The American Road to World Peace

By Alfred Zimmern | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 70: The Missing Instrument

WE saw in the last chapter that the chief function of the executive branch of the United Nations, that of dealing with aggression or the threat of aggression, had fallen into other hands. Constitutions, like Nature, abhor a vacuum, and when the Security Council ceased to perform its allotted task, the General Assembly and the regional authorities brought into existence under Article 51 took over. But this was not a solution of the problem involved in the breakdown of the executive branch, as planned by the San Francisco constitution-makers. It was no more than a makeshift. Neither the General Assembly nor the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its sister institutions possess the qualifications required in a true executive. They may, with skill and good fortune, fill the gap for a short time, but they are inherently unsatisfactory. No student of government would be content with such a provisional arrangement on the national level; and if the United Nations is to be equal to its exalted task it must certainly not lower its technical standards in order to meet unexpected emergencies; on the contrary, it should make them more precise and more exacting.

Let us then put the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the regional organizations to one side for a few moments and concentrate on this problem of the executive branch of the United Nations. What work is there for it to do? And what kind of organ is needed to perform this work?

As to the first question, what is required of the executive branch, the Charter itself is quite explicit. What is required is "prompt and effective action for the maintenance of international peace and security." In order to enable its executive to function "promptly and effectively," the Charter even went to the length of providing it with an instrument of action in the form of a Military Staff Committee.

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