Summary of aims, facts and analysis of future prospects of international organisations
The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum, which provides means for cooperation, coordination and interaction among its eight members: Canada, United States, the Russian Federation, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark (representing Greenland and Faroe Islands). The main focus of the Arctic Council lays on common issues of sustainable development and environmental protection of Arctic region.
The first step to cooperation of member states of the Arctic Council was done in 1991, when the eight states signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), sometimes also referred as Finish Initiative. APES is a non-binding agreement among the signatories on environmental protection of Arctic region. Signed by USA, Soviet Union, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, it is considered to be a great international accomplishment in the post-Cold War era.
The Arctic council was officially established on 19th September 1996 with signing the Ottawa Declaration by its eight current member states. The Council promotes international cooperation among its member stats, Arctic indigenous communities and other inhabitants of Arctic. The Arctic Council is the only organization for cooperation on governmental level in the Arctic region.
The Arctic Council consists of eight members states and six organizations which represent Arctic indigenous people. These organizations have status of permanent participants and actively participate and consult on issues regarding the Arctic indigenous people. The permanent participants include:
- Aleut International Association – non-profit organization in Alaska focusing on environmental and cultural issues of Aleut;
- Arctic Athabaskan Council – international organization defending the rights and interests of American and Canadian Athabaskan;
- Gwich´in Council International – non-profit organization representing Gwich´in in northwest territories, Yukon and Alaska;
- Inuit Circumpolar Council – non-governmental organization which represents Inuits of Alaska, Greenland, Canada and Chukotka;
- Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North – non-governmental organization representing 41 indigenous peoples of North Russia, Siberia and Far East;
- Saami Council – international non-governmental organization including Finland, Russia, Norway and Sweden, focusing on Saami policy.
Besides member states and permanent participants, the Arctic Council includes also a status of observer. This status is open to other non-member states, non-governmental inter-governmental and global organizations. The observers countries include: Germany, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom, France, Spain, China, Italy, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Switzerland. The international organizations whit status of observers are for example following: International Red Cross Federation, the Nordic Council, United Nations Environment Programme, International Union for Conservation of Nature. The observers engage in the Council mainly through the Working Groups.
There are six working groups in the Arctic Council:
- The Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) – works to support national actions to reduce emissions;
- The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) – focuses on environments, ecosystems, human populations, provides scientific advices concerning the climate change;
- The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) – works to ensure sustainability of Arctic’s living resources;
- The Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR) – focuses on protection of Arctic environment from accidental release of pollutants or radionuclides;
- The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group (PAME) – focuses on protection of Arctic marine environment;
- The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) – focuses on sustainable development in Arctic region.
All decisions of the Arctic Council are based on consensus of eight Member States after consultation with six permanent participants. The chairmanship of the Artic Council is based on rotating principle and changes every two years. Each Member State nominate one Senior Arctic Official (SAO) which represents the country’s interests in the Council. It is usually a representative from country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council meet on regular basis, at least twice a year.
Activities and future prospects
The Arctic Council, mainly since 2001, devotes its attention to cooperation on the climate change and environmental issues. The studies carried by the Arctic Council draw the attention to affect of climate change in Arctic on the rest of the world. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment was done in 2004 and 2005 by Arctic Council and Arctic Science Committee, which presented the outcomes of monitoring of arctic environment. The challenge for Arctic Council and international community regarding the environmental issue are changing living conditions for around 4 million Arctic inhabitants.
The Arctic Council is also involved in projects regarding the Arctic Ocean, more specifically to marine environment, assessment of acidification of the Arctic Ocean and the response of the ecosystem, the issue of changing climate and its effect on snow, water and permafrost and monitoring circumpolar biodiversity. Furthermore, the Arctic Council is engaged in project concerning the Arctic marine navigation.
The Arctic Council supports business activities in the Arctic region by establishing Arctic Economic Council in 2014. It provides means for cooperation and dialogue between the Arctic Council and business sector in order to promote economic development.
Currently, the chairmanship of the Arctic Council is held by Finland (2017 – 2019). The finish chairmanship set as a main focus following areas: environmental protection, connectivity, meteorological cooperation and promoting education. Finland aims to bring environmental issues of the Arctic region to the centre of the activity of the Arctic Council, invites member states to share the results of monitoring on global level and exchange of best practices.
League of Arab States (LAS) or better known as The Arab League is a regional political organization. It gathers Arabic speaking countries to strengthen cooperation between the member states. The organization aims to coordinate policies, support economics, culture, and social programs of the state parties, furthermore secures their interest. The Arab League was founded in March 1945 in Cairo. Its headquarter is in Cairo. The official language of the organisation is Arabic.
22 members: Transjordan-Jordan, Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates
Founders: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Syria
Observers: India, Turkey, Chad
In 1945 the League was founded aiming for economic, cultural, and social development in the region. Five years later, in 1950, a defense agreement was signed to coordinate military defense measures. The first Arab Petroleum Congress was held in 1959. Palestine became an observer, and the Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization was formed in the same year of 1964. Later on, in 1976, Palestine became a full member. Between 1972 and 1979, the political activity was increased by the third Secretary-General by name Mahmoud Riyadh. The war between Israel and Egypt ended up signing a treaty in 1979. In the same year, some members requested the suspension of Egypt and demanded the replacement of the headquarter from Cairo to Tunis. Egypt became a full member in 1989, a year later Cairo hosted the main office again. In 1990 the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait caused division among the member states: despite the others, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Qatar, Djibouti, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Somalia supported the appearance of foreign troops. In 2010-2011 the Arab spring spread like wildfire through the Arabian Peninsula. The same year the membership of Libya under the Qaddafi regime was suspended and they only became a member again after he was overthrown. In 2011 an agreement was signed with Syria to end all violations against peaceful protesters. This agreement has broken, and violations continued, leading to Syrian’s suspension.
General purpose of the League:
Article II of the Charter of the League of Arab States adopted in 1945 lists its purpose including strong relation and cooperation between the states, to ensure their independence and sovereignty, and to establish a close co-operation when it comes to:
- Economic and financial affairs, commercial relations, currency, agriculture, and industry issues,
- Communications: amongst railroads, roads, navigation, and posts,
- Cultural affairs,
- Nationality, passports, visas, execution of judgment and extradition of criminals,
- Social affairs,
- Health affairs.
To deal with the above-listed affairs special committees shall be set up, including representatives from the member-states. The Committees should aim for a closer co-cooperation, and it should coordinate and monitor their work.
According to Article V of the Charter to use force is strongly prohibited between two or more members.
Under Article XVIII, withdrawal from the League is possible, but it should be addressed a year before it goes into effect.
Arab Charter of Human Rights:
The Charter was adopted in 1994 and reaffirms United Nations principles, which were adopted in the United Nations Conventions on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights. The main purpose of the Charter is to protect human rights in any form and prevent people from suffering violation. Every member states have to act following what their national law stipulates. The Charter includes political, social, and cultural rights being essential for every human being living in any of the state parties.
Main bodies and organs:
Member states are not giving up their sovereignty, and borders within the state members are not open to goods or citizens. Member states have agreed not to use force against each other, but this principle has been breached a few times in the past.
Most of the following bodies were founded in the 1950s.
– The Council of the League: is the supreme organ, which includes representatives of the member states, coordinates the activity of the League, and appoints the Secretary-General. It meets two times a year, and each member has one vote regardless of the number of delegation. An emergency meeting can take place if two members are calling for it.
– The Joint Defense Council: consists of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defense from all member states. Decisions are taken by 2/3 majority, and they shall be binding on all signing states. The responsibilities of the Council are: preparing plans; dealing with anger or armed aggression against any of the member states; consolidating and coordinating armed forces; restore security and peace if needed; in case of a possible threat, it should initiate an immediate consultation and propose a defense plan.
– The Economic and Social Council: promotes the economic and social development of the Arab world, furthermore it coordinates the activity of the specialized agencies. Permanent Councils are related to economic, communication, culture, health, human rights, and social work field.
– Secretary-General: implements decisions taken by the Council of the League. The Secretary-General is elected by 2/3 of the majority and appointed unanimously for five years. His/Her main role is to represent the Arab world on the international stage.
The decision making: Probably this is the biggest weakness of the League; decisions are not binding just for those who voted in favor. Conflicts among the member states emerge from the lack of mediation, inefficiency, and absence of power when it comes to implementation. Furthermore, common policy interests are missing, plus powerful member states have a stronger voice when it comes to decision making.
League of Arab States – United Nations:
Both have the same mission to promote peace, security, and stability to avoid conflict and establish solidarity and unity. In 1989 they signed the Memorandum of Understanding, which got extended in 2016 by signing the Protocol of Amendment. To deepen their cooperation, a UN Liaison office has been established in 2019 in Cairo. To extend their common-work regular meetings are taking place, with both secretariats and agencies.
League of Arab States – European Union:
The first summit was held in 2019 in Egypt. The EU has an interest in developing closer relations with the League. Meetings have already taken place on behalf of the two parties.
League of Arab States – International Organizations for Migration:
A memorandum was signed between the two actors to enhance their cooperation on migration in 2000.
League of Arab States – OSCE:
The Arabic version of the “Understanding the Role of Gender in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization That Lead to Terrorism: Good Practices for Law Enforcement” by OSCE was launched in February 2020. More than 50 representatives from NGOs and other international organizations met in Cairo to discuss the topic of the guidebook.
League of Arab States – Shanghai Cooperation Organization:
Seemingly the relationship between the two actors is descent, having meetings, and aiming closer future cooperation.
Future of the League, challenges:
During and after the 1991 Gulf war, the Arab League started to tackle the US-dominated world order. Issues like pollution, social unrest, human rights violations, and terrorism became a concern. Each country deals with different problems and has distinct interests, which does not bring member states closer. The division among member states when it comes to interests, religion, seize of power creates a real issue; the main shortcoming of the League is its purpose. Unfortunately, Arab unity is not enough to hold member states close, the League has to provide and implement certain measurements to solve the following issues:
In 2011 Arab Spring hit the whole region and led to uprisings turning into violation. The Arab League, instead of showing interest and providing solutions, did not act and remained silent.
The member states adopted the Arab Convention on the Supervision of terrorism in 1998, and to combat terrorism, the League joined other international counterterrorism conventions.
In 2004, the Arab Charter on Human Rights was adopted.
Among other current issues, the League faces the refugee crisis and the Yemeni war. The League has not offered so far any solution to tackle with them.
Asia-Pacific Economic Coop
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is an intergovernmental forum established in 1989 to provide sustainable economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
APEC’s objectives are: to promote open trade and investment within the Asia-Pacific region, to encourage economic, social, and technical collaboration, to enhance human security. The headquarters is located in Queenstown, Singapore.
The idea of APEC was first publicly announced by former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke in Seoul, Korea in 1989. The first official APEC meeting was hold in Canberra, Australia the same year. The founding members include 12 Asia-Pacific economies:Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States. Since 1989, the organization has expanded from its original 12 economies to include 21 member states.
1991 – China, Honk Kong, and Taipei;
1993 – Mexico and Papua New Guinea;
1994 – Chile;
1998 – Peru, Russia, and Vietnam.
APEC’s establishment came after foundation of more localized economic alliances such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), South Pacific Ocean (SPO). The increase in economic growth of the Far Wast states in 1980s has intensified the process of economic integration within the region. The idea of establishment of the Asia-Pacific free trade zone, involving industrializing countries, has become a central concept for the states.
Currently there are 21 members in the APEC, including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taipei, Thailand, The United States, Vietnam.
Institutional framework of the APEC is decentralized. It includes political and working levels.
Political level of the APEC institutional framework involves Leader’s meetings, Ministerial meetings, Sectoral Ministerial meetings, Finance Deputies’ meetings, and Senior Official’s meetings. Its main function is taking policy-making decisions on specific issues relation to the APEC.
Working level include the Committee on Trade and investment, the Budget and Management Committee, the Economic Committee, the SOM Steering Committee on ECOTECH. The Committee’s activities are aimed at implementation of programs based on established work plans.
The supreme body of the APEC is the Summit of heads of member states. Informal meetings are hold every year since 1993.
Currently the APEC includes 21 states which constitute 40% of the world’s population, 60% of global GDP, and 50% of international trade. Despite the fact that the APEC is aimed at promotion a sustainable economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, decisions that are made by the member states greatly affect the world economy.
The prospects for a full-fledged integration appear uncertain due to competing priorities of developed Anglo-Saxon states and developing Asian countries. The United States of America are interested in rapid and full trade liberalization of the markets of the East Asian countries while Japan and Republic of Korea are aimed at strengthening of economic and technical cooperation. Secondly, the uneven development among the member states is increasing. Thus, formation of a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region will take some time. It is crucial for all member states to reach a consensus on the timing and ways of developing a regional free trade zone. It requires a new kind of multinational cooperation.
To sum up, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is an authoritative and leading regional economic integration. It contributes to the development of the world economy as well as provides high economic growth in the Asia-Pacific countries. Moreover, the organization is doing its part to the generation of sense of unity among the member states.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly known as ASEAN, is an intergovernmental organisation that sets its aim on accelerating economic growth, social progress, cultural development, and regional stability among its members. ASEAN was established in 1967 with 5 members, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Later, Brunei Darussalam joined in 1984, Viet Nam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999 making up the current ten member states of ASEAN. The ASEAN region has a population of more than 622 million people, which is larger than the population of the European Union or North America, and covers a total area of 4.5 million square km. It also has the third-largest labour force in the world. With its combined GDP of 2.6 trillion dollars (in 2014), ASEAN has played a central role in Asian economic integration.
Founding countries signed the ASEAN Declaration on 8 August 1967, which stated the aim of ASEAN as following:
- To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations;
- To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;
- To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields;
- To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional, technical and administrative spheres;
- To collaborate more effectively for the greater utilisation of their agriculture and industries, the expansion of their trade, including the study of the problems of international commodity trade, the improvement of their transportation and communications facilities and the raising of the living standards of their peoples;
- To promote Southeast Asian studies; and
- To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes, and explore all avenues for even closer cooperation among themselves.
Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Papua New Guinea-Observer
ASEAN was preceded by the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), an organisation formed by Thailand, the Philippines, and the Federation of Malaya in 1961. ASEAN found its name in 1967 when two more states, Singapore and Indonesia, joined and the foreign ministers of those five countries signed the ASEAN Declaration. The region’s rapid economic growth during the 1970s enabled the organisation to evolve as an important power in Southeast Asia, ASEAN’s unified response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia served as an example. ASEAN’s first summit held in 1976, member states signed the “Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia” and agreed on mutual respect and non-interference in other countries’ affairs. Under its aim to promote peace and stability in the region, member states signed the “Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty” in 1995, which declared Southeast Asia as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Regional cooperation further extended with the creation of the ASEAN Plus Three forum in 1997, which included China, South Korea, and Japan. From 2005, the East Asia summit began taking place with ASEAN’s initiative and leaders of India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States participate every year.
Since the end of the Cold War, ASEAN emerged as a leading power in the region. “ASEAN Free Trade Area”, which created in 1992 with the goal of creating a single market, reduced intraregional tariffs and eased restrictions on foreign investment and increased ASEAN’s economic influence. In 2007, a constitutional document of the organisation “ASEAN Charter” ratified by member states, and conferred the legal status of the organisation.
