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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 27th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The UN University Is Becoming The Institution of Research it Was Intended to Be:
It Deals Now With Subjects Like The Possible Updating of the UN Security Council; Other Effective Governing Tools; The Concept of Ethics in Adam Smith in the light of the Present Global Crises; or the Prospect of International Mediation of Conflicts.

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The UN University – UNU –  is one of the smaller United Nations organizations, and is reliant on voluntary contributions. UNU receives no funds from the regular UN budget. Headquartered in Tokyo it is obviously supported by the Japanese government. Further funding comes from other government, agencies, international organizations, foundations, and private companies.

UNU is dedicated to the generation and transfer of knowledge, and the strengthening of individual and institutional capacities in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are a concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States.

In fulfilling this mission, UNU fosters intellectual cooperation among scholars, scientists, and practitioners worldwide — especially those in the developing world — and functions as:

an international community of scholars;
a bridge between the United Nations and the international academic community;
a think-tank for the United Nations system;
a builder of capacity, particularly in developing countries; and
a platform for dialogue and new and creative ideas.
Since its modest beginnings in September 1975, UNU has grown and matured into a decentralized, global network comprising UNU Centre in Tokyo, a worldwide network of 13 UNU Research and Training Centres/Programmes (UNU RTC/Ps), and liaison offices at United Nations headquarters (New York) and UNESCO headquarters (Paris).

UNU Press publishes numerous books each year and cooperates in the production of five journals. The UNU Office of Communication oversees production of the Work in Progress and UNU Updatenewsletters and UNU Annual Report, and assists the academic units the preparation of their public information materials and other communications.

UNU has 15 Research and Training Centres/Programmes spanning many critical issues facing humanity today.

The ‘programme space’ within which UNU operates is defined by three variables:

the major processes that are profoundly changing our world
the actors that are effecting these changes
and the topics and themes most relevant to UNU’s mission
Within this programme space, our activities are clustered into two broad programme areas — Peace and Governance, and Environment and Development — and further focused within five thematic areas: Peace and Security; Good Governance; Development and Poverty Reduction; Environment and Sustainability; and Science, Technology and Society.

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FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW – UNU IS THE ONLY THINK TANK IN THE UN SYSTEM AND ITS MAIN INTEREST IS IN:

HUMAN SECURITY, PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT. THE LATER IS OBVIOUSLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND THE RELATED ISSUES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

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Associated Institutions of the UNU:

Supplementing the work of UNU’s 15 centers are institutions of academic excellence that have been designated by the University Council as UNU Associated Institutions.

Federal University of Mato Grosso, Pantanal Regional Environmental Programme, Mato Grosso, Brazil;

Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, International Environmental Research Center, Gwangju, Republic of Korea;

Griffith University. Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Queensland, Australia;

Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India;

GRID-Arendal, Global Virtual University, Arendal, Norway;

University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Bonn, Germany;

Tufts University, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston, USA;

Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand;

Global Fire Monitoring Center, Freiburg, Germany;

International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, Enschede, the Netherlands;

University of Madras, Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Chennai, India;

National Food Research Institute, Ibaraki, Japan;

University of Ulster, INCORE (International Conflict Research), Northern Ireland;

Cornell University, UNU Food and Nutrition Programme for Human and Social Development, Ithaca, NY, USA;

University of Chile, Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, Santiago, Chile;

Mahidol University, Institute of Nutrition, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand;

National Institute of Public Health, Mexico, Nutrition and Health Research Center, Cuervavaca, Mexico;

Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population, National Nutrition Institute, Cairo, Egypt;

Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institution for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai, PRC;

University of Nairobi, Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya;

Gansu Natural Energy Research Institute, Gansu Natural Energy Research Institute / UNIDO International Solar Energy Center for Technology Promotion and Transfer (ISEC-GNERI), Gansu, PRC.

