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Federalist organizations. We urge the Congress and the Executive to propose strong reforms for the U.N. and undertake imaginative leadership. The old turtle's responses of pulling back into its shell and letting the shell of military force and bilateral alliances protect the U.S. will only serve to increase the danger for the American people and other people throughout the world.
The recent United Nations actions are not the first attempt to provide a forum for positive suggestions on reforming the United Nations. There have been other, more modest attempts. On December 11, 1970, the small nations in the United Nations—led by the dynamic Carlos Romulo of the Philippines—succeeded in passing a motion (by a vote of 82–11) which placed on the agenda of the General Assembly for the Fall of 1972 the question of the need to consider the revision of the Charter of the United Nations.
As a part of that motion, the General Assembly requested the Secretary General to invite Member Nations to communicate to him their views and suggestions on Charter Review. In response to that invitation, in April of 1971, Congressman William Hungate of Missouri introduced House Concurrent Resolution 258 which called for the United States to support a United Nations Charter Review Conference. An identical resolution was introduced in the Senate by Senator Alan Cranston of California. There were 132 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives of the Hungate-Cranston resolution and no less than 69 co-sponsors in the Senate. They include the Democratic presidential nominee and most of the Democratic presidential hopefuls of that year–Senators McGovern, Humphrey, and Muskie and Congresswoman Chisholm. They included such conservative stalwarts as Senator Buckley of New York.
Although the resolutions were not reported out of Committee in time for a vote on the floor of Congress in that session, Charter Revision and Reform of the U.N. nevertheless remained an agenda item for discussion by the United Nations General Assembly in the Fall of 1974. On December 17, 1974, the General Assembly by a vote of 82-15 created a special Ad Hoc Commitee to study suggestions for strengthening the U.N. including changing the U.N. Charter. That Committee will meet later this summer and will report to the General Assembly in the Fall. The U.S. was one of the 15 countries voting against this review. Whether the U.S. continues to avoid playing a leading role in suggesting both necessary and constructive changes for the United Nations will primarily determine not only the future effectiveness of the U.N. but also U.S. foreign policy.
The U.N., not unlike the Articles of Confederation of the 13 colonies, has proven to be too weak and poor to manage the serious problems it was designed to manage. Indeed the most destructive short run problem, nuclear weaponry, was not even envisioned when the U.N. Charter was drafted. One year ago in May, India set off a nuclear device. Scientists tell us that 15 to 30 additional countries are likely to possess nuclear weapons by the late 1980's.
At a recent meeting in New York, a person from India now practising medicine in the U.S. participated in discussion on what types of positive proposals the U.S. should advocate at the U.N. for U.N. Reform. During discussion of nuclear weapon proliferation he emphasized that the nuclearization of India and other Third World countries was different, very different than Western First World countries obtaining nuclear weapons. The difference he saw was that India and others would use them! He was not talking about accident or terrorist political coup. He was talking about the deep problems of poverty, starvation, political instability and historical animosity which so many Third World countries face. “We are not like you. ..." "You can not assume. ...” he indicated. Americans have painfully been learning that “We are not like you. . . .” If this man is correct, the most painful and tragic lessons might be ahead.
How the U.S. responds to the current review of ways to strengthen the UN might decide not only the future role of the U.S. in the UN but the more important question of whether present and future global problems can be resolved through global machinery set up to deal with them, or whether they will determine their own costly solutions.
The present U.S. response to UN Reform is a turtle response_pulling in its head and immobily hoping its shell will protect it. The State Department response to the UN request for suggestions on strengthening the UN indicates that the U.S. would consider specific suggestions made by others, but does not want a broad review of the UN or a UN Charter Conference. But the U.S. does not spell out its specific ideas for strengthening the UN. If we have suggestions, even if we have made them in the past, now is the time to bring them forward as a demonstration of our good faith in the need for reforming the UN. One wonders
what would have happened to the 13 colonies if Va. had said that she thought there were troubles with the Articles of Confederation, but a Constitutional Convention was much broader than the needed approach—instead States should suggest specific remedies of both a procedural and substantive nature. What would have happened if Va. had then said that Virginians were always interested in specific ideas for improving the Articles—and/or government, but offer no specific suggestions for reform other than to refer those interested to suggestions they had made in the past?
