1 April 1998
Reform of the United Nations
Political Affairs Committee
Rapporteur : Mrs Hanne Severinsen, Denmark, Liberal, Democratic and Reformers' Group
The on-going reform of the United Nations which is preparing the organisation to face its new challenges at the turn of the millennium must be supported.
The Security Council should be reformed to make this body more transparent, democratic and representative of United Nations membership.
Representatives of national parliaments should be more involved in the functioning of the United Nations.
The Council of Europe’s unique experience in the promotion of democratic security qualifies it to be considered as a regional organisation for conflict prevention within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.
The Committee of Ministers should review and examine ways to strenghten co-operation between the Council of Europe and the United Nations.
I. Draft recommendation
1. The Assembly welcomes and supports the on-going reform of the United Nations which is preparing the organisation to face its new challenges at the turn of the millennium.
2. The Assembly supports the package of structural reforms presented by the Secretary General in July 1997, and the subsequent related resolutions of the General Assembly. It considers that these measures, which are largely already being implemented, constitute a solid basis for an improved management structure and a more effective use of available resources.
3. The precarious financial situation of the United Nations, resulting from the non-payment of dues by a number of its member states, represents a direct and imminent threat to the proper functioning of the organisation.
4. The Assembly considers that the reform of the United Nations will not be complete without a reform of the Security Council, including the right to veto, which should make this body more transparent, democratic and representative of United Nations membership.
5. The Assembly considers that the United Nations should reflect the executive and the legislature as two components of the state. Consequently, the Assembly calls for a greater involvement of representatives of parliaments in the work of the United Nations, in order to make it more democratic, legitimate and effective. The Assembly welcomes the signing of an agreement between the United Nations and the Interparliamentary Union, which represents parliaments at the global level, as a first step to associate parliaments with the work of the United Nations.
6. New challenges facing the United Nations also require new instruments. The Assembly notes with satisfaction that talks on the establishment of an international criminal court are nearing a conclusion. The future court should be fully independent within its mandate and should have at its disposal sufficient funds to carry out its tasks.
7. The Assembly believes that the reform of the United Nations is an opportunity to review and strengthen co-operation with the Council of Europe. This is particularly important in the light of the United Nations growing involvement in peacekeeping, humanitarian and other missions in a number of Council of Europe member states and states which have requested such membership.
8. The Assembly again regrets that the observer status, granted to the Council of Europe by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 October 1989, is still not being used on a regular basis.
9. The Assembly welcomes the High-Level Tripartite Meetings, between the Council of Europe, the UN and the OSCE, which have been held regularly since 1993, and the Target-Oriented Meetings, focusing on a specific issue or region. It recalls its position that the Assembly should be represented at these meetings.
10. The Assembly resolves to step up its own efforts to establish closer contacts with the United Nations – through regular contacts between its committees and relevant United Nations bodies and specialised agencies.
11. The Assembly recalls that the Council of Europe has a unique mechanism of setting up political and legal standards and has developed a monitoring system which also contributes to conflict prevention. The United Nations should benefit from this experience.
12. The Assembly considers that the Council of Europe’s unique experience in the promotion of democratic security – based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law - qualifies it to be regarded as a regional organisation for the conflict prevention within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. Consequently, the Council of Europe should be associated to all forms of co-operation between the United Nations and regional organisations.
