New Dimensions of the International Security System after the Cold War

Executive Summary

This paper considers the emerging structure of the international security system after the end of the Cold War. It describes the changes that have taken place in world politics with the end of the bipolar confrontation, and the new threats and challenges that face the international community in the post-Cold War era. It discusses the implications that this new international system has for European security and, in particular, for the security of one of the newly independent states-Ukraine. The role of international organizations, in particular the United Nations, in countering new threats to global security is examined, and a number of recommendations proposed for reforming the UN to meet these challenges more effectively.

The collapse of the Warsaw Pact has left Central and Eastern Europe in a security vacuum. Regional organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), however important, are unlikely to fill this vacuum and become an effective security structure for the new Europe. The further expansion of NATO may well have an adverse effect on the domestic political process in Russia. As a temporary measure, a "neutral area" could be created for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the security of which could be guaranteed by NATO and Russia.

As for Ukraine, it finds itself at the crossroads of regional politics, with influential domestic groups of both pro-Western and pro-Russian orientation. Its membership in NATO in the near future is neither likely nor desirable, and may have a negative effect on European security. However, the security of Ukraine, and in particular its relationship with Russia, is a very important factor for European stability and for relations between Russia and the West.

In this new global situation, the UN could become an effective center for global security. To adequately perform this function, the organization needs profound reform. This reform could include three main stages: strengthening the UN's role as a forum of discussion, creating a center for diplomatic coordination and conflict prevention, and creating a mechanism for implementing the UN's decisions. In the distant future, the UN may assume responsibility for administering the nuclear weapons remaining after global nuclear disarmament.

Other steps in the reform process may require altering the UN Charter, including expanding the Security Council to 20-21 members, with new members such as Germany and Japan (among other new regional leaders) taking the permanent seats; and revising the right of veto of the permanent five and possibly replacing it with a consensus or a majority vote mechanism.

The UN peacekeeping operation is another domain that requires close examination and restructuring. The organization should be primarily concerned with conflict prevention. Peace enforcement operations should take place only by decision of the Security Council, and member states should provide more support, financial and other, and be encouraged to contribute troops.

In the area of economy and development, the UN should take the leading role through creation of a UN Development Council. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) could perform the role of a coordinating body for other international institutions, such as the World Trade Organization and the World Bank.