Some varieties of turtles were once very plentiful. The terrapin was the object of colonial protection with an early ordinance proscribing the feeding of terrapins to slaves more than three times a week. A number of these plentiful turtles now face extinction because the shell of the turtle could not protect it from newer, different threats. The world has undergone light years of change since the UN was first formed. Whether we take population, numbers of nations, gross world product, communications changes, weapon changes, etc. we see the types of changes which, when compared to the changes between the formation of the Articles of Confederation and the awareness that they had to be reformed, make the American Founding Fathers look like sages or radicals or both.
The United Nations Charter was written thirty years ago. The basic assumption underlying the Charter–big power unity to keep the peace—was quickly shattered. The advent of nuclear power with its potential proliferation placed the world on a powder keg from which it has never recovered. The illustrious draftsmen and draftswomen of the Charter recognized that changes would and should be made in the Charter to reflect changing world conditions. They specifically provided in Article 109 for the calling of a general Charter Review Conference after ten years. They also provided that the calling of such a conference would not be subject to the Big Power Veto—requiring instead a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly and the vote of any nine members of the fifteen member Security Council.
To understand the importance of UN Reform and the need to strengthen the UN it is helpful to remember some of the initial hopes and aspirations for the United Nations. In April of 1945, President Harry Truman said in an address in Kansas City :
When Kansas and Colorado have a quarrel over the water in the Arkansas River, they don't call out the National Guard in each State and go to war over it. They bring suit in the Supreme Court of the United States and abide by the decision. There isn't a reason in the world why we cannot do that
internationally. Thirty years later, it is obvious that that dream has not come true. No one brought the Viet Nam War, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the civil war in Northern Ireland, or the India-Pakistan dispute to the World Court. The United Nations has stood by helpless in the face of such armed conflicts.
The Indian-Pakistani dispute of a few years ago is a classic case in point. After the war broke out on December 3rd, 1971, the Security Council met. Two resolutions received a majority vote but were vetoed by the Soviet Union. The Security Council, unable to act because of the veto, referred the matter to the General Assembly.
The General Assembly did adopt a resolution calling upon both sides to agree to a cease-fire and to withdraw their troops behind their respective borders. Pakistan, which by then was losing the war agreed. India, which by then was winning the war, stalled for time. "Time" magazine summed up the whole situation by writing: "There wasn't a thing the United Nations could do to enforce its resolution."
The essential fact about world politics today is that the United Nations, as presently constituted, is too weak to accomplish one of the tasks it was given at San Francisco, namely "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." The U.N. is too weak to preserve world peace because it is bogged down by the veto in the Security Council; too weak because it has no permanent peacekeeping force; too weak because it has no independent revenue-raising authority to support such a peace force if it had one; too weak because it has no authority to compel quarreling parties to submit their legal disputes to the International Court of Justice; too weak because it has no specific procedure for binding arbitration; and too weak because it cannot legislate step-by-step universal-not unilateral-disarmament.
As long as the United Nations remains so weak that it cannot preserve world peace, we will continue to spend billions and billions and billions of our tax dollars to try to obtain some kind of security through armaments. But there is no real security in the arms race, Whatever we build, other countries build; whatever they build, we build ; and sooner or later someone will light the match that will send the world up to the fires of nuclear devastation. This will happen either by madman design, by accident, or by eyeball to eyeball confrontation when neither side backs down.
Bertrand Russell once wrote an epitaph for mankind. It went like this: “Ever since Adam and Eve ate the apple, man has never refrained from any folly of which he was capable. The end." The question of whether the human race will commit the ultimate folly of nuclear self-destruction is an issue, I believe, which our generation will decide.
