2.1.2 Democracy and development
126.96.36.199 The United Nations - basic element of the international system
188.8.131.52.4 Problems and perspectives
The UN system reflects the world order and its power structures as it had emerged at the end of World War II when the UN was established.
In particular the Security Council, the only organ with far reaching legal power, follows a hegemonial pattern, which today does not correspond any more to the contemporary world.
The veto power of it´s permanent members (USA, Russia, Great Britain, France, China) has to be considered - behind the background of the Cold war - as one of the main reasons for the immobility and inefficiency of the UN. But even the veto power of the permanent Security Council members points onto the basic problem of the UN: in spite of the tremendous internationalization on all levels the national state remains the basic unit and reference for international relations, at least for the big powers. On the other hand, the character of the global problems in itself requires institutional arrangements for global regulation. But unless the big powers don't give up at least a part of their sovereignty in favour of real supranationalism the role of the UN will be limited. In their attempt to cope with the challenges of the global problems, the United Nations have to compete with other approaches to global regulation. The Bretton Woods institutions IMF and World Bank have already in the past been used successfully by the Western big powers as a tool to set up a kind of global governance structure in the field of economy. The new World Trade Organisation (WTO) will become another pillar for this approach. The annual G-7 meetings of the seven major economic powers also belongs to the attempts to establish global governance structures.
The common denominator of the Bretton Woods Institutions, the WTO and the G-7 is their hegemonial character. Unlike the UN, where (except for the Security Council) all countries have an equal status, the hegemonial approach fosters the dominance of the US, Japan and Western Europe over the majority of the "rest of the world".
It is not by chance that the only sector, where the importance of the UN has increased in the last years - and probably will further increase - is security. The whole discourse on peace-keeping, peace-enforcing, peace-troops etc. might lead to an instrumentaliation of the UN in favour of big powers, whereas in other areas such as social, economic, human rights issues etc. where the principle "one country one vote" prevails, the veto countries will not permit the UN to enhance their influence.
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