Thursday, December 02, 2004

Global Test Revealed

We are now finding out what that Global Test was all about in the last election. The panel enjoined by the UN to come up with recommendations on how to "improve" the world body and make it more relevant and useful has come up with their report. I don't know whether this was from Kerry's playbook or he had a crib sheet on the UN's. Captain Ed has a good first impression on this work of deep thought and analysis and is well worth (as usual) a good read.

He writes:

"However, in reading the actual report, it's clear that the UN intends on stripping nations of their sovereign right to defend themselves by requiring Security Council approval for any pre-emptive military action. A read through paragraphs 188 - 198 demonstrates that the panel basically took John Kerry's global test and plugged it into their report:"

189. Can a State, without going to the Security Council, claim in these
circumstances the right to act, in anticipatory self-defence, not just
pre-emptively (against an imminent or proximate threat) but preventively
(against a non-imminent or non-proximate one)? Those who say “yes” argue that
the potential harm from some threats (e.g., terrorists armed with a nuclear
weapon) is so great that one simply cannot risk waiting until they become
imminent, and that less harm may be done (e.g., avoiding a nuclear exchange or
radioactive fallout from a reactor destruction) by acting earlier.
190. The
short answer is that if there are good arguments for preventive military action,
with good evidence to support them, they should be put to the Security Council,
which can authorize such action if it chooses to. If it does not so choose,
there will be, by definition, time to pursue other strategies, including
persuasion, negotiation, deterrence and containment - and to visit again the
military option.
191. For those impatient with such a response, the answer
must be that, in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the
global order and the norm of non-intervention on which it continues to be based
is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as
distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted. Allowing one to so
act is to allow all.
196. It may be that some States will always feel that they have the
obligation to their own citizens, and the capacity, to do whatever they feel
they need to do, unburdened by the constraints of collective Security Council
process. But however understandable that approach may have been in the cold war
years, when the United Nations was manifestly not operating as an effective
collective security system, the world has now changed and expectations about
legal compliance are very much higher.
197. One of the reasons why States
may want to bypass the Security Council is a lack of confidence in the quality
and objectivity of its decision-making. The Council’s decisions have often been
less than consistent, less than persuasive and less than fully responsive to
very real State and human security needs. But the solution is not to reduce the
Council to impotence and irrelevance: it is to work from within to reform it,
including in the ways we propose in the present report.

If this is what we have to look forward to in way of reforming the UN, let it die a natural death and we can look forward to a film "The Dead Debating Society" starring Koffi Annan and his son.