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Liaison Offices

UNU Office in New York

As part of its mandate to serve the United Nations University, UNU-ONY has a multifaceted mandate with an overarching mission to showcase and make UNU’s Research and Programmes (RTCP) available to the UN Secretariat, UN Permanent Missions, NGOs, academics and civil society.

Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud
2 United Nations Plaza, Room DC2-2060, New York, N.Y. 10017 U.S.A.
Tel: (1-212) 963-6387; Fax: (1-212) 371-9454
E-mail:  unuona at ony.unu.edu   –  www.ony.unu.edu

UNU Liaison Office at UNESCO, Paris

Luk Van Langenhoven
Representative, United Nations University Office at UNESCO
c/o UNESCO Bureau 7B 4.06, 1, rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France.
Tel: (33-1) 45.68.46.42 Fax: (33-1) 40.65.91.86
E-mail:  unuoe at unesco.org

Headquarters: United Nations University Centre
5–53–70 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8925
Japan

Tel: +81–(0)3–5467–1212 • Fax: +81–(0)3–3499–2828 • E-mail:  mbox at unu.edu
Webmaster:  webmaster at hq.unu.edu

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WE WRITE ABOUT THE UNU AT THIS TIME AS WE REALIZED THAT THE UNU IS TAKING ITS ROLE AS UN THINK TANK VERY SERIOUSLY AND THIS MONTH HAS HAD SEVERAL PRESENTATION S AT THE UN HEADQUARTERS SPONSORED BY ITS NEW YORK LIAISON OFFICE. THESE PRESENTATIONS, OPEN TO ALL WITH INTEREST IN THE FUTURE OF THE UN, CLEARLY MAY HELP FINDING SOLUTIONS TO SOME OF THE UN PROBLEMS AT A TIME THE UN HAS REACHED ALL-TIME LOWS IN THE WAY IT IS PERCEIVED IN THE WORLD.  I saw at those presentations members of Missions to the UN, NGOs and plain interested outsiders, but very little participation from among the in-house accredited Press. This worries me as it can be seen as a sign that the Media that keeps criticizing the UN does not make an effort to look at ways that may improve the working of the UN.

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Monday, October 26, 2009 UNU tackled the topic: “SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM” led by the presenter Dr. Joseph Schwartzenberg, an academic from Brooklyn, who is now with the University of Minnesota, who devised a mathematical formula for a weighted voting system at the UN. His ideas were published in a book titled accordingly – “REVITALIZING THE UNITED NATIONS: REFORM THROUGH WEIGHTED VOTING.” He wrote this in 2004 while President of the Minnesota Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), formerly the World Federalist Association (WFM). Among the organizations that backed this project were also the Center for UN Reform Education (CURE), and the Canada based Academic Council on the United Nations (ACUNS), as well as the CGS and the WFM.

Professionally, Professor Schwartzenberg is a Cartographer of South East Asia, and he was also the author of books about the Indian subcontinent ranging from Geography to the caste system and to an effort at Peace-making in Kashmir.

The specific in The Schwartzenberg system is a regional formula for a 12 Member Security Council based on the equation that evaluates the Weighted Voting power of a Region as one third of the total Population percentage of the world population defined as “P” plus one third of the region’s financial Contribution to the UN budget which obviously is a function of its share as measured by its total GNP – this is defined as “C” and plus a constant which is based on the present size of the UN membership – that is 192 and is intended to give equal status to all States – this last factor is defined as “M” and is dependent on the number of States that are members of the region – each State having an 0.52% value as in 1/192 – but when it comes to the formula – the constant used by Dr. Schwartzenberg is 8.33% which is 1/12 as per the 12 regions.

We get thus  WV = (P + C + M) / 3

These numbers Range then from a 16.19 for Europe to 4,27 for the Westminster League which covers Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The US gets 14.32 and China gets 11.09.

Those in between include:India (8.95); (Japan 8.03); Latin America (7.77) includes the Caribbean; East Asia (7.46) includes the Pacific Island States, the Koreas, and Mongolia; Africa (6.56) Subsahara, West Asia (6.04) includes Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia; Arab League (4.96) that includes the MENA States; Russia (4.38) including Belarus and the Ukraine.