ASEAN summit among the head of states of member countries convenes semi-annually and meeting of foreign ministers occurs annually. The summit is chaired by an annually rotating presidency. Between the summits, the organisation’s activity is directed by a standing committee, a group includes the foreign minister of the host country of the ministerial conferences. A permanent secretariat of ASEAN, which is headed by a secretary-general, is located in Jakarta, Indonesia. ASEAN has several committees and each committee has working groups headed by experts and various private-sector organisations.
During ASEAN’s 30th anniversary meeting in Kuala Lumpur, each state adopted the ASEAN Vision 2020 aiming to create a single ASEAN community, and in 2003, that attempt prompted the creation of 3 pillars of ASEAN Community, the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.
Future Prospect and challenges
In 2015, heads of member states adopted the “ASEAN 2025” which is a 10-year plan of the organisation. A document set the organisation’s goal as:
- Greater emphasis on the peoples of ASEAN and their well-being;
- Enhance awareness of ASEAN and its Vision of a politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible Community;
- Engage all nationals of ASEAN Member States through effective and innovative platforms to promote commitment and identification with ASEAN policies and regional interests;
- Ensure fundamental freedoms, human rights and better lives for all ASEAN peoples;
- Strengthen capacity to deal with existing and emerging challenges while maintaining ASEAN centrality;
- An outward-looking and global player;
- Implement the ASEAN agenda while pursuing national aspirations which contribute to ASEAN Community building; and
- Strengthen ASEAN Organs and the ASEAN Secretariat.
ASEAN is also aiming to advance its economic strength through cooperation with non-member countries. So far, ASEAN signed free trade agreements with six countries outside of the organisation. Introducing “Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2012, it proposed free trade agreements with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.
There are security challenges present in Southeast Asia including maritime disputes, human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, refugee flows, natural disasters, food insecurity, and terrorism. Most of those discussed bilaterally between countries, but there are several issues that ASEAN had put the onus on, such as dispute in the South China Sea. In 2002, ASEAN and China signed the non-binding “Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” and the organisation is still negotiating on reciprocity with China.
The African Union (AU) is an intergovernmental organisation consisting of 55 member states of the African continent. The AU was established in 2002 and it replaced the Organisation of African Unity. (OAU).
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU), was Africa’s first post-independence continental institution. It was founded in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by 32 African countries. The main purpose of the OAU included: the eradication of all forms of colonialism from the continent; the promotion of unity and solidarity of African states; to foster international cooperation for development; and to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Member States.
Throughout the years, the OAU did much on promoting economic and political cooperation between Member states. Furthermore, the Organisation provided support for the struggles against colonial rule in southern Africa. However, the OAU was not as successful in addressing other issues such as peace, stability and security across the continent. Due to the Organisation’s commitment to the national sovereignty of each country, the OAU was not able to intervene in the civil wars or military coups that affected many of the African countries.
Given the situation, the only probable solution was to reform the Organisation, so that it would be more effective in addressing Africa’s political, economic and social problems. Thus in 1999, the Heads of State of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration, which called for the established of the African Union (AU). This new institution would have some resemblance to the European Union, but would reflect the needs of the African continent. The AU was officially launched in 2002.
The Constitutive Act of the African Union lays out the aims of the AU, which are to:
- Achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the peoples of Africa;
- Defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States;
- Accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent;
- Promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples;
- Encourage international co-operation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- Promote peace, security, and stability on the continent;
- Promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance;
- Promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments;
- Establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations;
- Promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies;
- Promote co-operation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples;
- Co-ordinate and harmonise the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union;
- Advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology;
- Work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.
The AU is comprised of the following decision-making bodies:
- The Assembly: is the primary decision-making body of the AU and is made up of the Heads of State of each of the 55 member countries.
- The Executive Council: is responsible for making decisions and developing policies in areas of common interest to the member states including: foreign trade, food/agriculture, water resources, transport, education, health etc.
- The Commission: serves as the Secretariat of the Union and is responsible for administering the projects of the AU and carrying out the decisions made by the Assembly and Executive Council of the Union.
- The Pan-African Parliament (PAP): ensures the full participation of African people in the economic development and integration of the continent. It is intended as a platform for people from all African states to be involved in discussions and decision making on the problems and challenges facing the continent.
- The African Court of Justice: assists in settling legal disputes between member countries and helps secure justice against severe human rights abuses anywhere in Africa.
- The Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC): conducts the day-to-day business of the African Union on behalf of the Assembly and the Executive Council. All AU Member States are members of the PRC.
- Financial Institutions of the AU: which include The African Central Bank (ACB); The African Monetary Fund (AMF) and The African Investment Bank (AIB). These organs work towards promoting economic growth, development and cooperation within and between the member states.
- Specialized Technical Committees: which promote cooperation and collaboration in addressing social, economic and political issues in Africa.
Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want
In 2015, the AU launched Agenda 2063. This framework aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development, while also promoting a common identity by celebrating Africa’s history and vibrant culture.
There are 15 initiatives for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. These include:
- An integrated high-speed train network which aims to connect all African capitals and commercial centres.
- The formulation of an African Commodities Strategy which aims to transform Africa from simply being a raw materials supplier for the rest of the world to a continent that actively uses its own resources to ensure the economic development of Africans.
- The establishmnet of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market place.
- The introduction of an African Union passport and the removal of all visa requirements for its holders within Africa.
- ‘Silencing The Guns By 2020,’ which works towards ending all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide.
- The implementation of the third Inga Dam which is expected to generate 43,200 MW of power.
- The establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which ensures intra-regional connectivity between the capital cities of Africa and aims to create a single unified air transport market in Africa.
- The establishment of the annual African Economic Forum. The forum discusses key opportunities as well as the constraints that hamper economic development and proposes measures to be taken to realise the aspirations and goals of Agenda 2063.
- The establishment of financial institutions, envisaged as the African Central Bank (ACB), the Pan African Stock Exchange, the African Monetary Fund (AMF) and the African Investment Bank (AIB).
- The Pan-African E-Network which aims to put in place policies and strategies that will lead to transformative e-applications and services in Africa.
- The Africa outer space strategy which aims to strengthen Africa’s use of outer space to bolster its development.
- The establishment of an African digital, distance-learning university. This project aims to use ICT based programmes to increase access to tertiary and continuing education in Africa by reaching large numbers of students and professionals in multiple sites simultaneously.
- Cooperation on cyber security which ensures that emerging technologies are used for the benefit of African individuals, institutions or nation states by ensuring data protection and safety online.
- The Great African Museum project which aims to create awareness about Africa’s vast, dynamic and diverse cultural artefacts and the influence Africa has had and continues to have on the various cultures of the world.
- The compilation of The Encyclopaedia Africana which aims to provide an authoritative resource on the authentic history of Africa and African life.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), originally called the Caribbean Community and Common Market, was established under the Treaty of Chaguaramas which came into force on August 1, 1973. The first four signatories were Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. CARICOM replaced the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), in force between 1965 and 1972, created to provide a lasting economic relationship between the English-speaking nations in the Caribbean after the dissolution of the West Indies Federation on May 31, 1962. On 17 October 1991, it was granted observer status by the United Nations General Assembly. On July 5, 2001, a revised version of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which included in the CARICOM the CSME (Market and the unique economy of the Caricom), was signed by the heads of government of the member states during the twenty-second conference in Nassau in the Bahamas.
Currently in CARICOM there are:
- 15 members – Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were the four founding members.
- 5 associate members – Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Island.
- 8 observers – Aruba, Colombia, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Sint Marteen and Venezuela.
In May 2016 CARICOM signed a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the ACP Legal Association of Guadalupe in order to recognize and support the implementation of the business law framework in the Caribbean, this project is called OHADAC that is the acronym for the French “Organization pour l’Harmonisation du Droit des Affaires en les Caraïbes”. The aim is to enhance economic integration across the entire Caribbean and to increase trade and international investment.
The four major pillars of CARICOM are: economic integration, foreign policy coordination, human and social development and security. The stated objectives for CARICOM community are:
- To improve standards of living and work
- The full employment of labor and other factors of production
- Accelerated, coordinated and sustained economic development and convergence
- Expansion of ttrade and economic relations with Third States
- Enhanced levels of international competitiveness
- Organization for increased production and productivity
- Achievement of a greater measure of economic leverage
- Effectiveness of Member States in dealing with Third States, groups of States and entities of any description
- The enhanced coordination of Member States’ foreign and foreign economic policies and enhanced functional cooperation
CARICOM is the oldest surviving integration movement in the developing world. Its achievements along the way are many. Great strides have been made, particularly through functional cooperation in education, in health, in culture, in security. Its Single Market functions, and it is a respected voice in international affairs because of a coordinated foreign policy.
The Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organization focused on promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. The Council of Europe was founded on May 5, 1949 by the Treaty of London. The Treaty of London was signed in London by ten states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
10 signatory states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The organization was joined by central and eastern European states during the early 1990s and now covers 47 member states, all European states except Belarus, Kazakhstan, Vatican City and European territories with limited recognition such as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Northern Cyprus, Transnistria and Kosovo.
First accession took place on August 9, 1949 with Greece and Turkey joining the organization. The following year Iceland on March 7 and Germany on July 13 joined. Between 1956 and 1989 the states of Austria, Cyprus, Switzerland, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Finland join. After Eastern and Central European democratic transition followed Hungary in 1990, Poland in 1991, Bulgaria in 1992, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Romania in 1993, Andorra in 1994, Latvia, Albania, Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine in 1995, Russia and Croatia in 1996, Georgia in 1999. In 2001 Armenia and Azerbaijan followed from Caucasus region. In 2002, Bosnia and Herzegovina joined, in 2003-Serbia, in 2004-Monaco and with the latest accession, Montenegro became a member in 2007.
Institutions and Presidency:
1) The Secretary General nowadays is Thorbjørn Jagland from October 2009, – the 13th Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Secretary General is elected for a term of 5 years by the Parliamentary Assembly and heads the Secretariat of the Council of Europe. The Secretary General has the overall responsibility for the strategic management of the Organization. Jagland’s second term in office commenced on October 1, 2014.
2) The Committee of Ministers is Council of Europe’s decision-making body, comprising the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of all 47 member states. The Committee meets at ministerial level once a year and at Deputies’ level on a weekly basis. The Committee of Ministers performs a triple role-as the emanation of the government, as the collective forum alongside the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and as guardian of the values for which the Council of Europe exists.
3) Parliamentary Assembly comprises national parliamentarians from all member states. It elects its President for a year with the possibility of being re-elected for another year. In January 2016, Pedro Agramunt from Spain was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly. The Assembly appoints members as rapporteurs with the mandate to prepare parliamentary reports on specific subjects. Among its main achievements are: ending the death penalty in Europe by requiring new members to abolish it; making possible, and shaping, the European Convention on Human Rights; high-profile reports exposing violations of human rights in Council of Europe member states.
4) The European Court of Human Rights is a supra-national or international court created under the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950, was established in 1959. It is composed of a judge from each member state elected for a single, non-renewable term of nine years by the Parliamentary Assembly and is headed by the elected President of the Court. The current President of the Court is Guido Raimondi from Italy. The Court takes into consideration the importance and urgency of the issues raised when deciding the order in which cases are to be dealt with.
5) The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is the pan-European political assembly representing local and regional authorities from the forty-seven member states of the Council of Europe, established in 1994. Its role is to promote local and regional democracy, improve their governance and strengthen authorities’ self-government, according to the principles laid down in the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It is made up of two chambers, the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions and holds its plenary sessions twice a year at the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg, where its permanent Secretariat is located.
6) The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent and impartial non-judicial institution established in 1999 by the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the 47 member states. The activities of this institution focus on three major areas: country visits and dialogue with national authorities and civil society; thematic studies and advice on systematic human rights work; awareness-raising activities. The current Commissioner is Nils Muižnieks, who began his six-year mandate on April 1, 2012. The Commissioner seeks to engage in permanent dialogue with member states, continually raising awareness about human rights issues.
7) The conference of INGOs- The Council of Europe’s work benefits extensively from contacts and co-operation with the dynamic elements of society, as represented by NGOs. They focus on Relations with international NGOs (INGOs) and Civil society programs with partner NGOs.
CoE’s Aims, Values and Achievements:
The Council was set up: Article 1(a) of the Statute states that “The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realizing the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.”- to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law; to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity. Values: promoting Human rights education and professional training, democracy-protection of fundamental freedoms and rights and the rule of law. Achievements: The Council of Europe’s most famous achievement is the European Convention on Human Rights, which was adopted in 1950 following a report by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, and followed on from the United Nations ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (UDHR). The Convention created the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. I’d like to mention, that there are 200 legally binding European treaties or conventions many of which are open to non-member states such as leading instruments as the Convention on Cybercrime, the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, Conventions against Corruption and Organized Crime, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
One of the most explicit challenge that the Council of Europe faces has been expressed in recent years’ criticism for not been actively tackling the transgressions of some of its members. The organisation has been called on by both Human Rights Watch and the European Stability Initiative to carry out concrete actions for returning to its original mission to protect and ensure human rights. European Court of Human Rights tends to have the difficulty of managing controversial judgements. The CoE’s Committee of Ministers argued in the ninth annual report: “A first challenge is the continued increase of cases pending for more than 5 years. Whilst these cases accounted for some 20% of the total at the end of 2011, by the end 2015 they accounted for around 55%.” Statistical data shows that Turkey, Russia and Ukraine held the largest share of pending long-term cases with 88, 87 and 43 unresolved 5 year or longer cases respectively.
Another equally important challenge manifests itself in the management of sensitive and complex problems such as deeply rooted prejudices of a social nature involving cases of Roma and/or certain minorities in addition with the issues related to political considerations, national security and regional ‘frozen conflicts’.
Future prospects for the next decade:
Considering the challenges, criticism and feasibility of the organisation, one of the initial steps in future could and should involve elimination or unification of the number of overlapping organisations and committees existing in Europe intervening in the Council of Europe’s competence and tend to be ineffective. Another crucial step which weakens efficiency of the organisation I believe to advance in the next decade involving generalisation of principles relying on broad recommendations rather than drafting vast detailed reports on specific subjects stretching the cases without adequate results. However, it is indeed essential to underline its successful efforts put in engagement of young leaders from across the world, not only Europe, promoting equality, peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law considering the number of projects and forums organized on yearly bases. Larger and more collaborative projects could be expected in the future focusing on mutual development of youth sector in different fields of the Council of Europe’s activities to make the organisation feel alive and more onto the higher level of justice, the rule of law and democracy.
Central European Initiative
The Central European Initiative (CEI) was born in Budapest in 1989 and is the oldest and biggest forum of regional cooperation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. It counts 18 members: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Hungary.
The first step for the creation of the Central European Initiative took place on 11 November 1989: four States, (Italy, Austria, Hungary and Yugoslavia) after the fall of the Berliner wall, started to cooperate in order to re-establish unity among European countries.
The first summit was in Venice in 1990 in which Czechoslovakia was admitted and after, in 1991, also Poland had a sit in the organization. In 1992 the organization became bigger with the admission of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia and the organization was named Central European Initiative. In the following year there was the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and either Czech Republic and Slovakia were admitted. Three years later, in 1996, Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine took a sit as members of the organization. The last admission were Serbia and Montenegro in 2000 but after the dissolution the last was Montenegro in 2006.
CEI headquarters have been in Trieste (Italy) since 1996.
The Central European Initiative supports European Integration with cooperation between its Member States and with the European Union. It offers an important contribution to develop multilateral diplomacy and project management.
