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DLC | New Dem Daily | December 2, 2020
Three Big Steps for the United Nations

In our view, the retooling of alliances and international institutions to provide collective security against jihadist terrorism is the single most important foreign policy priority for our country today. And the international institution most in need of a fresh start is the United Nations.

That's why the U.N. report on the organization's future that was released on Tuesday is so significant and welcome. Commissioned by General Secretary Kofi Annan last year, the report proposed three big changes in the U.N.'s structure and mission.

The first and simplest reform is an expansion of the Security Council to reflect the changing power dynamics of the contemporary world, including a long-overdue inclusion of Germany and Japan. This step will help make Security Council decisions more truly representative of the collective will of the world community.

Of course, enlarging the Security Council alone won't make the United Nations a more effective instrument of collective security if its members lack the will to act against rogue regimes that threaten other nations or brutalize their own people. So as the United States presses for a long overdue expansion, it must also challenge Security Council members new and old to live up to their responsibility to meet aggression with force, not just toothless resolutions, and enforce their own mandates.

The second big change the report recommends is to amend the U.N. charter to make it clear that terrorist acts against noncombatants cannot be justified by the exigencies of a military occupation. That, of course, has long been the rationale for Palestinian terrorist acts against Israel, and is now the rationale for the barbarous behavior being exhibited by Iraqi insurgents.

And the third, and perhaps most important, reform recommended is to give the United Nations responsibility for "authorizing military intervention as a last resort in the event of genocide and other large-scale killing, ethnic cleansing or serious violations of international humanitarian law which sovereign governments have proved powerless or unwilling to prevent." This provision would make it unmistakably clear that situations like the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Darfur require strong action by the Security Council.

These three reforms, if implemented, would not accomplish everything necessary to bring the United Nations into the 21st century; a full accounting for the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal and a serious effort to clean out and speed up the U.N. bureaucracy are both urgent priorities as well. But making it clear the United Nations intends to act as a decisive and effective instrument for collective security against terrorism, failed states, and acts of genocide would take the organization far down the road to a renewed relevance.

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Related Links U.N. Report: ''A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility''

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