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This is an extremely large document. As such, it has been split into sections:

  1. Foreword
  2. The Starting Point
  3. Who Are We Addressing
  4. Global Economic Policy
  5. UN Responsibilities
  6. Global Governance for the 21st Century
  7. The Two Agendas
  8. Democratic Process of Decision Making
  9. A New Consensus
  10. Restructuring
  11. New Paradigms
  12. Basic Changes
  13. Reviewing the UN System
  14. Global Economic Policy


This paper on the future role of the United Nations system is a preliminary study to identify the main areas of current global concerns relevant to global governance for the future. Included are changes considered necessary for the UN to play a key role in working towards universal human security - in particular, maintaining the integrity of the biosphere in continuing to provide for human needs and sustainable human development.

Following a period to allow for submissions and comments, it will be revised, and paragraphs will be added containing specific recommendations for changes to the UN system.

The Starting Point

After 50 years, no one denies the need to adapt the UN system to meet changes in a world now very different from that of the post-World War II years. But there are two very different agendas attempting to influence the direction of this change. On the one hand is the group of G7 governments dominated by the U.S., which is strongly influenced by those holding economic power and influence. On the other hand, are those who have a genuine desire to make the UN more effective in meeting human needs in the light of the massive social and environmental issues besetting this planet.

The forces gaining control of the world economy have an agenda to weaken the UN by downgrading its functions, reducing its budget, discrediting its operations and value, and maintaining pressure to ensure international economic policy is kept out of UN control.

These forces tend to put emphasis on the domestic development policies of developing countries and then only on a particular kind of development policy. They insist that a restructured United Nations system should be geared to promoting a market-oriented development strategy. They believe that the emphasis on resource transfers is misplaced - they also underplay the role of the external economic environment for development. They recommend the scaling down of the role and function of the United Nations in the "hard core" areas of trade, money, finance and technology, and their transfer to the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

If this view is accepted, critical policy issues will remain outside the United Nations which will be reduced to following a highly truncated and fragmented approach contrary to its mandate and the spirit of the Charter.

Some of these proposals are clearly designed to control the system, and are in violation of the Charter principles of universality, democracy and sovereign equality of states. The developing countries clearly have to make a choice here: a choice between a promise of the availability of resources, which will most likely prove illusory, and upholding the basic principles of the Charter. The choice is obvious: to uphold the basic principles of the Charter, because so much more is at stake than the mere promise of resource availability.

A major thrust of the restructuring and reform exercise should be to bring about a decentralisation of the operational activities of the UN system to the regional and country levels. To be relevant and effective, UN operational activities have to be country specific. Each recipient country has its own geographical compulsions and structures inherited from history. It is very difficult to apply global objectives and priorities to individual countries without taking into account the level and stage of their development, their social and economic structures, and their geographical locations.

Who Are We Addressing?

To whom should collective Third Sector advocacy be directed? The UN consists of its member governments. Each has one vote. The G7 have only seven votes in the General Assembly. So should not tactics be to hold individual governments responsible for passively voting with the G7, and, more importantly, for failing to give support to the Secretary-General and others working to make the Charter provisions come alive?

Global Economic Policy

Bringing global policy formulation and implementation under UN control is the single most important reform facing the world community of nations.

The United Nations was founded at a time of post-World War II euphoria seeking a better world free from the scourge of war. The UN Charter reflected this universal idealism, and provides a democratic basis for international cooperation for its full realisation.

This general objective was to be attained by economic growth, the agents of which were the World Bank, the IMF and the GATT - the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWI), together with the programmes of UN multilateral agencies and private donors and governments through aid programmes. By far the largest spenders have been the BWIs, that have also made the greatest impact, though in many cases, a negative one.

The BWIs ignored their UN mandate to operate within the UN system, and became instead, the agents for capital investment from the North. The World Bank and IMF have become notorious for using loan conditions to require financially weak nations to undertake structural adjustments programmes to open up their economies to allow TNCs and global financial institutions to move in and benefit from deregulated markets.

Those who drew up the UN Charter understood the need for global economic formulation to be a prime responsibility of the United Nations. For this reason, the Charter assigns to the United Nations the central role in the UN system for global macro-economic policy and strategy formulation and guidance. The UN is recognised in the Charter as the world forum for dialogue and decision on global macro-economic problems. This broad mandate is given mainly in Articles 1(3), 1(4), 13(1.b), 55, 60 and 62.

