Commentary

12
November
2019

Strengthening Multilateralism: The sovereignty debate at the UN

My first column (9 Oct.) noted the ‘bipolar mind-set’ discernible among national leaders at the UN General Assembly debates in recent years.  An ‘intellectual rivalry’ was playing out between two apparent doctrines – ‘patriotism’ and ‘universalism’.

Both address the issue of a rules-based order, though from apparently different premises and reasoning. The debate revolves around two central principles of the UN Charter: national sovereignty and international law.

The debate is not new, but the modern pace of change and the onset of existential challenges put the framing of global problem-solving in starker relief than before.  The UN, with 193 Member States, is founded on the mid-20th c. principle of national sovereignty, yet three-quarters of a century later the emerging global community faces global problems unanticipated back then.  How is this handled by today’s leaders?

28
October
2019

Global Security and UN Peacekeeping

Kennedy Graham

Jayden van Leeuwen’s column on UN peacekeeping and its accounting to the global community raises some important issues that thematically fall within the Centre’s global security programme.

Jayden addresses the problem of sexual abuse by personnel in UN peacekeeping missions – and the ‘startling lack of accountability’ applied to contributing member states.  The main barrier to accountability is the ‘legal status quo’ imposed by the Status of Forces Agreements under which individuals in UN missions are subject to the jurisdiction of the contributing State for any criminal offence committed in the host country. 

As Jayden observes, the foundation of the UN system is state consent, so the UN can only pursue non-legal accountability, such as financial assistance to victims and support for whatever redress the contributing State decides, which is usually inadequate.   

The UN itself acknowledges that it lacks ‘the authority or legal mandate to criminally prosecute individuals’, and can only refer allegations to the ‘relevant national authorities’ for action. 

 

27
October
2019

UN Peace Keeping and the Global Community

Jayden van Leeuwen

The United Nations (UN) is a key actor in the international sphere, and plays an integral role in the maintenance of peace and security across the world. One of the key mechanisms for doing so are its peacekeeping operations, which see peacekeepers inserted into some of the direst situations on the planet. The work of peacekeepers is absolutely crucial, but the UN has been marred by decades of scandal, as its peacekeepers have carried out instances of sexual exploitation and abuse while on mission. Not only does this significantly affect the credibility of the UN and its peacekeeping missions, but it also has truly horrific impacts on the victims, their families, and their communities. Successive Secretaries-General have strived to tackle this issue, with mixed success – at its heart, there is a startling lack of accountability, with the perpetrating peacekeepers often being subjected to little sanction.

 

10
October
2019

The Multilateral Crisis and Millennials

Renee Moorjani

The 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit saw the Director-General of the WTO lament the multilateral crisis, stating that it is the worst crisis “not only for the WTO but for the whole multilateral trading system since the GATT in 1947”.  No doubt, the foundations of trade in the WTO were laid in an economy that no longer exists- the exponential growth of the service industry, e-commerce and the rise of emerging economies pose a fatal threat to the operating modalities of the WTO. Trade tensions are amplified by a lack of periodic performance evaluations, failure of the Doha Round in 2001, pursuit of strategic interests by China and others, aggressive unilateralism by USA and the consequent engagement in trade negotiations outside the auspices of WTO.

Why are these trade tensions of such pertinence to us as the youth of New Zealand? Large and small countries have stakes in the WTO and benefit from the multilateral trading regime.

09
October
2019

Global Studies

in a Time of Global Angst

Kennedy Graham

Welcome to this revamped website of the NZ Centre for Global Studies which has just gone live (11 Oct. 2019). 

After five-years of activity in research and policy prescription, the Board sees it now as time to reach out more to the general public with its research findings and individual conclusions and views – not least to the younger generation pursuing their study and commencing their careers.

Most of the content of the original website is retained in the new updated version, but the main innovation is the series of columns on global affairs, commencing today.  Four columns will be maintained, consisting of separate commentary from the Director, and from a member of the Board, a member of the International Advisory Panel, and of the Young Global Scholars Group. There will also be invited commentary from others.

Global Studies

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