The most important objectives are:
- Support CEI Member States on their path towards European integration;
- Promote the alignment of CEI Member States to EU standards;
- Implement small and medium-sized projects.
The aim is to support the countries and their institution with a professional platform for regional cooperation, for example to prepare and support future accession to the European Union. CEI supports also projects in various areas of cooperation also with financial resources in order to support studies, national and international projects.
Areas of Cooperation: Towards a Knowledge-based Society: Research and Innovation; lifelong Education and Training; Information Society. Towards a Sustainable economy and development: Transport, Logistics and Accessibility; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Climate, Environment and Rural Development; SMEs and Business Development. Towards and Inclusive Society: Intercultural Cooperation; Media; Civil Society.
The CEI operates in a different and flexible manners through various structures.
It is responsible for the financial directives and provides political and economic orientation.
Annual meeting of the Heads of Government (CEI Summit)
Annual Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs (MFA Meeting), it takes and approves decisions. The Presidency is held by a CEI Member State and rotates on an annual basis.
Regular meetings of the CEI Committee of National Coordinators (CNC), responsible for the definition, coordination, management and implementation of CEI cooperation.
The Secretariat for CEI Projects has offices either in Trieste or London on order to promote activities that support investments in CEI area; financial support for the Secretariat is provided by Italy.
The CEI conveys also Ministerial Meetings during the year according to the needs of special political agreements on a given issue. Each member can organize high level meetings in specific sectors of particular relevance.
CEI representatives of national Parliaments cooperate and meet in the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Committee and the General Committees on political and home affairs, on economic affairs, on cultural affairs.
Business communities are promoted to be active participators fostering inputs, open discussions and recommendations for political leadership.
The Parliamentary Dimension and the Business Dimension have their own structure and rules of procedure regulated by the CEI guidelines and rules of procedures adopted by Heads of Government.
The projects made by CEI Cooperation Activities are projects of small scale and limited duration, for example seminars, workshops, short training courses or meetings. This projects are financed by the CEI Cooperation Fund to which all members contribute through annual calls for proposals and they are organized by institutions of CEI Member States.
Public and private institutions registered in a CEI Member State as international and regional organizations are invited to apply to the CEI Cooperation Fund in order to favour mobility and networking.
Plan of actions
The plan of action is oriented for the period 2018-2020, it focuses to the real needs and proposals expressed by the CEI members. It is divided in two parts: the first one concern in selecting missions, objectives and methodology, the second part outlines goals and objectives, both part take into consideration previous results achieved. The aim is to promote regional cooperation through a combination of multilateral diplomacy with political dialog in order to stimulate cohesion and integration between EU and non-EU countries.
The CEI Agenda 2018-2020 draws up the goals and objectives of the future and the results achieved in the past, the priorities are resumed in two key-words: Connectivity and Diversity.
With Connectivity CEI focuses on strengthening the capacities of the members towards good governance, sustainable economic development and improving networks and environmental stability as requisites for democracy, stability, security and prosperity in CEI’s region.
With Diversity CEI focuses on promoting intercultural cooperation in order to make stronger the democratic participation and the role of media. It focuses also on international scientific cooperation, quality education and training to develop knowledge-based societies.
One of the goals of CEI is good governance, it assures democratic stability and security, it plays a key in ensuring a good environment plan.
Another goal is to tackle the economic and social impact of current migration on CEI countries, the challenge of organising effective reception capacity for asylum seekers, as well as assistance and active cultural and social integration of migrants. An example of action is to promote exchange of practice and knowledge with the support of analysis and actions on demographic changes. It is also important to promote dialogue of the CEI members on the internal move of their people and to encourage cross-border cooperation of public authorities in fighting against the traffic of human beings.
It is important for the Member States to develop and promote e-governance in order to provide e-services to make public services more transparent, efficient and accountable and also to promote cybersecurity.
A well-organised organization can avoid corruption and achieve stability and security. Potential investors can only be attracted by transparent and responsible state organization; a weak institutions generate a lack of trust among potential investors; for this reason, it is important to support trainings for public administration officers on effective anti-corruption measures. Another important goal to achieve is the economic growth, the provision of quality jobs and decent working conditions is a requirement for socially sustainable economies. Research infrastructures and innovation delivery can further stimulate the economy and help the competitiveness of the CEI economies on the global market.
Environmental protection and climate change remain top CEI priorities for moving towards sustainable growth. The CEI fully recognises the two-way relationship between environment and security. Good environmental governance not only contributes to a sound investment climate, but can help in addressing the concerns and interests of all stakeholders, helping prevent tensions and conflicts.
Respect for cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue as well as for equal opportunities are essential elements of conflict prevention and sustainable human, social and economic development. The CEI region has a great potential in terms of traditional values, diversity of expression, artistic creations and dynamic creative sectors. Thus, fostering intercultural cooperation through constructive dialogue and cultural exchange in all their tangible and intangible components is a key factor to contribute to mutual understanding between peoples, communities and countries.
Finally pen and free media landscape with divergent opinions and ideas is a key aspect in democratic and stable societies. Media diversity is the degree to which media content is heterogeneous.
Eurasian Economic Union
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is a regional economic organization that is comprised of five member states: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, and Armenia. The EAEU strives to lift trade barriers and integrate its members into a common economic bloc by facilitating the free movement of goods, services, capital, and labour through the establishment of coordinated economic policies. The EAEU claims that economic cooperation between member states encourages the economic development of each country and strengthens their respective standings on a regional and a global level. The headquarters of the EAEU are located in Moscow, Russia, and the organization’s working language is Russian. Since the EAEU does not have a shared currency, the member states trade with their national currencies.
History and background
The inauguration of the EAEU on January 1, 2015, followed two decades’ worth of efforts to create a shared economic space in Eurasia. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the governments of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus sought out to establish a new regional trade zone. In 1995, the three countries signed the Custom Union Treaty with the intention of eliminating trade restrictions and promoting free trade within the bloc. Although this treaty ultimately did not come to fruition, it helped lay the groundwork for future economic integration initiatives.
In 2000, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, along with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, attempted to create a customs union via the the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC). In addition, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine agreed to designate a Single Economic Space in 2003. However, these efforts did not translate into substantial progress towards establishing a customs union. In particular, the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine delayed the opportunity to turn these plans of Eurasian economic integration into a reality.
In 2007, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan relaunched their endeavors to establish a Eurasian economic space. The presidents of these countries agreed upon a phased two-year agreement to develop a customs union. This agreement was implemented into the Eurasian Customs Union in 2010, along with a Common Customs Tariff.
By 2012, the Eurasian Customs Union was in full operation. Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus agreed to increase the scope of the organization’s activities by creating a Single Economic Space. In addition to further promoting the free exchange of goods, services, capital, and labor, the countries viewed the Single Economic Space as a means to more effectively organize policies to facilitate Eurasian integration.
The governments of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus renamed the Eurasian Customs Union and its expanded capacities as the EAEU. The governments of Armenia and Kyrgyzstan expressed interest in joining this economic integration project, and the five countries signed the Treaty of the EAEU in 2014. The EAEU formally came into effect in 2015, and it continues to perform under this capacity in the present day.
Structure and activities
The main operating body of the EAEU consist of the following institutions: the Supreme Council, the Intergovernmental Council, and the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), which is sub-divided into the EEC Council and the EEC Board.
The Supreme Council, which is overseen by the heads of the EAEU member states, is the most powerful institution in the EAEU. It manages the most critical matters affecting the EAEU, such as outlining the EAEU’s development strategy and approving the operational functions of the EAEU’s smaller institutions.
The Intergovernmental Council consists of the heads of government of each member state. Its duties include reviewing budgets, proposing candidates for additional EAEU bodies, and reviewing and promoting EAEU Treaty policies.
The EEC has numerous competencies, such as regulating customs tariff and non-tariff regimes and organizing trade relations with third countries. Although the EEC Council and the EEC Board share similar duties, the two bodies are distinguished by their membership structures. The EEC Council features deputy heads of government, whereas the member states select ministers to serve in the EEC Board.
In addition to the primary institutions listed above, the EAEU includes such notable bodies as the Court of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), and the Eurasian Stabilization and Development Fund (EDSF). The Court serves as a mechanism to ensure that all of the EAEU member states recognize and abide by the conditions established by the EAEU. It is also a forum to resolve disputes relating to the interpretation of EAEU laws and treaties. The EDB offers capital and investment for EAEU projects, while the EDSF specializes in financial stabilization and crisis management.
Prospects and challenges
The EAEU has received mixed reviews regarding the effectiveness of the organization’s aims. From a positive standpoint, the EAEU enjoys broad popular support throughout all of its member states. The smaller states in the EAEU have benefited from the project, most notably from increased investment and access to the international labor market (Kyrgyzstan), discounts on energy supplies (Belarus), and security backing (Armenia). Russia and Kazakhstan’s incentives for joining the EAEU are more political than economic. In Russia’s case, it allows it to maintain a sphere of influence in the region, whereas Kazakhstan sees the organization as a means to limit Russia’s political influence by prioritizing trade relations instead.
However, the EAEU has also faced negative assessments. One of the most frequently leveled criticisms against the EAEU regards its lack of institutional coherence. Although the member states of the EAEU established supranational bodies as a means to establish uniform trade policy, they yield little actual authority. If a member state disagrees with a proposal made in the EEC, it can block it from going into force. This mechanism was introduced as a way to allow member states to protect their national sovereignty in EAEU decision-making processes. However, the flexibility permitted by this measure has made it easy for states to disable policies they disagree with. As a result, the weakness of the EAEU supranational institutions has hindered the development of common protocol and the prospects for deeper regional integration.
In addition, several analysts view the EAEU as an attempt by Russia to push its hegemony in the region. Although the EAEU has implemented several conditions to balance the member states’ authority in the organization— for example, it allows for equal representation in EAEU decision-making processes— Russia is unquestionably the most powerful country in the union. Its economy dwarfs those of the other member states and it accounts for 87% of the EAEU’s total GDP. Furthermore, the Russian government’s unfavorable reaction to former Soviet republics that have tried to forge closer ties with the European Union (EU)— most notably, Ukraine and Georgia— has signaled to other states that they have to “choose sides” in terms of aligning themselves with the EAEU or the EU. Therefore, some observers question whether the EAEU functions as a forum to promote benevolent cooperation in Eurasia or if it just serves as a cover for Russia to assert a neo-imperial presence in the region.
The EAEU is chiefly focused on further facilitating the ease of trade in the region by expanding its number of competencies and refining the responsibilities that it currently possesses.
In addition, the EAEU is seeking to deepen its partnerships with other nation states. Although there are no immediate plans for increasing EAEU membership, a number of countries have expressed interest in becoming observer states. Moldova is currently the sole observer state in the union, although countries such as Uzbekistan and Cuba have also been in discussions to gain observer status. Furthermore, the EAEU has met with the representatives of multiple countries, including China, India, and Iran, to establish free trade agreements and other favorable trade deals. These efforts not only broaden the scope of the EAEU’s economic collaboration, but they also expand its engagement beyond countries with strong historical ties to the Soviet Union. They could also influence such countries to join the EAEU in the future.
The EAEU will also have to face upcoming challenges in the years ahead. Competing regional blocs, including the EU and the One Belt One Road Initiative, may restrict the EAEU’s ability to strengthen its regional clout. Furthermore, recent political instability, particularly in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia, may also affect the organization’s operation. Therefore, the EAEU must be ready to meet these issues to successfully continue its pursuit of sustained regional economic integration.
The European Union (EU) is an alliance of 27 countries, mainly in Europe, set up to deal with economic and political issues. The EU’s goals include: ensuring peace, freedom, security, sustainable development, solidarity among European nations and a monetary union under a single currency, the euro. These goals along with the values of the organisation were outlined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, 2 October 2000 and the Lisbon Treaty. The EU is a significant player in world trade, being a major exporter of goods and services, and the world’s largest trade bloc. The Union has been attractive to investors because it thrives on its own internal market, a single market without borders. The EU also contributes to the world through humanitarian aid and is important when it comes to diplomacy and security for its nations. The institutions under the Union were designed to be democratic in decision-making and to keep their processes transparent and clear to the people. On matters of tax, employment and goods and services, the EU countries treat their citizens equally.
The EU has 27 member countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. The Schengen Agreement includes Switzerland and other countries mentioned in the list above. The EU has over 340 million citizens, who are residents of 19 countries within the Union.
The EU’s predecessor was established to bring peace to neighbour states after the Second World War. Actions like The Treaty of Rome in 1957, set up what was called the ‘Common Market’ or the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1965, the Brussels Treaty was signed by the EEC’s members, merging the commissions of three organisations – the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the EEC and Euratom – to set up the European Commission. The councils of these organisations formed the basis for the Council of Ministers. These three entities would later become major institutions within the EU, together known as the European Communities. By 1973 countries like Ireland, Denmark and the UK had joined the Union. The EEC grew to become a single market, with more countries such as Finland, Sweden and Austria. In December 1991, the EU was established through the acceptance of the Maastricht Treaty in Netherlands, by heads of the European Community’s Member States. The Treaty entered into force on 1 November 1993 and comprised three main pillars: the European Communities, cooperation on home affairs and justice, and a shared foreign and security policy. The Maastricht Agreement granted a new kind of citizenship to citizens of all the EU member countries. They were supported by local parliaments and the European Parliament of their country. A new system of central banking emerged with a common currency for all these nations, the euro. The treaty also led to more cooperation on social, political, environmental and economics issues. In the 1990s the Schengen Agreement (that got its name from a Luxemburg village) would bring the EU members closer through easier travel within the Union. With these developments, the European Union grew to become an integrated network of countries in cooperation.
Structure and institutions
The major institutions within the EU can be categorised into four types, based on their functioning: financial, legislative, judicial and executive:
- The Executive consists of the European Commission and European Council. While the former deals with the proposal and implementation of laws, the latter is about directing summits and policy conversations for the Union.
- Under the Legislative bodies are the European Parliament and Council of Ministers, that together control the approval or rejection of the passing of laws. The Parliament also manages the Commission and helps decide the EU budget. The Council of Ministers is a council set up with ministers from all the Union’s member-governments.
- The EU’s judicial institutions include the European Court of Auditors, that audits the EU’s budget and checks its funds, and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU functions as the Union’s highest court to settle major disputes. It interprets the laws of the Union and hears cases against the Union’s Institutions.
- Finally, the EU receives its financial support from the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB controls the banking system followed throughout the Union and implements its monetary policy. It also oversees the Union’s currency, the euro, for 19 member countries.
The Future of the Union
- The EU had strained relations with some of its countries. During the Greek Crisis, the Government of Greece suffered from accumulating debt. The nation’s Budget Deficit exceeded 15% of its GDP. Gradually Greece and the EU entered negotiations over this issue, to pay back the debts. The Crisis revealed the EU’s need for reforms.
- Britain confirmed its departure from the EU, in a move called Brexit. This was because the country wanted to reduce immigration from the European Economic Area (EEA), and set up independent foreign policy, trade policy and finance. A referendum on Brexit was held in 2016 and showed that the majority wanted Britain to leave the EU. A series of debates on this controversial issue finally resulted in a formal Brexit on 31 January 2020. By the end of 2020, the transition period for Britain will be complete. Legal proceedings against Britain have begun after the government decided to go ahead with ideas that would be against Brexit. A case against the UK may be heard in the ECJ, for the government’s failure to remove the section of the lapsed Internal Market Bill.
