The Participation of the European Union in the Work of the United Nations: Evolving to Reflect the New Realities of Regional Organizations

In: International Organizations Law Review
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  • 1 J.D. Vanderbilt University Law School

In May 2011, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 65/276 to provide the European Union with an “enhanced observer status” to participate more extensively in the General Assembly. The EU needed to restructure its participation in international organizations following the Lisbon Treaty, and this resolution effected some of those changes. Numerous UN member states expressed concerns that the expanded participation rights might compromise the integrity of the General Assembly as an inter-state entity. Ultimately, the rights granted pose a minor speculative threat, but offer a considerable opportunity at increasing the ability of regional organizations to better represent the common positions of their member states in the General Assembly and to improve the efficiency of the General Assembly.

  • 15)

    Grevi, supra note 11, p. 2.

  • 41)

    Rensmann, supra note 37, para. 7.

  • 49)

    G.A. Res. 57/32, supra note 48, pmbl. para. 2 (wishing to promote cooperation with the IPU).

  • 51)

    G.A. Res. 64/3, supra note 48, pmbl. para. 1 (wishing to promote cooperation with the IOC).

  • 59)

    Rensmann, supra note 37, para. 8.

  • 60)

    G.A. Res. 65/276, supra note 2, pmbl. paras. 4-6 (recognizing the importance of cooperation between the UN and regional organizations and recalling that the EU is a party to many instruments enacted under UN auspices and participates in the work of several specialized agencies).

  • 63)

    G.A. Res. 65/276, supra note 2.

  • 74)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex para. 1.

  • 75)

    G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex para. 1.

  • 76)

    Blue Book, supra note 24, p. vi. Palestine has recently indicated that it may seek admission to the United Nations as a full member state. See, e.g., Isabel Kershner, Palestinians Say a U.N. Gamble on Statehood Is Worth the Risks, N.Y. Times (14 Sept. 2011), p. A6. Even without full admission, Palestine has been admitted as a member state to the United Nations Economic, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) a specialized agency of the UN. Scott Sayare & Steven Erlanger, Palestine Wins a Vote on Bid to Join UNESCO, N.Y. Times (6 Oct. 2011), p. A12. In General Assembly practice, a vital criterion for whether to recognize an entity as a non-member state for purposes of granting observer state prerogatives is whether that entity has been admitted as a member state to one of the specialized agencies of the UN. Memorandum to the Secretary-General, supra note 43, 1994 U.N. Jurid. Y.B. at 463. Based on this practice, Palestine could request reclassification as a non-member state observer, rather than as a non-member entity observer. Palestine achieved non-member state status in December 2012. Status of Palestine in the United Nations, G.A. Res. 67/19, U.N. Doc. A/RES/67/19 (4 Dec. 2012). Meanwhile, the Holy See has been criticized as failing to qualify as a state by virtue of its locating the Roman Catholic Church as its governing body, rather than the more-conventionally delineated Vatican City. See generally Abdullah, Note, supra note 39.

  • 78)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex.

  • 80)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, para. 1; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex, para. 1.

  • 81)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, para. 2; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex, para. 2.

  • 82)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, para. 4; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex, para. 3.

  • 83)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, para. 7; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex, para. 4.

  • 84)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, para. 8; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex, para. 5.

  • 85)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, para. 3; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex, para. 6.

  • 86)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, para. 9; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex, para. 7; for a brief discussion of Palestine’s seeking non-member state classification, see supra note 76.

  • 87)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, para. 10; G.A. Res. 52/250, supra note 18, Annex, para. 8.

  • 88)

    G.A. Res. 58/314, supra note 18, Annex, paras. 5-6; Observer Status of National Liberation Movements Recognized by the Organization of African Unity and/or by the League of Arab States, G.A. Res. 43/160, paras. 1-3, U.N. Doc. A/RES/43/160 (9 Dec. 1988) (providing rights of circulation to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the South West Africa People’s Organization).

