50 reasons WHY we should JOIN the EU: *United Nations

*United Nations (UN):

‘The UN was established after the Second World War by the victorious powers, its basic shape agreed by Britain, the USA, and the USSR at wartime conferences, and its *charter’ (see also,) 51 reasons WHY we should JOIN the EU: *United Nations, declaration of’ available on:


‘finalised by the 1945 *San Fransisco conference. The UN came into existence on 24 October 1945, at which time it had 51 members; by January 1999 the number was 184. Switzerland is the only notable absentee, though between 1949 and 1971 China was represented by Taiwan. The UN’s headquarters are in New York, where its secretariat is headed by a secretary-general. As almost all states belong to the UN and have permissions missions to it, headed by senior officials, New York is a hive of diplomatic activity. Much private diplomacy goes on, as well as the public debates in the UN’s two main organs, the general assembly and security council. The assembly is a general deliberative body; the council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace.

All states are represented in the general assembly, each member, whatever its size, having one vote. During its annual meetings, usually of about three months, most issues are thrashed out in committee (all members always being represented) before being submitted to plenary meetings. There, important resolutions need a two-thirds majority (others a simple majority), and the world’s weaker states have used this numerical preponderance to pass resolutions calling for the rectification of international injustices. Such resolutions are only advisory; but they are widely seen as expressing international opinion. Britain was therefore in an uncomfortable position when there was regular criticism of colonialism, of her failure to bring a forceful end to Rhodesia’s illegal declaration of independence, and her refusal to support tough action against against South Africa’s apartheid regime. However, such resolutions did not alter her policies. By the mid-1980’s the assembly was becoming more moderate following a cut in the USA’s contribution to the UN budget, following her annoyance at many criticisms of her policies.

The other main organ is the security council, of which Britain is one of the five permanent members (the others being the USA, Russia, China, and France). There are also non-permanent members -ten since 1966 -elected for two-year terms. Draft resolutions require nine votes to pass, but any permanent member can veto a non-procedural proposal. This is important because ‘decisions’ of the security council are binding on all members of the UN. However, the council cannot decide to make use of a members armed forces against its will. During the Cold War, superpower disagreement prevented enforcement action -except during the Korean War (1950-3) the the Soviet Union was boycotting the council at the time of the crucial vote. However, the uN has played a valuable role both then and since by despatching impartial, non-threatening peacekeeping bodies to help disputants who wanted, at least for the time being, to live at peace. But peacekeeping, like the UN’s other tools for dispute resolution, depends on the willingness of the parties to accept its help.

The end of the Cold War in the late 1980’s removed the barriers that had prevented the security council operating as originally intended. It thus assumed a central role in trying to settle conflicts, and was able to legitimise force to Liberate Kuwait after Iraq had invaded in 1991. Britain was a major contributor both to the anti-Iraq coalition and to the peacekeeping operations of the early 1990’s. But then, because too much was expected of the UN, disillusion set in, which was not helped by the UN’s own perennial financial crisis. Moreover, there were demands that membership of the security council be made larger and more ‘democratic’. Because of Britain’s decline in power, her permanent seat is threatened by any reform; but, as the charter requires her consent for changes, she still has a good bargaining lever.

There are two other important UN organs: the *International Court of Justice’ (see also,) *European Court of Human rights on ’21 reasons WHY we should jOIN the EU’ available on:


(‘which sits at The Hague’, (The Netherlands), ‘and has always had a British judge), and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which consists if 54 members (Britain always among them). The court adjudicates legal disputes that states voluntarily submit to it. ECOSOC has manifold responsibilities over a huge range of activities. In theory it also coordinates the work of eighteen ‘specialised agencies’, such as the *International monetary Fund and the *World Health Organisation, but, as each of them is a seperate organisation, there are limits to this process. In 1986, Britain withdrew from one of them, the UN’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, in protest at the way it was run. Reforms were swiftly introduced, but Britain only rejoined in 1997’.

(See also,) *United Nations, declaration of on ‘51 reasons WHY we should JOIN the EU: *United Nations, declaration of’ available on:


(See also,) *League of Nations on ‘38 reasons WHY we should JOIN the EU: *League of Nations’ available on:


See also,) *World Bank on ’49 reasons WHY we should JOIN the EU: *World Bank’ available on:


(See also) ’48 reasons WHY we should JOIN the EU: *Second World War’ available on:


(See also,) *General Agreement of Trade and Tariffs (GAAT) on ‘46 reasons WHY we should JOIN the EU: *General Agreement of Trade and Tariffs (GAAT)’ available on:


References: House of Commons, session 1992-3, Foreign Affairs Committee, third report, ‘The Expanding Role of the United Nations and its Implications for United Kingdom Policy’, vol. 1. Report together with Proceedings of the Committee (HCP 235-I); vol. 2. Minutes of Evidence and Appendices (HCP 235-II).

References: Jack C. Plano & Robert E. Riggs, ‘The United Nations: International Organisation and World Politics’, Chicago, 1988.


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