Issue 5: Security Council discusses Pakistan’s nuclear testing; and UN officials underline the need for reform

Security Council spends several days deliberating a response to Pakistan’s nuclear testing.

Analysis: In the past week Pakistan has detonated six nuclear devices, and the Security Council is still negotiating a possible resolution condemning these tests.  Why the time lag?  Why the politicization of a matter which potentially threatens international peace and security?

The UN Charter minces no words when it states that the Security Council exists to ensure “prompt and effective action by the United Nations.”  And yet, save for some critical words, prompt Security Council action has been absent.  The nuclear arms race in South Asia – and the radical instability it accentuates – highlights the need for concerted Security Council action.

Rather than getting mired in political posturing, the Security Council must swiftly pass a resolution condemning India and Pakistan for violating a de facto norm against nuclear testing.  The Council ought to follow through on such a resolution by negotiating a no first-use policy between these two countries; it must guarantee a freeze on nuclear tests and the development of corresponding missile technology (neither country has signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty), and the Security Council should establish a body to monitor nuclear developments in the region.


* New Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette notes reform and renewal inside the UN; the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announces plans for reorganization; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reports efforts to make it “a more efficient and more effective organization with stronger accountability.”

Analysis:  These three reports converge around the same themes: the need for greater transparency, enhanced coordination, less duplication and waste, and more efforts to adapt to the challenges of the global, technologically-driven modern society.

Talk of UN reform has dragged on for a long time.  But talk of “zero growth budgets” and “new partnerships with civil society” do not constitute genuine reform.  The present themes are, indeed, a positive departure from some of the time-worn phrases usually heard in the UN, but they must be coupled with real action.  If only all employees of the UN could be forced to reapply for their jobs, then we could really see how much “competence, efficiency, and integrity,” exists in the world body.

UN Watch