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"Thought is the wind,knowledge the sail,and mankind the vessel" August Hare

It's All About Politics

Monday, November 28, 2005

UN Summit: reforming the UN institutions

The UN World Summit took place between 14-16 September 2005 it was the 60th “high level plenary meeting of the General Assembly”.The outcome of the summit caused many participants to consider it a fiasco. Even if it succeeded in bringing together so many parties, the almost 40 pages document failed to live up to its expectations. Many of the issues which might have tied up the ties among the world countries remained untouched or incomplete. The NGO’s, the media and many of the heads of the governments agreed in single voice that much more had to be done for the world’s welfare and healthy development. These conclusions were also stressed by the Secretary- General Annan who believed that “we have not yet achieved the sweeping and fundamental reform that I and many others believed is required”. Annan’s point of view soon changed but, despite that, the recent “oil-for food “scandal was too recent for many people to correctly acknowledge his optimism.
However, important steps forward were undertaken in all four fields of negotiations: development, peace and Collective Security, Human Rights & the Rule of Law and the strengthening of the UN institutions. All the agreed commitments had the UN Summit play a significant role for both the social and economic diplomatic international scene. Therefore, initiatives from all parties are essential. However, one particular importance is placed upon the reform of the UN institutions. In fact, without having a well defined organizational model inside the UN any world moves are not realistic.
This paper will have a closer look at two of the 2005 UN Summit results which were part of the institutional reform and which need follow-up and implementation negotiations. These are: a) the newly strengthened UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and b) the Human Rights Council (HRC).The argument is that while the ECOSOC is not seen as a huge improvement in the structure of the United Nations institutions the Human Rights Council seems to be strongly politicized and therefore, in need or deeper reforms.

Other sections:
  • ECOSOC: finding a third way?
  • The Human Rights Council: what rights are to be managed
  • Conclusions

Doha Round: EU & US responses

The Doha Development Round set up in 2001 was aimed at improving the situation of the poor countries by extending their participation in the multilateral trade reform. However, the ongoing negotiations are tergiversated by several factors such as domestic market interests, the increasingly number of players acting in these debates. More recently it started to be questionable if the principle of trade liberalization itself could be uphold. Therefore, the December meeting in Hong Kong will constitute the apogee of these issues and it is evident that without political will and more flexibility the Doha Round will perish.
Until now the negotiation process showed clear evidence of discriminatory multilateralism and regionalism. The major players in this debate are the US and the enlarged EU which must set up a common ground, and more importantly realistic goals for the current situation of world politics. The trade disputes between US and EU are rooted back to the 80’s and it still shows that the positive outcomes are not taking place and a compromise is difficult to find. The trade regimes which are now inflicted in both culture and national sovereignty make the situation even worse and a compromise is difficult to obtain.
New compromises have been made by both the US and EU but they are not enough. One reason lies on the fact that nowadays we are dealing with decisions at the macro-political level which must be first solved at the micro-political level. If the first condition is not accomplished the second one does not stand a successful outcome for more than two actors. Another reason may be the WTO itself which does not operate on the same principle as the old GATT. Therefore, a better agreement may be the answer because it is obvious that a best agreement can not be obtained. The trade in goods will always create losers & winners but it is important to be balanced by equal returns. In any way, the worst case is not to be part of the trade competition (Gilpin, 2005) or to tolerate any forms of inactive participation. The central field of the July 2004 Framework Agreement was the agriculture sector followed by the textile sector. Until new viable solutions are to be found on these fields new steps forward for the improving of the infrastructure in the less development countries makes no sense and sooner or later it will affect even the winners.
The main theme of this paper is the idea that the negotiations in the Doha Round are burdened by the private interests of both US & EU. EU’s over its exaggerations of social policies and US’s over-protectionist trade measures do not create a fair trade for the other signatories of the Doha Round. In other words, the principle of these negotiations does not mirror the world realities and there is no fair trade for the less developed nations. Other critics argue that the current Doha model stands for injuring even more the developing countries.
I based my argument on two principles: 1) the negotiations measures since 2001 showed an insufficient reform from both US and EU that mostly tried to hide the essential problems; 2) the endogenous tactics and primacy offered from both EU & US to their national interests in a time when the international diplomatic context should be their central objective.

Other sections:
  • Where are we in the Doha Round?
  • EU & US’ s agricultural reform
  • Conclusions: market access