This essay discusses the importance and relevance of the United Nations Security Council and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as global security institutions, with particular regard to how global security issues have changed since the UN and NATO were first established. The initial aims and principles of UN / NATO will be described, and their effectiveness in relation to modern issues will be discussed.
Security needs in the 21st century are different to those 50 years ago. Mankind does not face simple wars anymore. These days we have to take into account existing threats such as terrorism and organised crime as well as new threats such as environmental degradation, exploitation of natural resources and global inequality. Terrorist activities in the Middle East, such as in Lebanon and Palestine dominated the latter half of the twentieth century. However, the September 11th attack by Al Qaida in 2001 marked a new era of global terrorism, and has been followed by other terrible atrocities, such as the massacre in Beslan and the Madrid train bombings. The threat of biological weapons is becoming ever increasing, and there are fears over the development of nuclear weapons by countries such as Iran, North Korea and Pakistan.
The United Nations developed from the League of Nations and came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter was ratified by a majority of the 51 signatories. The Security Council is the most powerful organ within the UN system. Its main responsibility is to maintain international peace and security. There are five permanent members of the Security Council - the USA, the UK, France, China and Russia. Ten non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms. Article 27 of Chapter V ensures that all permanent members have a unilateral veto power in all substantive issues on the Council's agenda. All decisions made by the Security Council are binding and require at least 9 out of 15 majority vote. (www.una-uk.org/UN&C/sc.html) The Council's specific functions, as outlined in chapters VI, VII, VIII and XII include making recommendations about peaceful settlement of disputes, taking action against breaches of the peace, threats of the peace and acts of aggression as well as recommending the admission of new member states. (www.un.org)
One of the key issues faced by the UN in the 21st century is global terrorism, largely due to conflicts between islamic fundamentalism and capitalist ideals. “Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror,” Donald Rumsfeld wrote recently. “Are we capturing, deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?” (www.globalpolicy.igc.org).
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was formed under Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty signed on April 4, 1949. The original signatories were Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States. NATO's purpose is to enhance the stability, well-being and freedom of its members by means of a system of collective security. In the years after World War II, many Western leaders saw the policies of the USSR as threatening stability and peace in Europe. NATO was created in the light of the cold war. It was originally formed as a strong military power to keep Russia and its nuclear weapons under control.
In the modern world, NATO's role has changed. With the cold war and the threat from Russian nuclear attack in the past, the Alliance has broadened its horizons and started to participate in peacekeeping missions. Security talks between members and non-members and links between the US, Canada and Europe are also on the agenda. NATO's mandate stated that it would comply with the UN charter. However, this has not always been the case. For example the UN did not sanction the bombing runs in Kosovo in 1999. NATO's assertion that the Council was paralysed by the certainty of a Russian veto was not accepted and NATO was criticised for its actions that killed many civilians and appeared to do more harm than good. Since NATO's creation, the Alliance has expanded from the 12 founding member countries to today's 26. There are different views on NATO's expansion. A study that the Alliance undertook in 1995 concluded that enlargement would increase stability and security for all the member countries. In the words of NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer: “It will be a major step towards a long-standing NATO objective - a Europe free, united and secure in peace, democracy and common values.”
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Assess the importance and relevance of the UN Security Council and NATO as global security institutions
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Zdroje: www.globalpolicy.igc.org, www.nato.int, www.osce.org, www.transnational.org, www.una-uk.org, www.zmag.org , Paul Cornish, (2004) NATO: The practice and politics of transformation. International Affairs Volume 80, Spring 2004