The approach should be an holistic one with emphasis on international economic and social problems and hence on international measures as much as on national problems and measures. Article 1(3) includes among the purposes of the United Nations, achievement of "international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character..." Article 1(4) makes the UN "a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations" in the attainment of the "common ends in the economic, social, cultural, educational and health fields..." Article 55 provides for the promotion of "solutions of international economic, social, health and related problems..."

There is no warrant in the mandate to assign to UN only a "complementary role" in the economic and social field. In macro-economic policy formulation, the UN’s role should be and was intended to be supreme and paramount. This includes such "hard core" economic issues as money, finance, trade, technology and development strategy. In order to play this role effectively, the United Nations would need to retain, strengthen and build its own research and analysis capability and its own data base.

The convening of UNCTAD in 1964, among other things, reflected a strong desire to fill this institutional vacuum. The General Assembly resolution 1965 (XIX) establishing UNCTAD, "Takes note of the widespread desire among developing countries for a comprehensive trade organisation", and in its last operative paragraph (31) stipulates that "the Conference will study all relevant subjects, including matters relating to the establishment of a comprehensive organisation based on the entire membership of the UN system of organisations, to deal with trade in relation to development".

If the urge to equip the United Nations fully to discharge its mandate under the Charter was so strong at the time of the establishment of the United Nations and of UNCTAD, then it is even stronger and more compelling now, when nations have become more interdependent and development issues more interrelated and complex. Therefore, to confer upon the UN a "complementary" role or to talk about its "comparative advantage" or to reduce it to an operational and welfare and humanitarian agency, is not consistent with its mandate under the Charter.

An attempt to assign to the UN a "complementary" role in the economic and social field and treat it for this purpose just as a part of the so-called "polycentric" structure of the UN system is contrary to the effort to put policy for formulation, decision and implementation in the security and humanitarian field in the hub of the United Nations. This asymmetry of treatment of economic and social issues, on the one hand, and political, security and humanitarian issues, on the other, is contrary to the repeated advocacy of an integrated approach to deal with the problem of peace, security, development and social justice in the documents on this subject submitted by the Secretary-General.

With global economic policy determination effectively outside UN jurisdiction and security issues under an undemocratically elected Security Council, dominated by the major industrial nations, the needs of people and their habitat stands little chance of adequate consideration. Tinkering at the edges of the problem will achieve little of substance. Complete structural reform is needed.

Principal UN Responsibilities

All UN activities are important in their own right and must continue, but reorganisation and reallocation of priorities need to be subject to periodic scrutiny. This report concentrates on the issues of human development and ecological security, critical related subjects not being adequately addressed. An integral part of human and environmental concerns is the operations of the global human economy in relation to the economy of the biosphere on which it is dependent.

Human development is dependent on adequate finance to implement programmes. The current situation whereby Agenda 21 programmes are dependent on national programmes and World Bank and IMF funding is disastrous. Agenda 21 programmes are not moving, and significant World Bank Funding is not allocated to the implementation of Agenda 21. Socially and environmentally destructive development projects that are adding to the problem rather than providing answers, are being supported by the World Bank and regional development banks, in direct contravention of the findings of the 1992 Earth Summit.

The new World Trade Organisation (WTO) is set to function outside UN jurisdiction and may join with the World Bank and IMF to form a global trade triumvirate to determine global trade policy.

The need for a coordinated macro-economic policy response at the global level to restore the balance of the world economy has long been felt. This is both in the interests of the stability of the economies of developed countries as well as for redressing the chronic economic weaknesses of developing countries. The Secretary-General in his report in document E/1992/82 has stated: "A critical issue is the appropriate mix of fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies, particularly of the major industrial nations...". As the Secretary-General has pointed out: "progress towards this goal in the context of the G-7 has been limited". This is mainly because the Governments of the major industrialised countries have failed to transcend their domestic political constraints for the purpose of achieving the objective of higher growth and prosperity of the world economy. In fact, in the recent summits, the leaders of the G-7 have relegated to the background their original and primary objective of coordination of macro-economic policies in their preoccupation with political issues. The exclusion of other countries, particularly developing countries, from the arrangement for such coordination under the G-7 is one of the key manifestations of the highly undemocratic character of present international economic relations. It also amounts to a non-fulfillment of the provision in Article 1 (4) of the UN Charter according to which the UN is "to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends".