- There are several new challenges to the EU that are developing with time. The Budget of the Union is going to be increased between 2021 and 2027, especially after the UK’s departure. Member states like Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, however want budget cuts because of their large contributions that have not been repaid.
- Migration in Europe was at its highest during the migrant crisis of 2015, but since then the numbers have steadily decreased. There are plans to support member states burdened by immigrants financially. With the large inflow of people, most European countries are facing housing shortages and high unemployment. On the flipside, the entry of immigrants could help develop economies and create jobs, alongside the aging European population.
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an international tribunal with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression, as defined by the Rome Statute. The ICC was established as an independent court of justice that aims to complement, and not replace, national criminal jurisdictions. The court currently sits in the Hague, Netherlands.
Although the ICC was formally established on the 1st of July 2002, the idea of an international criminal court dates back to the 15th century. However, it was not until the 19th century that the first rules regarding armed conflicts were officially put on paper. The Hague Conferences for Peace and Justice of 1899 and 1907 and the subsequent adoption of the Hague Convention were thus important milestones in the codification of international criminal law, as we know it today.
The 20th century also saw major advances in the development of international criminal law. Following the Second World War, the victorious powers set up the first international military tribunals – in Nuremberg and Tokyo – to prosecute individuals regarding the gravest crimes of international concern, namely war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. It soon became apparent that a permanent international criminal court was needed, however, the Cold War impeded any progress towards its establishment. The project was revived in 1989 by the then Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to deal with illicit drug trafficking. An International Law Commission was thus tasked with drafting a statute for the impending Court.
In June 1998, a conference was convened in Rome to negotiate and adopt the final statute, which would lead to the establishment of the ICC. However, negotiations proved difficult, as the states were divided between three groups. The first one, nicknamed the Like-minded states, led by Canada and Norway, strongly advocated for a powerful Court and an independent Prosecutor. Conversely, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, apart from the United Kingdom, wanted more limited power for the Prosecutor and an important role for the Security Council in the ICC. The Non-aligned states, which included India, Mexico, and Egypt, amongst others, stood firm against the exclusion of nuclear weapons from the statute, as was proposed by the members of the Security Council. At the end of the conference, the Rome Statute was signed by 120 states. The United States voted against it, along with China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, and Yemen, and several states abstained from voting. On the 1st of July 2002, the Rome Statute officially entered into force after being ratified by 60 states, and the International Criminal Court was established.
As of today, 123 countries are Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, with the notable exceptions of the United States, Russia, and China. The State Parties are subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC and support the Court through the Assembly of States Parties, among others. Countries that are not yet Parties to the Rome Statute may nonetheless cooperate voluntarily on an ad hoc basis.
The International Criminal Court is composed of three different bodies: The Assembly of State Parties, the ICC, and the Trust Fund for victims.
The Assembly of Parties is a legislative body, which reunites representatives of the States which have ratified the Rome Statute. Its role is to oversee the general administration of the Court. The Assembly meets once a year, in The Hague or New York, to elect the judges, the Prosecutor and the Deputy Prosecutors and to approve the budget of the ICC. Each State Party is allowed one vote.
The International Criminal Court is made up of four organs, each with its own priorities and responsibilities: the presidency, the judicial divisions, the office of the Prosecutor and the Registry. The Presidency oversees the external relations, the administration, and the judicial aspect of the Court. As such, it assigns cases, maintains relations with the States and concludes agreements with them, when necessary. The Presidency is held by three judges, elected by their peers for three years. The Judicial Division consists of eighteen judges, elected by the Assembly of State Parties for a period of nine years, tasked with rendering decisions, ensuring fair trials, and more. The Court is further divided into three judicial divisions: pre-trial, trial and appeals. The Office of the Prosecutor is an independent organ of the ICC, responsible for conducting preliminary examinations, investigations, and prosecutions. The Prosecutor has the right to open an investigation when it is referred to them by States Parties or by the United Nations Security Council, or on their initiative after authorisation of the pre-trial chamber. The current Prosecutor is Ms. Fatou Bensouda from the Gambia, and the Deputy is Mr. James Stewart from Canada. Both are elected for a period of nine years by the Assembly of State Parties. Finally, the Registry supports the other organs of the ICC, ensures the Court’s functioning, and deals with non-judicial issues.
The Trust Fund for Victims was established in 2004 by the Assembly of States Parties. Reparation is sometimes a crucial aspect of restorative justice and reconciliation within communities. To ensure a long-lasting peace, the Trust Fund provides material, psychological and physical assistance to the victims of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.
Prospects and challenges
The International Criminal Court is no stranger to criticism. States have often raised objections regarding the Court’s jurisdiction, accused its judges of bias, and questioned its fairness and effectiveness. In October 2013 and 2015, several African leaders voiced their doubts about the ICC, which they perceived as a tool of Western imperialism. As a result, they announced their intentions to leave the Court and later rescinded their decision. The United States was also a very strong critic of the International Criminal Court, leading to its withdrawal of the Rome Statute in May 2002. Indeed, the American government takes a dim view of a possible intervention of the ICC in the United States or against an American citizen.
A significant paradox thus seems to surround the International Criminal Court. Although it claims to be impervious to external influences and politics, the Court relies exclusively on the voluntary cooperation of the states to function. Without a country’s approval, the ICC cannot arrest suspects, investigate, and obtain evidence. In circumstances where the suspects are leaders still in power or their officials, it becomes increasingly difficult for the Court to fulfill its mandate. Law’s dependence on politics represents a major challenge for the ICC now and in the foreseeable future, particularly because of the absence of a supranational power to enforce its rules.
Marine Le Cunff
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is the first international court of law established to prosecute high-ranking individuals for massive human rights violations in Africa. The purpose of this court is to prosecute those allegedly responsible for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
The ICTR has spent more than 5,800 days of proceedings, heard more than 3,000 witness accounts, sentenced 61 individuals and acquitted 14 others.
In an effort to punish those responsible for genocide, the United Nations established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. On 8 November 1994, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 955 (1994), which established “an international tribunal for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda and Rwandan citizens responsible for genocide and other such violations committed in the territory of neighbouring States, between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.”
As a Chapter VII Security Council resolution, the ICTR asserts primacy over the domestic laws and national courts of third States, and has the ability to force the surrender of an accused, be they a Rwandan citizen or not, located in Rwanda or any third State.
Since it opened in 1995, the Tribunal has indicted 93 individuals whom it considered responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda in 1994. Those indicted include high-ranking military and government officials, politicians, businessmen, as well as religious, militia, and media leaders. Two-thirds of them were sentenced, and more than 3,000 witnesses appeared in court to give their personal accounts of crimes against humanity.
With its sister international tribunals and courts, the ICTR has played a pioneering role in the establishment of a credible international criminal justice system, producing a substantial body of jurisprudence on genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, as well as forms of individual and superior responsibility.
The United Nations Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to “prosecute persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda and neighbouring States, between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994”.
As provided in Security Council resolution 977 (1995) of 22 February 1995, the ICTR is headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania, with additional offices located in Kigali, New York and The Hague.
The ICTR is governed by its Statute, which is annexed to Security Council resolution 955 (1994). The ICTR consists of three major organs: the Chambers, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry.
There are four Chambers in which judges adjudicate trials and motions before the ICTR: three lower Trial Chambers and one Appeals Chamber. Although all three of the lower Trial Chambers are located in Arusha, the ICTR Appeals Chamber also adjudicates for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and is located in The Hague, Netherlands.
In total, the Chambers consist of 16 permanent judges and 9 ad litem judges, all chosen by the United Nations General Assembly. There are three permanent judges for each of the three Trial Chambers, and seven permanent judges for the Appeals Chamber; however, only five of these seven permanent judges sit on the Appeals Chamber at any given time.
The Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for investigating all crimes under which the ICTR has jurisdiction, prepares indictments, and prosecutes defendants. The Registry is responsible for providing all administrative support to the Chambers and the Prosecutor.
The ICTR is the first ever international tribunal to deliver verdicts in relation to genocide, and the first to interpret the definition of genocide set forth in the 1948 Geneva Conventions.
It also is the first international tribunal to define rape in international criminal law and to recognise rape as a means of perpetrating genocide in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu, which was the first trial held by the ICTR on 9th January 1997; one of the most momentous cases in international law.
On 2 September 1998, the ICTR found Akayesu guilty of nine counts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity for extermination, murder, torture, rape and other inhumane acts. The conviction of Akayesu marked “the first in which an international tribunal was called upon to interpret the definition of genocide as defined in the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”.
Another landmark was reached in the “Media case”; the ICTR prosecutions of Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, leaders of Radio Television Libre Milles Collines (RTLM), and of Hassan Ngeze, the founder and director of Kangura newspaper.
The ICTR consolidated the indictments of these three men into a single trial, which is more commonly referred to as “The Media Case” (The Prosecutor v. Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze).
This trial was the first time since Nuremberg that the role of the media was examined as a component of international criminal law. In 2003, Nahimana, Barayagwiza and Ngeze were convicted on counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity.
The ICTR delivered its last trial judgement on 20 December 2012 in the Ngirabatware case.
The United Nations Security Council called upon the tribunal to finish its work by 31 December 2014 to prepare for its closure and transfer of its responsibilities to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT or Mechanism) which had begun functioning for the ICTR branch on 1 July 2012.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is a United Nations court of law dealing with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s. ICTY has spent more than 10,800 trial days, heard at least 4,650 witnesses, produced over 2.5 million pages of transcripts and indicted 161 individuals- all this to put an end to impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed there.
The Court was established by Resolution 827 of the United Nations Security Council, which was passed on 25 May 1993. It has been first this kind of courts created by UN, which gave birth to other tribunals ad hoc. In Resolution that created this organisation is said: “an international tribunal shall be established for the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991”, also, there was decided a calling on the Secretary-General to “submit for consideration by the Council… a report on all aspects of this matter, including specific proposals and where appropriate options… taking into account suggestions put forward in this regard by Member States”.
With the idea to launch this Court was an initiative of German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel. Before establishment of the Tribunal international community tried to influence and put a pressure on former Yugoslavian republics diplomacy in many different ways; using military, economic impact, politically. Unfortunately, this operations did not have enough positive effect and international community decided to take further steps and through Resolution 827 pressurise those countries by judicial means.
In 1993, the ICTY built its internal infrastructure, 17 states have signed an agreement with the ICTY to carry out custodial sentences. In the first year of its existence, the Tribunal laid the foundations for its existence as a judicial organ. When first judges arrived to their post of work there were no rules of procedure, no cases and no prosecutor. All professionals and qualified stuff had to be employed very quickly. The differences between various countries in methods and experience that people had was another obstacle that had to be overcome to create a functioning international criminal prosecution system.
The United Nations Security Council passed resolutions 1503 in August 2003 and 1534 in March 2004, which both called for the completion of all cases at both the ICTY and its sister tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) by 2010. The final ICTY trial that was completed in the first instance was Ratko Mladić case, he was convicted on 22 November 2017. The final case to be considered by the ICTY was an appeal composed of six individuals, whose sentences were upheld on 29 November 2017.
The Tribunal was located in The Hague, Netherlands.
Its mission was to create by The Tribunal norms and rules for conflict and post-conflict resolution that are accepted around the globe, specifically that leaders suspected of mass crimes will face justice. The Tribunal wanted to prove that efficient and transparent international justice is possible. This goals hopefully were reached.
While operating, the Tribunal employed around 900 staff. It consisted of Chambers, Registry and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).
The duty of the Prosecutor was to investigate crimes, gather evidence and prosecute. The Prosecutor was appointed by the UN Security Council upon nomination by the UN Secretary-General and was head of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).
Contained judges and their aids. The Tribunal operated three Trial Chambers and one Appeals Chamber. The President of the Tribunal was also the presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber.
At the time of the court’s termination, there were seven permanent judges and one ad hoc judge who served on the Tribunal. A total of 86 judges were appointed to the Tribunal from UN member states. The Court consisted of 51 permanent judges and 36 were ad litem judges, and one was an ad hoc judge. Is also important to know that one judge served as both a permanent and ad litem judge, and another served as both a permanent and ad hoc judge. UN member and observer states could each submit up to two nominees of different nationalities to the UN Secretary-General.
In 2004, the ICTY published a list of five accomplishments “in justice and law”:
- “Spearheading the shift from impunity to accountability”, pointing out that, until very recently, it was the only court judging crimes committed as part of the Yugoslav conflict, since prosecutors in the former Yugoslavia were, as a rule, reluctant to prosecute such crimes;
- “Establishing the facts”, highlighting the extensive evidence-gathering and lengthy findings of fact that Tribunal judgments produced;
- “Bringing justice to thousands of victims and giving them a voice”, pointing out the large number of witnesses that had been brought before the Tribunal;
- “The accomplishments in international law”, describing the fleshing out of several international criminal law concepts which had not been ruled on since the Nuremberg Trials;
- “Strengthening the Rule of Law”, referring to the Tribunal’s role in promoting the use of international standards in war crimes prosecutions by former Yugoslav republics.
“The ICTY has been the foundation for the existing international criminal justice regime. I believe it’s fair to say the ICTY can be considered the genesis of the global culture of accountability,” the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares.
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organisation that along with its sister organisation the World Bank aims to provide financial assistance to its 189 member countries. The IMF has approximately 2,700 staff from 150 countries and has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. in the United States.
The IMF was formed at the Bretton Woods Conference in July 1944. This conference saw representatives of 44 allied nations come together in the hope of avoiding the mistakes made following the First World War. The Great Depression was the most severe financial crisis of the 20th century, contributing to a worldwide fall in GDP of an estimated 15% and international trade to contract 14% in the early 1930s. This global financial collapse led to the growth of far-right fascist politics in Europe and subsequently to the Second World War.
At this conference it was agreed that the IMF would supervise a system of fixed exchange rates pegged to gold, where the US dollar was redeemable for gold at $35 an ounce. The three critical missions of the IMF were also set out: promotion of international monetary cooperation, support for the expansion of trade and economic growth, and suppression of policies that could harm prosperity. Additionally, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) was also established at the Bretton Woods Conference, in order to aid European reconstruction after the Second World War.
The original Articles of Agreement, which outline the IMF’s purposes for operation, were ratified by 29 countries and brought into force on December 27, 1945. However, the IMF did not officially begin operating until March 1947 with a membership of 40 countries. The Articles of Agreement have since been amended seven times, with the latest amendment adopted on December 15, 2010 and came into effect on January 26, 2016.
After the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s, the IMF have since promoted a floating exchange rate system. Whereby, the value of currencies is determined by supply and demand market forces.
The IMF is responsible for monitoring national economies, international trade and the global economy. They then use data collected through this surveillance process to produce forecasts at the national and international levels. This analysis allows for investigation of the efficacy of fiscal, monetary and trade policies on economic growth and financial stability. The IMF has also adopted a capacity building program to provide technical assistance, training and policy advice to member countries. This program allows member countries to individually monitor their national economies through data collection and analysis.
