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

Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 30/2007

25 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2007

See all articles by Stefan A. G. Talmon

Stefan A. G. Talmon

University of Bonn, Institute of Public International Law

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Talmon, Stefan A. G., 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; Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 30/2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1031257

Stefan A. G. Talmon (Contact Author)

University of Bonn, Institute of Public International Law ( email )

Adenauerallee 24-42
D-53113 Bonn
Germany

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