The Executive Director of the IMF in one of his recent statements has emphasised that, in the context of the prevailing situation in the world economy, adjustment must become universal. The Secretary-General in his report has said that "the more integrated and market-oriented world economy that is emerging reinforces the need for a strengthened surveillance by IMF of both deficit and surplus countries towards better functioning of the world economy." The Secretary-General has further pointed out that "it is particularly relevant at this juncture that surveillance pays increasing attention to large economies". Unfortunately, the IMF is not able to carry out symmetrical surveillance of both deficit and surplus countries.

The UN, as the only universal and democratic intergovernmental organisation, is in a particularly advantageous position to undertake such a task.

Ideas and views emanating from the IMF, World Bank, GATT and think tanks outside the United Nations are designed to silence criticism of the working of the dominant world system and to convert the United Nations into an instrument for protecting the status quo. The proposal for transferring the issues of money, finance and trade from UN organisations - particularly UNCTAD - to the IMF, World Bank and WTO, on the basis of so-called comparative advantage and for avoiding duplication, falls in this category. For the last few years, the countries making these proposals have systematically worked, through the denial of funds, and forcing changes in priorities and orientation, to whittle down the function and role assigned to these UN organisations in their original mandates. At the same time, they have bestowed unlimited resources on the IMF, World Bank and GATT to develop their capacity to undertake research and analysis in these areas. And now they claim that these latter organisations have a comparative advantage in these areas over the UN organisations.

Global Governance for the 21st Century

This document includes just a few of the institutions that the world is likely to need in the 21st century. Some people may consider them overly ambitious, but others may consider them timid. Jan Tinbergen, 1969 winner of the first Nobel Prize for Economics, believes that we need nothing less than a world government. This may appear to be totally utopian today. But he points out: "The idealists of today often turn out to be the realists of tomorrow."

Mankind’s problems can no longer be solved by national governments. What is needed is a World Government.

This can best be achieved by strengthening the United Nations system. In some cases, this would mean changing the role of UN agencies from advice-giving to implementation. Thus, the FAO would become the World Ministry of Agriculture, UNIFO would become the World Ministry of Industry, and ILO the World Ministry of Social Affairs.

In other cases, completely new institutions would be needed. These could include, for example, a permanent World Police which would have the power to subpoena nations to appear before the International Court of Justice, or before other specially created courts. If nations do not abide by the Court’s judgement, it should be possible to apply sanctions, both non-military and military.

Other institutions could include an Ocean Authority (based on the new Law of the Seas), and an analogous Outer Space Authority, to deal with matters such as outer space, aviation and information satellites.

But some of the most important new institutions would be financial - a World Treasury and a World Central Bank. The World Treasury would serve as a world ministry of finance. Its main task would be to collect the resources needed by the other world ministries through one or more systems of global automatic taxation. If there were any delay in contributions from member governments, it would have to make funds available where they are most urgently needed. In addition, there should be a World Central Bank based on a reformed IMF to deal, among other things, with monetary, banking and stock exchange policies.

Just as each nation has a system of income redistribution, so there should be a corresponding "world financial policy" to be implemented by the World Bank and the World Central Bank. Redistribution is the core political issue of the 20th century.

Here it is useful to make a comparison with well-governed nations. The proportion of GDP distributed through social security benefits varies greatly from one country to another. It is typically lower in developing countries: 0.3% in Rwanda, 2.1% in Bangladesh, 2.3% in Bolivia. In industrial countries, it is generally higher but does vary considerably: 6.0% of Japan, 12.6% in the United States, 33.7% in Sweden. Two main factors explain the difference: the level of development and the socio-political policy of the country. The low level in developing countries reflects their underdeveloped condition and the fact that many are living in a feudal state: the rich are accustomed to ruling the people, and also feel poor in relation to the rich in the high-income countries. But this is no justification for the present callous neglect: there is a strong case for much more redistribution within developing countries.

But there should also be redistribution at the international level through development cooperation. How much should the industrial nations make available to the developing countries? As the world economy becomes increasingly integrated, so the redistribution of world income should become similar to that within well-governed nations.

