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Breathing fresh air into the UN

by Archives January 24, 2007

After celebrating its 60th anniversary last November, the United Nations could be ushering the world into modern times with a reformed system designed to adapt to globalization. That is what Dr. John E. Trent would like to see happen in the next ten years.

The author of Modernizing the United Nations System: Civil Society’s Role In Moving From International Relations to Global Governance, Trent spoke to an attentive crowd at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel Sunday afternoon about the challenges facing the UN and how this international organization can strengthen itself for the future.

“The question is not what or why,” declared Trent, “but how to deal with the anarchy of globalization.” An expert in International Political Science, Trent is a founding member of the Academic Council on the United Nations System. In his book, to be published in March, he offers “a call for action” concerning UN reforms that are long overdue.

Trent believes that civil society is the only beacon of hope to modernize the U.N. and that in order to undertake reforms, universal organizations must come together with the support of national coalitions.

“Globalization has conspired with world politics to establish a global situation that did not exist at the time of the U.N. charter of 1945,” argued Trent. According to him, modern society suffers from problems the U.N. could not have foreseen when it was established after the Second World War. Terrorism, climate change and the growing gap between rich and poor are global issues that have come to a head in the last couple decades. These problems have no proper institutions that exist to keep them in check.

Trent further argues that these issues are global within nature but always dealt with on a national level. “These problems are international but politicians always want to put the national interest first,” he said. He believes that solutions to these global problems must be collective and multilateral. Nations need to come together with organizations and institutions in order to solve problems and bring forth a just society.

Trent remained optimistic throughout his analysis. He believes that civil society, through organizations and individuals, has the necessary knowledge and framework to undertake these reforms on an international level. He neither condemned nor praised the UN, accepting it rather as an institution that is outdated in several domains.

Trent is also a member of the World Federalist Movement and has served on its executive committee, a movement organizations from all over the world that has functioned alongside the United Nations for over 50 years. Its mission is to bring forth “the creation of democratic global structures accountable to the citizens of the world” and calls “for the division of international authority among separate agencies.”

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