sahara: Towards a Referendum? The UN Political Process at Work", The Ralph Bunche Institute on the United Nations Occasional Paper Series, No. 18 (1994).

57. The unacceptable damage that could be caused by a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union forced them to enter into arrangements to minimize uncertainty and unintended risks and conflicts. See Alexander L. George, "Factors Influencing Security Cooperation", in Alexander L. George, Philip J. Farley and Alexander Dallin, eds., U.S.-Soviet Security Cooperation: Achievements, Failures, Lessons (New York, 1988), pp. 655-78.

58. Muthiah Alagappa, "A Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in Southeast Asia: Problems and Prospects", Australian Outlook 41 (1987), pp. 178-79.

59. Gordon Connell-Smith, "The OAS and the Falklands Conflict", The World Today 38 (1982), pp. 340-47; and Dennis R. Gordon, "The Paralysis of Multilateral Peacekeeping: International Organizations and the Falklands/Malvinas War", Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research 12 (1987), pp. 51-63.

60. Muthiah Alagappa, "Regionalism and the Quest for Security: ASEAN and the Cambodian Conflict", Journal of International Affairs 46 (1993), pp. 458-64. 61. For a good discussion of the evolution of the principle of non-intervention in the inter-American system, see Atkins, Latin America in the International Political System, cited in note 53, pp. 215-18.

62. Richard J. Bloomfield, "Making the Western Hemisphere Safe for Democracy? The OAS Defense-of-Democracy Regime", The Washington Quarterly, 17, pp. 157-69.

63. Ibid., p. 162.

64. Michel-Cyr Djiena Wembou, "The OAU and International Law", in El-Ayouty, The Organization of African Unity, cited in note 49, pp. 15-26.

65. See the collection of essays in Laura W. Reed and Carl Kayson, eds., Emerging Norms of Justified Intervention (Cambridge: Committee on International Security Studies, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1993). 66. On the growing force of the human rights regime in Latin America, see Sikkinik, "Human Rights", cited in note 18. On the weakness of the regime in Africa, see Claude E. Welch, "The OAU and Human Rights: Regional Promotion of Human Rights", in El-Ayouty, The Organization of African Unity, cited in note 49, pp. 53-76.

67. Da Costa, "Combining Against Conflict", cited in note 2, pp. 21-25.

68. Ole Waever, Barry Buzan, Morten Kelstrup and Pierre Lemaitre, Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda of Europe (New York, 1993), p. 193.

69. See Anthony D. Smith, "Beyond National Identity?", in his National Identity (Las Vegas, 1991), pp. 143-77.

70. Comment by one of the anonymous reviewers.

71. "ASEAN Joint Statement on the Situation in the Philippines", in ASEAN Document Series 1967-1986, issued by the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta (1986), p. 469.

72. On the reasons underlying the division as well as the decision to intervene and Nigeria's attempt to dominate the operation, see W. Ofuatey-Kodjoe, "The ECOWAS Intervention in Liberia: Regional Organization and the Resolution of Internal Conflicts", The Ralph Bunche Institute on the United Nations Occasional Papers Series, No. 17 (1994).

73. On the OAU peacekeeping effort in Chad, see Amadu Sesay, "The Limits of Peacekeeping by a Regional Organization: The OAU Peacekeeping Force in Chad", Conflict Quarterly (Winter 1991), pp. 7-26.

74. Ibid., p. 21.

75. El-Ayouty, "An OAU for the Future", cited in note 49, p. 179.

76. According to R. K. Ramazani, "the overriding pre-GCC concern of Saudi Arabia with the security and stability of the House of Saud and other royal families" contributed to the creation of the GCC. See his The Gulf Cooperation Council: Record and Analysis (Charlottesville, Va., 1988), pp. 1-11.


1. Chapter VIII of the Charter uses the term "regional arrangements or agencies". This paper uses the more contemporary "regional organizations" in a generic sense. It is recognized that some of the organizations to which reference is made are not necessarily regional arrangements or agencies as referred to in different chapters of the Charter.

2. Alan Henrickson. "The Growth of Regional Organizations and the Role of the United Nations", in Fawcett and Hurrell, eds., Regionalism in World Politics: Regional Organizations and International Order (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

3. UN Press Release, SG/SM/5804, 1 November 1995.

4. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, "Beleaguered Are the Peacekeepers", The New York Times, 30 October 1994.

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