Monday, July 19, 2010

EU and UN

Those two organizations are two of a kind and need each other in their fight against democratic, genuinely liberal (I have to say this because of that tiresome American definition of liberal, which is really socialist), constitutional, fully accountable political structures. If the UN can be said to be the centre of the tranzi network, the EU is distinguished from others of that ilk by being the only one that has pretensions (many of which are now reality) to being a state.

Given Britain's rather feeble behaviour in the UN Security Council and General Assembly in the last couple of decades, I have never quite understood why we are so anxious to retain our position there. Why not just pull out completely together with our allies and let the countries that contribute next to no money, do not recognize or understand any of the supposed principles that underlie that organization but manage to bully all others into accepting their views run it.

So the notion that the EU's Foreign Affairs Supremo, Baroness Ashton will be allowed to address the UNGA leaves me cold. Nevertheless, it does excite some people and so I propose to do my public duty by telling everyone what HMG the Coalition thinks on the matter.

On Wednesday, July 14 there was a Written Ministerial Statement on the subject. Very interesting it is, too. Once we get past the obvious statement that the EU's structure has changed after the Lisbon Treaty (which is nothing like the Constitution, no, no, no) we find out the following.
A further element of the external representation question is the ability of the EU to participate in international organisations. In some cases, such as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the EU has the status of an observer with limited rights of participation. This means that the EU is not able to represent the EU and the member states, where we have an agreed position, to the same extent as was possible for the rotating presidency, which, of course, was a full member of the UNGA.
Well, UNGA has not particular powers except for passing stupid resolutions that condemn Israel but nobody else ever. Still, the EU's Lady High Panjandrum may well think that she would like to be able to address it as a person of some importance, like President Ahmadinejad, for instance.
Following the entry into force of the treaty of Lisbon the role previously played by the rotating presidency in representing the EU externally has passed to the high representative and the EU delegations who act under her authority. So, in order for the EU to fill effectively the role previously played by the rotating presidency in the UN General Assembly, the Foreign Secretary has agreed that, together with our EU partners, we should table an UNGA resolution which, if approved by the wider UN membership, would grant the EU certain additional rights as an observer delegation. These rights are, as the proposal stands, the right to speak in a timely manner, the right of reply, the right to circulate documents, the right to make proposals and submit amendments, the right to raise points of order, and more seats for the high representative and her officials. As is currently the case, the EU will not have the right to vote, it will not be a full member of the UNGA, nor will it be seated among the UN member states.

The granting of such rights to the EU will not affect the UK's position as a member of the UNGA or the UN Security Council. Furthermore, this does not change the existing balance of competence between the EU and member states.
Well, that's fine and, in any case, I have already expressed my view of Britain's position as a member of the UNGA or the Security Council. But why exactly does the EU want these apparently meaningless rights? Hmmm?


  1. the UK to pull out of the UN?

    The US will freak ... the UN is part and parcel of its armoury of foreign policy


  2. I really cannot think that you believe that, Nick. The US will be considerably better off and richer if it pulls out of the UN as well. Obama may not think that but he will not last for ever.

  3. Helen,

    the UN is a US creation, that's a historical fact.

    It is a very useful tool for US foreign policy, as it requires all members to police each other. The US cannot police the whole world, it has difficulty enough fighting a two front war as it is. So reliance on the UN is necessary - both as a force in itself, and as a moral authority ... after all how many more wars would there be if Article 2 of the UN Charter didn't exist?

    That's not to say that the incredible bureaucracy that has become part and parcel of the UN can't be gotten rid of.


  4. The UN even when set up owed a good deal more to Soviet ideas than American ones, as it turned out. The UN does not police anything particularly and its forces are seriously corrupt. Claudia Rossett has described what needs to be done to get the UN to police anyone or anything and the whole enterprise is doomed. I shouldn't think Article 2 makes a ha'porth of difference to anyone who wants to fight wars as a number of African countries seem to do almost permanently.

  5. "why exactly does the EU want these apparently meaningless rights? "

    That is what's known as a rhetorical question, I take it.