Reforming the United Nations : a study of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
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This thesis examines the UN’s existential crisis of efficacy following its ineffectiveness in Rwanda (1994), Srebrenica (1995), Kosovo (1999) and Iraq (2003). Specifically, this thesis examines the reform agenda initiated by Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s High-level panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (HLP). The work seeks to diagnose the HLP-initiated reform of the UN and apply that analysis to prescribe the optimal shape of future UN reform. The current work analyses three main areas of reform initiated by the HLP—Security Council, Human Rights Council and development activities. One of the key subplots of the reform agenda concerned the expansion of the definition of security to encompass non-traditional issues such human rights and the coherent system-wide delivery of development functions. I put forth two intertwined theses: 1. The effectiveness of reform increased directly with distance from the Security Council and the veto powers contained therein; 2. The effectiveness of reforms in development placated developing countries and reduced the impetus for meaningful Security Council reform. The changes brought about by these reforms fell into two categories—structural and normative. Structural change is Charter-based legalistic reform, while normative change alters the ideals to which the UN aspires. Ineffective normative change took place at the Security Council, while ineffective structural change took place at the Human Rights Council. Only at the development level was there structural and normative change where intent was matched with action. It should be no surprise that the HLP-initiated reform agenda brought about effective, pragmatic changes only in development. Having completed this analysis of the effectiveness of the HLP-reform agenda, I will conclude by prescribing ways in which the UN can optimally reform itself based on a theory of tragedy that suggests political action to be best pursued in a piecemeal, small-scale results oriented fashion. The methodology of this work will be based on textual analysis of primary UN and Member State documents, expert interviews with UN personnel, and observation of the UN reform process. The empirical findings from thus will be correlated against a theoretical review of the purpose and effectiveness of the UN, and the UN reform agenda. It is anticipated that the combined empirical and theoretical sections will work together to elucidate new ways forward concerning the current limitations, and potential way forward, for the UN reform process.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Electronic copy restricted until 17th May 2019
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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