top of page
  • Writer's pictureMilan Kucan

L'Appel du Collegium International "Vers une Gouvernance Mondiale" commenté par Milan Kucan

I wish to bring into focus one of the aspects of global governance, i.e. the importance of the respect of human dignity and rights, individually and collectively. This is the fundamental and universal principle of the United Nations. The two basic objectives of the United Nations, peace and security, depend mainly on consistent respect of this principle. With the urgency of transformation of the UN, the value of this principle should be reinforced even further.

Today, armed conflicts are as a rule taking place within the borders of sovereign States and not between them. These internal wars engender violence, genocide and ethnic cleansing, where people's fates depend on their belonging to a race, a nationality or a religion. Regional security and global peace are becoming increasingly dependent on the UN's capacity to efficiently intervene when States are perpetrating violence against their own citizens.

The international community has already been intervening in such conflicts, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, now in Syria. In most cases, the intervention came too late, the means were inadequate and the results insufficient. Although these are recognized facts we still lack systemic and agreed solutions that would ensure timely and efficient effects. Also for these reasons the United Nations reform is imperative. Within its premise I would place the principle that sovereignty of a State, which includes also its responsibility for its own citizens and for other States, cannot be an excuse for systematic violence and mass violations of human rights. It cannot be the value that would in such cases prevent a UN intervention.

The sovereignty of national states, when turned into the right to paralyse, has grown into one of the elements of the impotence of the world community searching for solutions to the dangers the humanity is facing today, among them the protection of life on Earth.

We all were aware of and are co-responsible for tragedies that occurred in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Srebrenica and in Vukovar. Yet they continue to occur. We are responsible for not preventing them.

The political will by us, the peoples of the world, will be needed to modernize and equip the United Nations for this task. The Security Council must act in line with its primary responsibility to preserve peace and security in the world. It must recognize circumstances that demand UN authorized action, including use of force. It must respect the principle of protecting State sovereignty but not when crimes against humanity are being committed on behalf of national sovereignty. The international community, led by the United Nations, has the obligation to protect threatened and innocent civilian populations against genocide, ethnic cleansing and systematic mass violence perpetrated by the authorities in their own State. The right to veto, which represents a special responsibility borne by permanent members of the UN Security Council, must not be hiding behind arguments that national internal affairs are at stake and thus paralyze UN work and responsibility.

I believe that the international community is capable of reacting and preventing the principle of State sovereignty to be abused. The establishment of the International Criminal Court in Rome is an achievement in this respect, yet not a sufficient one.

A humanitarian intervention is an active response to a humanitarian crisis and a prolongation of preventive diplomacy which attempts to solve disputes before they grow into conflicts. It demands a new chapter in the international law which would be adapted to contemporary understanding of international ethics. International humanitarian law is an impressive idea and a requirement of our time. For the time being, its norms are vague, often unknown and frequently deliberately violated. For this reason it is imperative to elaborate a doctrine for humanitarian intervention which will be based on new interpretation of the UN Charter and in line with new international relations and norms.

A step ahead has to be made. The hierarchy of the values, protected by the UN and the international law, needs to be changed. Priority of human rights protection within national states as well as in the relations among them should be given over the protection of sovereignty and the principle of non-interference, that are stipulated by the standard understanding of the national sovereignty.

After the first decade of the millennium, we are far from achieving global security and peace, poverty eradication, reduction of the enormous disparities in welfare, far from ensuring social and legal security of people or the equality among different civilizations. By recognizing our interdependence also in the field of global security and peace we can prevent that the former confrontations among military and political blocks are replaced by confrontations of transnational and speculative capital and their dire consequences for the future of humankind. Democratic principles can be derogated by state authorities. True, they can also be derogated by social networks, guided via the new technologies by the strategic global interests of various political, military or economic and financial groupings.

All these various aspects of the changes that we are facing speak in favour of the importance of the role of the United Nations also in future. However, the faith in the UN can only be achieved by its capacity to recognize the challenges of the time and its capacity to transform in order to be capable of implementing the declared principles and values, ensuring peace, security, human dignity and human rights.


bottom of page