November 22, 2011 | Graham

Can the Commonwealth be a niche UN?

According to Michael Kirby the Commonwealth of Nations faces an existential threat to its existence, which is the reason it needs to adopt the recommendations of its group of eminent persons, of which he is one.

I must admit that when I first heard of the proposal, amongst others, to institute a Commonwealth Human Rights Commissioner I wondered why we needed yet another body overseeing human rights when we don’t pay particularly much attention to those we have at the moment.

What is the point of replicating something internationally that the United Nations already does?

Listening to Kirby yesterday I turned my musings on their head and wondered whether the UN in fact faces a larger existential crisis than the Commonwealth and whether the Commonwealth reforms might actually force change on the UN.

While the UN is undoubtedly better than the League of Nations, it is still an ineffective body. Unless some other organisations, like NATO, or the US in some sort of  ad hoc  alliance, decide to enforce its will for it, it is little more than a talking shop.

I think it is always destined to be primarily a talking shop. By aspiring to represent every nation on earth it must tend over time towards the lowest common denominator.

Further, as democracy and good governance are not the international rule, and as each country member gets an equal vote, it tends to give the numbers to the worst, not the best. And even if states were given votes in proportion to their populations, it still wouldn’t make the organisation much more, if any, representative of democracy.

But even as a talking shop it is not particularly effective.

Which is probably why we have a plethora of other international organisations of a regional, economic etc nature to fill the various needs that we have as countries to be involved in dialogue and joint action.

In which case, perhaps there is a niche for an organisation like the Commonwealth to fill some of the needs that the UN seeks to fill, but as it is acting in a smaller universe with more commonality of purpose between its members, it might actually fill the role more effectively.

Just as we often have different accreditation organisations in other areas of life, perhaps there is room for more than one that guarantees that its members are good global citizens.

Posted by Graham at 4:20 am | Comments Off on Can the Commonwealth be a niche UN? |
Filed under: Uncategorized

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.