In a law day message in 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower said almost the same thing: "The world no longer has a choice between force and law; if civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law.” The function of law throughout history has been to try to bring human conduct up closer to the ideal of the natural law. In the days of the old west, when people had an argument, they drew pistols and shot it out. But at a certain point in history, people recognized that it made sense to turn their guns over to the sheriff and live under the rule of law.
Today we have at least the structure of law and order within our towns and our states and our nation. But on an international level, we really have anarchy; for any nation can do whatever it pleases so long as it has the force to do so. There is no enforceable world law to apprehend the international criminals who would make war.
The threat of nuclear self-destruction and the costly armaments race are but two reasons for imaginative U.S. initiatives to strengthen the authority of the United Nations. Other global problems cry out for global solutions.
The United Nations conferences in Stockholm, Bucharest, Caracas, and Rome evidence a growing concern for the world's environment and the support systems capable of sustaining mankind's environmental needs. Pollution of the oceans and of the airways of the world knows no national boundaries. Pollution originating in one country comes down on another. International guidelines are but a step toward the eventual enforcement of anti-pollution standards by a United Nations Agency. The fundamental right of every human being to a decent environment will be recognized sooner or later and will be protected.
The world-wide strike by airline pilots demanding action by the United Nations against skyjacking is still another indication that people recognize the necessity for some kind of world law. Only a Reformed United Nations can give the world the legal authority to act against the international air pirates who endanger so many lives.
The continuing world monetary crisis with the fluctuations in the exchange rates is another example of a global program which demands global management. The growing economic interdependence of the world is obvious to all. So are the problems raised by increasing polorization of wealth and poverty.
The Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs testified several years ago before the Fraser Subcommittee on International Organizations of the House of Representatives. He testified that "a full-scale Charter Review conference at this time would not prove useful." He also testified: "In our judgment, an attempt to make a general review of the Charter, in the face of diversified membership and divergent outlooks of the present organization and without any indication of substantial agreement on specific proposals, or even on the general direction review should take, is not likely to prove constructive."
If the founding fathers of our country were to have embraced the same view, we would never have established the United States of America. One holds a conference in order to explore areas of agreement and to reach compromises that result in a consensus. One does not wait for agreement first before calling a conference.
During the present UN Reform discussions, the United States could initiate any number of positive proposals. Since the World Association of World Federalists Proposals for United Nations Reform (Revised Text, July 1, 1974) are already included in the record of these hearings, I only refer to them as a set of specific suggestions which include both procedural and substantive changes both
"useful" and "productive”. These proposals cover such areas as: Membership, Peaceful Settlement of Disputes, The International Court of Justice, Human Rights, Strengthening of ECOSOC, Peacekeeping, Security Council Membership and Voting, United Nations Finance, A World Environment Agency, and An International Disarmament Agency. To clarify my assertion that the United States has not been fulfilling the positive leadership role that it should, I submit the World Association of World Federalists World Voting Survey to show that from a "World Interest" point of view, the U.S. has a dismal record in the United Nations. The way to change this is for the U.S. to begin filling the leadership gap now so apparent in the UN. In spite of the poison created by Viet Nam and the CIA, I think countries around the world would welcome a positive and strong role by the U.S. Offering and supporting the types of reforms which the World Association of World Federalists Proposals outline should be the beginning of a new U.S. leadership role.
If two thirds of the General Assembly and the Security Council agree to these proposals, we may well be embarking upon a period of world history similar to the year 1787 in American history when a call went out from Philadelphia to thirteen separate quarrelling states to send delegates to a conference to amend the Articles of Confederation. And they came to Philadelphia and hammered out a document which became the constitution of the United States of America.
If we are to achieve the rule of law in world affairs, we must build the institutions necessary to make, interpret and enforce law with justice on a world level. This means the substantial strengthening and reform of the structure of the United Nations.
Our own great American Federalist, Alexander Hamilton, once said: "He who wills not the means, wills not the end." If we do not give the United Nations the means to preserve world peace and to solve global problems, we will never attain the goals of world peace and a healthy environment.
