Regional Bodies and the United Nations

My final year politics subject, Peacekeeping, Sovereignty and Global Order, has ranged broadly over issues and questions of international law and order. At the centre of the majority of these questions has been the role of the United Nations in global governance.

Since the UN is constituted by the states which are it’s members, it makes sense to question just how those states themselves are constituted. Who decides what a state is? The point of this post isn’t to comprehensively answer that question. I have written essays on it, and learned academics have spent decades addressing it. Instead, I have another question to propose which may assist answers to the broader question (or even reshape them). This question was provoked by a discussion on the future of Kosovo. That question was: ‘If 22 of 27 European Union members recognise Kosovo’s statehood, why shouldn’t the UN?’

The UN Charter provides for regional arrangements to take action – preferably passively – to maintain international peace and security. It allows for and encourages regional powers such as the EU. Why, then, does regional preference not carry more weight at the UN than the votes of (for example) non-affected Pacific island nations when deciding who is or is not a state? Does it not matter more that Europe recognises Kosovo than the other 110 countries who so far have not?

Of course, such questions in turn raise questions about democratic processes themselves. Is every vote equal? In international law, at least when determining UN membership, they might not be.