The presentation was followed with a lively discussion at which participated quite a few members of the Missions.

Professor Schwartzenberg answered many questions by the fact that these groups or Regions can change like for instance if Turkey or the Ukraine join the EU. He also insisted that nobody gets the Veto right as the weighted vote gives Europe, the US and China the high level of power and India, Japan and a Brazil led Latin America have strong power also.

I expressed my questions regarding the fact that the Small Independent Island States in the Pacific, being led by New Zealand, might prefer being part of the Westminster League group rather then East Asia. Professor Schwartzenberg agreed and said that the former British Colonies in the Pacific and in the Caribbean, with Parliamentary government systems in place may indeed opt to move and he does not object to this. He had a more negative position to my suggestion that a 10% WV or even an 11% figure should be entitled to a RIGHT OF VETO POWER. My suggestion came in effect in the steps of a remark he made that Russia should never have been recognized as the inheritor of the USSR original veto power of the charter. This is clearly a correct observation that puts the Security Council in question as nothing but a diplomatic arrangement that is far from the original charter agreement. Imagine Scotland and Wales leaving the UK – will then England hold on to the Veto power? Will the proliferation of the number of States resulting from break-up of empires result in enhanced power by numbers? Will the break-up of Nigeria result in the infusion of 38 mini-states to the UN? This last thought has special value in the light of Africa asking for a permanent membership for Nigeria – so the idea is not far fetched.

My suggestion of 10 or 11 in the Schwartzenberg scheme to be the the veto cut off point has also the added value that it removes the mistaken veto that the UN body has allowed to Russia, and it forces the EU to finally proceed in its unification procedures. It further sets an attainable goal for a solidified India and in the mean-time it makes it more acceptable for the US, China and the EU to accept the Schwartzenberg proposal.

I strongly feel that having such a discussion at UNU gives this UN member something to be proud off. Further I must say that I am partial to this UNU effort because of my old activities within think-tanks, and the fact that the same CURE, that backed the Schwartzenberg proposal, also backed my own “Promptbook on Sustainable Development” which can be seen on this website – that was before the Johannesburg Summit of 2001.

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Monday, October 19, 2009, UNU hosted a Panel that was Initiated by the Government of Catalonia, an Autonomous Region In Spain.

The Topic: “DECENTRALIZED GOVERNMENTS AND THE NEW MULTILATERALISM.”

The Catalans came in full force and there were a sprinkle of Basques and Flemish officials in the room as well. It was a three hour long event. The point was that autonomous well-to-do regions in Europe that would like to achieve their independence within an EU context, and probably will eventually be able to do so, have started to institute their own foreign aid programs as a first step towards getting the international recognition even before they are released by their own UN member National governments.  n the other hand, what about areas that are under very different regimes then Europe? What about the ethnic regions of China? Or even less controversial areas in Africa or Latin America? What about Chechnya and other regions in Russia? The Catalan success story just highlights the darker corners of the UN system. But then, when it comes to break-away parts of a UN member state even a country like Belgium is not rational about its comport, The Flemish Gentleman, whom I asked why do his people fight for keeping Brussels as their wished-for capital, while dividing the country into three, rather then two parts would be easier and would be much more in the interest of all involved. In such a case Brussels could become the Federal District of a Federalized European Union. He said – NEVER.

We had there the president, Vice president, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Director General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid of Catalonia. There was also a speaker for the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua whose region is aided by the Catalans. There was a participant for the Spanish Government, and towards the end and the eating of the great sandwiches, came also the Spanish Ambassador to the UN.

There were also representatives of various humanitarian UN affiliates and of the UN proper. The argument was made that a region-to-region foreign aid relationship is more efficient then when central governments are involved. Further, today many other non-central government organizations can act very efficiently, or those NGOs or even corporate interests when bent to do good.