Another important activity of the IMF is to provide loans to countries experiencing economic distress in order to prevent a financial crisis, in this case the IMF acts as a lender of last resort. Following an overhaul of the IMF’s support program for low-income countries in 2009, loans made to low-income countries now accrue no interest. The loans are usually made with certain conditions in place, these can take the form of either collateral or a requirement to adjust economic policy. A quota system delegates how much member countries must contribute to a lending pool, which as of March 2020 stood around $1 trillion. The quota is determined through a formula based on a member nation’s relative position in the global economy, measured through four variables: GDP, openness, variability, and reserves. The amount that countries contribute though the quota determines their share of votes, currently the largest contributor is the US with 17.45% of the quota share as agreed in 2010. Due to the interconnectedness of the global economy members have an incentive to provide funds to this pool, as a national financial crisis can easily spread to become an international problem. The most recent case of the IMF having to intervene in a country that was suffering from difficulties with its balance-of-payment, and so unable to pay their bills, was Argentina in early 2018.
The IMF is run by its Board of Governors which consists of one governor and one alternative governor from each member country. These governors are usually top officials from the central bank or finance ministry of each member country. The Board of Governors meet once a year at the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings. At this meeting central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, civil society and academics discuss issues of global concern including the world economic outlook, global financial stability, poverty eradication, jobs and growth, economic development, and aid effectiveness. Twenty-four of the governors serve on the International Monetary and Financial Committee, or IMFC, which advises the IMF’s Executive Board. The Executive Board is responsible for conducting the day-today business of the IMF. This board is composed of 24 Directors who are elected by member countries and the Managing Director who as of August 2020 is the Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva.
Any nation can apply to join the IMF and representatives from 189 countries currently sit on the Board of Governors. Also, there is a significant overlap of these 189 members with the membership of the United Nations; only North Korea, Andorra, Lichtenstein, and Monaco are UN members and not IMF members.
The IMF’s greatest challenge it will face in the future is holding relevance in the global economic system. It must evolve to fit the growing Asia-centric nature of the global economy. Historically the IMF has been European focused, with a tradition of withholding top jobs for European members. Furthermore, EU members currently have 29.6% of votes and China only 6.1% despite GDP, measured through purchasing power parity, being $18,377,114 million and $27,804,953 respectively. If the IMF is to remain globally relevant, voting shares must be reweighted, especially toward Asia. Otherwise, it is not impossible to imagine China establishing its own version of the IMF, just as it has already launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank.
A second challenge that is a concern for the whole world not just the IMF is the problem of climate change. However, given its implications for economic and financial instability, which under the Articles of Agreement the IMF are charged to protect, climate change must fall under the IMF’s purview. Climate-related work at the IMF encompasses carbon taxation, climate mitigation and adaptation; resilience to natural disasters, and energy subsidy reforms. A recent Executive Board paper developed a tool for assessing the emissions, fiscal and economic welfare impacts of carbon pricing and a range of other mitigation instruments to help policymakers understand trade-offs.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international movement established in 1961 against the backdrop of the Cold War. Comprising around 120 countries of the world, the main policy objective of the organization is achieving development of Third World nations.
One of the movement’s central principles was to maintain neutrality or ‘non-alignment’ during the Cold war era by abstaining from joining either of the two major power blocs, the US and USSR. It also aimed to address the economic, political and social inequalities imposed upon the Third World by colonialism and imperialism. Today, comprising around 120 countries of the world, it broadly represents and upholds the interests and developmental aspirations of the developing nations.
The Bandung conference or the Afro-Asian conference in 1955, convened to engage and address the issues of the newly decolonised nations of Asia and Africa marks the establishment of NAM. Further, the period was characterised by political, military and economic confrontation from the two major power blocs, the US and the USSR. NAM, hence also acted as ‘non-aligned’ ensuring that they were not influenced by the major powers of the Cold war. The first Summit of NAM was held in Belgrade, Serbia in 1961. The founding fathers of the organization were Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s then President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah and Indonesia’s first President Sukarno. One of the requirements for membership into the group was that states cannot be a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) or other multilateral military group of the period. It also required the member states to seize from signing any bilateral agreement with any of the power blocs.
In the post-Cold War scenario, NAM has faced serious interrogations on its purpose and foundational ideologies. However, there has been a shift to socio-economic challenges and other inequalities posed by globalization and liberalisation with which the member states see a role in.
As mentioned above, as per 2019, NAM had a membership of 120 countries. They constitute more than two thirds of the nations that are part of the United Nations and hence, is the largest grouping in the world.
Belarus is the only member state in the Movement that is in Europe. In 2011, Fiji and Azerbaijan joined the organization. There are several non-member countries representing the organization as well, though there are no permanent guest positions.
In contrast to the United Nations or the European Union, the Non-Alignment Movement does not have a permanent structure. It does not follow an official constitution or owe its allegiance to a permanent secretariat. The leadership and other positions within the movement is formed by consensus in the Summit Conference of Heads of State. This takes place every three years. In every summit, the country holding chair is decided. The administration and organizational aspects of the organization is left to the country holding chair. More importantly, the member states and their concerned foreign ministers discuss and engage more frequently during UN General Assembly sessions.
Recently, an online summit called ‘United against Covid’ was conducted under the initiative of the current chairman of NAM (Azerbaijan is the country holding chair) for the 2019–2022 period.
Challenges and future prospects
The Non-Alignment movement was prevalent and active in the 1960s. In the current world politics, where the Soviet Union has disintegrated and there has been a shift in power blocs, the Non-Alignment Movement has largely failed to engage in global activities on a sustained basis.
Moreover, the possibility of decolonized, poor nations coming together to redress inequalities have not been fruitful at the policy level. The Non-Aligned Movement, however, remains a central organization by which many Third World countries registered its participation in global politics at the peak of the cold war, challenging bipolarity. It continues to raise the tenets of multilateralism, mutual cooperation and self-determination of countries.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between several North American and European countries based on the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO is an alliance in which its 29 independent member countries have agreed to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. Therefore it constitutes a system of collective defence that was born as a political association until the Korean War galvanised the organisation’s member states, which opted to build an integrated military structure. NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members also through political means. NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations.
The precursor of NATO was the Treaty of Brussels, which was a mutual defence treaty against the Soviet threat at the start of the Cold War. It was signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom. In 1948, European leaders met with US defence, military and diplomatic officials at the Pentagon, under U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall’s orders, exploring a framework for a new and unprecedented association. Talks for a new military alliance resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed by U.S. President Harry S. Truman in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. The members introduced the collective response element, agreeing that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Therefore, if an armed attack occurred, each of them would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
The first major NATO maritime exercises began in September 1952. This development was possible also due to the outbreak of the Korean War, which raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans. After that, NATO incorporated other two countries: Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952. Turkey became thereby the closest NATO country to Soviet Union borders. With the incorporation of West Germany into the organisation on 9 May 1955, the situation was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent”, according to Halvard Lange, Foreign Affairs Minister of Norway at the time. Germany’s participation to the Alliance had also an important strategic meaning: with German manpower NATO would have indeed been able to tackle a hypothetical Soviet invasion. This development within NATO was the major reason of the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War. In 1959 NATO’s strength was undermined by the French decision to withdraw from the organisation, due to the unsatisfactory US response to France’s call for a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the US and the UK within NATO. In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. France announced their return to full participation only at the 2009 Strasbourg–Kehl summit.
During the Cold War, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance: to maintain security and pursue détente. Pursuing security interests did mean also responding to opponent’s moves with defensive and strategic countermoves. This line of reasoning led to the deployment of US GLCM cruise missiles and Pershing II theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position regarding nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track policy. Similarly, in 1983–84, responding to the stationing of Warsaw Pact SS-20 medium-range missiles in Europe, NATO deployed modern Pershing II missiles tasked to hit military targets such as tank formations in the event of war.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the resulting end of the Cold War, NATO wondered whether its strategic position, tasks and nature were still indispensable for the security of the member countries or not. NATO’s main enemy, Soviet Union, was indeed dissolved, therefore a re-evaluation of the Alliance’s purposes was needed. This shift started with the 1990 signing in Paris of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe between NATO and the Soviet Union, which mandated specific military reductions across the continent that continued after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. NATO began a gradual expansion to include newly autonomous Central and Eastern European nations, though. The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. On 8 July 1997, three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO, which each did in 1999. Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Central and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004. At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and both countries joined NATO in April 2009.
NATO Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.
NATO has twenty-nine members, mainly in Europe and North America. These countries are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States (1949, founding member countries), Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), and Montenegro (2017).
The North Atlantic Treaty and other agreements outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. Each of the 29 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador. The Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO. The Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) which meets at the Annual Session, and one other time during the year, and is the organ that directly interacts with the parliamentary structures of the national governments of the member states which appoint Permanent Members, or ambassadors to NATO, is the body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is made up of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as thirteen associate members. The Assembly is the NATO’s body generating political policy agenda setting for the NATO Council. As far as the military structure is concerned, it is worth noting to analyse its evolution throughout the Cold War and its aftermath. From the 1950s to 2003, the Strategic Commanders were the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT). The current arrangement is to separate responsibility between Allied Command Transformation (ACT), responsible for transformation and training of NATO forces, and Allied Command Operations (ACO), responsible for NATO operations worldwide. Starting in late 2003 NATO has restructured how it commands and deploys its troops by creating several NATO Rapid Deployable Corps, including Eurocorps, I. German/Dutch Corps, Multinational Corps Northeast, and NATO Rapid Deployable Italian Corps among others, as well as naval High Readiness Forces (HRFs), which all report to Allied Command Operations.
NATO faces several challenges around the world. The Cold War has ended but Russian indirect military intervention in Ukraine and its invasion of Crimea has brought about a suspension of cooperation between NATO and Moscow. Even if political and diplomatic channels remain open, relations are at the lowest level since 1989. Therefore the first important issue NATO needs is restoring good relations with the Russian Federation, without abandoning the values that characterise the Alliance and continuing to safeguard east-European countries’ security. Hence, giving way to moderation and diplomacy rather than provocations and military actions in order to build confidence with Russia is one of NATO’s future prospects. Restarting training cooperation, expanding the suspended joint exercises and improving military collaboration to fight terrorism and prevent the spread of terrorism is on NATO’s future agenda.
As far as the relationship with EU member states is concerned, NATO’s purposes are to enhance greater cooperation with EU partners in countering terrorism (Europe for example has developed tools for both intelligence gathering and disrupting terrorist finances) and also allowing for more joint actions. Europe’s non-military resources go with the recent creation – thanks to the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon – of the post of High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, thus enhancing European external action credibility; NATO’s hard power together with EU soft power would thereby be a potent worthy combination for international security. Meanwhile NATO’s fundamental objective is that of reaffirming the importance of article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, in which it is enshrined the principle of collective defence according to which the Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them. Eastern European countries pay particularly attention to this, fearing Russian influences close to their borders.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
The OECD, short for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, aims to “promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world”. It is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 35 member countries, most of which are high-income economies seeking to promote economic development. More specifically, it provides a discussion forum for members to discuss policy solutions to common problems, analyses and provides data on environmental, social and economics developments as well creating economic country reports and policy recommendations.
The roots of the OECD reach back all the way to war-torn Europe after World War II where it was created in 1948 under the name the OEEC, the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation. The organisation was tasked with facilitating the Marshall Plan in rebuilding Europe after the post war destruction, and succeeded in impressing on separate governments the fact that their economies were interconnected.
As the reconstruction of post-war Europe was largely completed in the late 1950s, it was decided after some internal struggle within the organisation to make the OECD’s mandate global. The first non-European signatories to sign the convention were the US and Canada. The OECD convention came into force in 1961, marking the creation of the organisation as we know it today.
After the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe, the organisation focused its attention on assisting Eastern European countries which had previously been in the USSR bloc and thus not included under the Marshall plan. In particular the Visegrad Group.
After the fall of the USSR in the 1990s, the OECD experienced a new surge in membership as many countries who had recently joined the European Union also joined. In the early 2000s and later, the OECD began opening discussions for enlargement of cooperation with non-members. This enlargement is an ongoing process, where several countries have expressed interest in being included, such as Peru, Malaysia and Kazakhstan.
The OECD’s headquarters are in Paris, France, and its official working languages are French and English. The Secretariat staff is around 2500 people and is headed by Angel Gurria.
Today the OECD’s 35 permanent members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israël, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
The OECD is organised into a Council Secretariat, and Committees.
The Council has the main decision making power, consisting of one representative per member country as well as one representative from the European Commission. The meetings are chaired by the Secretary General and decisions are made on a consensus basis.
The Secretariat is the Paris based headquarters headed by Angel Gurría, which support the work of the committees.
Representatives and experts also meet in specialised committees to discuss and review issues and develop ideas in specific policy areas, such as finance, environmental protection or employment. There are around 250 committees and focus groups.
The OECD’s working method consists of data collection, followed by discussion and analysis eventually leading to peer reviews of the country’s performance in the reviewed area. Of the organisation’s many activities, the most important feature and perhaps its trademark is policy analysis and review, which is done in all its designated departments
- Development Co-operation Directorate
- Economics Department
- Directorate for Education and Skills
- Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs
- Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism
- Environment Directorate
- Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs
- Directorate for Public Governance
- Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation
- Statistics Directorate
- Centre for Tax Policy and Administration
- Trade and Agriculture Directorate
The OECD celebrated its 50 year anniversary in 2011, which the organisation used as an opportunity to reaffirm is founding goals and set out a vision for the future. The organisation needs to continue it rigorous policy analysis work as it seeks to keep promoting good practises in economic, social and environmental fields.
“As we go forward, the OECD will operate as a results-oriented, rigorous but flexible network based on high standards with the goal of developing effective and innovative policy choices for governments around the world.”
One of the biggest questions for the organisation’s future is enlargement, which is an ongoing process. The organisation has faced criticism on the basis of its membership being narrow, reserved primarily for high-income nations. This situation likely calls for closer cooperation with nations outside the OECD’s traditional interest group, something that would increase its legitimacy and give it steadier footing in what continues to be a very interconnected world. Driving an enhanced dialogue with the major nations would grant the organisation more relevance and increase its capability to tackle the problems of economic development and globalisation.
The importance of enhanced cooperation was emphasised in the 50 year anniversary as embedded in the vision for the organisation’s future.
In 2007 the Ministerial Council decided to cooperate more extensively with Brazil, China, South Africa and Indonesia through enhanced engagement, meaning that although they are not OECD member countries, they still participate actively in the organisation’s activities and take part in a policy dialogue. Second, the OECD is also looking for new member states, with a special focus on South East Asia. With some countries are also participating as observers and increased cooperation with other organisations like the World Bank, the OECD seems to be investing in enlarging the boundaries of its cooperation and membership.
Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an international intergovernmental organization established by oil-producing countries to regulate the supply of petroleum to ensure the stabilization of the oil market.
The OPEC’s objectives are:
- Coordinate petroleum policy within the Members in order to provide fair and stable prices for oil-producing states;
- Provide efficient, economical, and regular petroleum supplies to consuming countries;
- Protect the interests of OPEC Member Countries.
The headquarters is located in Vienna, Austria.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded at Baghdad Conference in 1960 by five oil-producing developing states – Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
OPEC occurred as a response to the dominance of British and American transnational oil corporations (that became known as «Seven Sisters») in the Middle East. The most influential oil cartels at that time, including British Petroleum, Exxon, Gulf Oil, Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and Texaco, controlled over 90% of the world’s oil supplies. In order to increase profits, oil-producing states made steady gains in its oil production that led to petroleum oversupply. The emergence of a new player represented by the Soviet Union as well as oil oversupply resulted in the cooperation of five states – Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela – to gain control over the management of its national petroleum resources extraction. Officially OPEC was set up on September 14th, 1960 at the Baghdad Conference.