13. The Assembly calls on the governments of Council of Europe’s member and observer states to:
i. continue to provide support to the reforms undertaken by the Secretary General of the United Nations;
ii. pay their dues, regularly and unconditionally, and where appropriate, their arrears, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the organisation;
iii. ensure that budgetary cuts proposed by the Secretary General will not affect the organisation’s operational capabilities and that savings will be channelled into economic and social programmes for the developing world;
iv. continue their talks on the reform of the Security Council with a view to making it more transparent and representative of the United Nations membership. A direct link between the payment of dues and the right to participate in the decision-making process, which already exists in the General Assembly, should also be applied to the Security Council;
v. introduce a parliamentary dimension to the work of the United Nations through:
a. greater involvement of representatives of parliaments in the work of their national delegations in the General Assembly,
b. the participation of interparliamentary institutions or assemblies, both at a global and regional level, in international conferences organised by the United Nations,
c. meetings of parliamentarians from United Nations Member States, to be organised in co-operation with the Interparliamentary Union and regional parliamentary bodies, at regular intervals at a United Nations location;
d. joint activities involving representatives of governments and parliaments;
e. increased participation of global and regional interparliamentary institutions or assemblies in the activities of the United Nations in the field of democracy and governance, where these institutions or assemblies have a specific competence;
14. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. recognise that the Council of Europe is a regional organisation within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, on the basis of its contribution to the democratic security in Europe, and the observers status it enjoys in the United Nations General Assembly;
ii. examine practical possibilities for the Council of Europe, including the Parliamentary Assembly, to be effectively present at the United Nations General Assembly’s sessions in New York;
iii. discuss, as part of its political dialogue, items which will be dealt with by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and are of direct concern to the Council of Europe, with a view to presenting a common Council of Europe position in New York;
iv. agree that such a common position be presented by the delegation, or representative, of the state holding the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers;
v. support the setting-up of an international criminal court and insist that its term of reference be drawn up in such a way as to guarantee its independence and impartiality;
vi. develop further dialogue with the United Nations, including with its Secretary General, with a view to achieving maximum synergy in the action of the two institutions in the Council of Europe area;
vii. invite the Parliamentary Assembly to be represented at all High Level Tripartite meetings with the United Nations and the OSCE.
II. Explanatory memorandum by the rapporteur
1. In 1994, the Assembly adopted Order 500, instructing the Political Affairs Committee to draw up a report on the political challenges facing the United Nations (UN) and its necessary restructuring. The Committee was also asked to establish a regular dialogue with the Director General of the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG), and to hold a meeting of its Sub-Committee on the relations with the UN in principle once a year in New York on the occasion of the UN General Assembly.
2. In January 1997, the Committee replaced its Sub-Committee on the relations with the UN with a Sub Committee on the relations with non-member countries, which inherited its predecessor’s terms of reference with regard to the relations with the UN.
3. In July 1997, the UN Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan presented the General Assembly with a report: « Renewing the United Nations: a programme for reform ».
4. On 18 December 1997, the General Assembly adopted a resolution expressing support for a number of measures and recommendations by the Secretary General. The resolution established the post of Deputy Secretary General. It failed, however, to endorse proposals to set up a ministerial-commission to examine the need for a review of the UN Charter, and the designation of the session of the General Assembly to be held in the year 2000 as a « Millenium Assembly » accompanied by a « People`s Assembly » composed of representatives of civil society.
5. The report will deal with major challenges faced by the UN. These include reforms decided by the Secretary General which are already being implemented, as well as discussions among member states concerning the composition of the Security Council and efforts to resolve the financial situation and the setting up of an international criminal court, which has been on the UN agenda since 1948. The report will examine ideas concerning the need to introduce a parliamentary dimension to the UN and will also examine relations between the UN and the Council of Europe.
B. Reforms proposed by the Secretary-General
“Renewing the United Nations: a programme for reform”
6. On 14 July 1997 the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Mr Kofi Annan, presented to the UN General Assembly a set of measures and recommendations – Programme for Reform - aimed at achieving greater unity of purpose, coherence of efforts, reduction of costs and flexibility in response of the UN. This aim is to be attained by the introduction of a new leadership and management structure and by the reorganisation of all UN activities.
Five core activities
7. All UN departments, programmes and funds are to be re-organised to come under one of the five core activities:
- peace and security
- economic and social affairs
- development co-operation
- humanitarian affairs
- human rights
8. In the first four areas Executive Committees were established to reduce duplication of efforts and facilitate greater complementarity and coherence. The human rights’ area was designated as cutting across, and therefore participating in each of the other four. The Human Rights secretariat has been restructured and a new Emergency Relief Co-ordination Office has been set up.
