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24 / 09 / 2004
Ilari Rantakari: “We need to redefine the role of the UN within the new global government”

This afternoon, the plenary ceremony of several workshops of the Dialogue “Contributing to the Global Agenda” was brought to a close by the rapporteurs.

The rapporteur on the session about institution architecture for a world democracy, Ilari Rantakari, focused his summary on the reform of the General Assembly of the UN and the possibility of creating a world parliament.

Rantakari said that, “the General Assembly is the most democratic form in the world, but its democracy is based on the historical notion that the nation-state is the center of democratic representation.”

Among the conclusions mentioned, Rantakari spoke of the fact that participation in the nation-state is criticized for its lack of legitimacy: “The people are not represented and territoriality might not be the best way of distributing power.”

This is why Rantakari advocates “redefining the role of the General Assembly within the new global government, which requires finding a balanced between legitimacy and efficacy. We need informed realism from an ethical point of view—a firm commitment to multilateralism.”

As regards the session on international institutions, the rapporteur in charge of summing up the speeches is Luis Millet. Millet stated that, “the debate on the reform of international institutions has reached a very intense critical tone in recent years”. According to Millet, “there is a progressive erosion of nation-states.”

Millet said that there were debates about the problems of democracy due to the fact that “there is democracy without freedom and freedom without democracy”. He stated that, “the United Nations needs to undergo reforms that balance the Security Council and the ECOSOC”

The rapporteur on the session about global democratic and multilevel governability, Muthoni Wankeyi, explained that, “the United Nations is now at a point that is very different from when it was created”. According to Wankeyi, the keynote speakers from the various sessions admitted that, “there is a democratic deficit and the UN’s programs are not put into practice."

This change to the paradigm of the role of the UN makes it necessary to “promote civil society”. Moreover, Wankeyi explained that, “the causes of poverty, rather than its effects, need to be addressed.”

Wankeyi stated that, “it’s not a matter of abolishing international institutions but taking it one step further.” Wankeyi holds that, “in the face of the domain of the USA, real multilateralism should be promoted, as there is a democratic deficit among citizens, social institutions and international institutions.”

Nadia Johnson, the rapporteur for the session on institutional reform for peace, security and justice in the world, analyzed the reforms that the Security Council needs to undergo. Johnson claims that, “the major powers want, at all costs, to hold on to their power in the Security Council, in which the winners of the Second World War still rule.”

According to Johnson, “we need to improve the legitimacy of the participation of states in the Security Council and one of the ways of doing this is by abolishing the right to veto.”

Johnson also mentioned that during the sessions “there was a consensus that the current situation of the UN is different from when it was created.” Johnson expressed “continuous frustration about the lack of effectiveness of the resolutions passed by the UN. The UN’s charter needs to be urgently reformed, but not its principles.” Johnson added that, “the invasion of Iraq was illegal from the point of view of international law.”