It’s time to rethink the UN Security Council: Strategic Foresight Group President
Upon the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, Strategic Foresight Group President Sundeep Waslekar provides suggestions to fix the UN Security Council’s shortcomings.
It’s been 75 years since the formation of the United Nations, the intergovernmental organization that aims to achieve higher standards of living for all of humanity while also promoting universal respect for human rights.
Despite its many achievements, the international body has received much criticism in the past two decades for the failure of its Security Council to maintain global peace and security.
Critics point to the council’s failure to prevent the United States and its coalition forces from invading Iraq, despite not receiving approval from the Council. Also to its failure to resolve the long-standing conflict in Syria due to political infighting between permanent Security Council member states Russia, China and the US. And it seems that the Council’s problems have only been exacerbated by the failure of global leaders to unite to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent op-ed published in The Times of India, Strategic Foresight Group President Sundeep Waslekar not only highlighted the Council’s shortcomings — mostly linked to it becoming a bargaining forum for member states — but he also put forth an idea to fix it.
“Nuclear fallout, infectious disease, and greenhouse gasses recognize no political boundaries and impact all of humanity. We must conceive an organization that reflects this reality. A supra-national organization, not representing interests of individual governments, but rather representing the shared mission of preserving humanity.” — Sundeep Waslekar
“The interconnectedness of today’s world means that politically motivated decisions (and indecision) from Security Council member states have worldwide ramifications,” wrote Waslekar. “Nuclear fallout, infectious disease, and greenhouse gasses recognize no political boundaries and impact all of humanity. We must conceive an organization that reflects this reality. A supra-national organization, not representing interests of individual governments, but rather representing the shared mission of preserving humanity.”
Waslekar proposed that society take steps to form a “Global Governance Grid,” a body that supersedes the Security Council but whose architecture leaves it “independent of individual government influence by barring government representatives of any kind from its steering committee.” Such a body would be tasked solely with protecting humanity from its most imminent threats and focus on deep, structural changes versus being bogged down with the daily conduct of international affairs.
The Grid, he explained, would be broken down into three parts:
- A steering committee composed of technocrats elected by the UN General Assembly based on their high moral standard and expertise, and not affiliated with any individual government, such as government-nominated UN ambassadors currently seated on the Security Council.
- A Parliament of Humanity made up of elected officials from individual states from both the ruling and opposition parties which will serve to propose threats the steering committee should address in their proceedings, provide the committee with feedback from the global populace, and convey the Grid’s decisions to the people of the world.
- A conflict resolution forum to arbitrate serious conflicts between nation states. According to Waslekar, the forum will “not function as a judicial body to adjudicate a dispute like the International Court of Justice, but as a forum to engage parties in exploring a common ground.”
As more countries around the globe move toward nationalistic political rhetoric and adopt protectionist leaders in government, the article’s author concedes that an international body like the Global Governance Grid could seem quite Utopian. And it is.
What Waslekar argues, however, is that there is prior precedent for government leaders ceding some of their power for the greater good of humanity. During the Cold War for example, both the US and Soviet Union agreed to decrease their nuclear stockpiles in order to prevent humanity’s annihilation, and the United Nations itself was first conveyed by Franklin D. Roosevelt to Winston Churchill right after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
It may be indeed that humanity must come to another near breaking point, like that suffered during WWII, in order to be comfortable adopting a framework like that suggested by Waslekar.
But he argues that if we do get to that point, “we must have a soft infrastructure of ideas in place for when the world is ready to adopt enlightened concepts for global governance.” And in the meantime, we may want to “pressure our world leaders today to cede some sovereignty and create an independent body charged with preventing the globe’s final catastrophe.”
Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company.