The Two Agendas

Member states have not been sitting idle when confronted with the imperative of change after the end of the cold war. During the last few years, they have taken a number of initiatives to restructure the economic and social sector of the UN system. At its 44th session, the General Assembly recommended a decisive shift of the operational programmes towards government/national execution and laid down detailed guidelines and made specific provisions on how to achieve this. The Third Committee of the General Assembly undertook a major exercise to restructure its agenda. Also, a review of ways and means of enhancing the complementary between the work of the General Assembly and that of ECOSOC is on the agenda.

The numerous proposals that have been put forward recently are intended to achieve the goals of an efficient institution - rationalisation; coordination; avoiding duplication; modernising management; improvement of competence and efficiency; reducing cost and reaping of comparative advantage. However, in many instances, underlying these lofty goals are conflicting national and group objectives to be pursued and interests to be served through these institutions.

Often the real purpose is to:

  • maintain the status quo in international economic relations;
  • eliminate pluralism from the existing world order and stem dissent of the emerging world order:
  • maintain and strengthen the grip of a particular group of countries on the world power structure;
  • take control of institutions which really matter; and
  • maintain and extend the present undemocratic decision-making process in some of the organisations of the UN system.

It is also important to bear in mind that no amount of restructuring and reform can substitute for the lack of political will of the industrialised countries to undertake commitments in good faith and adopt measures to implement them. A large part of the current confusion and disarray in dispensing technical assistance is due to failure of donor countries to implement resolutions already adopted by ECOSOC and the General Assembly, e.g., paying their dues to the United Nations.

Any reform proposal, to be acceptable, must meet the following tests:

a) It must be situated within the mandate of the United Nations given in the Charter.

b) It must be in conformity with the basic principles of the Charter, particularly the following:

  • Universality of the United Nations.
  • The democratic process of decision-making by way of the one nation one vote rule, based on the principle of "Sovereign equality" of all its members - (Article 21(1)).
  • The principle of non-intervention in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any state (Article 2(7)).

c) It should be designed to achieve the agreed objective to be pursued through the activities of the UN.

d) It should be consistent with the democratic character of the UN and not seek to undermine or discourage contending views, plurality of thinking and diversity of approaches and strategies.

Democratic Process of Decision-Making

Decision-making in the United Nations is firmly based on the one-nation-one-vote rule. The Charter nowhere talks about decision by consensus. The consensus process of decision making has implicit in it the notion of only one or a handful of countries being able to block a decision, which amounts to excising a kind of a veto. Subsequently, it was realised that in UN forums other than the Security Council acting under Chapter VII, where nations assumed only moral obligations by virtue of being a party to resolutions or decisions on reluctant parties, by majority voting, did not serve any purpose. Therefore, in UN forums, and particularly in the Second Committee of the General Assembly and in UNCTAD, where resolutions imposed specific obligations like transferring resources, making trade concessions, etc., decisions were almost invariably taken by consensus or "without dissent". However, the consensus method of decision-making was never formalised, because it was regarded as a violation of Article 2(1). In resolution 1995 (XIX) establishing UNCTAD, a conciliation procedure was incorporated whereby a formal arrangement was made to allow time for conciliation on all issues "substantially affecting the economic and financial interest of particular countries" before resorting to voting. But the option of applying the usual UN procedure for voting was retained for taking decisions in cases where the conciliation procedure ended in a failure. The word "consensus" was nowhere used in this resolution. The first time the consensus procedure for taking decisions was explicitly provided for was in the General Assembly resolution 41/213 relating to decision-making by the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC). This resolution in paragraph 5 reaffirms that the decision-making process will be governed by the provisions of the Charter and the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly. Then in the next paragraph, it provides that "without prejudice to paragraph 5 above, the CPC should continue its existing practice of reaching decisions by consensus". There are three major qualifications. The Charter provision of decision-making will ultimately prevail; the word "should" (recommendatory) issued rather than the words "would" or ‘will"; and it has been clarified that what is being provided for is nothing new but merely a continuation of the past practice.

Recently, however, these precautions have been cast to the wind and specific provisions are being made for consensus-making or consensus procedure of decision-making. Some of the reform proposals specifically provide for the consensus procedure of decision-making and also stipulate the requirement of "double majority" which could amount to a veto by either the group of recipient countries or donor countries. This is inconsistent with one of the fundamental principles of the Charter, the sovereign equality of States.

A New Consensus

The approaching collapse of biospheric life-supporting systems and the clash between human demands and resource availability, together with growing social disintegration, point to the need for a new consensus amongst nations, communities and their people.

