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Despite their different backgrounds and opposing viewpoints, the panelists on this morning’s conference on the United Nations certainly agreed on one thing: the United Nations is not flying.
The consensus among the panel was that the United Nations ultimately needs change. But how to change and what exactly needs changing did not go without debate.
Panelists Johanna CQ Mendelson-Forman CQ and Sue Swenson CQ pointed a finger at the United States.
The two argued that the setbacks to peace-making and world unity directly relate to the refusal of the U.S. to consider itself one nation within a world of many.
Mendelson-Forman, a senior associate of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was troubled by the power of the U.S. to participate only when it works to the country’s own benefit.
“There is a tendency in the last six to seven years of the U.S. picking and choosing what international agreement they want to be a part of.” Mendelson-Forman said.
Swenson, executive director for the Arc of the United States and commissioner for human rights, said that the U.S. is inhibiting the possibility of improving quality of life by refusing to receive input from the rest of the world.
“The U.S. needs to open ourselves up to teams and moderating. It’s troublesome that the U.S. closes its doors and stays out of conversations,” Swenson said.
Panelist Everett CQ Dolman CQ, professor of comparative military studies at the U.S. Air Force’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, agreed that the U.S. would be an obstacle to change because it “clearly does not want a more powerful United Nations.”
However, Dolman objected to the blame being placed on the U.S. and argued that the country is not a unitary actor.
Instead, Dolman, along with fellow panelist Mohammad CQ Mahallati, who has a Ph.D. in Islamic studies as well as degrees in economics, civil engineering and international relations CQ, attributed problems in the United Nations not to individual nations, but to the institution’s structural components.
“What the UN was supposed to be and what we want it to be is not possible with its current organization. It needs to be radically re-organized,” Dolman said.
One radical proposal that Dolman finds interesting is the construction of a tri-cameral legislation that would operate through agreement between the three houses instead of resolutions.
Dolman argued that the tri-cameral structure would work to shift the balance of power in the UN by giving the U.S. a power-hold only in the economic house (the house based on the hierarchy of wealth among nations).
The two additional houses would create opportunities for other nations to have more powerful voices. One would be modeled on the U.S. House of Representatives, giving smaller and poorer nations equal input. The other would favor large countries, with the number of representatives based on population.
Mahallati, co-founder and Ttustee of the Ilex Foundation, argued that the composition of the UN causes the organization to get lost in bylaws and regulations.
“They forget the function, which is to bring peace,” Mahallati said.
Mahallati said the institution’s biggest flaw is its complicated language.
“How are you going to motivate masses of people when they don’t understand your language?” Mahallati asked.
His assessment of the UN was based on the idea of the power of individuals.
He emphasized the need for participation of people around the world to put pressure on the UN.
“Where are the UN television channels that people can watch about methods of peace-making?” Mahallati asked, making a point about the population being unable to have input in the institution.
Despite the testament to setbacks and problems within the United Nations, every panelist revealed hope for either a more successful UN in the future or an entirely new and improved international organization to take its place.
Mahallati contended that the future of the UN comes down to individuals being able step on top of bylaws and push for the humanistic cause.
Pointing to one zealous CU student in the audience who had been questioning the efforts of the United Nations in Darfur, Mahallati said, “We need more people of vision. I am going to send you to the United Nations.”
Contact Campus Press Staff writer Elizabeth Cuje at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.