Authors: Claes Winberg, Edisa Korugic, Jack Lambert

The submission proposes a series of reforms of the UN. A Global Consultative Council (UNGCC), a consultative body of elected global citizens sitting alongside the UNSC and UNGA, would have two nationally elected representatives per UN member state, have the ability to monitor the UNSC, and bring issues to said body after deliberating with the UNSG. The UNSC would be expanded numerically thus adding greater representation and the power to override a P5-veto with a four-fifths majority vote. The UNSC would also be able to impose financial sanctions on individuals. UNGA would receive a monitoring role of the UN system through an Executive Committee (UNGAEC). The UNSG would be able to proactively propose matters to the UNSC, and forego that body’s non-public meetings. ICJ would be able to advance its rulings to UNGA for debate. These structural changes would be supported by a development mechanism for global values, funded by the member states, as well as the establishment of technical support organisations and a council to devise standards for good governance.

Title:

1. Abstract

List of Abbreviations

[CEG] Council of Elders for Governance

[GC] Global Compact

[GDPPC] Gross Domestic Product Per Capita

[GG] Global Governance

[GGE] Group of Governmental Experts

[ICJ] International Court of Justice

[ODA] Overseas Development Assistance

[UN] United Nations

[UNGA] United Nations General Assembly

[UNGAEC] United Nations General Assembly Executive Committee

[UNGASC] United Nations General Assembly Select Committee

[UNGCC] Global Consultative Council

[UNSC] United Nations Security Council

[UNSG] United Nations Secretary General

[UNTC] United Nations Technological Council

[WETB] World Education and Training Bank

1.1 The legitimacy of the global governance (GG) system has been severely eroded due to three principal problems: inconsistent standards of governance; fading commitment to multilateralism; and poor prospects of sustainable economic growth. These three problems impact the UN’s organisational input, throughput and output legitimacy. Only by correcting the three problems, as the below revised model suggests, can the system regain its legitimacy and its place at the heart of international peace- and policy-making.

1.2 The model below includes six new elements and three amendments to the UN body and its various organs.

1.3 To improve input legitimacy, a consultative body of elected global citizens would sit alongside the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly: the Global Consultative Council (UNGCC). It would serve as a global Senate, with two nationally elected representatives per state, to monitor the effectiveness of the UN Security Council (UNSC), and have the ability to bring issues to the UNSC through the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) after consultations.

1.4 The UNSC membership would be expanded from 15 to 22 members, crucially adding a representative from the poorest 25% of nation-states, ranked by GDP per capita. This would add greater representation and improved outcomes from the Security Council. Secondly, the UNSC would be given the power to override a P5-veto with a four-fifths majority vote. The UNSC is also given additional powers to impose personal financial sanctions.

1.5 The UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) role has traditionally been limited to a forum for debate without producing concrete outcomes for the states and people they represent. The revised model would bestow the UNGA with additional powers and functions to bring it into the mainstream of global political decision-making. It would take on an enhanced investigative/monitoring role through a newly instituted Executive Committee (UNGAEC) and a series of Select Committees (UNGASCs), including an influential Enforcement Committee. 12-15 representatives from the UNGCC and the UNSC would be appointed on a regional basis to the UNGAEC, whereas the UNGASCs would comprise UNGA representatives and observers from the UNGCC and the UNGAEC, elected on regional basis. The UNGAEC would serve as a halfway point between the President and the 193 members and would settle the agenda points for the upcoming UNGA, to ensure debates were more relevant than currently. The UNGASCs would foster more executive action outside the UNSC by scrutinising the work of UN agencies and Member States – effectively acting as internal watchdogs to safeguard the integrity of the UN’ Charter and Codes of Conduct.

1.6 The UN Secretary-General would hold more authority and executive power than before. She/he would be expected to propose matters to the UNSC proactively and attend non-public meetings of the UNSC more often, to counteract the reactive nature of UNSC decision-making.

1.7 The model would add to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) an enforcement tool to bring states found non-compliant with ICJ rulings to the UNGA for debate.

1.8 Next, the model would include a World Education and Training Bank (WETB), a development mechanism focused on education, training and adherence to global values. It would promote education at all levels in any country that asked for help and thereby help accelerate economic growth and productivity. The WETB would work together with core UN organs to ensure developed countries met their Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) targets of 0.7% of GNI. Of ODA flows, a small proportion (1-5%) would be managed by the WETB and redirected to geographies and causes deemed most acute and appropriate.

1.9 The UN Technological Council would be a specialist UN team appointed by the UNSG, tasked with applying new technologies to existing UN structures, as well as bringing the organisation up to date on various technology matters.

1.10 Finally, the Council of Elders for Governance (CEG) would be a specialist team of respected decision-makers, appointed by the UNSG from a global and diverse pool of experienced candidates. It would devise standards for good governance, and monitor and report to the UNSG on developments.

1.11 All of the above would improve the UN’s overall legitimacy through one or more of the three types of legitimacy (input, throughput and output). Together, the improved legitimacy would address the three main problems outlined at the beginning: inconsistent governance standards; fading commitment to multilateralism; and poor prospects of sustainable economic growth.