A lead in this direction from those driving the economic and political process can be ruled out. The second (private profit) sector largely supports the free-market uncontrolled economy, leaving responsibility with the third (private non-profit) sector whose voice must be more strongly heard at the level of global governance. Its tactics need to be carefully considered and coordinated and strongly represented at UN fora.

The essential element in achieving the turnaround from the present money, profit-centred society representing the interests of a small rich and powerful elite, to a people-centred society based on the continued needs of all world citizens is a vibrant, competent and issues driven United Nations. A range of key changes to the organisation are identified in this document. Their priorities need to be determined.


One of the most comprehensive and informed studies of UN systems reform is "Reviewing the United Nations System" by Erskine Childers and Brian Urquhart. Both are recognised world authorities on the issue. While they support radical restructuring, Childers and Urquhart consider this would not be a practical alternative in the present political climate. So, instead, they recommend a wide range of measures that can be put in place without major upheavals and that could be implemented in a number of stages.

In their chapters "In a Time Beyond Warnings" that precedes the section on recommendations they state:

The problems and weaknesses in the UN system concern the only set of institutions in the world that has the capability to reflect the aspirations, fears, and material needs of the whole of mankind. These are also the only institutions mandated by virtually all governments to respond, in equity and sensitivity, to universal problems and needs.

The need for the reform, and where necessary restructuring, of the UN system has never been so urgent. If the marvelous future that science once promised can still be seen on the horizon, so, too, can an unprecedented increase in human misery. There is a possibility of all kinds of social dislocation, political upheaval and armed violence, inside or between neighbouring states, or both simultaneously. The potential for conflict between whole regions, even cultures, cannot be ruled out.

Three fundamental characteristics of these problems can no longer be evaded:

  • They cannot be resolved by individual, or even, in most instances, regional groups of states; they have world-wide causes and effects.
  • They are not ‘sectoral’, or single-phenomenon problems; they have multiple socio-economic and political causes and effects.
  • These problems will not find their own solutions; whatever the blessings of market forces they cannot by themselves provide the answers, and sometimes they may even exacerbate the dangers.

Other studies also of value, are the Stockholm Initiative, findings of the Interaction-Council, CAMDUN, the South Centre and the Secretary-General himself. None have been acted on. The present system suits many.

This report does not cover detailed changes, but concentrates on those parts of the system directly concerned with human, economic and ecological issues at macro-policy level.

All reports studied fail to give adequate attention to the issues of resource management and distributive equity. There remains, even amongst proponents of structural change, a lack of full appreciation of the concept of physical limits to growth and relationship to the scale of human activity.

Childer’s and Urquhart’s study identifies major problems of the UN system:

  • Serious weaknesses in the degree of cooperation between the specialised agencies.
  • Dispersal of the offices of the UN specialised agencies in nine cities in seven countries.
  • Lack of coherent leadership, with the General-Assembly President having short-term tenure.
  • The lack of sufficient high-level support staff for the Secretary-General.
  • Limited budget.
  • A serious imbalance in the capacity of the two main groupings of member states - North and South - the lack of South capacity due to poverty that affects its participation and effectiveness.
  • The narrow UN support base.
  • Too great a dependence on a small number of officers.

Criticism of the UN operations, mainly from the US corporate sector, is largely unfounded. UN staffing levels and administration costs are modest and small-scale compared to other government structures and commercial operations. For example, the Sunday edition of the New York Times uses more paper for one issue, that the UN uses in a year.

In 1992, it spent only 0.0005 per cent of CDP of the industrial countries, or $1.90 per person. This compares to $150 per person on military expenditures.

The proportion of the US financial payments is too great in proportion to the whole, giving the US excessive leverage, such as in the appointment of senior staff.

The UN staff are too far removed from people’s movements, as is the whole system. A wider support base is needed, as governments are mostly represented by civil servants. It is very dependent on how a small number of officials and media commentators interpret it.

New Paradigms

The UN is in need of the adoption of a number of new paradigms:

  1. Basing human production on natural systems and processes rather than promoting industrialisation as a substitute for natural regimes.
  2. Adoption of conservation practices and the minimising of demands for manufactured goods in place of practices that over-tax the recycling and renewal capacity of the biosphere.
  3. The concept of a steady-state economy based on sustainability.
  4. The ecological approach to agriculture.
  5. The peace/security nexus.
  6. A new international consensus based on common threats and common goals.
  7. Development as improvement in the human condition rather than increasing economic outputs.
  8. A just and sustainable society for people rather than sustained economic growth and building fortunes and power bases.
  9. Localising the economy.