I just glanced over the event, but in reality there was much that was put forward. There was talk of the Cardozo report that involved civil society in the works of the UN.

Non-centralized government is somewhere closer to civil society – this specially when the talk is about a G2, 7, 18, 20, 22 or whatever figure will evolve. There must be place for Parliaments, cities, Mayors, local authorities and Regions inside States and in between States. The 21st century strategy will deal with Global Public Goods and the renewal of multilateralism on a different scale. We go to more globalization of the problems and this will require a more down to earth approach to the solutions.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009, UNU hosted the new Turkish Ambassador to the UN, Ertugrul Apakan whose topic was: “CONFLICT AND INTERNATIONAL MEDIATION: A TURKISH PERSPECTIVE.”

Though only two months in New York, Ambassador Apakan has in the past held positions that got him directly involved in the Turkish – Greek controversies over Cyprus, and his position in New York seemingly comes about Turkey’s efforts to be the Middle East mediator.

Turkey sees itself part of the region that stretches from Afghanistan to the caucasus and from the Middle East to the Balkan that includes the main areas of conflict in the world. Having friendly relations with Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Turkey has viable peace in mind as its objective – that calls for mediation.

To have a peace agreement one must have a viable plan – without such a plan agreements fall apart he said. The Turkish approach is to respect the value system of all partners. The Ambassador thinks that in the Middle East the situation is ripe for mediation – provided the parties agree to have mediation. Asked what is most important in mediation – his answer was to be a good listener.

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Friday, October 23, 2009, UNU hosted Professor Charles Sampford, Director of the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, which is a joint UNU and Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. 2002-2004 he was a member of a task force on responding to threats to democracy chaired by Mme. Madeleine Albright, and 2006 he was the convener of the first World Ethics Forum in Oxford.

The presentation looked at the present global financial crisis as the result of multiple and reinforcing governance failures – financial intermediaries abused the powers entrusted to them. His main point was that they completely misrepresented what ADAM SMITH was saying by using their quotes only from his “Wealth of Nations,” and completely leaving out of their sites his other book – “THE THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS.” The presentation in New York was in effect a celebration of 250th Anniversary of its publication.

The topic: “ADAM SMITH’S LOST LEGACY: ETHICS IN FINANCIAL REGULATION.”

In 1533 Peter Stuyvesant built a brick wall to keep out the Barbarians and in 1961 East Germany built a wall to keep out the capitalists. These walls came down. The Social Democrats thought they can leave space for democracy when dealing with capitalism. The quote says nevertheless that it is not from the butcher, backer and brewer that we expect our dinner – but it is rather from their self interest. But watch out – self interest can put food on our table and drop the bomb over Nagasaki.

Adam Smith allowed that for tackling a problem it suffice to go back to Confucius, Jesus and Moses, but we know now that further elements are needed – there was no ethics yet in his days.

When joint stock holdings were created – that is when it became clear that capital gathering unions can do better then the individual. Further, groups like NGOs work for more then just the self-interest.

Corruption is abuse in the name of self interest so we cannot go back to The Wealth of Nations ideas of Adam Smith. Economists say now we need Incentives and Disincentives. Institutions are all about interests and incentives alone. Disincentives may help bring about change.

Corruption and climate change are areas we cannot leave to Adam Smith alone these days! We must find solutions that are large – but they have to include his ideas also.

There is serious problem when a theory becomes ideology. also we have to define scales like global, local, regional. corporate…governments – the same for financial area problems – global, regulatory, financial regulatory, corporate, government, …

The artificial financial instruments that were created – where do we get the balance between regulation and freedom in financial instruments? with the Market and Democracy distinction – how does one give legitimacy to the market?

Of course – one person one vote is not the same as one dollar one vote – we must decide which way we go, but we must remember that ethics is how we claim to serve the community.

Smith does not speak of the law – but in his second book he stresses ethics & Justice.

There is promotion and economic rewards, but when you get your first loaf of bread you are happy – when you get the third it does matter much less.

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