2. Description of the model

2.1 The current global governance (GG) system has shown itself incapable of sufficient rejuvenation to keep up with developments and emerging challenges of the late-20th and 21st centuries. The system’s legitimacy has slowly eroded to a point where it is vital to rethink global governance. The authors of this report regard it as essential to retain and reform the United Nations. But they have diagnosed three fundamental problems that need addressing because they erode, individually and in combination, the system’s legitimacy:

  1. Inconsistent standards of governance at global and national levels;
  2. A fading commitment to multilateralism, compromise and cooperation between states;
  3. Poor prospects of sustainable economic growth, particularly for less advantaged people and countries.

2.2 These points must be viewed through an apolitical lens. The model does not prescribe a particular political or economic system, as long as the problems above are addressed.

2.3 Only by addressing these three pillars can the system’s legitimacy and functionality be restored, and only by restoring the functionality of the system can it be expected to meet the enormous challenges ahead. Conversely, if not dealt with, the issues above will in the end lead to a breakdown of security and cooperation at the global level.

2.4 These three core problems, and the failure to address them adequately, impact the UN’s organisational legitimacy in three areas: input, throughput and output legitimacy.

– Input legitimacy is defined as an organisation's responsiveness to concerns of the people, expressed through political participation and representation;

– Throughput legitimacy is the “efficacy, accountability and transparency of an [organisation’s] governance processes along with their inclusiveness and openness to consultation with the people”;

– Output legitimacy as the effectiveness of policy decisions and outcomes for the people (Source1).

2.5 Crucially, effective throughput enhances output and input legitimacy. Perceived and actual improvements in input, throughput and output are essential for the UN to regain and retain its full legitimacy.

2.6 The most fundamental change of this model will be to the input legitimacy of the global governance institutions. In a fragmenting world, where the localisation of people's interests carries increasing appeal, the distance between individual citizens and supranational institutions is growing. The international institutions have traditionally demonstrated strong throughput and output, whereas civic input and political participation are too often limited to expression at the national level.

2.7 Improving the UN’s ability to hear the voices of global citizens, to construct more effective procedures and to deliver the required outputs would improve the UN’s legitimacy, enhance capacity to implement decisions, and make it more attractive for states to participate in the process.

2.8 The New Shape Prize rules state that ‘the governance model must … be such that it can be implemented within the foreseeable future. This requires that it can be acceptable to states and the wider international community’. Any proposed system must, we contend, be based on the current UN system and make only incremental changes. To start from scratch would require the (undesirable) opportunity provided by a systemic crisis or global war. Rather, the model assumes a broadly peaceful setting for this process of reform and advocates piecemeal change, whilst retaining several aspects. Nonetheless, disruptive changes to the design and decision-making paths are crucial to restore trust and enable effective enforcement.

2.9 This proposal includes four new elements and four amendments to the UN body and its organs. It is focused on participation, implementability and realism: many alternative suggestions have been discarded on the basis that more radical reform is unlikely to be achievable.

2.10 The following chapter will describe the organs and departments added or amended within the UN-umbrella, followed by a section on the model’s applicability to current and emerging challenges and how it addresses the three problems outlined in section 2.1.

3 Elements and Structure of the revised UN model

3.1 Global Consultative Council

3.1.1 Mandate

3.1.1.1 Within the UN framework, to improve input legitimacy, we propose a consultative body of elected global citizens to sit alongside the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly: the Global Consultative Council (UNGCC).

3.1.1.2 The UNGCC would be a representative chamber, akin to the German Bundesrat and the UK’s House of Lords. It would act as a ‘Global Senate’ and would assess the general quality of resolutions coming out of the UNSC. However, it would hold no legislative power: rather, its leverage would be derived from the expression of international opinion, in monitoring the UNSC’s effectiveness in the view of the global community, and ensuring that the UNSC operates as the UN Charter intended.

3.1.1.3 The UNGCC would be able to bring issues to the UNSC through the UNSG after consultation. This would bring the UNGCC into the cradle of UN decision-making and grant it more legitimacy within member states.

3.1.1.4 The UNGCC would purport to act on issues from a global perspective to avoid national interests frustrating the political process. Crucially, the UNGCC would be a channel for non-state actors to bring their concerns about global issues to the highest levels of the system, in response to more vocal demands for insight and influence. This would be partly formalised in the UNGCC members’ requirement to be consulted by and receive representations from designated NGOs and civil society organisations on certain matters that pass through the chamber.

3.1.2 Composition

3.1.2.1 Each member state would be allocated two senators, one male and one female, to represent the views on global issues of the people of their state. As such, the senators would be independent from their governments, de facto and de jure. Senators would be elected on fixed terms that exceed their country’s political terms (e.g. five to seven years), and would be limited to two terms of service to avoid institutional inertia (cf. the European Parliament). UNGCC elections would be divided into three separate election cycles to safeguard continuity. The elections must be held independently from national elections to ensure they represent the interests of people rather than governments. Elections would be organised by national governments but supervised by an independent commission in each nation. The overall process would be monitored by a special UNGA Select Committee (see 3.3.3), to promote a globally consistent process.

3.1.2.2 Unlike a global ‘parliament’, the UNGCC would convene only three to four times each year, if necessary in different locations, to stave off member states’ concerns of another costly bureaucratic institution. The UNGCC can drive its own procedures and establish sub-committees to have frequent interaction with the UNSC and other institutions.