Basic Changes

a. World Governance and International Cooperation

The time is overdue for the United Nations to reorganise on the basis of the three major areas of responsibility. All are closely connected. A clear overview is required that recognises the most pressing need to deal with them effectively as a single major operation.

They are:

  • Attainment of sustainability.
  • Human equity and justice.
  • Removal of threats to peace and maintenance of law and order.

A more democratic and adequately funded United Nations is needed to deal effectively with these issues.

World governance is now necessary to match new global institutions of civil society with global reach. In addition, the new responsibilities of the UN for sustainability covered by Agenda 21, must be facilitated. Until a World Citizens Assembly is in operation, a close working relationship between organisations of the Third Sector, NGOs and CBOs in particular, building on the success of NGO contributions to UNCED and recognised in Chapter 27 of Agenda 21, should be established.

The best scientific and technological knowledge and expertise available within the Third Sector, must contribute to this challenge.

b. Understanding the Biosphere

To achieve such actions, decision-makers and their advisers must become aware of the physical constitution and functioning of the biosphere and so come to understand that it is a finite system under great stress from human activity; that its operations constitute a closed economic system in its own right; and that the global human economy, being entirely dependent on the biosphere, is a sub-set of the global economy. (See paper...).

c. Key moves

(i) The UN Charter

As the principal change needed is to recognise that sustainable development is dependent on achieving a permanent balance between the finite resources of the planet on the one hand, and the needs of human and animal populations, both currently existing and expected future populations, the UN Charter needs to spell out the following principles to guide all decision-making.

  • Subsidiarity
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Democratic institutions and processes
  • Access to information
  • Equal access to the law
  • Basing decisions on UN charters, and agreements and the overall good of humanity.

(ii) The Rio Declaration

This should be reviewed and strengthened. The concept of eco-crime could be introduced and the issue of responsibility for cross-border pollution and other ecological disturbances clarified in this or other documents.

(iii) Adoption of a People’s Charter

(iv) Corporate Controls

  • Bring The World Bank, IMF and their successors, and the WTO, under the jurisdiction of the General Assembly, together with a review of their functions (See also Chapter...)
  • Complete and adopt the Code of Conduct for TNCs and other private institutions with a global compass, and restore the Commission on TNCs.

The following structures should be applied to all profit-seeking corporations and institutions, including the BWIs:

  • Recognition that corporations are public bodies created to serve public needs, and have only those privileges specifically extended to them by their charter, or in law.
  • Those matters set out in the Code of Conduct and public responsibilities must be enshrined in international law and be subject to judicial action and to the rights of persons in communities affected to bring charges to institute proceedings.

Specific issues requiring top priority action are:

  • Absolute prohibition of political advertising.
  • Strict limitation on total of political campaign expenditures.
  • Campaign costs to be covered by a combination of public funding and small individual tax-deductible contributions.
  • Abolish political action committees.
  • Prohibit corporations from making any kind of political contributions, or using corporate resources to favour any candidate in a political campaign. (p4 Ch iv.4)
  • Abolish all tax expenditures for corporate lobbying expenditures, public "education", public charities or politician organisations of any kind.
  • Legislate against the ownership of any company or person of more than one major media operation.
  • Prohibit advertising in school, at sports events or in public buildings or spaces.

(d) Structural Changes - Priority 1

To reflect the three prime functions of the UN the following is recommended:

(a) Continuation of the Security Council, with its present responsibilities, but with its membership reflecting the full range of UN member states.

To this end, current talks on equitable representation should be brought to a resolution without further delay.

The power of veto to be abolished.

(b) ECOSOC to become the Social Development Council. (Its proposed functions are set out in later paragraphs)

(c) A Global Ecological Council to be created with the function of ensuring the management of the human economy on a sustainable basis in harmony with the operations of the biosphere.

