Implementing Reform: Mechanics and Possible Challenges
Mechanics of Implementing Reform
Previous and current U.N. reform initiatives encompass an array of organizational issues that may require different processes for implementation. These reforms might be achieved by amending the U.N. Charter or through various non- Charter reforms. Charter amendment is a rarely used practice and has only occurred on three occasions. Non-Charter reforms are more common and comparativelyeasier to achieve.
Amending the U.N. Charter. Articles 108 and 109 provide for potential changes to the U.N. Charter. Article 108 of the Charter states that a proposed Charter amendment must be approved by two-thirds of the full General Assembly, and be ratified “according to the constitutional processes” of two-thirds of U.N. member states, including the all permanent members of the Security Council.107 The Charter was first amended in 1963 to increase U.N. Security Council membership from 11 to 15 members, and to increase ECOSOC membership from 18 to 27. It was last amended in 1973, when ECOSOC membership increased from 27 to 54.108 Examples of possible reform initiatives that might involve amending the U.N. Charter include, but are not limited to: increasing Security Council membership — either permanent or and non-permanent members; increasing membership on ECOSOC; and adding or removing a principal organ. 109
Article 109 of the Charter allows for a convening of a General Conference of U.N. members with the purpose of “reviewing the present Charter.” The date and place of the Conference would be determined by a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly, and an affirmative vote from any nine Security Council members. Potential revisions to the Charter would be adopted at the conference by a two-thirds vote (with each country having one vote), and take effect when ratified by the governments of two-thirds of U.N. member states. A Charter review conference has never been held.
107 Article 108 of the U.N. Charter states, “Amendments to the present Charter shall come into force for all Members of the United Nations when they have been adopted by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly and ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two thirds of the members of the United Nations, including all the permanent members of the Security Council.” A copy of the U.N. Charter is available at [http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/].
108 Simma, Bruno, The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary. Second Edition, Vol. II. New York, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 1367-1357.
109 Principal organs of the United Nations include the Trusteeship Council (TC); Security Council; General Assembly; Economic and Social Council; International Court of Justice; and the Secretariat. There is an ongoing effort to abolish the TC, a system that was designed to administer and supervise U.N. trust territories. The TC suspended its operations on November 1, 1994, with the independence of its last trust territory, Palau.