3.1.2.3 The authors are cognisant of varying degrees of voter freedom across member states. Elections to different UN bodies would be different depending on national standards of democracy. This cannot be changed overnight but must be accepted for reasons of implementability. To discourage unfair elections, UNGCC senators whose elections are not deemed free and fair could be placed in bureaucratic quarantine by the UNGA’s newly created Enforcement Select Committee (see 3.2.3.1), limiting the committees and working groups in which they may participate.

3.1.3 Legitimacy

The UNGCC would provide the missing element in the UN’s multilateral governance platform by strengthening UN’s: responsiveness to concerns of the people; efficacy, accountability and transparency, and openness to consultation with the people; and the effectiveness of policy decisions for the people. It would also incentivise constituencies in nation-states to lobby their own governments more frequently on global policy issues and insist on greater attention being paid to the multilateral agenda. In short, the UNGCC would enhance the UN’s perceived input, throughput and output legitimacy by improving civic participation, organisational accountability and visibility of progress and achievements.

3.2 UN Security Council

Today, the UNSC’s role remains one of supervising and maintaining international peace and security in its widest sense. However, it lacks both input and output legitimacy: the disconnect between the Permanent 5 and non-P5 has increased as the society of nations has grown, damaging its input legitimacy; the tendency towards reactionary decision-making impedes the UNSC’s capacity to pursue a more stable peace around the world, damaging its output legitimacy.

3.2.1 Membership Expansion

3.2.1.1 The authors recognise that UNSC membership reform would require a UN Charter amendment, which is where resistance to change has so far been focused. However, reforms to the UN system of the breadth proposed in this whole model will necessarily entail legislative action in the UN. Member States will adjust to this when they assess the benefits of the changes in their entirety.

3.2.1.2 The UNSC would be expanded on a regional basis, see Appendix 1. In addition to the P5, every region apart from Europe/North America/Other Westernised States would have two appointed and one elected representative state. The two would be appointed by the regional heads of state, meeting in regional committee, and the one would be elected in the normal annual competition for the UNSC. Europe/North America/Other Westernised States would only be awarded one elected representative, as the region already has three Permanent members. The UNGCC would have one representative elected within the Council from the lowest earning 25% of states (by GDP Per Capita).

Regions are (see Appendix 1)

– Europe/North America/Other Westernised States

– Sub-Saharan Africa

– MENA (League of Arab States)

– ASEAN-States

– Other Asian

– Latin America-Caribbean

3.2.1.3 These new members would increase UNSC membership from 15 to 22. This would add input, throughput and ultimately output legitimacy, and broaden the range of perspectives at the UNSC. The three-fifths’ majority threshold for passing UNSC votes would remain in place (14 out of 22 votes in the new UNSC).

3.2.2 Veto Reform

3.2.2.1 The veto system would be reformed to rein in the disproportionate influence of the P5 in the UNSC, which has throughput and output consequences. A four-fifths majority (18/22) would overturn a single P5 veto (more than one would be unchallengeable), and the resolution would be adopted. This mechanism would ensure that a single Permanent Member could not hold the power to block resolutions that the broad community of states would support. N.B. this would not apply to cases where the national security or sovereign integrity of a Permanent Member was threatened or violated, as assessed by the UNSG and Council of Elders (see 3.8.1).

3.2.2.2 Further, despite expanding the UNSC by seven seats, the current number of Permanent members would remain the same. This would likely meet resistance from established ‘permanent member candidates’ such as Germany, Japan, Brazil and India. However, keeping the number of Permanent seats as low as possible is crucial to efficiency and expediency. Additional veto powers would risk hampering the UNSC with further resentment amongst the wider UN membership.

3.2.2.3 There is a sound argument for avoiding the cancellation of permanent membership and the veto power. Not only would the P5 strongly resist any such change, but the UNSC and veto structure has served the purpose of keeping the great powers at the table. The P5, and the United States in particular, are essential financial contributors to the UN, and their commitment to UN-based multilateralism is in no small part based on maintaining this privileged position within an otherwise largely egalitarian nation-state ethos.

3.2.3 Enforcement

3.2.3.1 To add output impact to the UNSC and to the UN more generally, the UNSC's ability to impose personal sanctions on political leaders defying international law would be strengthened. The UNGA's Enforcement Select Committee would be consulted by the Security Council proposing such a measure and give a judgment on its justifiability. Personal financial sanctions (like the US Magnitzky Act) would sharpen the tools against the worst human rights abusers and lowest governance standards.

3.2.3.2 The weakness of the US’s otherwise powerful personal sanctions regime has been its inability to establish wide international support: recalcitrant leaders can easily escape to or place money in states that have not signed up to sanctions. A UN-based global sanctions regime, giving effective enforcement powers to a committee of the UNGA and UNSC combined, would better (if not entirely) cover this loophole by introducing an element of global jurisdiction and equipping the UN with implementable penalties.

3.2.4 Legitimacy

3.2.4.1 Expanding the UNSC at all would compromise efficiency, and meet some initial resistance from the P5. Nevertheless, it is essential to regain (and retain) any political legitimacy in an international context of shifting global power dynamics. It would also better connect the UNSC with regional organisations and their mechanisms – an area where the UNSC has so far failed.