In a speech at American University in June of 1963, President John F. Kennedy said: "We seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished. This will require a new effort to achieve world law."
According to a number of polls, the American people continue to want to see the United Nations strengthened. In order to strengthen the United Nations, however, we have to convince ourselves and the rest of the world that there are global problems which demand global solutions, that there is no real security in the arms race, and that the only real security lies in some form of a substantially strengthened United Nations. If we are to prevent the United Nations from going the way of the old League of Nations, the effort must be made now to strengthen the U.N. There is no rational alternative solution on the horizon.
Everett Dirksen, the late Senator from Illinois, once said with regard to the Civil Rights Bill of 1964: "Every great idea has its time in history." I firmly believe that the time for the great idea of world federation is coming.
In 1965, Carlos Romulo, one of the leaders in the struggle for U.N. reform, said : "Charter revision is not a utopia for the future. We cannot wait for the next generation to achieve it—there may never be a next generation. The need is essential. The time is now. Do not tell me it is a great idea, but it cannot be done. I have heard all of the reasons and I am not impressed. It must be done. This is the only way I know for enforceable world law to replace international anarchy. Without such law, there can be not peace. It must be done; it shall be done. We will do it."
Walter Hoffmann, a practicing lawyer in Wayne, New Jersey, is a member of the UN Charter Review Subcommittee of the World Peace Through Law Center vice-president of the World Federalists-USA and Council Chairman of the New Jersey World Federalists. He attended the World Peace Through Law Conference in Geneva, Belgrade and Abidjian and the World Federalist Congresses in Ottawa, Brussels and New Delhi. He has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Democratic National Platform Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee (on the International Court of Justice).
THE 29TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS (Report by Donald F. Keys and George Mannello, World Federalist Education
UNITED NATIONS VOTING BOX SCORE-20 VITAL ISSUES
Top Score: 98%. New Zealand (Also top last year).
95%-Australia, Japan, Mexico.
85%—Ireland, Ivory Coast, Niger, Singapore, Sweden, Trinidad, and Tobago. Low Scores:
43%—Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Czechoslovakia, Equatorial Guinea, East Germany, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland, Ukraine, USSR.
45%-U.S. (up from the cellar last year—15% 1973).
49%--Cuba, Saudi Arabia, France. No Shows: Maldives. Notes:
China : 58% this year, 57% last year, continuing a decline.
USSR and colleagues voted uniformly as usual (at 43% compared with 55% last year).
Portugal : under new regime. 73%, up from 25% last year.
West Germany only turned up 65%, but far better than East Germany at 43%. Procedure in Scoring: Resolutions are evaluated on their contributions to world problems. The voting record on these resolutions is then tabulated.
Prepared by: Donald F. Keys, U.N. Representative, World Association of World Federalists, 777 UN Plaza, New York 10017.
More information: Telephone: 490–2766.
U.S. VOTING RECORD
Percentage score: 45 percent—[Percentage score 1973: 20 percent; 1972: 15 percent]
How U.S. voted--Issue
1. Situation in Cyprus.
--- Yes... 2. Cambodian Representation..
do.. 3. Invitation to Palestine Liberation Organization.
No. 4. Palestine Settlement.
do. 5. Palestine-Observer status.
do. 6. Suspension of South Africa. 7. Prohibition of napalm...
Abstain. 8. End to all nuclear tests..
--do.. 9. Indian Ocean a zone of peace.
do. 10. SALT Talks: nuclear halt, cutbacks.
do. 11. Nuclear free zone in Asia..
do. 12. Military budget study by U.N.
Yes. 13. Future of Korea.-
Yes. 14. U.N. charter improvement.
No... 15. Individual human rights petition to U.N. (motion to strike from resolution)------do-16. Rhodesia.
Abstain. 17. Namibia.
..do.. 18. Charter of economic rights and duties.
No. 19. Use of U.N.in peaceful settlements.
Yes. 20. Human rights in Chile..