New leadership and management structure
9. In order to strengthen the leadership capacity in the Secretariat, the Programme for Reform envisaged the following measures:
- the creation of the post of Deputy Secretary-General (approved by the General Assembly on 19 December 1997),
- the establishment of a Senior Management Group, to assist the Secretary- General in the reform,
- the establishment of a Strategic Planning Unit charged with devising policy recommendations for the Secretary-General and the Senior Management Group,
- the co-ordination of the action of all the United Nations entities at the country level under “one flag”.
10. A set of management and efficiency measures have been taken in order to give the Organisation a changed management culture and structure. The Secretary-General proposed a cut in staffing of 10 per cent in the Secretariat (1000 staff posts), reducing administrative costs by one-third, with the savings transferred to development activities. He has also envisaged a thorough overhaul of human resources policies and practices to ensure that all staff have the necessary skills and enjoy the requisite conditions for effective service.
Peacekeeping and preventive diplomacy
11. Development of a rapid troop deployment capacity, coupled with a clear strategy for the withdrawal of forces is among the measures the Secretary-General has promoted to raise the effectiveness of peacekeeping efforts. He also aimed at reinforcing the institutional capacity for preventive diplomacy and post-conflict peace building, by making the Department of Political Affairs the focal point for this purpose. A Department of Disarmament Affair was established to give renewed focus and drive to this vital issue.
Promotion of sustainable development
12. Central to the reform programme proposed by the Secretary-General are measures that reflect his determination to promote sustained and sustainable development as a central priority of the UN. To realise these goals he has:
- proposed the creation of a Development Dividend of some 200 million USD to shift resources from administration to programme activities,
- established an Office of Development Financing,
- created a Development Group to enhance the co-ordination of policies and programmes carried out by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),
- proposed a new system of multi-year financing for development operations.
Reforming the work of the General Assembly
13. In addition to those measures, the Secretary-General made recommendations concerning the rationalisation, streamlining and enhancement of the work of the General Assembly. They dovetail with the deliberations of the Working Group on the Strengthening of the United Nations System set up by the General Assembly to develop a wide range of reform proposal.
14. In particular, the Secretary-General recommended to the General Assembly:
- to refocus its work on issues of highest priority and reduce the length of its sessions,
- to subject to specific time limits each initiative that involves new organisational structures and/or major commitments of funds,
- to shift the UN’s programme budget from a system of input accounting to results-based accountability,
- to review the current distribution of functions and responsibilities between the Secretary-General and the General Assembly.
Co-operation with civil society
15. Initiatives have also been envisaged to increase UN consultation and co-operation with civil society and in particular with non-governmental organisations (NGO’s). The Secretary-General’s commitment to building partnerships with civil society is symbolised by his recommendation that a Peoples’ Millennium Assembly be organised around the General Assembly session in the year 2000 to ensure the greater participation of civil society in the work and promotion of the Organisation.
The General Assembly’s resolutions
16. The General Assembly in its two resolutions of 12 November and 19 December 1997 endorsed the main elements of the reform package proposed by the Secretary-General (resolution A/RES/52/12 A and A/RES/52/12 B). In particular, in its second resolution the General Assembly:
- established the post of Deputy Secretary-General,
- supported the efforts to prevent conflicts and to enhance the rapid deployment capacity of the UN in peacekeeping operations,
- decided to establish a development account from savings generated from administrative reforms,
- confirmed its willingness to streamline further its work as well as that of the Economic and Social Council and several of its subsidiary bodies,
- adopted the draft decision (A/52/L.71) on non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) which requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report on:
• existing arrangements and practices for the interaction of NGO’s in all UN activities
• legal and financial implications of modifications in the current arrangements to enhance NGO’s participation in the UN
• participation of NGO’s from all regions, particularly from developing countries.