3.2.4.2 Bringing more states into the heart of international peace and security deliberations would enhance the UN’s perceived input legitimacy amongst states, thus (at least incrementally) increasing the UN’s transparency and accessibility.

3.2.4.3 The biggest hurdle to the UNSC's perceived effectiveness has been a lack of output legitimacy. Resolutions have been too unambitious in addressing the root causes of conflict; and the P5 have been able to veto resolutions that would have been in the interests of the wider international community: By diluting, yet maintaining, the veto power, the increased input and throughput legitimacy could work in tandem to produce outputs (resolutions) of greater legitimacy and enforceable effect.

3.3.1 UN General Assembly (UNGA)

3.3.1.1 The UN General Assembly is an integral part of the global governance system as the primary forum for nation-state representation on a global level. However, its role has traditionally been limited to a forum for debate without producing concrete outcomes.

3.3.1.2 The revised UN model would bestow the UNGA with additional powers and functions to bring it into the mainstream of global political decision-making. The UNGA’s role would remain to facilitate dialogue and debate between member states, but with new authority and purpose. The UNGA would take on an enhanced investigative/monitoring role through a new Executive Committee and a series of Select Committees, including an Enforcement Committee.

3.3.2 Executive Committee (UNGAEC)

The existing Secretariat has proved too weak and understaffed to adequately steer debate in the chamber. To that end, an Executive Committee would be established as a halfway point between the President and the 193 members. It would meet once a month with representatives from the UNGCC and UNSC (normally the monthly President) and consist of a small (12-15) group of members, appointed regionally. Together, the UNGAEC members would settle agenda points for the upcoming UNGA. Its wider membership would ensure debates were more relevant.

3.3.3 Select Committees (UNGASCs)

To counteract clique mentality and give the UNGA a stronger purpose, a series of elected Select Committees would replace the current committee system. Select Committees would foster more executive action outside the Security Council in non-security related matters. Unlike the current UNGA committees, the new UNGASCs would actively shape the UNGA agenda, scrutinise the work of UN agencies (to ensure work is fit for purpose and relevant in a changing context) and Member States’ actions (to ensure adherence to the UN Charter). The new UNGASCs would act as additional internal watchdogs to safeguard the integrity of the UN’s Charter and Codes of Conduct. The UNGASCs would be able to summon people from across the UN spectrum to give evidence on issues in publicly accessible hearings.

3.3.4 Composition of UNGASCs

3.3.4.1 The UNGASCs would comprise:

– UNGA representatives; and

– Observers from the UNGCC and the UNGAEC (the Secretariat member being the relevant Assistant Secretary).

3.3.4.2 The UNGA committee members would be elected by the UNGA on a regional basis with full voting rights, whereas the single UNGCC member would serve as a contributor without voting rights. Including a UNGCC member would bring popular representation and global perspectives to a traditionally inter-state forum. The members of each committee as well as the Secretariat would elect the Chair of each UNGASC.

3.3.4.3 The Secretariat and UNGCC Members would be responsible for overseeing the work of each UNGASC and providing reports of the committees’ work to the UNGA. The UNGA would debate and act to improve a UNGASC’s work if found unsatisfactory. The inclusion of UNGCC and UNGAEC members would improve impartiality of committee oversight. Although the UNGA meets only for specified periods of the year, the UNGASCs would work through the year on issues under their remit.

3.3.5 UNGASCs by remit

– Economics

– Social and Health Issues

– Population and Migration

– UN Financing

– Trade and Development

– Global Sustainability and Environment

– Equality

– International Justice

– Enforcement

– UNGCC Elections and Management

3.3.6 Example: Enforcement Select Committee

3.3.6.1 The “Enforcement Committee” would be responsible for upholding the observation of the Charter by Member States. Its purpose would be to scrutinise behaviour by countries that might run contrary to the UN Charter. Other UNGASCs would be able to call on the Enforcement Committee when they discover recalcitrant behaviour. Likewise, the Enforcement Committee might recommend sanctions with assistance of other committees, e.g. Trade and Development. These recommendations would need to be approved by the whole UNGA.

3.3.6.2 The Enforcement Committee’s sanctions would be primarily bureaucratic, e.g. removing the candidacy rights of member states for select committees, naming and shaming etc. However, the Committee would also have the power to refer cases to the UNSC, or the ICJ, where stronger punitive measures and economic sanction could be considered.

3.3.7 Legitimacy

3.3.7.1 The UNGA lacks both input and output legitimacy: popular inputlegitimacy as it only allows for governmental representation, which can differ from the views of the general populace; and output legitimacy, as its function in practice has been limited to debate without delivering any tangible results for people on the ground.

3.3.7.2 Outside the UNSC, the perceived input legitimacy would be greatly bolstered by the select committee proposal. For the first time states that are not on the UNSC would serve an important role in shaping the UNGA’s agenda and scrutinising the work of the UN and other member states. This additional layer would improve the quality of outputs across the organisation – thus enhancing the perceived output legitimacy.

3.4 Secretary General (UNSG)

3.4.1 The UN Secretary-General would hold more authority and executive power than currently, to bestow greater legitimacy on the position.

