Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World

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  • Joeseph E. Schwartzberg

    1230 Schwartzberg – Transforming UN System FINAL Front Cover
    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1230-5
    United Nations University Press
    November 2013

    Global problems require global solutions. However, the United Nations, as presently constituted, is incapable of addressing many global problems effectively. One nation–one vote decision-making in most UN agencies fails to reflect the distribution of power in the world at large, while the allocation of power in the Security Council is both unfair and anachronistic. Hence, nations are reluctant to endow the UN with the authority and the resources it needs. Extensive reform is essential.

    This book is rooted in the proposition that the design of decision-making systems greatly affects their legitimacy and effectiveness. It proposes numerous systemic improvements, largely through weighted voting formulae that balance the needs of shareholders and stakeholders in diverse UN agencies. It indicates ways by which the interests of regions can supplement those of nations and by which the voices of non-governmental organizations and ordinary citizens can also be heard. In numerous contexts, it promotes meritocracy and gender equity.

    The aim is not to create an unrealistic utopia, but rather to establish a workable world, a world in which the force of law supplants the law of force, a world committed to justice and continuous, yet sustainable, development. Given the many existential threats now confronting our planet, the time frame for decisive action is short. The task before us is daunting and success is not guaranteed. But, in view of the urgency of our situation, we must and can find ways of mustering the will, imagination and other resources to do the job.

    About the Author:

    Joseph E. Schwartzberg is Distinguished International Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, and President, Minnesota Chapter, Citizens for Global Solutions.

    Table of Contents:

    Questions of perspective
    Organization of the book

    Reform of the General Assembly
    The growing need for voting reform
    A realistic basis for weighted voting
    A weighted voting system
    A legislative concomitant of the proposed system of
    weighted voting
    Benefits of a change to weighted voting
    Adapting to future changes

    A World Parliamentary Assembly
    Stage one: An advisory body with MWPs chosen by national
    Transitional arrangements
    Stage two: A popularly elected WPA with increasing
    legislative competence
    Stage three: Institutionalizing worldwide electoral fields and
    the one-person-one-vote principle

    Reform of the Security Council
    Declining representativeness of the present system
    Additional shortcomings of the present system and of
    leading reform proposals
    Universal weighted regional representation
    Eliminating the veto
    Summary and conclusions

    From ECOSOC to ESEC
    How ECOSOC functions
    Representativeness of ECOSOC
    A proposed new structure
    The role of regional caucuses
    Summary and conclusions

    A credible human rights system
    The UN record to date
    A strengthened Human Rights Council

    A strengthened judicial system
    The record to date

    Coordination of UN specialized agencies and special UN
    commissions and funds
    The expansion of global agencies and funds
    Rationalization and coordination agencies
    Devising appropriate weighting formulae

    Enhancing human resources
    A review of past practices and reforms
    Suggested reforms

    Engaging civil society: NGOs and other non-state actors
    Non-governmental organizations
    Voices for all
    The private commercial sector

    The problem of funding
    Budgetary practices
    Alternative sources of funding
    A proposed new system
    Summary and conclusions

    Peacekeeping, peacebuilding and disarmament
    The pacific settlement of disputes
    Peacekeeping and peacebuilding: The record to date
    Attempts at reform of the existing system
    A standing UN Peace Corps
    A UN Administrative Reserve
    A UN Administrative Academy
    Arms control and disarmament

    Towards a sustainable planet and an expanded common heritage
    Economic and environmental sustainability: The record to date
    The global commons

    A new global governance architecture
    A new architecture for global governance
    A plural executive
    Linkages from global to regional and lower levels

    Getting there
    Improving the domestic climate for change
    Global education and the promotion of a cosmopolitan
    Establishing effective civil society networks
    Effecting catalytic changes in the UN system
    Forging strategic alliances

    Appendix 1 Selected data for UN members

    Appendix 2 Composition of proposed Security Council regions

  • “This contribution of Professor Schwartzberg will be an essential reference work for all those who are concerned with the future of a new United Nations.”

    Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary-General of the United Nations

    “It is a joy and a privilege to read a manuscript by Joseph Schwartzberg, replete with common sense approaches and pragmatic solutions. Anyone who reads him understands how obstacles can be overcome – one by one. United Nations reform is inescapable – not utopian. Indeed, world peace requires reform of global institutions and strengthening of the rule of law, nationally and internationally. A World Parliamentary Assembly with consultative functions would significantly advance this goal by giving greater legitimacy to global decisions through citizen input.”

    Alfred M. de Zayas, Professor of International Law, University of Geneva

    “No one has thought longer or harder than Joe Schwartzberg about the challenges of designing a fairer and better world order. This book is an essential contribution to a long overdue conversation not only about UN reform but, more broadly, about what passes for our current system (or rather non-system) of global governance.”

    Thomas G. Weiss, Director, Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies (p.

    “Born of war, the nearly 70-year-old United Nations system lives on despite all the cries against its inadequacies. Joseph Schwartzberg’s book is a refreshing call for retooling the present system of global governance to promote a more secure, dignified and happier world. The volume is a must-read for everyone who is concerned about the future.”

    Takashi Inoguchi, President and Chairman of the Board, University of Niigata Prefecture

    “No one has thought longer, harder or better about the United Nations and its possible futures. Transforming the United Nations System is a must-read for those who want a knowledgeable analysis of the workings of the United Nations and its potential restructuring. Joe Schwartzberg’s magisterial publication is a great step toward better world government.”

    John E. Trent, Fellow, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa, former Secretary General, International Political Science Association, and author of Modernizing the United Nations System

    “For believers in just governance, progressive democratization of the United Nations system is an essential process. The many innovative proposals put forward in this wonderful book point the way to a better-governed world.”

    Johan Galtung, Professor of Peace Studies and founder of Transcend International

    “This book persuasively demonstrates that the political organization of the world requires a wide range of significant institutional innovations.”

    Lucio Levi, Professor of Political Science and Comparative Politics, University of Torino, and editor of The Federalist Debate

    “Building global institutions capable of coping with climate change, financial crises, nuclear proliferation and other global problems has become the central political concern in the 21st century. Professor Schwartzberg’s book is, arguably, the most comprehensive attempt at combining the goal of a global democratic order and the realities of the existing international structure.”

    Fernando Iglesias, writer, journalist, member of Parliament of Mercosur, and Executive Secretary, Democracia Global