17. The General Assembly asked the Secretary General to further elaborate on the following elements of his proposals:
- a new concept of trusteeship,
- a “Millennium General Assembly” in the year 2000 and a companion “People’s Millennium Assembly” for representatives of civil society,
- the establishment of a Special Commission to examine possible changes in the constitutional relationship between the UN and its autonomous specialised agencies,
- a Revolving Credit Fund and a new “results-based” budgeting system,
- the provisions of time-limits for Assembly review and possible termination of programmes.
18. In its second resolution the General Assembly also recognised the importance of development issues, underlining the urgent need for resources for development “on a predictable, continuous and assured basis”. Therefore it asked the Secretary-General to submit, by the end of March, specific proposals for the establishment of a new system of core resources.
19. The General Assembly is still considering proposals for a closer relationship between the Executive Boards of UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF and has also to decide whether the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) should initiate a review of the functions of the five Regional Commissions.
C. The reform of the Security Council
20. In 1993 the General Assembly established an Open-Ended Working Group of all member states to consider the reform of the Security Council. This Group deals with the most politically sensitive of the UN reforms: any changes concerning the Security Council are likely to require a revision of the UN Charter. The Charter has been revised only three times since 1945. The Group’s work focuses on size, composition and the decision-making procedures, as well as on improvements in the working methods of the Council.
21. Progress has already been achieved on a number of changes to the working methods which should lead to more transparency in the Council procedures. However, it has been much more difficult to find an agreement on the decision-making procedures in the Council.
22. Among the outstanding issues are the enlargement of the permanent membership, the power of veto for possible new members, the general revision of veto powers and the duration of the term of office for non-permanent members.
23. In March 1997, Mr. Razali, Chairman of the Working Group, presented a paper which proposed increasing Council membership from 15 to 24. Five new members would have permanent status and would include three developing states from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, and two industrialised states. Four others would be non-permanent members (representing Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean).
24. At a later date the General Assembly would designate which states would be elected to permanent membership of the Council. No state could become a new permanent member until all five had obtained the required majority of a vote of two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly.
25. According to Mr. Razali’s proposal, the new permanent members would not have the right to veto, but would pay the same peacekeeping premium surcharge above their regular budget as the original permanent members. However, the original permanent members would be urged to limit their veto power to actions taken under Chapter VII of the Charter (peace enforcement).
United States’ proposal
26. The United States proposed to add Japan, Germany and three developing countries as permanent members, without the right to veto, thus increasing the permanent members to 10 and the overall members to 20.
Candidates for new permanent seats
27. While Japan and Germany are obvious industrialised-world candidates for new permanent seats, the choice of candidates from Africa, Asia and Latin America is less clear. The main developing-country contenders have been India and Indonesia for Asia, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria for Africa and Brazil for Latin America.
Italian proposal for a rotation system
28. Italy, concerned with its own role in international diplomacy, proposed a rotation system under which new members would be elected for periodic terms on the Security Council from a pool of countries that have made significant contributions to the values and work of the United Nations. In particular, it advocated the addition of ten new non-permanent seats. For each of these seats three states would rotate – two years on and four years off. These 30 states would still be subject to regular election by the General Assembly.
29. After repeated failures to achieve an agreement, also due to contradicting positions of European states (Germany, Italy), chances for immediate changes to the composition of the Security Council have decreased.
30. In 1994 the General Assembly established an Open-Ended Working Group on the Financial Situation of the UN to address its long-standing financial crisis. This crisis is directly linked to the non-payment of dues by Member States (2.2billion USD, including 1.3 billion USD owed by the United States). The UN suffered a severe blow in November 1997 when the United States Congress failed to authorise the payment of a part of the back dues.