3.4.2 The UNSG would be a participating but non-voting member of the UNSC, UNGCC, and the UNGA. She/he would be expected to propose matters to the UNSC proactively, attending non-public meetings of the UNSC more often to counteract the historically reactive nature of UNSC decision-making. The Secretariat has filled a similar function in the past with limited success. To give preventative security a stronger focus, this would become one of the UNSG’s primary responsibilities. No UNSC member would have the power to block a matter being brought to the agenda by the UNSG under her/his preventative mandate. To give particularly controversial questions more legitimacy, such issues would be tied to global public opinion via the UNGCC under its mandate to bring matters to the UNSC through the UNSG.

3.4.3 The UNSG’s term would be non-renewable on a 7-year basis. A longer term without re-election would water down larger powers’ leverage over the UNSG, and remove incentives for short-term political gains in favour of longer-term thinking.

3.5 International Court of Justice (ICJ)

3.5.1 Problem/Mandate

3.5.1.1 The ICJ’s principal problem is its inability to enforce international law and its own rulings. Sovereign inviolability and the nation state’s primacy in international relations have been central tenets since the Peace of Westphalia. Only reluctantly have states signed up to elements of global governance, and rarely have the systems exercised effective jurisdiction within the physical or legislative territory of a nation state without its consent. The ICJ has struggled from its inception to get nation states to surrender sovereignty to a judicial body outside their control and/or jurisdiction. Unless states accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ, and surrender a critical aspect of national sovereignty, the Court would continue to have little legitimacy/power.

3.5.1.2 The authors of this report are conscious that the prospect of bringing 193 sovereign states under the full jurisdictional umbrella of the ICJ (including the power to enforce its rulings) remains remote. China’s 2016 rejection of the Philippines v. China case ruling serves as a recent illustration. For big powers, negative ICJ rulings are embarrassing and inconvenient, but have on occasion been ignored with little material consequence.

3.5.1.3 In the remodelled United Nations, the UN could help boost the ICJ’s legitimacy in cases of non-compliance by enhancing the negative impact and inconvenience of a ruling. Where a state has been found guilty of breaking international law, the ICJ would monitor the guilty party’s compliance with a ruling. If the state is found non-compliant and the UNSC fails to resolve the matter, it would be brought to the UNGA for debate through the Enforcement Select Committee. Having the verdict debated in a world forum such as the UNGA would bring significant embarrassment to the guilty party, and act as a soft power deterrent.

3.5.2 Legitimacy

The ICJ’s lack of acceptance among nation states has greatly limited its output legitimacy. The verdicts given have been of such low legitimacy that their implementation has largely been contingent on the power relationship between the parties in the conflict. By bringing a bureaucratic sanction into the toolbox of the ICJ and UNGA combined, the new UN model would reduce the larger powers’ advantages in economic or military muscle. The UNGA is set up precisely to ensure everyone is equal in front of the assembly.

3.6 World Education and Training Bank (WETB)

3.6.1 Purpose, Activity, Values

3.6.1.1 The WETB would be a creative and radical development mechanism focused on education, training and governance. The expanded role proposed for it would need to be negotiated with some of existing development institutions, but gathering this agenda under one house would add power and focus to development issues. It would be guided by three aims:

  1. Improving governance of systems, states and organisations;
  2. Enabling these systems to absorb development assistance and multiply the benefits thereof; and
  3. Enabling a state, sub-regional or regional organisation and its people to enter and benefit from global interconnectedness.

3.6.1.2 It would promote education at all levels in any country that asked for help. Better access to education would help solve problems related to poverty, gender inequality, uncontrolled population growth, global health etc.

3.6.1.3 Education would accelerate economic growth in developing countries by augmenting skills and promoting issues like human rights, gender equality and inclusion.

3.6.1.4 The WETB’s education and training activities would target all strata of the global system, from the international down to the local level. Locally, the WETB would offer assistance to hard-pressed government administrations with funding and improving educational standards and practices. The WETB would also act as an aid to regional organisations, states and companies with qualitative governance deficiencies and capacity constraints who recognise a need for improvement. Skill-sharing mechanisms could identify structural deficiencies in local economies and develop paths forward to improve governance.

3.6.1.5 Access to WETB funds would be decided by the WETB, informed by the three aims outlined above. Funds would be focused where trade and development experts on the WETB agreed was most needed. There would also be qualitative governance requirements in place: the WETB would serve as a carrot for states to actively participate in, and adhere to the rules of, the UN system by rewarding good governance. Reneging on the established ‘rules of the game’ (UN Charter, human rights etc) would restrict a state’s eligibility for WETB support.

3.6.2 Funding

3.6.2.1 The WETB would work with the core UN organs to ensure developed countries met their Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) targets of 0.7% of GNI: the function and efficiency of the WETB would rest on access to funds. Of ODA flows, a small proportion (1-5%) would be managed by the WETB and redirected to geographies and causes deemed most acute and appropriate (and limit the temptation of national allocation to deliver soft power outcomes).

3.6.2.2 Given that not only states, but also private companies and organisations would benefit from the WETB's work, there would be an element of voluntary corporate funding. The UN’s Global Compact (GC) is a natural starting point and would be expanded and modified to fit this purpose. The GC is a UN initiative to encourage businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies and report on their implementation. However, there is no certification or enforcement involved – the GC is a “guide dog, not a watchdog”. The revised GC would be a certificate and incur a ‘charge’ (or tax) on yearly revenue to be certified with a GC badge. This charge would be small enough to be acceptable to larger private corporations and large enough to make a difference in accumulation. There would be no restrictions for private or non-governmental organisations to donate to the WETB.

