United Nations ‘‘Policy’’: An Argument with Three Illustrations
“In this article, we initiate a long overdue conversation on the subject of ‘‘UN policy.’’ First, we speculate as to whether and, if yes, in what sense there is such a thing. Second, as the world organization’s comparative advantage is its unique ability to formulate policies that aspire to universal application’’ (Thakur 21).
This article explores whether there is a united nation policy. Policy refers to statement or principles or actions that an organization is likely to pursue in the event of a contingency. The UN is legitimated in the formulation of global policy but who are the relevant decision makers? Are they international organization or national authorities? The UN can be a suitable place to seek consensus among state but consensus can be at times frustrated by powerful states. According to realists, the international organizations are tools of sovereign states and hence can not be independent actors, liberal intuitionalists on the other hand belief that UN is a forum of interaction by member states take place and cooperation can be agreed, classic principle agents belief that states are principles and the UN secretariat are the agents hence states have absolute power over the international civil servants. This implies that any UN policy that does not reflect the interests of the states makes no sense.
Unlike states with individual decision makers, the primary decision makers in the UN are its organs like the Security Council and the General assembly. The UN secretariat and its staff influence policies but are not policy makers. Most of the UN policies are formulated in terms of resolutions; others may also take the form of goals, plan of action and desirable code of conduct. The UN policies are formulated and implemented based on any emerging international issue or challenges that require the attention of states and the policies will be desired towards creating awareness and addressing the matter. These emerging challenges are the terrorism like International Convention for the Suppression of Acts Nuclear Terrorism, global warming like the Montreal protocol of 1987 and UNFCCC of 1992, and increasing pandemics like SARS and HIV/AIDS and small pox (Thakur 35).
International free trade, the WTO, and the third world/global south
“The World Trade Organization (WTO), established in 1995 to promote and manage international free trade, together with the World Bank (WB) and die International Monetary Fund (IMF), have come to be die global enforcers of neoliberal economic policies” (Litonjua 45)
The explanation and justification of international free trade was coined by Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Ricardo theory was that of comparative advantage that stresses production costs.
The champions of free trade were the United States and the Great Britain and since they were stronger, they imposed it on the weak states. After the end of world war 11, the Bretton woods institutions were created, these include the IMF, the WB and the ITO. International trade talks were conducted under the GATT and later WTO. The main issues in international trade especially those that impact on the third world or global south are; agreement on agriculture that sought to reduce trade tariffs in manufactured goods by 75% and exclusion of agriculture from GATT which reformed agricultural trade; Trade Related Investment Measures Eliminated (TRIMS) the idea that the host countries of DFI impose performance requirements which include expecting MNCs to invest locally and to hire staff locally, the TRIM sought top reduce this requirements; Trade Related Aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPs) the GATT would protect intellectual property rights through the TRIPS protocol ; the General Agreement On Trade in Services (GATS) which opened markets in areas like finance and telecommunication.
The WTO lacks democratic deficit despite each member having one vote, group of states are chosen to search for consensus with the USA. WTO has three assumptions and include; international trade results in higher standard of living, free markets promote benefits and distribution of economic benefits are secondary. The four criticisms of WTO are; it values economic considerations and ignores issues like environment and social welfare, it erodes national sovereignty, it is undemocratic and it increases inequality (Litonjua 67).
The Doha development agenda of the WTO: possible institutional implications
“Size of membership, diverging interest because of different stages of development and the depth of regulation undertaken or foreseen in the World Trade Organization (WTO) made the economics and politics of international trade negotiations more complicated” (Reiterer 359).
Challenges for the multilateral trading system: that the Doha development agenda and the Uruguay round of negotiations have not met targets is an indication that trade negotiations are proving difficult, these may be due to large membership who would want to engage in the negotiation process. Unlike the GATT that dwelled on tariffs, the WTO has widened its scope to include items like the intellectual property rights and the public service. The difficulty in trade negotiations are also due to the complicated economics and politics of negotiation which may be due to the emerging complexity in the international system international trading system.
The rationale for Doha Development Agenda: the DDA brought the GATS and led to the realization of little liberalization and failure to reach agreement on good agricultural policies. It is in this DDA that the E.U developed their own goals which included increased market access for industrial goods, increased access to market for service providers, liberalization of agriculture, improving global governance and development opportunities. The institutional and procedural deficiencies should not be allowed to hamper effective negotiations.
Institutional implications for the World War 11; efficient negotiating mechanisms are needed and requires all states to table their offers. Negotiations need leadership. Earlier it was Quad- US, EU Canada and Japan and this has changed since the emergence of powerful developing economies like China India and Brazil. There should also be an effective rule book, a book that binds all members.
Negotiations in the WTO can be through experienced multilateral negotiators and that of powers going down the Uni-or bilateral route. The positive effects of the WTO depend on the depth of negotiation. Unlike the GATT, the WTO has increased transparency, legitimacy and accountability. The WTO has organized dispute settlement procedures (Reiterer 375).
Why Doesn’t Russia Join the WTO?
“Why is Russia interested in becoming a member of the WTO? What are the impediments? During his first term (2000—2003), Putin strongly supported WTO entry, but in his second (2004—2008), he lost interest in further market reform. Consequently, progress on WTO accession slowed to a snail’s pace” (Aslund 49).
The desire of Russia to join the WTO was initiated by president Putin in 2003 and he later lost interest in market reform. The USSR was not a member of GATT, IMF and WB since they considered them capitalistic agreements. Joining the IMF and the WB is easy and Russia joint in 1992. Unlike the IMF and WB, the WTO is complicated to join due to its complex rules. This reluctance to join is due to the inability of the leaders to realize the importance of WTO.
The main functions of WTO are acts as a conference for multilateral trade issues; it is depositary of international trade conventions that bind all members, mechanism for conflict resolution. Joining the WTO is important for Russia since it enables a country to have access a wider market. WTO is also important for the exporters of goods like steel and chemicals. Russia has a high priority for WTO due to the global influence that WTO poses. The place of Russia in the G20 is undermined by the fact it is the only country without membership of WTO. Russia’s membership to WTO will stimulate FDI and domestic production. Also the strong emphasis on intellectual property rights will enable Russia to venture into knowledge based economy.
Joining the WTO involves six steps that take up to 6 years. Russia’s desire to join WTO was due to the efforts of Putin, business community. There has however arose some opposition to this course which stem from the ministry of agriculture, Russian chamber of commerce. Despite this resistance joining the WTO is the top priority of the Rwandan leadership (Aslund 63).