31. The Working Group has focused on ways to ensure payment of arrears and on outstanding contributions. It has discussed the introduction of payment schedules and the stricter application of Article 19 of the Charter, which excludes a Member State with arrears in the payment of its dues amounting to two years or more of assessments from voting in the General Assembly. The Group has also been discussing incentives to Member States who pay on time and disincentives for those who do not, as well as issues related to capacity to pay and methods of calculating scales of assessment.
32. The United States, which contributes 25% of the regular budget and 30% of the separate peacekeeping budget of the Organisation, proposed that dues ceilings be lowered to 20% and 25% respectively.
33. On 22 December 1997, the General Assembly agreed to review next year Washington’s demand to lower its dues, if the United States paid its arrears. The resolution kept the United States contribution at 25% of the UN regular budget for the next three years, but allowed for a review in September 1998, if the arrears were paid.
34. A reduction of the United States contribution would automatically increase that of European countries, who, taken together, make the largest contribution to the Organisation (35%), and that of Japan (15%). Japan’s contribution would rise from 17.9 percent in 1998 to 20.5 percent in 2000. Other major payers are Germany in third place with 9.6 percent, followed by France, Italy, Britain and Canada. Russia, a permanent member, will get its dues reduced from 2.873 percent in 1998 to 1.077 in 2000. China pays just 0.9 percent of the UN budget and refuses to increase its dues. Developing countries’ contribution is 0.01 percent.
35. As an interim measure, pending a lasting solution to the Organisation’s financial situation, the Secretary-General proposed the setting up of a Revolving Credit Fund, with an initial capital of 1 billion USD, to be financed from voluntary contribution or other means. He will submit to the General Assembly, by the end of March 1998, a detailed proposal for the establishment of such a Fund.
36. The Organisation’s financial crisis will be a crucial focus for the UN again in 1998. In spite of the adoption of a reduced budget for 1998-1999 and efforts to enhance its efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the persistent refusal by the United States and other member states to meet their financial obligations seriously threatens the normal functioning of the UN.
E. The International Criminal Court
37. Since 1948 the General Assembly has repeatedly stressed the need to establish a permanent international criminal court (ICC), to prosecute and punish individuals responsible for serious crimes under international law, as the International Court of Justice in The Hague deals only with disputes between states.
38. In 1992, the International Law Commission, charged to study the possibility of establishing such an organ, decided to set up a Working Group to consider the question. The structure suggested in the Group’s report consisted of an international criminal court established in the form of a multilateral treaty.
39. The General Assembly, in Resolution 49/53 of 9 December 1994, welcomed the report of the International Law Commission. In December 1995, it called for the creation of a Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) to discuss and prepare a widely acceptable consolidated text of a convention for a future court. The UN PrepCom met last in December 1997 and is now engaged in putting the treaty into its final form. An international diplomatic conference will be held in Rome between 15 June and 17 July 1998 to adopt the new international agreement.
40. Extensive debate over complementarity and trigger mechanisms showed that many states disagreed over the very nature and power of a new Court. Most controversial is the role of the UN Security Council, in particular concerning the circumstances under which it could refer cases to the court or block a prosecutor from investigating allegations of genocide, serious war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United States, France, Russia and, to some extent, China want to keep the court from investigating crimes committed in major conflicts the Council is attempting to resolve. Many countries expressed concern that control over the ICC by a political organ such as the Security Council would greatly impede the independence and impartiality necessary for an independent judicial body.
41. The role of national governments in bringing a case to the court is also a bone of contention. France, Russia and others argue that three governments, including the one in which the crime was committed, needed to consent. Some say that individuals should also be allowed to bring a complaint.
42. Disagreement also exists on a proposal to create a pre-trial body to supervise the ICC prosecutor's investigation and how much power should be given to the prosecutor and the court during investigations and the degree of states' involvement in such investigations.
43. The 100 nations working on statutes for a court will have another meeting in March before the Rome conference. But many of the major decisions will be left to the last minute, although there is strong momentum for establishing the court by the year 2000 in The Hague.