OPEC was registered with the United Nations Secretariat as an intergovernmental organization in 1962. In 1968, OPEC issued a Declaratory Statement of Petroleum Policy in Member Countries. It enshrined the inalienable right of Member States to exercises control over its national natural resources.
In 2016 Member States joined forces with 11 countries outside of OPEC to establish a new format OPEC + that aims at stabilization of supply and demand in the world oil market.
Members of the organizations are states whose economies largely depend on oil export revenues. Today OPEC members control over 2/3 of the world’s oil supply. Currently, there are 13 Members, including Algeria, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela.
- Conference is the supreme body of OPEC. It meets twice a year and consists of the representative of all Member States. The Conference administers issues, including approval of the budget, confirmation of the appointment of the Secretary-General and his deputies, admission of new members, and approval of new amendments to the Statue.
- Secretariatis the executive organ that is responsible for the submission of a report to the Conference as well as for preparing the Agenda for the Conference.
- Board of Governors is responsible for the submission of the annual budget and reports to the Conference. It is headed by a Chairman and meets twice a year. Decisions are made by a simple majority of Member States.
In recent years, the influence of OPEC is waning due to a few reasons. Firstly, there is growing controversy over oil production capacity and price regulation among the Member States. Secondly, there is a tendency to move towards alternative energy sources, including solar, wind-generated, and nuclear power. Former Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia Ahmed Zaki Yamani believes that the end of the oil demand era is coming in a few decades. Oil consumption is gradually decreasing while a request for renewable energy sources, including biofuel, is going to rise. Some Middle Eastern states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar began to construct solar power plants that have high front-end costs but essentially no cost associated with their “fuel” for decades thereafter.
Moreover, Covid-19 Pandemic has greatly affected the world oil market and its members. The former head of research in OPEC Hasan Qabazard claims that a sharp reduction of petroleum demand as well as increased oil production of non-OPEC states will negatively affect the work of the organization.
To sum up, today OPEC’s influence in the world oil industry is lowering. There is no more dominance by the oil-producing countries. Member States do not play a crucial role in driving the global petroleum market as in the past. However, OPEC members greatly contribute to the stabilization of the world’s oil market when it comes to a crisis.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Spanning the region from Vancouver to Vladivostok, the OSCE promotes security in 57 states in North America, Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia. The participating states enjoy equal status and take decisions by consensus.
The OSCEs roots go back to the Cold War détente of the early 1990s. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was established, a multilateral forum to foster dialogue between East and West, which was also known as Helsinki Process. After two years of negotiation in Helsinki and Geneva, the CSCE reached agreement on the Helsinki Final Act, signed on 1 August 1975 by 35 states. The participating states made a number of commitments in this document and divided them into three CSCE areas of activity. The first covers political and military aspects of security. The second comprises economic and environmental aspects of security, including economic development, science, technology and environmental protection. And the third one involves human aspects of security. The participating states also established by that time ten fundamental principles, known as Helsinki Decalogue, governing the behaviour towards their citizens, as well as towards each other.
From its establishment until 1990, the CSCE functioned mainly as a series of meetings and conferences that extended the commitment of the participating states. With the end of the Cold War the CSCE underwent a major transformation. In the Summit of Paris in November 1990, the Paris Charter for a New Europe was adopted and CSCE was challenged upon to play its part in managing the historic change taking place in Europe and responding to the new challenges of the post-Cold War period. Moreover, this led to the establishment of CSCE permanent institutions, including the Secretariat and the Conflict Prevention Centre.
The first field operations were deployed in the Balkans in 1992.
With the institutionalization process, also the name Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was changed to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in 1994 Budapest Summit of Heads of states or government.
Since its establishment the OSCE has experienced a number of challenges in attaining and maintaining regional peace, stability and democratic development. During this time the participating states recognized that conflicts within states can pose as much of a threat as conflicts between states and for this reason, in Istanbul Summit in 1999, the Leaders of the participating states adopted The Charter for European Security.
Decision-making bodies and institutions:
The Permanent Council is OSCEs regular decision-making body, as well as The Forum for Security Co-operation, where decisions are taken regarding military aspects of security. The ambassadors meet each week to make decisions. A Ministerial Council is held annually to review OSCE activities and provide overall directions. To set priorities at highest political level, the Heads of State or Government of OSCE have periodically Summits.
Chairmanship – The OSCE Chairmanship is held each year by a different participating state. That country’s foreign minister is the Chairperson-in-office and works alongside with the Troika, the previous and succeeding Chairmanships.
Secretariat – is based in Vienna (Austria). The head of Secretariat is the Secretary General, who directly supports the Chairmanship. The Secretariat comprises the Conflict Prevention Centre and departments and units focusing on economic and environmental activities, co-operation with Partner countries and organizations, gender equality, anti-trafficking, as well as transnational threats including anti-terrorism, border management and policing reform. They monitor trends, provide expert analysis and implement projects in the field.
High Commissioner on National Minorities is based in The Hague. Through quiet diplomacy seeks resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace, security and stability.
Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is based in Warsaw and promotes democratic development and human rights. Areas of its work include election observation, the rule of law, promoting tolerance and non-discrimination and improving the situation of Roma and Sinti. ODIHR hosts the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, the largest annual human rights conference in the OSCE region.
Representative on Freedom of the Media is based in Vienna and observes media developments and provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom, promoting full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments.
The Parliamentary Assembly is made up from more than 300 lawmakers from the 57 OSCE participating states. They come together to facilitate dialogue and co-operation and to promote accountability. OSCE parliamentarians also play a leading role in the Organization’s election observation activities, conduct field visits, and drive organizational reform.
The OSCE approaches security through three dimensions:
- The politico-military
- The economic and environmental and
- The Human
With the politico-military matters, the OSCE seeks to create greater openness, transparency and co-operation and has developed the world’s most advanced regime of arms control and confidence building measures. Areas of work include security sector reform and the safe storage and destruction of small arms, light weapons and conventional ammunition.
The Economic and environmental issue is also a very important factor in building security. In this area, the OSCE helps by promoting good governance, tackling corruption, environmental awareness, sharing natural resources and sound management of environmental waste.
Human rights and fundamental freedoms are very important to stable societies. The OSCE helps its participating States build democratic institutions; hold genuine and transparent democratic elections; ensure respect for human rights, media freedom, the rights of national minorities and the rule of law, and promote tolerance and non-discrimination.
Apart from the three dimensions above, OSCE has also its cross-dimension activities. Within this dimension the OSCE works towards gender equality and engages with youth across its peace and security agenda, and promotes human rights compliant, comprehensive and co-operative approaches to managing migration and refugee flows.
The OSCEs field operations assist host countries and their mandates are agreed by consensus of the participating States. The field operations support host countries in developing their capacities through projects that respond their needs. These include initiatives to support law enforcement, minority rights, legislative reform, the rule of law and media freedom, promote tolerance and non-discrimination, as well as many other areas. Some field operations also monitor and report on developments on the ground. A number of field operations, enabling them to manage crises and to play a critical post-conflict role.
The future plans to build a stronger OSCE for a secure Europe are the following:
Building on Ministerial Council Decision 3/11. The Ministerial Council Decision No 3/11 was adopted five years ago in Vilnius, on elements of the conflict cycle. Here are concrete steps needed to adapt the organization to the new and potential future challenges of multidimensional and complex conflict situations. OSCE also needs the capacity to operate complex surveillance and other technologies for monitoring, verification and early warnings.
The Rationale of the OSCE: Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution. The goal of OSCE activities across the entire conflict cycle is to prevent the outbreak of violent conflicts and to work towards lasting solutions to existing conflicts in the OSCE area in a peaceful and negotiated manner, within agreed formats, the equal application of agreed principles, and in full observance of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and international law.
Making the best use of existing tools: field operations, institutions, secretariat and OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly. Like other OSCE institutions and units have a wide array of tools at its disposal for providing multidimensional responses to tensions and conflicts in the OSCE area, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s contribution to mediation and effective response to crisis and conflicts should also be recognised and OSCE executive structures should be encouraged to make the best use of the OSCE’s parliamentary dimension when addressing the conflict cycle.
Besides the changes above, OSCE also plans to further develop early warning, to further strengthen the mediation, to increase confidence-building and reconciliation, to build on the OSCE’s civilian and comprehensive approach, to establish an effective crisis-funding mechanism, to improve command and control, to develop a flexible mechanism for in-house planning capacity, to build on international cooperation, as well as to prevent violence against women in conflict situations.
As OSCE plays a key role in the European Security, in March 2016 a panel discussion took place in Rome, where the EU and OSCE members defined clearly the long-term objectives and visions.
The result was:
- “The crisis in and around Ukraine illustrated that the OSCE continues to play a crucial role in the European security architecture. Its comprehensive toolbox, large and well-established field presence, and its role as a forum for inclusive security dialogue as well as a platform for joint action remain key comparative advantages of the Organization.
- The EU-OSCE partnership should be more strategic. The EU member states need to have a joint vision of long-term objectives they would like to achieve by acting in and with the OSCE. They should empower the OSCE and clearly and consistently articulate what role and added value the OSCE has from the EU’s perspective.
- The forthcoming EU Global Strategy should express strong support for the OSCE, including its normative foundations and its model of co-operative security.
- Strengthening the EU’s engagement within the OSCE would be beneficial for both organizations. The EU should use the OSCE’s capacities and expertise more actively (“smart multilateralism”), in particular the OSCE’s Field Operations in Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and Central Asia.
- The EU needs to find a new modus vivendi for dealing with Russia that should be based on pragmatic co-operation in areas of common interest, including both global and European issues (e.g., infrastructure, energy sector, research, Arctic).
- From a long-term perspective, Europe’s primary goal should be reaching a sustainable political settlement with Russia through a robust diplomatic process as recommended by the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security.
- Some findings and recommendations of the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security could serve as an important source of inspiration for efforts to return to a climate of co-operative security within Europe.”
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation or SAARC, is a regional organisation that comprises of countries from South Asia. The SAARC is headquartered at Kathmandu, Nepal, and consists of 8 nations. The organisation was founded in 1985 and the main objectives as enshrined in its Charter, includes regional integration, fostering cooperation in multiple fields, and to promote peace, harmony, and prosperity in the region. In terms of statistics, SAARC makes up to 3 percent of the World Area, 21 percent of the world’s population and contributes around 5 percent to the global economy, and is dubbed to be geopolitical union within the Indian Subcontinent. SAARC is an observer in the United Nations (UN) and maintains relations with the EU, ASEAN, and other regional and supra-national organizations.
As stated above, SAARC comprise of 8 nations in South Asia and they are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Currently, 9 states are observers to the SAARC, namely: Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar, and the United States of America.
The principal organs of SAARC are the Summit, Council of Ministers, Standing Committee, and the SAARC Secretariat.
- Summit– This is the highest decision-making body in the SAARC framework, where each member state is represented by its Head of the State. The Summit is usually held biennially and is hosted by a member state in the alphabetical order. The member state hosting the Summit would assume the presidency of the Association. The outcome of the proceedings in the Summit is called the SAARC Declaration, a document that enlists the resolutions which is duly adopted by all the states participating in the Summit.
- Council of Ministers– This is a body that comprises of Foreign Ministers of the member states. As per the SAARC Charter, the Council of Ministers (CoM) is responsible for the formulation of policies, review of progress and cooperation, decision on new areas of cooperation; establishment of additional mechanism under SAARC, as deemed necessary; and decision on other matters of general interest to SAARC. The Council usually convenes preceding the Summit and between the two Summits, and reviews the implementation of various decisions taken by the Summit.
- Standing Committee– The Standing Committee comprise of Foreign Secretaries of member states. According to the Charter, the Standing Committee monitors and coordinates various programmes of cooperation under different areas; approves projects and programmes, including modalities of their financing; determines inter-sectoral priorities; mobilises regional and external resources; and identification of new areas of cooperation based on appropriate studies. The Standing Committee meets often, and conventionally the Standing committee has either convened preceding the Council of Ministers Meeting or post the Summit.
- Secretariat– The SAARC Secretariat established at Kathmandu is an Administrative organisation whose role is to coordinate and monitor the implementation of SAARC activities, convene and organise the meetings of the association and serve as a channel of communication between SAARC and other international organizations. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General who is appointed by the Council of Ministers in terms of rotation, for a fixed period of three years with no reappointment. The Secretary-General is assisted by seven directors and the general services staff in charge of various portfolios.
- The history of regionalism within South Asia dates back to ancient times when each of these different states were under the reign of various kingdoms and sometimes even a single Dynasty like the Mauryas or the Mughals, who ruled across many parts of the Subcontinent, sans the Island states of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. However, it is noted that in the modern period, the idea of fostering cooperation among the South Asian states were discussed for the first time post-1947, namely in three conferences- the Asian Relations Conference held in New Delhi in 1947, the Baguio Conference of 1950 held in the Philippines and the Colombo Powers Conference held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in April 1954. But in none of these conferences the discussion on the creation of a regional body to address South Asian issues arose and hence these meetings did not provide any tangible outcome.
- It was only after the creation of Bangladesh in the early ’70s, and the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the emerging need for cooperation within South Asian powers resurfaced. But this time the process began by agreeing to create a trade bloc consisting of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The then President of Bangladesh, Ziaur Rahman was one of the leading proponents for South Asian unity and acted as a catalyst for the creation of a framework not only to address trade but also other regional concerns.
- By the late ’70s, President Ziaur Rahman exchanged a series of letters with his South Asian counterparts and tried to build consensus for regional cooperation. He was supported by Former Monarch of Nepal, King Birendra who also mooted for regional cooperation, at least for the sharing of river waters within the Indian subcontinent.
- Following the proposals of President Ziaur Rahman and King Birendra, diplomats from various South Asian countries met at Colombo in 1981 to decide the future of regional cooperation in South Asia. At the meeting, the proposal was instantly endorsed by all the South Asian States except India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan, two of the largest states in South Asia, due to their historical differences, temporarily hindered the process citing mutual concerns.
- Nonetheless, Bangladesh tried to build consensus many times. It even hosted a series of diplomatic consultations with South Asian representatives to the UN in New York. It also agreed to prepare the draft working paper for identifying the areas of cooperation that the South Asian States would undertake. Later, in the Committee of the Whole meetings held in Colombo in 1981, the Foreign Secretaries of South Asian states convened and perused through the draft prepared by Bangladesh and conditionally agreed to go forward with five major heads of cooperation, namely, Agriculture; Rural Development; Telecommunications; Meteorology; and Health and Population Activities.
- In 1983, under the aegis of Bangladesh, an International Conference was held in Dhaka where the Foreign Ministers of South Asian states adopted the SAARC Declaration and launched the Integrated Programme of Action (IPA) to expedite the process for the creation of a regional organisation dedicated to South Asia.
- Later in 1985, the first SAARC Summit was held in Dhaka where the head of states of the South Asian countries met and adopted the SAARC Charter which led to the creation of SAARC.
- Afghanistan became the latest nation to become a member of SAARC in 2006.
Challenges and future prospects
- One of the biggest challenges of SAARC is the frequent bickering between India and Pakistan. Due to territorial disputes, both the countries are guided by mistrust, and being the largest member states of the Association, the interests of the region are side-lined by their mutual tussles alone.
- Another issue that looms is the fact that SAARC meetings are not frequent, at least since 2014. Changes in the political regimes in countries like India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka is one reason, but more importantly, the mutual disputes among states have primarily contributed to stagnancy in the SAARC framework.
