The EU and the Reform of the UN

On 2 December, 2004 the high-level panel on the reform of the UN reported to Kofi Annan. One day before the official publication of this report, on 1st of December 2004, UEF organised the public debate "The EU and the Reform of the UN" which was attended by over 170 participants. Bruno Boissière, Secretary-General of UEF, chaired the debate.

Four speakers expressed their views on the issue: Armin LASCHET, MEP and Rapporteur on the relations between the EU and the UN; Fernando VALENZUELA MARZO, Deputy Director-General for External Relations in the European Commission; Prof. Dr. Hans KOECHLER, President of the International Progress Organisation and Irune AGUIRREZABAL-QUIJERA, European Coordinator of the NGO coalition for the International Criminal Court.

Armin LASCHET linked the debate concerning the UN with the Constitution: "The report issued by the EP comes in reaction to two things: the internal debate within the UN for reform and the new European Constitution". The Constitution improves the possibilities of the EU to act within the UN, as it gives it legal personality and increases its political visibility.

Fernando VALENZUELA MARZO warned that it might be difficult to make accept this role for the EU to many third parties involved and even the two EU member states that are already in the Security Council.

Prof Dr Hans KOECHLER insisted that democratisation was the basic imperative of the UN if it wanted to preserve its legitimacy. He stated that the UN Security Council incorporates the balance of power of an earlier era. He proposed to create an independent judiciary power for the UN and to redefine permanent membership of the Security Council as being related to world regions.

According to Irune AGUIRREZABAL-QUIJERA, the EU needs a strong and united voice but should also show that it has a minimum of means to promote its basic achievements of peace and democracy. She also mentioned the lack of changes to article 51 of the UN Charter, meaning that the use of force in form of the so-called anticipatory self-defense system to non-imminent threats will continue to exist.

The showed concluded that the European actors generally welcome the propositions advanced by the high-level panel. However, the composition of the UN Security Council and its decision-making procedures should be further amended and the EU should be represented with a single seat in the Security Council.

The introductions of the four speakers were followed by an open debate with the audience including contributions from Ana Gomez - MEP, Irnerio Seminatore - President of the European Institute for International Relations, as well as from many interested citizens who also supported a single seat for the EU in the Security Council and found that the conclusions of the panel were too much of a compromise.