Fixing the United Nations!?

Hi Brit,

Not long ago I posted about the latest UN scandal and we got several comments from gary, talking about changing the United Nations to the United Democratic Nations.  This got me to thinking what it would take to fix the UN so that it would be more useful and less corrupt.  So here goes:

1.  One of the problems I see in the UN is the one country, one vote concept.  Obviously, this doesn’t give a very good distribution of representation.  So, let’s try a two tiered system like the US does in our legislature.  One body would represent countries based on their population, and the other would offer representation just for being a country.  What the heck, let’s add a third body to offer representation based on a country’s GDP.  Of course, all three would need to pass a measure to make it active.  Oh, and considering the rapidly increasing role of multi-national corporations in the world, we might even want to have a forth body to represent them.

2.  Funding.  Now that’s a big problem, not only in making the share of support fair and equatable, but also in keeping the cash from finding its way into the wrong hands.  So, I think UN funding should come completely from voluntary donations from individuals and businesses.  This would give the people a chance to restrain the UN when needed and encourage it when warranted.  To help this along, donations, up to a certain amount, would be directly deductible from one’s national tax owed.  Thus, without a guaranteed source of income, the UN would be prodded to clean up its act.

3.  Which leaves us with the Security Council and the scope of the UN’s authority.  Given the added levels of representation and limited funding, the safe guard of the Security Council shouldn’t be necessary.  Still, we wouldn’t want them meddling in just anything that took their fancy, so some list of things the UN had authority to mess with would have to be fixed in the new charter, with some super difficult process needed to change it.

That’s it for now.  Comments are more than welcome.

the Grit

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9 Responses to “Fixing the United Nations!?”

  1. gary Says:

    1) I can understand why representation might make sense based on countries at times, population other times, but what is an example of an issue that would be decided based on GDP representation?
    And doesn’t a population-centric system encourage overpopulation?

    2) I don’t have a big problem with the funding as it is. If the goal is to constrain the growth of the organization, I’d recommend that we just keep it moving….first five years in France, next five years in Kenya, and so forth. That should keep the organization relatively lean and also remove the stigma that the UN is owned by the US.

    3) The security council is an outdated concept. I agree…get rid of it. Make ALL members share in the process (and share in it’s failures as applicable).

    gary
    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

  2. britandgrit Says:

    Hi gary,

    1) It not a matter of what representation is best to decide an issue. What I’m shooting at here is protecting groups from the whims of Government. And I may not have been clear, those groups of representation would be there at all times and each would have to approve any bit of legislation. Much like the US House of Representatives and Senate.

    2) The goal here is to make the UN more responsive to the people and to cut back on corruption. As it is now, they don’t have to earn their funding, so they’re no incentive to perform well, which includes fighting internal corruption. The reason it needs to come from the public at large, and not from national governments, is the inherent tendency of governments toward wasteful spending. So governments would not be likely to withhold UN funding for bad performance because, hey, it’s not their money.

    3) Well, until there is a reliable set of checks and balances the Security Council is necessary. No sane person is going to yield national sovereignty to the mob rule which is the UN general assembly. Yet another reason to have multiple levels of representation.

    the Grit

  3. gary Says:

    1) That third group based on GDP is still troubling me. Perhaps if you an example of where this sort of representation would be justified. And I certainly don’t think corporations needs their own representation. Let’s be real…they are already OVER represented.

    2) “The reason it needs to come from the public at large, and not from national governments, is the inherent tendency of governments toward wasteful spending.” Isn’t the proper response of citizens where their government is spending wastefully to just vote them out of office? I would say that as long as the people of each country are happy with their government’s spending, there’s no problem. Ultimately it satisfies the most important constraint, that being the “will of the people”.

    3) So you’re worried about putting too much trust in democracy? Reminds me of a quote…

    “Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.” – E B White

    I know it’s a scarry thought, but until you can find a better system, we should stick with democracy. Currently France is a permanent member and therefore has permanent veto authority. But France is only the 20th most populous nation. India is the 2nd most populous nation, yet has no such position of authority. How can you possibly justify this in modern terms?

    gary

  4. britandgrit Says:

    Hi gary,

    1) That’s easy. The US has the highest GDP but only a small fraction of the world population. If not for our seat at the Security Counsel, the UN would vote time after time to redistribute our wealth, or cripple us economically to gain an advantage for other countries. The same would happen to all developed countries over time. Thus, having more to loose, we deserve more representation as a defense from the tyranny of the mob. The same goes for International Corporations.

    2) Ah, in a perfect world that might work, but then again, so would communism. You should note that, funding the UN through governments removes it from input by the people and makes it only responsive to the governments that pay for its operations. I present as an example the current UN, obviously, a corrupt and incompetent organization.

    3) It’s justifiable because a pure democracy, straight majority rule, is unworkable. No one in their right mind would want to trust anything important to those rules. Without the Security Counsel, all of the developed nations would be out of the UN within weeks.

    the Grit

  5. gary Says:

    Grit,

    I think I see a key difference in our positions. I don’t perceive the UDN as so powerful as to subvert the will or dominate other free nations. I don’t even see the UDN as having a standing army. Think of it as a group of like-minded nations assembling to discuss issues openly…if they can agree on a solution, great! If not, on to the next topic. No doubt there will be many issues that cannot generate consensus, but there will also be issues that all democracies will want to solve…nuclear proliferation, humanitarian help during disasters, regulation of the ocean’s fishing stocks, etc.

    Allow me to illustrate with an example. Suppose the majority of the UDN decides to pool resources and fund an agricultural project in the Sudan. Suppose that the US disagrees for whatever reason. No problem! Those countries that agree can pool their funds (LESS any funds from the US) and go for it. If so some reason the US feels very strongly that the project should not happen, the extreme position would be to leave the UDN. But of course this would be a loss to all nations, so presumably this would be factored very seriously into the equation.

    I understand your concern that a truly democratic organization could threaten the sovereignty of the US. I don’t want this either. We need to set very clear limits on what the organization can and cannot do to avoid this. Again, if the organization was to become subverted from this charter, nations can always leave.

    The REAL problem in the world right now, and consequently the reason that the organization needs to be solidly democratic, is to address issues like nuclear proliferation, genocide, the Middle East, and Iran, and so forth. The UN has been totally ineffective in bringing resolution on all counts. This is because other nations do not feel sufficient ownership in the process. The UN is seen by many as a tool of the US, and as an anti-US organization by many Americans. It’s dead in the water. If we don’t make progress in the above issues FAST, we risk horrific loss of life through continued wars and the use of nuclear weapons. Even if you disagree completely with reforming the UN, I’m sure you can see the urgency here. Perhaps you can propose a solution of your own?

    gary
    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

  6. britandgrit Says:

    Hi gary,

    I agree with you on most of this. However, the UDN you describe would have to remain, basically, powerless. While I prefer this to what we have now, a UN or UDN without independence and a bit of muscle isn’t going to solve anything.

    the Grit

  7. gary Says:

    britandgrit,

    It’s amazing how much open, honest dialog can accomplish. I’m willing to give it a try. After all, there wouldn’t be much to lose!

    gary

  8. britandgrit Says:

    Hi gary,

    Don’t be a stranger.

    the Grit

  9. gary Says:

    Hi Grit,

    I won’t….as long as you’re interested in fixing the UN, I’m there!

    gary
    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

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