The Economic and Social Council, the Group of Eight and the Constitutional Paradox

By Hannema, Sybren Elias | UN Chronicle, March-May 2006 | Go to article overview

The Economic and Social Council, the Group of Eight and the Constitutional Paradox


Hannema, Sybren Elias, UN Chronicle


AT A GUEST LECTURE I gave at the University of Stockholm in 2004 on the European Union's constitutional development, the audience was fascinated by the description of the discrepancy between "competitive Europe" and "social Europe" as it had developed over time.

On a global scale, the United Nations constitutional paradox can be summarized by the observation that, despite the initial fervour of majority of nations at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in 1945 for a much more equitable distribution of scarce resources, the Charter of the United Nations and its subsequent evolution have given rise to a worldwide setting, where the dominant allocating mechanism of scarce resources is worldwide markets. At the Conference, the United States Secretary of State expressly mentioned the United Nations Economic and Social Council as being of the utmost importance. "Widespread economic insecurity and poverty, ignorance and oppression breed conflict and give aggressors their chance." (1)

Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority shared this view, it was paradoxical that in the UN Charter the Council's powers were merely recommendatory and were not strengthened by the General Assembly's recommendatory powers. In addition, the "relationship agreements" between the Council and the UN specialized agencies were not conducive to its effective coordination of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group. What is equally striking is the constant reluctance of the developed nations to endow the General Assembly, and indirectly the Council, with effective powers on the allocation of international funds while still in favour of retaining the power of the Bretton Woods institutions, over which the Group of Eight (G-8) has effective control.

A complementary development was the establishment of the G-8 in 1975 at the Conference of Versailles and its ascendancy. The conference soon became a yearly event, where Heads of State and Government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and United States, together with representatives of the European Union, meet in a private setting in order to discuss the most pressing economic and financial policy issues. Because of its enormous influence in the Bretton Woods institutions, the G-8 has been able to effectively coordinate economic and financial developments on a global scale, such the 1985 Louvre and 1987 Plaza Accords.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In contrast to the Economic and Social Council, the Group of Eight is endowed with certain effective institutional characteristics: the small number of its members, which facilitates decision-making by consensus; direct implementation of decisions by the national administrations of its members; and shared interests as major industrialized nations. However, in contrast with the G-8, Gunnar Myrdal's observation concerning the Council is still valid: that it had "sunk to a level of unimportance, which must appear in view of the declared purposes of the Charter". (2) Any Charter or contract between nations or individual/collective parties can be viewed in terms of constitutional investment. If we approach "economic prosperity" in a broader sense, (3) the benefits anticipated at the San Francisco Conference were of "future peace and prosperity".

Constitutional investments are distinguished by three characteristics: Firstly, constitutions, contracts and laws derive their "raison d'etre" from the characteristic that they are not readily renegotiable. The consequence of this inertia, is that constitutional investments become risky. Secondly, they have a "foundation characteristic" to the extent that they serve to effectuate an unknown quantity and quality of other rights, and thereby increasing the uncertainty of future benefits. For instance, once a body is provided with certain mandatory powers, it is not clear how these powers will be used and in what circumstances. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Economic and Social Council, the Group of Eight and the Constitutional Paradox
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.