F. Introduction of a parliamentary dimension to the UN
44. In the past, parliamentary representatives from United Nations member states have been taking part in its work in a sporadic and unsystematic manner. Several national delegations at the General Assembly have included parliamentarians, a practice which has been repeatedly encouraged also by our Assembly. In addition, parliamentary conferences and other meetings have been organised on different occasions, such as United Nation Conferences, by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the world organisation of parliamentarians.
45. Mr Boutros Ghali, then Secretary General of the United Nations, in December 1996 presented to the General Assembly a report on support for democracy, in which he recognised the importance of the role of parliamentarians in building recognition, understanding and support for efforts of international organisations. According to Mr Boutros Ghali, the involvement of parliamentarians in the work of international organisations increased their legitimacy, responsiveness and effectiveness.
46. In July 1996 a co-operation agreement was concluded between the United Nations and the IPU, providing “a new and adequate framework” for the co-operation between the two organisations.
47. In October 1997 the Secretary General of the United Nations presented to the General Assembly a report on the co-operation between the United Nations and the IPU. The report praised the support offered by the IPU to the United Nations action in Zaire, Cyprus and the efforts to secure a world-wide ban on anti-personnel mines. The IPU has provided technical assistance and advisory services to parliaments in countries such as Cape Verde, Gambia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Rwanda, South Africa, Vietnam and Yemen. The role of national parliaments in the implementation of the outcome of major United Nations Conferences has also been recognised.
48. The IPU has recently opened an office at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It is to serve as a meeting point for parliamentarians participating in the work of the General Assembly. The IPU has been organising regular meetings between parliamentarians present in New York and United Nations Officials, as well as Permanent Representatives of United Nations member states. The last such meeting was held on 27 October 1997 under the Chairmanship of Mr Miguel Angel Martinez, President of the IPU’s Council. On its agenda were new challenges facing the United Nations, the future of peace-keeping operations and the United Nations reform. Seventy-four parliamentarians from thirty-two countries, including fifteen Council of Europe member states, took part in the meeting.
49. In its package of reform proposals, the Secretary General of the United Nations proposed that a “Millennium People’s Assembly” be convened in the year 2000. According to his proposal, the People’s Assembly would be composed of representatives of civil society. This has been widely criticised and alternative proposals have been put forward for a meeting of parliamentarians, possibly organised by the IPU, while representatives of civil society would hold a separate meeting under a different name. In its resolution of 19 December 1997, the General Assembly failed to endorse the proposal of the Secretary General and invited him to further elaborate it.
G. Co-operation between the UN and the Council of Europe
50. The co-operation between the Council of Europe and the UN started in 1951 with the agreement between the Council of Europe and the UN Secretariat (15 December 1951). This Agreement was updated in 1971 through the Arrangement on Co-operation and Liaison between the Secretariats of the Council of Europe and the UN.
51. The Council of Europe has also concluded agreements with a number of UN bodies and specialised agencies such as the International Labour Organisation (1951), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (1952), the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organisation (1952), UNESCO (1952), Food and Agriculture Organisation (1956).
52. The United Nations’ involvement in humanitarian, peacekeeping and other missions in a number of Council of Europe member states or countries that have requested such membership – such as Croatia, former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia - has grown over the recent years, which, with the Council of Europe, led to the development of more informal, pragmatic and ad hoc forms of co-operation, particularly at a country level.
Observer status at the UN General Assembly
53. On 17 October 1989 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, proposed by a number of Council of Europe member states, granting observer status to the Council of Europe (Resolution 44/6). The observer seat has so far remained empty, mainly because of lack of resources to ensure an adequate participation. In its Recommendation 1252 (1994) the Assembly recommended that the Committee of Ministers finds “ a pragmatic solution enabling the Council of Europe to be represented in New York, particularly during the sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations”.
