Participation of UN Member States in the Work of the Organization: A Multicultural Alternative to Present-Day Regionalism?
MULTICULTURALISM AND CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL LAW: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF EDWARD MCWHINEY, Jacques-Yvan Morin/Sienho Yee, eds., Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2008
25 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2007
Every Member State of the United Nations has the right to participate in the work of the organization - a right automatically conferred by membership of the UN. Participation in this context means the Member States' access to, and right to take part in, the organization's decision-making process. The composition of UN organs thus becomes a central issue, as access and the material ability to influence the decision-making process are, as a rule, gained through membership of these organs. The question of composition does not pose a problem in the case of plenary organs, such as the General Assembly, where all UN Member States are equally represented. However, for reasons of functionality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, most work within the UN framework takes place within non-plenary organs, i.e. organs of limited membership. It is with regard to these organs that the question of composition arises, and the more important the non-plenary organ, the more acute the issue becomes. Since the 1960s, the composition of almost all non-plenary UN organs has been governed by a system best described as regionalism - a system whereby seats are allocated to regional groups whose members nominate or endorse candidates for the various regional seats. This paper examines the question of regionalism as a means to regulate the composition of the United Nations' non-plenary political organs. This paper asks whether the UN Charter or general principles offer any guidance on the question of how non-plenary political UN organs should be constituted, before examining the regional group system and offering a critique of present-day regionalism. In conclusion, the paper briefly identifies criteria for a more multicultural alternative to the present system.
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