United Nations Forum for the Transition

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The Statesman




                              Tuesday, June 13 2006 

One world order~II


India’s Commitment To Disarmament Should Be Exploited

Klaus Schlichtmann

If foreign policy makers in Europe and elsewhere would concentrate on the “One world” idea as the basis for disarmament, and some European nations were to start delegating powers in favour of a UN sovereign authority for the organisation and defence of peace, as many of their constitutions stipulate, this would set off a significant paradigm change. If it comes to pass, the permanent (nuclear) members in the security council would temporarily (have to) assume transitional authority. The question is whether the peace movement and the general public will develop enough momentum, good-will and arguments to force governments to make a rational choice and move in the right direction.
Quite true, during the period of transition to the ultimate status of common, collective security, the UN system might be “exposed to a few shocks”, as an early 1951 Unesco publication corroborates, but these would be of “measurable proportions”. In the process, fundamentalist and terrorist movements would lose their raison d’etre.

Not an option

Unfortunately, some pacifists still seem to believe that unilateral or international disarmament is possible without a supervising authority or organisation. This is an illusion. Goodwill among some nations will be exploited if the security vacuum that will inevitably manifest itself in the transitional period is not filled. In the UN Charter the five permanent representatives, backed by the UN membership, are designated to fill the gap. To doubt their commitment and belittle or underestimate their obligation under the Charter is not an option.
Of course at present many scholars and politicians object to and rightly criticise the provision of the veto, because it gives some powers a privileged position and status. But does the veto have other than transitional import? I believe it was meant not to preserve the status quo but to create a power hub to ensure that change will happen, and to make possible the necessary transition to the next stage. The text of the UN Charter suggests that as long as the Security Council has not been truly enabled to begin the full exercise of its responsibilities, in accordance with Article 106 of the UN Charter (and the other provisions relevant in this connection), the veto has only preliminary significance. After the transitional period, when the system of collective security is fully operational, it loses its meaning and function. It becomes powerless and obsolete, because all the power is now with the UN, and all national military institutions are abolished.
Is it too far-fetched to assume that as a permanent representative of the Global South in the UN,
India would endorse and strengthen the international rule of law and “contribute towards building a multi-polar world”? And that India’s nuclear tests therefore “should be greeted with tolerance and understanding, rather than with fear and trepidation?” Granted of course that the “transitional security arrangements” in the UN Charter are going to be put into effect. This is something Japan and Europe together, in their strategic plannings, should think about.
As Indian diplomats in
Geneva have pointed out, the “failure of the international community to effectively address the threat posed by nuclear weapons over the past fifty years” makes it an ever more urgent task to “redouble ... efforts for their elimination”. They have repeatedly stressed that the “goal of global nuclear non-proliferation can be achieved if the international community looks beyond the old framework and embraces a new security paradigm that can ensure international peace and security on the basis of equal and legitimate security for all through global disarmament”. (October 1999)
If atomic weapons can be the means to achieve disarmament and realise a peaceful world order, India’s explicit and continued “commitment to pursuing global nuclear disarmament in order to achieve a nuclear-weapon free world” should be exploited, as also its active participation in “multilateral discussions to bring about such a regime in a non-discriminatory manner within a definite time frame”. The official draft report of the National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine, of August 1999, states that it is “India’s endeavour to proceed towards this overall objective (an environment of durable peace and insurance against potential risks to peace and stability) in cooperation with the global democratic trends and to play a constructive role in advancing the international system toward a just, peaceful and equitable order”.
The prospect of “vesting in the United Nations ... the monopoly of atomic weapons”, in order to be able to disarm and create common security was aloft in the early years after the war. It is this idea which needs to be discussed today. Nuclear power should, in the words of the above quoted UNESCO publication (Andrew Martin, 1951), become “a perennial fountain of world prosperity”, including the peaceful uses of atomic energy. As in the early years after World War II, the world is today once more waiting “with bated breath” for a constructive movement to make sure that “these awful agencies” will contribute to world peace, instead of “wreaking measureless havoc upon the entire globe”.
In order to achieve the purposes of the United Nations, member states must, in the words of the Unesco publication, be “willing to delegate to the Security Council, for the performance of its police functions, a sizeable portion of their sovereignty” ~ as many European constitutions stipulate. Significantly, the post-war Japanese Peace Constitution’s Article 9 was conceived as a motion to abolish war and a first powerful step towards delegating sovereign powers to the UN.

Special task

The Europeans may have a historic task initiating a process that leads to a better and more just, governed world. In this scheme,
India and Japan, among others, would assume a special task “to deprive local states of their traditional prerogative of making war”, as British historian Arnold Toynbee insisted (1960). In Toynbee’s design, India occupied “a key position in the world”, being the “central link in a chain of regional civilisations that extends from Japan in the north-east to Ireland in the far north-west”.
Seen from geo-political perspective.
India could “hold the balance” in the worldwide struggle between many competing interests. Something similar may be said for Japan, acting as a link between the Americas and East Asia.
The nuclear predicament compels us to rethink our prerogatives and priorities, and adopt a one-world view and policy. At the same time I would like to maintain that it also provides the opportunity for safe passage through the expected transition toward a disarmed world. Now is the time to give new meaning to and realise the original purpose the founders of the United Nations ~ and briefly after the Second World War also the United States ~ had in mind.





One world order~I