3.6.2.3 In trying to move away from enforcement as a purely punitive concept, the WETB would incentivise good governance or “global considerations” with compensatory funding and greater access to the resources in the WETB’s arsenal. Conversely, the WETB would be able to decide (or be ordered by the Enforcement Committee) to withdraw funding for recalcitrant states. This requires a substantial fund to generate enough power to be effective.

3.6.2.4 The benefits and opportunities provided by the system should be so appealing that no country will want to forego them. For Western, industrialised states, there would have to be an understanding of the benefits made possible by the WETB. Therefore, the WETB would help to develop a base of professional workers to meet high global standards of governance and modern commercial practice.

3.6.2.5 For developing countries, access to targeted but non-paternalistic training and development funding must be so useful that missing out on it would not be worth the short-term political benefits of e.g. repression or fiscal irresponsibility.

3.6.3 Legitimacy

3.6.3.1 The WETB would serve to enhance all three types of legitimacy.

3.6.3.2 By improving and accelerating international development through education and health efforts, the WETB could help integrate into the global economy people who have been side-lined by globalisation. One way of doing this would be retraining people whose jobs have been made obsolete by the introduction of more advanced technologies. Governance and education could expand the economic system to include those left behind, and work to minimise the detrimental effects of globalisation and privileged trade. Hence, input legitimacy would be improved not exclusively for the UN, but for the global system.

3.6.3.3 Secondly, improving governance standards at all levels of the system would enhance its throughput legitimacy. Ineffective governance risks alienating citizens from the political and administrative process, thus eroding the throughput legitimacy of local governance. The WETB would enhance throughput legitimacy at the mid-level via improving and more consistent governance.

3.6.3.4 Finally, the WETB would significantly improve the quality of ODA outputs from the UN and its member states, thus enhancing their output legitimacy. Rapid gains in development could be made where it is most needed by targeting education and governance, rather than targets determined by national development ministries. It would allow a global institution to recast its activities as forward-looking resource development, as opposed to a post-crisis salve.

3.7 The UN Technological Council (UNTC)

3.7.1 Role/Mandate

3.7.1.1 The role of the UN in addressing issues emanating from technological advances has thus far been limited to the establishment in 2004 of Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications. The ephemeral nature of the GGE process and its failure to achieve consensus at the latest meeting resulted in the collapse of discussions. Though not an instant success, this UN model uses the GGE as a blueprint for deeper structural engagement with technological developments.

3.7.1.2 To expand and refine the role of the UN in better managing increasing risks associated with advancing technology (e.g cybersecurity, artificial intelligence etc), as well as bringing the organisation into the 21st century technologically, a permanent specialist UN team would be appointed by the UNSG. The UNTC would be responsible for applying new technologies to existing UN structures, as well as bringing the organisation up to date on tech matters such as those mentioned above. By bringing issues such as e.g. artificial intelligence and machine learning into the consciousness of the UN and the UNGA/UNSC where necessary, the UN would be better placed to benefit from new technology and stay more relevant.

3.7.1.3 To this end, the UNTC would be able to propose matters to the UNGCC, UNGA and the UNSG for further consideration within either UNGASCs or even the UNSC.

3.8 Council of Elders for Governance (CEG)

3.8.1 Role/Mandate

The reformed UN would have a team akin to the current ‘Elders’ – a specialist UN team appointed by the UNSG based on respected and experienced decision-makers taken from a global and diverse pool of candidates. The CEG would devise a standard for ‘good governance’, monitor and report to the UNSG. Based on this, the CEG would produce a governance report on national governance standards to be submitted to the UNSG and the UNGA for deliberation. States scoring low would receive oversight from a specialist governance team, and would be expected to improve their national governance. Countries would be allowed to put themselves forward for structural support. The CEG should also consider and critique new systems of governance.

3.9 How the model manages current and emerging challenges and risks

3.9.1 As has been detailed above, each added or changed element of the revised UN model would improve the UN’s overall legitimacy through one or more of the three categories of organisational legitimacy (input, throughput and output).

3.9.2 Better popular representation in the UN through the new UNGCC would increase input legitimacy, as would expanding the UNSC and reactivating the UNGA’s role in international politics. Second, the WETB would help to integrate troubled states into the world economy and global system. Third, the UNGCC’s pivotal role in UNSC proceedings and the new UNGA Select Committees would enhance transparency, efficiency and accountability, as would a successful WETB global training programme, thus increasing the UN’s throughput legitimacy. Finally, all amendments and additions, particularly the WETB, the UNSG’s extended mandate and the UNSC veto reform would improve the UN’s output legitimacy.

3.9.3 Together, the changes and accompanying improved legitimacy would address the three problems outlined at the beginning of the report (see 2.1).

3.9.4 Governance standards world-wide would be improved by greater scrutiny and support from the newly instituted UNGASCs, CEG and WETB – all of which have specific mandates to monitor, assess and improve states’ and organisations’ governance performance. They would also be able to focus on macro-level issues such as climate change, sustainability and migration.