54. The Assembly has made its own arrangements for relations with the UN as well as with a number of UN bodies and specialised agencies, e.g. the UNHCR, Economic Commission for Europe, UNESCO, International Labour Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
55. In 1994, the Assembly adopted Order 500, instructing the Political Affairs Committee to draw up a report on the political challenges facing the United Nations (UN) and its necessary restructuring. The Committee was also asked to establish a regular dialogue with the Director General of the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG), and to hold a meeting of its Sub-Committee on the relations with the UN in principle once a year in New York on the occasion of the UN General Assembly. The Order also instructed the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to establish regular contacts with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
56. On the same date the Assembly also adopted Recommendation 1252 (1994), which, in addition to a reference concerning the use of the observer status, also recommended that the Committee of Ministers organise periodic meetings in New York of the permanent representatives to the UN of the member states, and provide them with current information on Council of Europe activities, which are relevant to the agenda of the Security Council. It also called for the stepping-up of political dialogue and exchanges of information between the two organisations and encouraged member states to include parliamentarians in their national delegations to the General Assembly.
High Level Tripartite Meetings
57. On 23 January 1998 the seventh of the tripartite meetings was held between the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Geneva-based UN Organisations. The International Organisation for Migration and the International Committee of the Red Cross also took part in the meeting. The UN was represented by the Director General of the UN Office in Geneva, Mr Petrovsky. The Council of Europe and the OSCE were represented by their respective Secretary Generals and representatives of the Chairman-in-Office. It is to be regretted that despite its explicit requests, such as in Recommendation 1267 (1995), the Assembly was again not associated with this meeting.
58. The agenda included the following items :
. information about high level political meetings (Council of Europe Summit, OSCE Ministerial meeting in Copenhagen, UN General Assembly),
. perspectives for enhanced co-operation with other international organisations following the establishment within the OSCE of the positions of the Representative on Freedom of the Media and Co-ordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities,
. regional issues (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Belarus, Caucasus, Central Asia).
59. In addition to the High Level Tri-Partite meetings, the three organisations have also held a series of Target-Oriented Meetings at expert’s levels on specific countries or regions. The next Target-Oriented meeting will be organised by the Council of Europe and will deal with co-operation and co-ordination of activities in Albania. The European Commission has also been invited to take part in this meeting.
The Council of Europe as a regional organisation within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter
60. Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter speaks of regional arrangements or agencies dealing with «matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security ». Such arrangements or agencies and their activities have to be consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
61. While it is clear that the Council of Europe entirely fits to the above description, the most significant obstacle to its own member states recognising it as a regional organisation within the meaning of Chapter VIII in the past were provisions on the role of regional organisations in the settlement of disputes and their relations with the Security Council. It should be noted that, at the 1994 Budapest Summit, the (then) CSCE was declared to be a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.
62. The new philosophy of the United Nations in the settlement of disputes puts great emphasis on conflict prevention. This is entirely consistent with the Council of Europe’s action for democratic security. As for the relations with the Security Council, the past experience has shown that this relationship is not hierarchical, but is based on close contact and dialogue.
63. In 1994 Mr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, then Secretary General of the United Nations, convened a meeting with ten regional organisations, which included the Commonwealth of Independent States, the European Community, NATO, CSCE and the Western European Union. The Council of Europe did not participate. Given the diversity of regional organisations in terms of their capacities, organisational framework and political inclinations, it was agreed that a flexible and pragmatic approach would be preferred to a universal model for co-operation. Another such meeting was held in February 1996.
64. As to the modalities of recognition, Mr Boutros Ghali in 1968 wrote that the status of a regional organisation can be implicitly recognised through the granting of observer status in the General Assembly. Consequently, the Council of Europe should considered, by its own member states, as a regional organisation within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter and be associated with other regional organisations.
65. The package of structural reforms « Renewing the United Nations : a programme for reform » presented to the United Nations General Assembly by the Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, represents a solid base for an improved management structure, greater co-ordination in the work of its specialised agencies, particularly at a country level, and a more effective use of means at the organisation’s disposal.