- As Chinese investments ply around South Asia, the SAARC has the potential to step up and curtail external funding, and envisage the responsibility of regional development through its projects and programmes.
- The existing South Asian Free Trade Agreement could be diversified and the Free Trade Zone as proposed in 2006 could be implemented to foster cooperation through the movement of goods and services.
- The SAARC could also include Myanmar as a member but with similar stipulations as mandated to Afghanistan before its induction into the organisation. This way the SAARC could inculcate better plurality and make inroads in the East as well.
However, the objectives of SAARC can only be realised if there is responsible diplomacy from every member state, and to further that, the SAARC nations need to instil the conjoint sense of culture and common identity to assuage disagreements.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a regional, intergovernmental collaboration between Eurasian state actors in the fields of economy and politics, with an extended focus on security policies. The involved countries are China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, and Pakistan. The SCO was founded on 15 June 2001 and has its current seat in Beijing, China. With its biggest members being Russia and China, the SCO’s official languages are Chinese and Russian. The following report will give a brief introduction in the organisation’s history, missions, and structure, as well as internal challenges. In the end, the future prospect and potential development of the SCO will be evaluated.
Historical Background & External Relations
The SCO originally emerged from the “Shanghai Five”, a cooperation between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan starting in 1996, and transformed into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001 with the admission of Uzbekistan into the organisation. The Charter of the SCO, containing regulations, aims, and structural formalities, was signed in June 2002 and enacted on 19 September 2003. By that, the organisation also embedded itself in international law.
The Shanghai Five started their collaboration based on security policies, facing their newly established, shared borders after the end of the Soviet Union. In 1996, the five founding countries China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan signed the Treaty of Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions, followed by the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions in 1997. The initial aim was to secure each other’s geographical and political sphere and cooperate in terms of a peaceful coexistence.
Ever since, the participating head of states gather in annual summits to widen the prospects of the cooperation and add new political dimensions. In 2000, the Shanghai Five took first efforts to work jointly beyond security policies and extended their cooperative scope for the protection of human rights, each other’s sovereignty, “territorial integrity” as well as political independence and stability. With the admission of Uzbekistan in 2001, the organisation transformed into the “Shanghai Six”, before eventually signing the Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on 15 June 2001.
Four years later, external state representatives attended the annual summit of the SCO, namely the prospective members India and Pakistan, as well as Iran and Mongolia. In 2017, after the yearslong accession procedures, India and Pakistan finally joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, thereby becoming their latest members. The SCO also started to engage in international, external relations in 2004, when it developed ties with the United Nations. In the following years, the organisation created bonds with ASEAN (2005), the Commonwealth of Independent States (2005), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (2015), and many others. Besides the 8 permanent members, there are several other states, as Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Belarus, seeking for a membership and functioning as “observer states”.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation perceived its core responsibilities initially in the fields of military defence cooperation and mutual security protection. By now, the organisation additionally engages in joint collaborations in diplomacy, trade, culture, and humanitarian aid. According to the SCO, recent years fortified their shared efforts in fields of technology, education, energy, transportation, banking as well as environmental protection and the preservation of the “neighbourliness among the member states”. The superior mission since the beginning of the organisation is the maintenance of “peace, security and stability” in their Eurasian sphere of influence. The SCO member states hereby official share values of a democratic world order.
Another key aspect of the cooperation is described as “mutual trust, mutual benefit, […] mutual consultations”, referring to the equal involvement of all member states in the decision-making processes of the SCO. The main decision-making body is hereby the Heads of State Council, which determines the SCO’s external relations and the general activities and priorities of the organisation. The Heads of Government Council holds annual submits to discuss the economic collaborations and the SCO’s budget plan. The daily activities and regular meetings are coordinated by the Foreign Ministers Council. Below these three hierarchical pillars, there are several sublevels of coordination, divided by topics and the regularity of meetings. The permanent bodies of the SCO are the Secretariat in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). The representatives in each of those bodies change every three years.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation became increasingly active in more diverse fields of policy-making. Nevertheless, the SCO requires a facilitation of cooperation on the levels of decision-making procedures and its economic, internal and external relations. Besides its various achievements, the organisation reportedly lacks some efficiency in the execution of declared policies and displayed a slow implementation of its decisions in the past.
These current challenges can be explained by the higher number of participating countries, and their disagreements due to the different traditions and natures of each’s policy making. With the current 8 members of the SCO, 8 different kinds of political, historical, and cultural understanding encounter each other, occasionally causing tensions in the day-to-day decisions of the organisation.
Besides the internal structural challenges, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation also faces contemporary, external obstacles for an efficient collaboration, such as international terrorism and religious extremism. Especially in prospect member countries, like Afghanistan, the latter poses a challenge to the political stability and peace-keeping efforts of the Eurasian organisation. The SCO requires a more precise guidance in regards to handling and coordinating international disputes among their own members and external partners. The coordination of transboundary challenges, like illegal immigration and drug trafficking, poses a further challenge to the competences in decision-making procedures among the members.
Experts as well as critics demand a stronger leadership position from China and Russia, the SCO’s biggest members. However, to achieve a more balanced leadership behaviour, these two founding states firstly need to improve the political relations between each other. The SCO generally requires a strengthened trust and commitment among its members to facilitate their cooperation in security politics and economic collaboration. One way to achieve these aims might be the enhancement of mutual cultural understanding and the balancing of each’s different governing styles.
Future Prospects for the next decade
Similar to the current challenges of the SCO, its future development is potentially marked by its issues of decision-making, implementation, and the region’s representation. Contemporary challenges as international terrorism are expected to continue in following years which will require the SCO to find new ways to coordinate transboundary problems among their current and prospect member states. Additionally, the Shanghai Organisation Cooperation is expected to grow regarding its members, as more and more countries apply for the observer’s or dialogue partner’s positions. Since 2012, 12 more states signalled their interest in becoming affiliated with the organisation. Among them are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Egypt, and the Ukraine. The expansion of the SCO might be accompanied by further issues of coordination and decision-making. Also in regards of stability in regions as Syria, Egypt, and the Ukraine, the SCO might have to reconsider their role of balancing, or withdrawing from the political upheavals of the Middle Eastern and East European regions. To determine its own role and guiding power, as well as peace-building and -keeping abilities in new areas, the SCO first must understand its positions within its current formation.
In addition to these upcoming challenges, prospect member countries as the Ukraine might potentially cause more tensions among the SCO relations, especially with Russia. It remains to be seen if the collaboration within the framework of the SCO facilitates Ukraine-Russian relations or, on the contrary, inhibits the efficiency of the organisation itself.
In regards to its relations to the West, the SCO might take efforts to counter-balance organisations as the United Nations or the NATO, to benefit from its own geopolitical position, and utilise its large military and economic capacity. The SCO displays a great potential of self-empowerment, but must therefore solve a variety of internal issues and structural unevenness first by developing a stronger unity in a joint action guideline.
The SCO might hereby benefit from the European Union as a role model in terms of its historical emergence. As the EU in its beginning as the EEC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation could foster its economic collaboration, as well as continue its common security mission. As a result, the organisation and its members might approach each other more easily within political cohesion and a joint coordination of internal and external politics. The SCO is already following this path by engaging more in trade and technology development with one another in recent years. Also, projects of cultural exchange and education have been fostered by the members of the SCO. With years to come, the SCO inherits the potential to create stronger diplomatic ties and a joint political policy-making within its internal spheres. As for external relations, the SCO requires this internal stability and unity before its enlargement may lead to a coherent representation of the Eurasian region and beyond.
Lisa Maria Kuke
The Turkic Council is an inter-governmental organisation that aims to promote comprehensive cooperation among Turkic speaking states, established in 2009. The Council aims to strengthen peace and stability, to promote cooperation and disclose potential for socio-economic development between its member states. The Council is constructed on the basis of four main pillars of common Turkic language, identity, history and culture.
Prior to the establishment of the Turkic Council, three-decades of partnership among Turkic states had been cultivated through periodic summits. The Turkic Council was first established in October 2009, as a forum after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The founding Heads of State of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey signed the quadripartite Nakhchivan Agreement, which established the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, which now is the Turkic Council. The Nakhchivan agreement stated the main tasks and purposes of the Council, including the aims of strengthening friendship between states, maintaining peace, searching for common positions on foreign policy issues and the creation of favourable trade and investment conditions.
The first Turkic Council summit, the Almaty Summit, was held in Kazakhstan in 2011 where the Heads of State discussed the final documents of the Organisation’s Permanent Secretariat.
From 2011 onwards, the Turkic Council has convened at annual summits to discuss various topics including:
- Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation (2012)
- Transport and Connectivity (2013)
- Cooperation in tourism (2014)
- Youths and National Sports (2018)
- Supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (2019)
and evaluate the previous period and set new goals.
At the sixth summit in Kyrgyzstan in 2018, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Prime Minister of Hungary participated as guests. The Heads of State signed the Cholpon-Ata Declaration, and Hungary received observer status at the Council. At the seventh summit in Azerbaijan in 2019, Uzbekistan was welcomed as a new member of the organisation.
The Turkic Council headquarters are located in Baku, Azerbaijan; Istanbul, Turkey; Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan and Budapest, Hungary. The Secretariat is based in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Turkic Council consists of the four founding member states: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, and in 2019 Uzbekistan became a full member. Hungary has observer status. Whilst Turkmenistan is not a member due to its permanent neutral status in the international sphere, it is a possible future member of the Council due to its strong Turkic heritage.
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)
- United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC)
- United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
- Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
- Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO)
- Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation & Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC & PABSEC)
- Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
- World Customs Organisation (WCO)
- International Centre for Sports Security & Sports Integrity Global Alliance (ICSS & SIGA)
- Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)
The Turkic Council consists of five main bodies:
- Council of Heads of State
- Council of Foreign Ministers
- Council of Elders
- Senior Official Committee
- The Secretariat
The Council of Heads of State is the main decisive body of the Council, and is shared by the country which assumes Chairman-ship in office. This position is rotated between member states according to alphabetic order. The current chairman is the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The Council of Foreign Ministers meets regularly on the side lines of the summits, to discuss topics of mutual concern.
The Council of Elders is a consultative institution for Turkic-Speaking states.
The Senior Officials Committee consists of senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of member states, and related government institutions. The committee is responsible for the coordination of the Turkic Council’s activities, drafting of official documents and conducting work on internal affairs issues.
The Secretariat based in Istanbul, Turkey, coordinates and supports the activities of the Turkic Council based in Istanbul. The current Secretary General, Baghdad Amreyev, was appointed during the 6th summit of the Turkic Council in 2018.
The Turkic Council also serves as an umbrella organisation for the existing cooperation mechanisms of:
- International Organisation of Turkic Culture (TURKSOY)
- Parliamentary Assembly of the Turkic Speaking Countries (TURKPA)
- International Turkic Academy
- Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation
- Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Turkic Council is committed to the principles of the United Nations Charter, and universal principles of international law including:
- Territorial integrity
- Maintenance of international peace and security
- Development of good-neighbourly and friendly relations
The Turkic Council aims to strengthen mutual political trust and solidarity between member states, accelerate economic and technical cooperation opportunities and record the historical and cultural aspects of the Turkic world.
Following the Turkic Council’s overarching goals, several notable accomplishments of the Council include:
- The Turkic Council has held six meetings of the Business Council and four business forums, with more than 500 entrepreneurs involved. Following President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan’s initiative, the Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established and the founding document was signed in 2019.
- At the 2014 Bodrum summit focusing on the topic of Cooperation in Tourism, the Heads of State pledged to collaborate to utilise the collective tourism potential of the member states. This welcomed the steps taken by their tourism authorities including the Joint Cooperation Protocol on Tourism, and an initiative for a joint tour programme; the Turkic Council-Modern Silk Road, which compromises of tourism destinations of Turkic states along the Silk Road.
- At the second summit of the Turkic Council in 2012, the idea of the World Nomad Games was formalised. The aim of the Games is to reintroduce national Turkic sports disciplines, and revive the historical memory and consciousness of both Turks and other once-nomadic peoples. The first and second Nomad Games were organised in 2014 and 2016, where the Turkic Council Secretariat and authorities of the member states formed the Organising Committee of the games.
At the 10th anniversary of the Nakhchivan agreement in 2019, the Turkic Council announced its hopes and goals for the coming years.
- The Turkic Council aims to complete the establishment of the Turkic Investment Fund, and are considering to create a Turkic Bank.
- The Council aims to enhance the role of the Trans-Caspian Corridor in East-West trade movement through various initiatives, including the establishment of a joint Caspian transport company. This would allow for the decrease of logistical costs and increase the speed of transport and customs operations along the Trans-Caspian Corridor.
- The Council stated a need for better coordination among Caspian ports, logistics centres and companies of member states.
- The Council hopes to boost tourism for member states through the creation of a Silk Road Visa; this single tourist visa would allow for free movement of tourists among the member states of the Council.
- The Council aims to strengthen efforts for the realisation of the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway to build broadband connectivity and promote the development of information and communication technologies infrastructure and e-commerce among member states.
- The Council aims to establish a common TV channel for the Turkic world, and encourages public and private media companies to produce movies, series and documentaries about figures and events in the common history of the Turkic world to increase social awareness of commonalities.
- The Council aims to complete preparations of books on Common Turkic History, Literature and Geography, and ensure the inclusion of these books in member state curricula.
- The Council encourages member states to develop a common alphabet and terminology for the Turkic world to encourage better linguistic coherence among Turkic societies.
Established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries, the United Nations, often referred to as the UN, is today’s largest, most internationally represented, and most powerful intergovernmental organization. Its main propose is to promote international peace and stability, human rights, and economic development. Many well-known agencies are under its umbrella, such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN creates international law, International Governmental Organizations, summits and much more.
The United Nations headquarters is located in New York City, United States.
The United Nations emerged from the United Nations Conference on International Organization, which took place in San Francisco in 1945. It was established after the Second World War by the founding 51 states committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. This global diplomatic and political organization is guided by the UN Charter, which is the founding document of the organization. When joining, all member states are obliged to accept the commitments listed in the United Nations Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations.
The key norms of the UN are as follows – sovereign equality of member states; refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state; peaceful settlement of disputes; right to individual and collective self-defense.
The organization has six official languages, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
From the original 51 members in 1945, the UN’s membership grew to 193 by 2011. Additional to the 193 members, the Holy See and the State of Palestine are accepted as Non-Member states, as permanent observers. They have free access to most meetings and relevant documentation.
According to the Charter of the United Nations, membership “is open to all peace-loving States that accept the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able to carry out these obligations”. The General Assembly is the main decision-making body when it comes to accepting a new member, but the recommendation of the Security Council is necessary for the state to be considered.
The current main organs of the UN are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.
- General Assembly (UNGA) – “parliament/legislative”
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the UN. It has one annual meeting in the autumn in New York, where all 193 Member States of the UN are represented, making it the only UN body with universal representation. Each state is represented in the UNGA by an ambassador and has one vote. The resolutions adapted by the General Assembly are non-binging, they carry only political weight. Its principal functions are to approve the UN’s budget, appoint the Secretary-General and elect the non-permanent members of the security council and the judges of the Court of Justice.
