27th Oct 2016

EU heading for single UN seat, UN official says

The UN's deputy secretary general believes the European Commission will in future represent the EU in the United Nations as the voice of the European bloc worldwide.

"I think it will go in stages," Mark Malloch Brown told EUobserver on Monday (2 October). He explained that the European Commission already has an observer seat on the executive board for funds and programmes, where the commission is a big donor.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We are going to see a growing spread of that and then steady formalisation of it institution by institution, probably starting in the UNDP or UNICEF [development aid units] first," Mr Malloch Brown said.

"It is not going to happen with a flash and a bang," he added, but said he hoped that "it will happen as quickly as possible."

The main obstacles to such a move, explained Mr Malloch Brown, could be that sovereign [UN] member states are wary of the rise of international institutions seeking to become a layer between them and another international institution.

"There is a lot of political theory in the way and it is not limited to the EU member states – there are a lot of other member states that see this as the thin end of the wedge and that other regions will then make the same case for regional organisations," he said.

Mr Malloch Brown explained that the European Commission office in New York working on UN issues "tends to be on the good side of issues so people are kind of quite keen to see it evolve – so it will get there but it is just going to be steady persuasion."

"I'm a huge fan of it," he stated. The number two UN official was in Brussels to speak at a policy briefing on UN reform in Brussels arranged by EU think-tank Friends of Europe.

UN reform 'needed'

He called on the EU to refrain from shying away from UN reform, saying it is urgently needed.

Mr Malloch Brown told the audience that current UN governance, including the UN security council, no longer reflects global reality because it is still largely based on the outcome of World War II.

"A security council without real membership opportunities for countries such as India, Brazil or any African country is clearly not reflecting how power is distributed today," he said.

He compared UN reform to the EU's own development in two ways. Firstly, it never stops due to constantly evolving challenges and risks and secondly, it is a politically difficult process for national states concerned about the transfer of power .

"When it comes to reform, I would say we have covered the first mile, but this will be a marathon," he told his audience of ambassadors, journalists, EU officials and business leaders.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ANCI LazioAnci Lazio Definetely has a lot to Celebrate This Year
  2. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  3. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  4. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  5. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  6. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  7. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  8. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  9. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  10. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  11. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  12. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum

Latest News

  1. Left MEPs thwarting Dieselgate probe, say right MEPs
  2. Cars should be allowed to exceed emissions limits, say experts
  3. EU case against Google is bad for developers
  4. Privacy activists mount court challenge to EU-US data pact
  5. Thousands of Nato soldiers go to Baltic states, Romania
  6. Canada's PM cancels EU summit amid Ceta woes
  7. Commission revives corporate taxation plan
  8. Iceland's not-so-quiet revolution