6:26 AM Jan 27, 1995


Geneva Jan 26 (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Radical changes to the UN System including an end to the veto powers in the UN Security Council, the establishment of a UN Economic Security Council and abolition of the ECOSOC and of the UNCTAD and UNIDO have been advocated by the Geneva-based Commission on Global Governance.

The 22-member Commission, co-chaired by Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and former Commonwealth Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal, and consisting of several personalities of the North and South who have been on various earlier commissions, has proposed these and other changes to reflect what it calls the political realities of the post-Cold War era.

"The time is now ripe to build a global forum that can provide leadership in the economic, social and environmental fields," the Commission says, in promoting the idea of the Economic Security Council.

The report of the Commission was presented by Carlsson and Ramphal, to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at Davos, Switzerland, at the annual symposium there of the World Economic Forum, the Swiss foundation promoting the interests of major transnational corporations and which brings together their chief executives with government leaders from the South and the former East.

The symbolism of Carlsson and Ramphal going to Davos to present the report to Boutros-Ghali, rather than in Geneva where the UN Chief had been present earlier in the week, would not be lost on the public in various countries who find the new world order and system being promoted means enlargement of the powers of corporations and their behind-the-scene influence on public governance for promotion of their profits, the new "withering away" of the State in the developing world and its capacity to promote the interests of the people and "enlargement" of Supra-national power.

The report talks about the rights of all people among other things to secure life, equitable treatment, opportunity to earn a fair living and providing for their own welfare, participation in governance at all levels, fair and free petition for redressal of gross injustices, access to information and equal access to global commons.

In an inter-dependent world, it says, notions of territoriality, independence and non-intervention have lost some of their meaning, it says, in trying to provide legitimacy for the socalled "humanitarian interventions" in sovereign countries. It also calls for rethinking about "self-determination" in the context of global neighbourhood rather than traditional one of a world of separate states.

It raises concerns about the widening rich-poor gap in the context of globalization and, while using this to promote new bodies and fora (and winding up existing ones), it shows little insight into the forces, the laissez faire economics, that is at the root of this widening gap.

It speaks of the need for the new Economic Security Council to ensure consistency between policy goals of the WTO, IMF and the World Bank -- but does not come to grip with the problem of the fundamentally oligarchic rule of Fund and the Bank and their governance, having an influence only over the developing world and the former Socialists and not the majors or of the WTO itself, formally democratic, but in fact dominated by the interests and dictates of the majors.

It speaks of the world's 37,000 TNCs and the need for a framework of rules and order for "global competition", and responsibilities of such corporations to hosts, but is vague on how to make them accountable.

It argues that the new Economic Council should be more representative than the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and more effective than the present U.N. system.

The 410-page report, titled, 'Our Global Neighbourhood', says the old concept of the security of nation-states must now give way to a new view based on the security of people.

Carlsson says the world faces three alternatives: either slipping into anarchy, having one or two superpowers virtually ruling the world, or creating a democratic, global leadership with improvements to the United Nations.

The Commission suggests that the five permanent members of the current Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- begin by refraining from use of the veto and move on to phasing it out altogether after 10 years.

It proposes a more representative Security Council and wants to add eight new members to the existing 15. It says five countries should be "standing" members -- two from industrialised countries and one each from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The Commission also wants to phase out the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the U.N. Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), a specialized agency. Both, the Commission says, have served their purpose.

At least one of its members, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas is known to have written to the two co-chair dissenting from the recommendations for the UN Security Council, creation of the Economic Security Council and abolition of UNCTAD and UNIDO. He is reported to have suggested some modifications earlier, but was reportedly told that it was too late to do that.

The Commission has covered itself up against such dissents with the statement in the foreword from the two co-chair: "Each member of the Commission would have chosen different words if he or she were writing this report alone. Everyone might not have fully embraced each and every proposal; but we all agreed on the overall substance and direction of the report".

And one or two other members, when asked by their friends about the recommendations on UNCTAD, UNIDO etc are reported to have taken refuge in this 'disclaimer'.

In making the recommendation for the winding up of UNCTAD, the Commission appears to have misread the WTO agreement itself and suggests that the WTO "will have much wider and more explicit deliberative functions than GATT".

During the negotiation of the WTO agreement in November-December 1993, one of the things that leading countries, from the North and the South, were quite conscious of and determined on, was not to give the WTO any "deliberative function", but strictly confined to its function as a negotiating forum on its annexed agreements, and not provide for any role for the WTO secretariat that normally goes with any international organization with some deliberative function.

In an important area of country-relations based on contractual arrangements, negotiators did not want to be pushed on any path without first knowing the end result.

The Commission stresses that its recommendations for winding up of UNCTAD and UNIDO are linked to its overall proposals for reform of the world economic system and particularly the establishment of the Economic Security Council and the need for balance in the world system, which would not be achieved by preserving economic decision-making in the hands of a small directorate while dismantling institutions established initially to redress this imbalance.

But its proposals for reform of the IMF and the Bank are mere palliatives.

While the major powers are unlikely to tolerate any abridgement of their own sovereignty or exercise of power, the Commission's recommendations for abridging the sovereignty of the developing world will be sought to be pushed.