3.9.5 The fading commitment to multilateralism is partly due to the current system’s inability to deliver tangible results. The failure to distribute the benefits of globalisation evenly leaves many with no stake in a growing world economy. Only when the system delivers more egalitarian outcomes will it be trusted by a critical mass. By improving outputs from the system (according to the suggested model), perceived legitimacy and faith in the multilateral system would rebound.

3.9.6 By mending inequalities between individuals, peoples and nations, the model would help to promote sustainable (and fairer) economic growth at the global level.

3. Motivation

4.1 Core Values

4.1.1 The proposed model takes effective multilateralism and the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” as keystones on which everything else rests. By enhancing the United Nations’ ability to follow and deliver on the Charter, the suggested model expresses and implements the values enshrined in the UN Charter. What is more, changes and additions to the UN as described would have direct and specific consequences for the UN’s adherence to equality and sustainable global progress.

4.1.2 The UNGCC would be constructed and designed on a platform of equality and global citizenship. The UNGCC would give equal representation to all people through a gender-balanced Senatorship, which is voted for by the people of each state, rather than appointed by governments. Senators would better represent the interests of the people, and would be able to help shape international policy accordingly.

4.1.3 Expanding the UN Security Council and reforming the veto process allows for stronger representation of states and regions and greater appeal to global opinion. With constraints on veto power, the UNSC would be better able to conduct international security policy and protect vulnerable people across the world.

4.1.4 The UNGA Select Committees are specifically set up to enhance UN efficiency and consolidate adherence to the Charter. A main feature of the Equality Select Committee is to shape the agenda in the UNGA and improve the work done on equality throughout the UN and within member states. By dedicating an UNGASC to Equality, the new UN model demonstrates that it takes equality seriously – whether in gender, ethnicity or nationality.

4.1.5 The WETB is dedicated to promoting and emphasising the power of education, and incorporating the importance of global equality. Its philanthropic mission is grounded in a conviction of all human beings’ equal value. Further, its modus operandi is informed by widespread research demonstrating that equality, aside from its inherent ethical value, is a principal driver of economic growth in all societies (Source2). By promoting equality, countries could activate a larger proportion of their available workforce and propel themselves to greater prosperity.

4.1.6 Finally, the CEG’s mandate to monitor and report on governance standards plays an important role in promoting governmental adherence to good governance standards and the UN Charter. As equality remains a cornerstone of the UN Charter, this additional layer of promotion, whilst less intrusive than the UNGASC, for example, helps keep issues like equality on the agenda.

4.2 Decision-Making Capacity

4.2.1 The reforms proposed above to the UN Security Council would have radical effects on its decision-making capacity. The new regime blunts the veto, to let through resolutions that are in the interests of the majority of states, yet keeps the essence of P5 privilege intact. In cases where the threat to international peace and security is manifest but complex, the additional incentive to win the objective argument and adopt a resolution would strengthen the decision-making capacity of the UNSC – arguably the part of the UN where it is most needed. It is important to emphasise that the authors do not expect the expansion of non-permanent seats in the UNSC to hamper its decision-making capacity. Rather, the increased membership, without promoting new permanent members, increases the relative leverage of the non-Permanent members as a bloc and, coupled with the veto restraint and the link with regional organisations, enables the Council to fulfil its global remit more effectively in the interests of all UN member states.

4.2.2 The UNGASCs are introduced as a mechanism to enhance accountability in the UN system and to give the UNGA executive bite. By maintaining pressure on individuals and bodies to adhere to satisfactory governance and performance standards, the UNGASCs work as internal UN watchdogs. The UNGASCs push UN servants, decision-makers, and even member states to make stronger and more transparent decisions.

4.2.3 Throughout the model, attention and care has been given to issues of decision-making capacity and expediency. The authors are acutely aware of the sometimes crippling bureaucracy of the UN and the reputational damage this has done. Expanding the working machinery of the UN by more than we have proposed would exacerbate the problem. Hence, all additions to the UN outlined above have been streamlined to minimise the procedural and bureaucratic hurdles.

4.3 Effectiveness

4.3.1 The proposed UN reforms aim to improve and enhance the effectiveness of a body plagued by bureaucratic inertia, organisational overstretch and fading legitimacy.

4.3.2 First, the revised veto process would greatly decrease any one power’s capacity to hold up international action on security issues where the majority’s interests dictate otherwise. The Middle East in particular is a region whose current condition threatens global peace and where much earlier action might have been possible in the absence of a P5 Veto.

4.3.3 Second, as the principal decision-making forum on international peace and security, the UNSC must debate the right topics at the relevant time. By giving the UNSG greater authority and opportunity to shape debate in the UNSC, the proposed model would greatly enhance the effectiveness of the UN to identify and manage security issues.

4.3.4 Third, the UNGA Executive Committee would shape and steer debate in the UNGA to enhance the Chamber’s effectiveness and ensure that the right questions receive timely attention.

4.3.5 Finally, the UNGASCs, under their monitoring and reviewing mandate, would keep pressure on institutions and on member states to carry out their work and delegated tasks to the highest possible standards (and timeliness).

4.4 Resources and Financing

4.4.1 UN financing has been a stumbling block for much of its existence, as member states have increasingly failed to see concrete returns for their financial contributions. Whilst the United States, Japan and the Europeans have traditionally provided the largest financial contributions, some states have found opportunities to free-ride or have simply not had the financial capability to contribute appropriately.

