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The Route to UN Reform: A Standing Article 43 Peacekeeping Force

by Brian Risman, Publisher and Founder, The Law Journal UK and Consultant in International Law

The nations of the world need to decide whether they truly want UN Reform. If they want a feeble, ineffective UN, then they do not need to reform an organisation that needs to beg for help. If, on the other hand, they want an effective UN, then the existing -- but dormant -- Article 43 needs to be invoked to create a standing peacekeeping force to deal with world problems and crises. Only then will the Pax Orbis -- the peace and order of the world -- be established.

There has been much talk recently about the need for reform of the United Nations. Indeed, there is a great need for change. The Security Council is unable to deal with ongoing and developing crises, such as the collapsing of failed states around the world.

Genocide, terrorism, human rights – all these issues have been left with inaction, or worse, membership (or chairmanship) of the greatest offenders on committees trying to deal with these problems.

No wonder no one has any respect for the United Nations. The United Nations, in a crisis, has to beg for nations to provide peacekeeping personnel. The net result is that in the Rwanda situation, a weak monitoring force made up largely of former colonial masters -- and neighbouring countries seeking to plunder resources -- was unable to deal with one of the worst genocides in recent times.

Yet the United Nations does have the capability not to beg for troops. Article 43 of the United Nations Charter authorises the United Nations to build an international peacekeeping force that would either be standing or on-call from the various countries.

Article 43, and its related Articles 44 and 45 are as follows:

Article 43

1.    All Members of the United Nations, in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, undertake to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.

2.    Such agreement or agreements shall govern the numbers and types of forces, their degree of readiness and general location, and the nature of the facilities and assistance to be provided.

3.    The agreement or agreements shall be negotiated as soon as possible on the initiative of the Security Council. They shall be concluded between the Security Council and Members or between the Security Council and groups of Members and shall be subject to ratification by the signatory states in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.


Article 44

When the Security Council has decided to use force it shall, before calling upon a Member not represented on it to provide armed forces in fulfilment of the obligations assumed under Article 43, invite that Member, if the Member so desires, to participate in the decisions of the Security Council concerning the employment of contingents of that Member's armed forces.

Article 45

In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures, Members shall hold immediately available national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action. The strength and degree of readiness of these contingents and plans for their combined action shall be determined within the limits laid down in the special agreement or agreements referred to in Article 43, by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.  

Why has Article 43 of the United Nations Charter remained dormant?

A major reason is the Cold War. Neither the USSR nor the US was willing to have the UN possess a force that could challenge either nation’s manoeuvrings in the forty-year conflict.

The Cold War is over, with one superpower remaining in the world, namely the United States. It is unlikely that the United States would be willing – at first – to allow Article 43 to create a UN force. 

However, a potential US veto of a standing peacekeeping force could be avoided if the US felt it was in their interest to have international backing in any military incursion. Many US politicians bristle at the thought of the US needing the UN in foreign relations. Yet that is the reality of the world today. If the US would have abided by UN discussions regarding the Iraq situation, the US would have obtained world backing (at least until no weapons of mass destruction were found). Instead, a largely unilateral US invasion of Iraq – with lesser help from the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland and other countries – ran into trouble without backup support from the world.

We need Article 43 to be activated and effective. We need an existing force to deal with world problems. Until the UN is no longer in the role of a beggar, it can have no real role in the world. 

If nations are not willing to give the UN strength to achieve its stated goals, then they should be honest about whether they need or want a UN at all. The UN does excellent humanitarian work – but that is not going to solve the basic problems of this world, many of which are caused by war crimes, genocide and devastation.

It is up to the nations of the world to make a choice.

Will they allow a Pax Orbis – a peace and order in the world, as discussed in the previous article in The Law Journal UK Pax Orbis: A Law for the World ?

Or do they want to descend to the chaos of the past?

Brian Risman, Publisher and Founder, The Law Journal UK and Consultant in International Law 

Your thoughts? 

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