This would involve:

  1. Merging of the operations of the Commission for Sustainable Development with UNEP to become the administration and operational arm of the Ecological Council, and abolition of the Commission. (See Chapter ...... for detailed functions)
  2. Appointment of deputy - secretary generals to administer each of the above three councils.
  3. Adoption by the General Assembly of practice and an ethical code to guide the operations of all three Bretton Woods agencies and their successors. The basis for such a code is set out elsewhere in this report. In particular, these and other agencies must give priority to the key issues of sustainable development and human justice, and abandon the fallacious concept of sustainable economic growth.
  4. All UN agencies to adopt the principle of subsidiarity by devolving decision-making responsibility to lower levels in the hierarchy.
  5. Regional offices in those of the eight regions not already served, to be actively involved in macro-resource management, including programmes for environment restoration.
  6. Each region would develop, in consultation with national governments, regional strategies and action plans and seek funding from UN sources for non-profit programmes. Such programmes to accord with UN global policy and guidelines and would include capacity for citizen involvement, a citizen advisory panel, information dissemination, and public participation.
  7. Standard procedures should be established with the necessary funding, for participation in UN policy formulation, strategy development, and programme planning and implementation with NGOs and CBOs as agents of the Third Sector. These procedures should develop the recommendations in Chapters 26 and 27 of Agenda 21.
  8. Agenda 21 to act as the foundation document for UN and national development programmes, with the proviso that reference to sustained economic growth and trade promotion be expunged.

Other proposals for reform that justify further study are:

  • An International Board of the UN System to attain its cohesion.
  • An emergency humanitarian and ecocatastrophe response unit.
  • Moving responsibility for the world’s forests from FAO to UNEP.
  • Reforming the FAO and relating it to other UN functions concerned with poverty, emergency aid and sustainable agriculture.
  • A United Nations Parliamentary Assembly to give direct citizen representation as an advisory body initially, with direct access to the General Assembly and UN councils and agencies.
  • Changes in international law to clarify nations’ responsibilities for cross border pollution, maintenance of world climate stability and other issues of common concern.

"Reviewing the UN System"

"Reviewing the UN System" recommends reform of the Bretton Woods Institutions be handled by a panel of eminent international experts to prepare a paper analysing the present deterioration of the world economy, and the instruments of multi-lateral management urgently needed to avert a North-South crisis that could lead to major instability.

The report also recommends that the Secretary-General calls for such a team of experts to include recommendations for the reform of the three agencies within the UN system; a low-interest capital lending facility; and a governed monetary fund, working closely with a similarly governed universal trade organisation.

Other recommendations are for the Secretary-General to mobilise support for a high-level UN monetary, financial and trade conference to bring about the changes recommended to the three Bretton Woods agencies.

Provision of finance and control of world monetary policy, global taxation measures, trade and macro-economic policy are discussed in a separate section of this report.

Global Economic Policy

Global economic policy determination and implementation currently controlled predominantly by the BWIs must be brought under UN control as required by the Charter. Moves in this direction have been successfully resisted within the UN. It is therefore necessary to bring to public and national government attention, more forcibly than in the past, the human and environmental costs of allowing the agents of macro-business to determine policy in its favour.

The emergence of a global economy made possible by advances in communication technology has had major repercussions for both human welfare and the natural environment. Lack of any control system at global level has allowed the movement of capital to operate freely across national borders, so denying national governments control over their own economies. It has also allowed the acceleration of wealth accumulation with consequential lowering of incomes at the lower end of the income and wealth scales.

Bringing global economic policy under UN jurisdiction is, then, the most urgent of the issues facing the world community.

The framers of the UN Charter foresaw the need for a body to determine economic policy. It is a sad commentary on its members that they failed to understand the importance of these Charter provisions in allowing the BWIs to be operated outside the UN system.

The various matters that fall within global economic policy provisions include:

  • An international currency.
  • International capital transfers.
  • International currency transactions.
  • Exchange rate stabilisation.
  • Protecting commodity pricing in the interests of producers as well as consumers.
  • Basing economic policy on the needs of all people and the attainment of environmental sustainability.
  • A code of conduct for TNCs and international and regional development banks to ensure these institutions operate in the overall public interest.
  • A permanent solution to the debt problem.
  • An end to structural adjustment policies.
  • Dealing with international corruption.
  • New aid and development funding policies.
  • Funding UN activities
  • International trade policies based on sustainability needs, rather than economic growth.
  • Mechanisms to promote sustainable resource use and protection of ecosystems and their natural resources.

For more information about UN activities, visit their website.

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