- Security Council (UNCS) – “government/executive”
The Security Council is considered to be the most powerful international decision-making body. It has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and authority to act on behalf of all members of the UN. The Council has 15 members each one with a vote, 10 non-permanent members for two years each, regionally distributed and 5 permanent members. The permanent members are China, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia with veto power, meaning any of the them can veto a resolution to prevent its adoption by the council regardless of the level of support.
The Security Council determines the existence of a threat to or breach of peace, decides on non-military and military action. Furthermore, it makes binding decisions, all Member States of the UN are obligated to comply with Council decisions. It can also call for sanctions, interventions, establish peacekeeping forces, war crime tribunals, etc.
- Secretariat – “bureaucracy”
The Secretariat is built up of the Secretary-General at its head and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day substantive and administrative work of the UN as directed by the General Assembly, the Security Council and the other organs. The Secretary-General is the ‘face’ of the UN and is chief administrative officer of the Organization. The person is recommended by the Security Council and appointed by the General Assembly for a five-year, renewable term.
The main functions of the secretariat are to organize international conferences, translate and distribute speeches and documents into the UN’s languages, keep the public informed about the work of the United Nations, gather and prepare background information on various issues so that government delegates can study the facts and make recommendations and, help carry out the decisions made by the different organs of the United Nations;
- Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – “ministries”
Its main purpose is to coordinate, review and dialogue policies, and recommend on economic, social, and environmental issues, as well as implement internationally agreed development goals. As well as to oversee the activities of the specialized agencies, programs and funds of the UN such as the World Health Organization (WHO), International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and many more. ECOSOC also assists’ the General Assembly and the Security Council when requested and provides a platform for engagement with nongovernmental organizations. The Council consists of 54 members elected by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms and it is the central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development.
- International Court of Justice (ICJ) – “court/judicial”
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its role is to settle legal disputes between states based on noncompulsory jurisdiction and binding decisions, and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. It is the only principal organ of the United Nations not located in New York, but in the Hague, Netherlands.
The International Court of Justice consists of 15 Judges, elected by both the General Assembly and the Security Council for nine-year terms.
The main future prospect of the United Nations is its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda aims to fulfill 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. Adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, its goal is to serve as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
- No Poverty – end poverty in all forms everywhere
- Zero Hunger – end ginger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- Good Health and Well-Being – ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Quality Education – ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Gender Equality – achieve gender equality and empower all woman and girls
- Clean Water and Sanitation – ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Affordable and Clean Energy – ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
- Decent Work and Economic Growth – promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth full and productive employment and decent work for all
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure – build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
- Reduced Inequalities – reduces inequality within and among countries
- Sustainable Cities and Communities – make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable
- Responsible Consumption and Production – ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Climate Action – take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Life Below Water – conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development
- Life on Land – protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystem, sustainably manage forests, combat deforestation, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels
- Partnership for the Goals – strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
The United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations agency which devoted to aiding national effort to improve the humanitarian and general welfare of children. UNICEF has presence in 192 countries and territories, which concentrated much of its effort in areas in which relatively small expenditures can have a significant impact on the lives of the most disadvantaged children, such as the prevention and treatment of disease. In keeping with this strategy, UNICEF supports immunization programs for childhood diseases and programs to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS; it also provides funding for health services, educational facilities, and other welfare services. UNICEF’s activities are financed by both government and private contributions.
UNICEF was established in 1946 to support children from devastated countries during the WWII. After 1950 the fund directed its effort toward general programs for the improvement of children’s welfare. In 1953 the organization became permanent part of United Nations System with broader mission was reflected in the name of United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1965. Since 1996 UNICEF programs have been guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which affirms the right of all children to “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health.”
The UNICEF headquarters based in New York city, US and Copenhagen, Denmark. Most of its work is in the field, with a network that includes 150 country offices, headquarters and other facilities and 34 “national committees” that carry out its mission through programs developed with host governments.
The Executive Board is made up of 36 Member States, elected to three-year terms by the Economic and Social Council, with the following regional allocation: Africa (8 seats), Asia (7), Eastern Europe (4), Latin America, Caribbean (5), Western Europe, Others (12).
Overall management and administration of the organization takes place at headquarters, where global policy on children is shaped. Specialized offices include the Supply Division, based in Copenhagen, which provides such essential items as the majority of life-saving vaccine doses for children in developing countries. The Global Shared Services Centre in Budapest provides HR administration, payroll, invoicing, payments, master data and global help desk services to staff and offices worldwide. UNICEF also operates the Innocenti Research Centre in Florence and Offices for Japan and Brussels, which assist with fund-raising and liaison with policy makers.
Future prospect and mission
UNICEF goal is to reach the Sustainable Development Goal in a Region of middle- and high-income countries, to ensure that every child is thriving, learning, protected and participating in the world around them. The mission statements includes:
- Mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.
- Convention on the Rights of the Child and strives to establish children’s rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behavior towards children.
- Survival, protection and development of children are universal development imperatives that are integral to human progress.
- Mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries, particularly developing countries, ensure a “first call for children” and to build their capacity to form appropriate policies and deliver services for children and their families.
- Ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children – victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation and those with disabilities.
- Emergencies to protect the rights of children. In coordination with United Nations partners and humanitarian agencies, UNICEF makes its unique facilities for rapid response available to its partners to relieve the suffering of children and those who provide their care.
- UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination. In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority.
- UNICEF aims, through its country programmes, to promote the equal rights of women and girls and to support their full participation in the political, social, and economic development of their communities.
- Works with all its partners towards the attainment of the sustainable human development goals adopted by the world community and the realization of the vision of peace and social progress enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations, that works globally to coordinate international health within the United Nations system, with the core function of directing and coordinating international health work through international collaboration. The main areas of work are health systems, health through the life course, non-communicable and communicable diseases, preparedness, surveillance and response, and corporate services.
The WHO was founded based on the determined need for a global organisation to oversee global health at the San Francisco Conference in 1945.
- In 1945 diplomats in San Francisco, California, met to form the United Nations, and decided on the need for a global organisation to oversee global health, therefore planned for the creation of the WHO.
- In 1946 the first WHO Constitution was drafted and approved at the International Health Conference in New York City, and in 1948 the WHO Constitution came into force.
- Since then, the WHO has achieved numerous historical accomplishments, notably:
- In 1989 the World Health Assembly, a body of the WHO, established the first International Health Regulations, which represented an agreement between the WHO Member States to work together to prevent and respond to acute public health risks that threaten people globally.
- In 1977 the first Essential Medicines list was published, outlining the medicines that basic health systems require.
- At the 2000 Millennium Summit, the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network was established to detect and combat the international spread of outbreaks.
- In 2015 Delegates met at the UN Summit to sign the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals which apply to all countries worldwide to address poverty eradication, health, education, food security and nutrition, as well as a broader range of economic, social and environmental objectives and the promise of more peaceful and inclusive societies.
The WHO Headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland and the WHO Global Service Centre is located in Cyberjaya, Malaysia.
The WHO has 194 member states and has more than 150 offices across six regions.
The WHO has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
The WHO partners with the United Nations system, countries, international organisations, foundations, academia, civil society and research institutions.
Some of the WHO’s key international partners include:
- International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
- World Food Programme (WFP)
The WHO is comprised of three main organs; the Director-General, the Executive Board and the World Health Assembly.
- The WHO Director-General is the chief technical and administrative officer of the organisation, and is appointed by and responsible to the World Health Assembly.
- Responsible for overseeing the WHO’s international health work.
- Appointed to a five-year term, and can serve on the post for multiple subsequent terms if re-elected at the end of the previous appointment.
- Current Director-General (2020): Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
- A board of 34 technically qualified members in health, who are elected for three-year terms.
- Its main functions are to implement decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly, and advice and facilitate its work.
- The annual Executive Board meeting is held in January where members agree on the agenda and resolutions to be considered for the World Health Assembly.
World Health Assembly
- The decision-making body that focuses on the specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.
- It is attended by delegations from Member States, and determines the policies of the Organisation, appoints the Director-General, supervises financial policies and reviews and approves the proposed programme budget.
- It is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.
- There are currently (November 2020) 58 million confirmed cases and over one million confirmed deaths related to the Covid-19 pandemic, across 220 countries, areas and territories.
- In early 2020, WHO published a comprehensive package of guidance documents for countries about dealing with an outbreak of a new disease, and the Director-General declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern; the WHO’s highest level of alarm.
- WHO has been working throughout the pandemic to inform and collaborate with countries and partners to monitor and help combat the pandemic.
Bangladesh Rohingya Refugees
- Since August 25th 2020, over half a million refugees arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh from Myanmar in makeshift or spontaneous settlements.
- Poor nutrition, communicable diseases, injuries and other concerns pose major public health challenges.
- WHO is working with the Bangladesh Ministry of Health and other partners to address these challenges and ensure adequate health services are being provided to the vulnerable population.
Ebola virus disease
- Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a severe illness with a 50% fatality rate that is transmitted to people from wild animals and then through the human populations through direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids.
- The first outbreaks occurred in Central Africa, and the outbreak in Western Africa from 2014 to 2016 was the largest since the virus was discovered, starting in Guinea and spreading to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
- WHO aims to prevent Ebola outbreaks by maintaining surveillance of the disease and supporting at-risk countries to develop response plans.
- Five years of continuous conflict in Yemen has left millions of people vulnerable to poverty, starvation and disease.
- 80% of the population requires some form of humanitarian assistance.
- During the first half of 2020 flooding devastated southern communities and fuelled the spread of killer diseases including cholera, dengue, malaria and diphtheria.
- Covid-19 has been present in Yemen since March and is spreading rapidly across the country.
- WHO is working with partners to help mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the extremely vulnerable population and reduce outbreaks, provide nutrition assistance, help strengthen health systems and expand water and sanitation services for displaced families and vulnerable host communities.
The WHO continues to work towards its goal of promoting health worldwide and keeping the world safe. Some notable future goals to contribute to this overarching aim are:
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- WHO is working alongside health and development partners to achieve the health related targets outlined in the United Nations SDGs by 2030.
- Specific focus on SDG3 calling all stakeholders to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”.
- WHO has launched the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All bringing together 12 multilateral agencies to make progress towards the SDG3
Triple Billion targets
- Initiative to improve the health of billions of people by 2023:
- One billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage
- One billion more people better protected from health emergencies
- One billion more people enjoying better health and well-being
- Thus far the projections of this project indicate that by 2023:
- An additional 279.47 million people will benefit from universal health coverage
- An additional one billion people will be better protected from health emergencies
- An additional one billion people will enjoy better health and well being
WHO’s Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer
- By 2030 the WHO aims to meet the following targets:
- 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by age 15
- 70% of women screened for Cervical Cancer using high-performance tests by age 35, and again by age 45
- 90% of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment
- The launching of this project is a milestone, as it marks the first time all 194 member states commit to eliminating cancer.
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is designed for opening trade opportunities across countries through negotiations. Based on trade rules accepted commonly by member countries, WTO creates a framework in which countries economical aspirations can be served. It is a worldwide intergovernmental organization, regulating trade between 164 member countries.
The WTO was officially established in 1995 under the Marrakesh agreement signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, after taking over the principles of the former GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) agreement. Its current work originates from certain previous trade arrangements, such as the Urugay Round from 1986-1994. Currently, it is attempting to complete negotiations on the Doha Development Round (launched in 2001) emphasizing the importance of growth in developing countries. It is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
In the period of GATT, which began its work in 1947, the idea was to create an environment for trade talks, but without materialising. Eight trade talk rounds took place during this time, each focused on tariff reduction and on other trade barriers. The last one was the Urugay Round, starting in 1986, at a summit in Punta del Este, and concluded in 1994, Marrakesh. The Urugay Round is best known about establishing WTO. Beyond this, it was also dealing with ending textile quotas, agriculture subsidies, and two agreements (Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights and the General Agreement on Trades in Services).
After the establishment of WTO, for many years trade talks can’t be noticed, as members could not agree on such agendas for a new round. There were several attempts though, such as in Singapore, 1996, but rich countries could not agree with developing ones in case of the nature of implications. Developed countries delighted the importance of investor rights, competition policy, while developing ones would ensure their growth with other types of measures. Similar endeavours were expressed on the next two meetings in 1988 and 1999, but those were not successful either. Moreover, several civil organisations expressed their concerns about the predominance of the interests of rich countries, but these were misleading, as all members have to agree in order to implement such rules.
In the 2000s, health issues erupted in Brazil, Thailand and South Africa, as these countries urgently needed low cost medication in order to treat AIDS/HIV. Pharma patents, due to TRIPS, were protected, but during the Doha Round officially launched in 2001, rulers made an exception, by making the health patents breakable, allowing developing countries to get medications at a lower price, as essential medication is often not affordable due to intellectual property rights.
Beyond these issues, the Doha Round is also designed for reducing agricultural subsidies, allowing better circumstances for developing countries which are dependent on agriculture. However, rich nations put Singapore issues on the agenda again, knowing that developing countries will refuse trade talks on these matters, the topic of intellectual property still belongs to the issues on negotiation. During the talks, lower trade rules and trade barriers are also revised, to achieve better trade circumstances for nations.
The Ministerial Conference is the top decision making body, meeting in every two years. All members can took part in the Conference, having authority to take decisions on all matters in the coverage of any multilateral trade agreement. The latest Ministerial Conference took place in Nairobi in December 2015. The result of the conference was the so-called “Nairobi package”, focusing on issues related to least-developed countries and agriculture.
On the second level, three bodies are operating beyond the Conferences, in order to maintain a day-to-day work. One of the functional bodies is the General Council, designed to act on behalf of the ministerial conferences, allowing ambassadors to represent their countries. Ambassador Harald NEPLE from Norway fills the current chair position. The general Council meets regularly in Geneva with the other two bodies, The Dispute Settlement Body and The Trade Policy Review Body, to analyse trade trends and allow disputes between member states.
On the third level, we can find numerous councils, representing each area of trade, such as The Council for Trade in Goods (Goods Council), The Council for Trade in Services (Services Council), and The Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council). All of them are preparing reports directly to the General Council, such as six more Committee bodies, but with less extent, delivering issues in connection with environment, regional trading arrangements, development, trade negotiation etc. All countries are represented in these bodies. At this level, there are two plurilateral bodies as well, including not all of the members, but informing the General Council of their work.
Any state having the authority to operate with its trade have the right to join the WTO, but after concluding a process of negotiations, in which all countries agree on particular terms. The Accessions Intelligence Portal is established to follow through and help in these negotiation processes.
Since the 2008 crisis, WTO is facing several challenges, such as though criticism about the non-respect of deadlines and default negotiations. However, according to International trade expert Thomas Cottier, the organization is not less significant, as trade negotiations and dispute settlement carry an important role. It also presents the world court regarding international and more special trade agreements.
Cottier picks coordination as a possible fault, due to the fact that fragmentation trot out by preferential trade agreements, such as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are making WTO’s work less extensive. In order to overcome the fragmentation, this problem can be treated by future changes in the arrangement, such as stronger ties with other Partnerships and informing future negotiations inside the WTO.
More several threats can be noticed, such as the shift in balance of power and different visions of the future aspects. Referring to historical dissidence, the differences between developing and developed nations are still existing. The vision supported by developing countries emphasize the process of catching up by avoiding negotiation opportunities due to the fear of putting too much pressure on these countries, while the other vision focuses on development and modern trade, including global value chains. Regarding the shift in balance, emerging markets in world trade and investment (China) can move the North and West balance to the East and South, damaging the western structure.