66. The measures within the competence of the Secretary General are already being implemented. Others, to be adopted by the General Assembly, are only partly on their way. Member states agreed to create the post of Deputy Secretary General, but so far failed to approve proposals for a « Millenium People’s Assembly » to be convened in the year 2000, with the participation of representatives of civil society.
67. A number of member states, and in particular the United States, as the major contributor to the United Nation’s budget, are not paying their dues. The arrears amount to some 2.3 billion USD, of which the United States alone owe 1.3 billion USD. In spite of a reduced budget for the 1998-1999 and efforts to enhance organisation’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the precarious financial situation represents a serious threat to the normal functioning of the United Nations.
68. There has been no progress on the reform of the Security Council, and chances for immediate changes to its composition and decision-making procedures have decreased.
69. National parliaments have so far played only a minor role in the work of the United Nations. This could be improved through greater involvement of parliamentarians in national delegations at the General Assembly and meetings of parliamentarians from member states, to be convened in the co-operation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union and regional parliamentary assemblies, at regular intervals at a United Nations location.
70. The talks on the setting up of an international criminal court are nearing a conclusion. The outstanding issues include the future court’s relations with the Security Council, an issue of paramount importance to its independence and impartiality.
71. The reform of the United Nations is an opportunity to review and strengthen its co-operation with the Council of Europe. This is particularly important in the light of United Nations’ growing involvement in humanitarian, peacekeeping and other missions in the Council of Europe area.
72. While the observer seat granted by the General Assembly in 1989 has so far remained empty, regular dialogue has been established between the two institutions in the form of High-Level Tri-Partite meetings, which also include the OSCE. Seven such meetings have taken place since 1993.
73. The Assembly has repeatedly requested the strengthening of the political role for the Committee of Ministers. In the context of the relations with the United Nations, the Committee of Ministers should discuss items which will be dealt with by the General Assembly of the United Nations, with a view to arriving at a common position. This could then be presented in New York by the delegation, or permanent representative, of the country holding the chairmanship in the Committee of Ministers.
74. The Council of Europe’s contribution to democratic security in Europe qualifies it to be regarded as a regional organisation within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nation’s Charter. Consequently, the Council of Europe should be associated with any future arrangements concerning other regional organisations
Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee.
Budgetary implications for the Assembly: to be assessed.
Reference to committee: Order No. 500 (1994) and Doc. 7942, Reference No. 2235 of 7 November 1998.
Draft recommendation adopted by the committee unanimously on 17 March 1998.
Members of the committee: Mr Bársony (Chairman), Mr van der Linden (Vice Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Baumel (Vice-Chairman), MM Antretter, Atkinson, Mrs. Belohorska, MM Bergqvist, Bernardini, Björck (alternate Mr Hagard), Bloetzer, Chircop, Chornovil, Daly, Davis (alternate : Lord Judd), Diacov, Dokle (alternate : Mr Koçi), Domljan (alternate : Mr Obuljen), Gjellerod (alternate : Mrs Severinsen), Gül, Hadjidemetriou, Hornhues, Mrs Iotti, Irmer, Iwínski, Kalus, Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Krzaklewski, Kuzmickas, Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM Lopez-Henares (alternate : Mr Puche), Lupu (alternate : Mr Kelemen), van der Maelen, Maginas, Martínez, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier, Mota Amaral, Mühlemann, Musto, Mutman, Nallet, Oliynik, Pahor, Palmitjavilo Ribo, Popovski, Prusak, Mrs Ragnarsdóttir, Mrs Roudy, MM Schieder, Schwimmer, Séguin, Selva, Shokhin, Sinka, Mrs G Smith, Mrs Stanoiu (alternate : Mr Badulescu), Mrs Stepova, MM Thoresen, Toshev, Urbain, Volcic, Vrettos, Woltjer, Ziuganov.
N.B. The names of the members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.
Secretaries of the committee: Mr Kleijssen, Mr Gruden