4.4.2 The revised UN system must provide evidence that the global institutions must deliver outcomes that are positive and tangible enough to demonstrate that the benefits of participating far outweigh the costs. Thus, by raising the visibility and quality of the system’s outputs, this model should promote a greater willingness of member states to contribute fairly to the system. However, certain tangible mechanisms would need to be in place to guarantee initial funding.

4.4.3 The UNGCC would require financial support for elections and its general working. To that end, the UNGCC-UNGA Select Committee will devise a sliding scale, with richer states contributing more (and poorer states less) to a central UNGCC fund, managed by the Committee.

4.4.4 Finally, under the new regime, the WETB would be endowed with significant funds, closely aligned with ODA commitments, as explained in 1.8 above.

4.5 Trust and Insight

4.5.1 The UNGCC would add a crucial element of transparency and insight into the workings of the UN. The UNGCC Senators are elected from the people, by the people. Letting these representatives review UNSC and UNGA performance and sit in the UN family would not only address the democratic deficit in the current institutional machinery, but also demonstrate that the UN takes seriously the views and input of the people.

4.5.2 Expanding UNSC membership, though by a limited degree to maintain efficiency, would increase member states' alignment to its decisions. A larger number of states would gain insight into its workings and deliberations. The added UNGCC member representing the 25% lowest earning countries – a group that would rarely win representation on the Council – would serve to balance the image of privilege for larger, richer countries.

4.5.3 The veto reform would send a powerful signal to the rest of the UN membership that multilateralism remains a cardinal principle, while preserving confidence that priority remains for national sovereignty imperatives.

4.5.4 The UNGASCs would in themselves represent an important enhancement of trust and oversight of the UN system. The member states would have significant stakeholder and agency responsibilities, thus increasing their interest in the health of the system overall. As all hearings and reports by the UNGASCs would be publicly available, this would provide improved transparency and insight into the workings and performance of the UN.

4.5.5 The ICJ is not a transparent organisation, nor is the subject matter it deals with – international law is by its complexity accessible to only a limited audience. However, by subjecting recalcitrant and non-compliant states to greater visibility and censure, the verdicts will be given greater political import. The more (and longer) a verdict is debated, the greater the pressure to comply.

4.6 Flexibility

Under its new and extended mandate, the UNGA would play a crucial role in adapting the UN structure to shifting external and internal realities. Having nine (or more) Select Committees, dedicated to monitoring and reporting on the work of various UN bodies (and member states), would provide a safeguard against institutional complacency and/or inertia. Poor performance by institutions or states, or the failure to respond to new developments for example in political or technological contexts, would be detected by the UNGASCs and spark a political and institutional response to ensure improvement.

4.7 Protection against the Abuse of Power

4.7.1 This revised UN model would enhance the organisation’s institutional resistance to the abuse of power, and improper interference in the affairs of nation-states (by letting the UNGCC operate its monitoring mandate). By monitoring and reviewing UNSC resolutions, the UNGCC would provide a useful check/balance to any UNSC overreach.

4.7.2 Next, an expanded UNSC would allow more voices into the decision-making process and broaden political perspectives. States like France and the United Kingdom have previously channelled collective concerns of EU members into UN debate, bringing a wider European perspective into the room. With new members from South America and Asia, as well as other developing countries, and with stronger links to the regional organisations, this effect would be enlarged.

4.7.3 The reformed veto process would limit the abuse of national preference by the big powers. Moreover, the veto has often been used by the permanent members to shield and protect allies in the name of national interest. In blatant cases of e.g. human rights violations, the constraint on the veto would bring a more collective judgment to bear.

4.7.4 Finally, the UNGA Select Committees would provide the strongest check against any abuse of power, through their monitoring and reviewing mandate. The UNGASCs would be set up precisely to safeguard UN bodies’ and member states’ good practice and control the quality of their outputs. The Enforcement Committee's ability to impose bureaucratic sanctions on bodies/states/persons judged to violate Codes of Conduct, as well as to refer them to the UNSC or the ICJ, would add ammunition to the UN arsenal.

4.8 Accountability

4.8.1 The revised UN model would have two primary mechanisms to strengthen the accountability of the organisation: the UNGASCs and the CEG.

4.8.2 As will have become clear from the sections above, the UNGASCs – if well chaired and managed – would enlarge the UNGA's opportunity for executive action. Not only would they protect against the abuse of power, guarantee effectiveness and enhance decision-making capacity, they would add a layer of accountability. It would no longer be feasible for leaders inside or outside the organisation to fail in their duties without expecting scrutiny.

4.8.3 Similarly, the CEG’s role would be to monitor the quality of governance at an international level, strengthening the UNSG's capacity to call poor performance to account.

4.8.4 These added layers of oversight, structural support and practical instruments would amount to a wholly new capacity in the international community to entrench the value of good governance and sanction those who ignore it.

References

  • Schmidt, V. A. (2013), Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union Revisited: Input, Output and ‘Throughput’. Political Studies, 61.1: 2-22.
  • Klasen, S. and & Lamanna, F. (2009), The impact of gender inequality in education and employment on economic growth: new evidence for a panel of countries. Feminist Economics, 15.3: 91-132.