By Uchenna Nwankwo
From all indications, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was originally conceived as the podium from which the five major powers of USA, USSR (now Russia),UK, France and China, working as a monolith or amalgam, would continuously survey the world scene, identify and deal with any nation(s) or groups that interfere with world peace and security. But the arrangement was not to last long because the spectre of concentration of power in this
“monarchical” construct was rather too frightening to ignore, to say nothing about the distrust amongst the big five. Thus, within twenty years of its existence (from 1945 to 1965) the Security Council was enlarged to consist of the original five members (now dubbed the permanent members) and ten non-permanent members (to be periodically) elected by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to kind of represent the rest of the world in the UNSC. Hence the UN or its Security Council transited in form from a “Monarchy” to an “Aristocracy”, just like it happened within many nations in their governance evolution.
But nations did not stop their quest for advancement at the portals of aristocratic splendour. Most nations have moved on to become democracies, and now display more dispersed, fair distribution of political power amongst their respective citizenry, acquiring more civility, order and security in the process.
New developments and attitudes today, including increasing apathy, dispassion, grandstanding and face-offs that have become commonplace at the UNSC dictate that the UN should travel this democratic route as well. Indeed, it is as if each of the emergent big powers now prefer to play the leadership role within a coalescing group of nations, under the ambit of a world with multiple centres of power and influence, rather than become part of a convoluted monolith.
The infusion of democracy at the global stage will finally bring about the fluid distribution of power among nations that will free the UN from the handicap that has placed the UNSC above the UNGA thereby turning the latter into a lame-duck lack-lustre legislature. The arrangement presents us with a case of the tail wagging the dog, and not the dog wagging its tail! We therefore opine that the UNGA should be the engine room of the UN where all important decisions are made, while the UNSC can function as its in-house committee on security. Indeed,
we reiterate that what concerns all must be decided or tackled by all (Ohazulume), which is a cardinal tenet of Igbo village democracy!
The real problem militating against democratic practice at the UN is the exaggerated attention given to military might, or is it nuclear weapons?, which tends to promote the search and acquisition of nuclear weaponry, militaristic/aggressive behaviours as nations struggle to attain veto-status. It calls for de-emphasis of the veto! The other problem is of course the odd feeling that since democracy entails one-man-one-vote within nations, it would necessarily imply one-nation-one-vote at the international arena. But within the large nation-states, where the bi-cameral legislature thrives, two axioms or factors, the Equality of states principle and Population, are employed in the power distribution tangle amongst subnational entities. This implies therefore, that nations cannot have equal votes at the UN because nations, like subnational groups, are not equal in every respect.
My impression is that the UNGA could truly function as the world legislature and at last put the UN at the threshold of attaining maturity if an equitable format for power-sharing amongst member nations of the Assembly is adopted. To resolve this problem, we need to delve into the axiology of national power.
National power is a three-dimensional concept, resting on the tripod of Economic Power; Population; and the Equality of States principle, which derives from National Will (Capacity for
Innovation/Tenacity of purpose, etc.) When a country possesses a healthy dose of all these three attributes, she becomes really great or dominant, and may then channel the enormous powers that derive from these sources into either peaceful or aggressive militaristic purposes! It all depends on what society applauds and inadvertently promotes. To assign seats in a General Assembly of, say, 1,000 delegates from the existing 233 countries, we give 100/233 percentage point or 0.43% as the share of each country on the Equality of States
Next, we find the percentage of each country’s population and GDP to the world’s totals. By summing the three figures for each country, subdividing the total for each country by 3 and multiplying by 1000/100, we arrive at the numbers of seats assignable to each country in the General Assembly, as detailed for the year 2018/9 in my book, The Centrist Manifesto (2022).
This should introduce equity in the ranking of nations, and instil some degree of credibility and acceptability that will help usher in democracy at the UN. Indeed, it would make the General Assembly become a place where the eagle can perch and the kite can perch, all as of right. And most, if not all, differences can then be resolved through the vote, not through fighting.
Finally, in this newfound democracy at the UNGA, an absolute (two-third) majority vote/victory in a contest cannot be voided by the veto, just as a president cannot override a two-third majority
decision of the national legislature. I mean, when one side is able to muster this absolute majority mandate on any issue, the other side or sides must be able to bow or throw in the towel, veto or no veto power! We trust that the ‘force of democracy’ will always prevail and ensure general compliance.
•Mr. Nwankwo wrote via: firstname.lastname@example.org 08033824248