  • 114)

    A/64/PV.122, supra note 105, p. 3 (Mafiroane Edmond Motanyane (Lesotho)) (speaking on behalf of the African group and advocating deferring the resolution to allow for further consultations); ibid. (H.E. Henry Leonard Mac-Donald (Surin.)) (speaking on behalf of CARICOM and requesting more time for consultations); ibid., p. 4 (H.E. Marlene Moses (Nauru)), (speaking on behalf of Fiji, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Solomon Islands and Nauru, and aligning with CARICOM); ibid. (H.E. Jorge Valero Briceño (Venez.)) (supporting the statements made on behalf of the African Group, CARICOM, and the Pacific island countries); ibid. (H.E. Mr. Eshagh Al Habib (Iran)) (endorsing the points raised on behalf of the African Group, CARICOM, and the Pacific island countries, and by Venezuela).

  • 120)

    A/64/PV.122, supra note 105, p. 7 (voting to adjourn with 76 votes in favor, 71 against, and 26 abstentions). The EU failed to even receive support from a majority of the ten states with which it has strategic partnerships: four (China, India, Russia, and South Africa) voted to adjourn, while only four (Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and the United States) voted against and two (Brazil and Canada) abstained. Grevi, supra note 11, p. 2.

  • 122)

    A/65/PV.88, supra note 17, p. 3 (H.E. Csaba Körösi (Hung.)) (speaking on behalf of the EU).

  • 124)

    A/65/PV.88, supra note 17, p. 3 (H.E. Csaba Körösi (Hung.)) (speaking on behalf of the EU).

  • 128)

    A/65/PV.88, supra note 17, p. 4 (H.E. Csaba Körösi (Hung.)).

  • 130)

    A/65/PV.88, supra note 17, p. 10 (H.E. Csaba Körösi (Hung.)).

  • 140)

    A/65/PV.88, supra note 17, p. 12 (Razi Zainul Abidin (Malay.)) (explaining Malaysia’s vote).

  • 150)

    Secretary-General Note, supra note 148, para. 3.

  • 152)

    Secretary-General Note, supra note 148, para. 5.

  • 153)

    Bahamas Letter, supra note 149, Annex, para. II (A).

  • 166)

    G.A. Rules of Procedure, supra note 17, rule 98 (e).

  • 176)

    G.A. Rules of Procedure, supra note 17, rule 98 (a).

  • 181)

    G.A. Res. 65/276, supra note 2, Annex, para. 1(b).

  • 185)

    Bahamas Letter, supra note 149, Annex, para. II (E), Rights not enjoyed by the European Union (“Without an enabling resolution, observer entities, particularly non-State observers with no path to full membership in the United Nations, enjoy no rights beyond the ability to attend and observe meetings at the United Nations. Accordingly, such resolutions must be strictly construed, in the light of the General Assembly’s status as an intergovernmental body of States with sovereign equality”).

  • 198)

    Wouters & Burnay, supra note 34, p. 4; Wouters, Odermatt, & Ramopoulos, supra note 11, p. 4.

  • 207)

    G.A. Res. 65/276, supra note 2, pmbl. para. 3; see Wouters, Odermatt, & Ramopoulos, supra note 11, pp. 5-6 (noting that the resolution lowered the bar of regional integration necessary to receive the recognition of enhanced status).

  • 208)

    Grevi, supra note 11, p. 5.

  • 211)

    G.A. Res. 65/276, supra note 2, Annex, para. 1. For a contrasting situation, see Sandholtz & Stone Sweet, supra note 206, p. 12 (observing that the European Court of Justice and European Commission have routinely produced rules that member governments would not have adopted through intergovernmental negotiations).

  • 215)

    G.A. Res. 65/276, supra note 2, para. 3.

  • 218)

    Wouters, Odermatt, Ramopoulos, supra note 11, pp. 5-6.

  • 219)

    Grevi, supra note 11, p. 5.

  • 221)

    Wouters, Odermatt, Ramopoulos, supra note 11, p. 6.

  • 222)

    Wouters & Burnay, supra note 34, pp. 5-6.

  • 232)

    Jin & Hosli, supra note 229, p. 16.

  • 241)

    Grevi, supra note 11, p. 3.

  • 245)

    Grevi, supra note 11, p. 2.

  • 250)

    Grevi, supra note 11, p. 5.

  • 251)

    Wouters, supra note 227, p. 3; Food and Agriculture Organization, Names of Countries, http://termportal.fao.org/faonocs/nocs/pages/homeNocs.jsp?members (last visited 6 Jan. 2012).

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