Responsibility While Protecting: A New Norm Seeks a New Sponsor
The application of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) in the case of Libya in 2011, which resulted in violent regime change, has raised questions about the limitations and the clarity of this new norm. Brazil recently set forth new regulations in the debate regarding the use of R2P. Thorsten Benner took a closer look at this in his recent contribution entitled “Responsibility While Protecting” in issue 6/2012 of VEREINTE NATIONEN. Although the idea isn’t fully mature, a debate could serve as a means through which different opinions in the global discussion could be brought closer together, and the further recognition of R2P could be enhanced. This presupposes that Brazil or a different state is committed to taking on this role.
Other contributions in this issue analyze the situation in Syria from the perspective of international law and explain why the UN Secretariat can’t rely on intelligence information when planning peacekeeping missions. As the anniversary of the publication VEREINTE NATIONEN comes to a close, the former editor-in-chief takes a look back at the beginning years of the journal in the sixties and seventies.
Where is the WHO Today? : The WHO in the Global Health System
Worldwide vaccination campaigns, the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and influenza pandemics and the Convention on Tobacco Control: For decades, the World Health Organization (WHO) has indisputably played a leading role in the politics of international health. However, since the 1990s, new and financially stronger organizations have been added to the mix. One of the core tasks of the WHO has been to adopt public-private partnerships, most notably and successfully with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, the mismanagement of the swine flu pandemic in 2009-2010 and a massive financial crisis in 2011 has led to significant calls to reform the organization.
Where is the WHO today? This question is investigated by four authors in the issue 5/2012 of the journal VEREINTE NATIONEN – “The WHO in the Global Health System.” In Yves Beigebder’s piece entitled “The World Health Organization in Transition – Health for all Remains the Overarching Goal,” he discusses the history of the organization and explains the current and future problems the WHO faces. Cornelia Ulbert says that the WHO itself is responsible for some of its problems. Furthermore, for a reform to be successful, member states must set an agenda and make sufficient funds available. Marc Engelhardt takes the view that the two core tasks of the organization remain neglected: quality assurance for essential medications as well as the access to primary care. Special Rapporteur in the field of the right to healthcare, Anand Grover, states that the most difficult challenges lie in practice. Other challenges include the criminalization of sex-work, homosexuality and abortion, as well as the access to basic medical care and the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases.
Palestine, the EU and the Holy See: Non-members have Far-reaching Rights in the UN as Well
In the United Nations, different types of observer status are represented by various organizations other than member states, including national liberation movements, regional organizations, and alliances. In issue 4/2012 of the journal VEREINTE NATIONEN, Sven Mißling investigated the observer status of Palestine as possible template for other national liberation movements. He also discusses the new rights that Palestine has received as a result of its recent membership in UNESCO. Jelka Mayr-Singer and Julia Villotti explain in their article how other regional organizations can obtain enhanced observer status, similar to that which is enjoyed by the European Union in the General Assembly. Marco Kalbusch specifies the participatory rights of the Holy See as an example of how non-member states operate within the UN and UN specialized agencies.
Over the past decade, Palestine, the EU and the Holy See have amassed enormous rights and privileges and can increasingly wield influence. Aside from the right to vote and the ability to place candidates into UN positions, they share almost the same rights as full members. Firstly, this shows that the United Nations is willing to integrate non-member states, and secondly, it proves that the organization as a whole can be quite flexible and adaptable. Other articles in this issue include Kristen Haack’s assessment of Ban Ki-moon’s first term as UN Secretary-General, and Jürgen Maier’s discussion of the Rio+20 summit.
Libya, Sudan, Liberia and The Democratic Republic of the Congo: UN Peacekeeping in Practice
After the end of the Cold War the number of peacekeeping operations has increased dramatically. Furthermore, the spectrum of tasks undertaken by peacekeepers has widened broadly. This quantitative, but above all, qualitative expansion places the UN before enormous global challenges. These challenges, as well as their solutions, are discussed in the four major contributions and three book discussions in the current issue of VEREINTE NATIONEN.
Hansjörg Strohmeyer reported about the newly established UN mission in Libya in his article “Libya after Gaddafi: How the United Nations Supports the Building Process.” Although the country has tremendous security problems and the construction of government institutions is rather slow, the small UN mission is working within a positive environment and supports Libya’s path to sustainable peace and prosperity. In addition to this, the Republic of South Sudan will celebrate its first birthday in June 2012. The war between north and south has flared again, as vital problems concerning the border and oil revenues remain unsolved. Peter Schumann posits that UN operations within such an unknown environment will not contribute to a solution; they can only play an unorganized and unhelpful role.
In addition to this, Frederik Trettin and Joel Gwyn Winckler have initiated a comprehensive study of administrative procedures in peacekeeping missions. In many UN missions some typical problems occur, namely fragmentation and a lack of coordination. This is due to the fact that since the end of the Cold War, the world has seen an expansion of the number of peacekeeping missions as well as an expansion of their scope. In their article, the authors explain these general problems and posit some possibilities for their solution based upon the UN mission in Liberia.
Gerlinde Kurzbach sees other problems with UN peacekeeping missions. For several years, she was an instructor for staff on site in the MONUC/MONUSCO missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as MINURSO in Western Sahara. She stated that the UN is neglecting the most important areas of training and further education.
Small States, Major Policy?
What importance does UN membership have for small states? Can they push through their interests easier in the UN than in other forums? Or do they see themselves as pushed to the margins by larger member states? These questions are pursued in issue 2/2012 of VEREINTE NATIONEN. In his article, Günther Unser examines the UN policies of three German-speaking countries: Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He comes to the conclusion that small states are restricted to a smaller political arena, and must cooperate with other small states in order for them to push through their agendas. But if they do this, they’ll take disproportionate influence in these areas. Johannes Varwick and Jana Windwehr come to a similar conclusion regarding their analysis of Nordic States, and see an even greater unity within the homogenous group known as “Friends of the UN.” Helmut Volger examined the influence of non-permanent members in the Security Council since the end of the Cold War. He found that they could also gradually increase their influence and status.
In his standpoint, Ekkehard Griep proposes a mix of options for UN action in Syria.
On the Path Towards a Sustainable World?: Special Issue Concerning the Expectations and Background Behind Rio+20
From the 20th to the 22nd of June 2012, representatives of states and global civil society will come together in Rio de Janeiro in order to discuss and come to some decisions regarding the development of sustainable economies. How far-reaching will these decisions be? Will this usher in a transition towards sustainability? Or will it simply be “business as usual?” Barbara Unmüßig und Steffen Bauer give insights into the preliminary work and the expectations for the next follow-up conference of the “world-summit” of 1992 in the special issue 1/2012 “On the way to Rio+20” in VEREINTE NATIONEN. Unmüßig examines concepts concerning green economics in her article “Green Economy: The New Magic Formula?” and Bauer gives suggestions for a restructuring of the UN’s environmental architecture. From a jurisprudence-oriented perspective, Felix Ekhardt examines the question of how equal distribution of resources can be achieved.
Jürgen Maier’s piece entitled “Climate Summit in Durban at the End of 2011” is contained in the same issue. Among his most important findings is that a new commitment period for the outgoing Kyoto Protocol was adopted, yet would only apply to a few states. By 2020, a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol would be in place.