Class 12 Political Science Chapter 6 International Organisations NCERT Notes

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Class 12 Political Science Chapter 6 International Organisations Notes help the students to revise the topics quickly and effectively. It provide a thorough summary of the main points of each chapter, as well as key vocabulary and concepts.

Chapter 6 International Organisations Contemporary World Politics Class 12 Political Science CBSE NCERT Notes


In this chapter we shall discuss the role of international organisations after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In this emerging world, there were calls for the restructuring of international organisations to cope with various new challenges including the rise of US power.

Also, we will look at some other transnational organisations that are playing a crucial role.

Why International Organisations?

Countries have conflicts and differences with each other. That does not necessarily mean they must go to war to deal with their antagonisms. They can, instead, discuss contentious issues and find peaceful solutions. The role of an international organisation can be important in this context.

An international organisation is not a super-state with authority over its members. It is created by and responds to states.

An international organisation can help produce information and ideas about how to cooperate. It can provide mechanisms, rules and a bureaucracy, to help members have more confidence that costs will be shared properly, that the benefits will be fairly divided, and that once a member joins an agreement it
will honour the terms and conditions of the agreement.

The UN is generally regarded as the most important international organisation in today’s world.

Evolution of the UN

After the First World War, there was need for an international organization to deal with conflicts and prevent wars. Thus, The League of Nations was established, but it failed to prevent the Second World War, which resulted in more deaths and injuries than ever before.

The United Nations (UN) was founded as a successor to the League of Nations in 1945 after the Second World War. The organisation was set up through the signing of the United Nations Charter by 51 states.

The UN’s objective is to prevent international conflict and to facilitate cooperation among states. By 2011, the UN had 193 member states.

In the UN General Assembly, all members have one vote each. In the UN Security Council, there are five permanent members. These are: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China.

The Secretary-General is the most visible public figure and representative head of the UN. António Guterres is the current Secretary-General, having taken office on 1 January 2017. He was the Prime Minister of Portugal (1995-2002) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015).

Social and economic issues are dealt with by many agencies including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), among others.

Reform of the UN after the Cold War

There have been demands for reform of the UN in recent years, but there is little clarity and consensus on the nature of reform.

Two basic kinds of reforms are necessary:

  • Reform of the organization’s structures and processes.
  • A review of the issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the organization.

The biggest discussion on the reform of structures and processes has been on the functioning of the Security Council and demands for an increase in its permanent and non-permanent membership to better reflect the realities of contemporary world politics.

On the issues within the jurisdiction of the UN, some countries want the organisation to play a greater role in peace and security missions while some other countries want the role of UN to be confined to development and humanitarian work.

The UN was established after the Second World War. Since then, there have been significant changes in the world, including:

  • The Soviet Union has collapsed.
  • The US is the strongest power.
  • The relationship between Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union, and the US is much more cooperative.
  • China and India emerged as great powers.
  • The economies of Asia are growing at an unprecedented rate.
  • Many new countries have joined the UN.
  • A whole new set of challenges confronts the world (genocide, civil war, ethnic conflict, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, environmental degradation, epidemics).

Reforms of Structures and Processes

In 1992, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution. The resolution reflected three main complaints:

  • The Security Council no longer represents contemporary political realities.
  • Its decisions reflect only Western values and interests and are dominated by a few powers.
  • It lacks equitable representation.

In 1997, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan initiated an inquiry into UN reform.

The criteria for new permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council have been proposed since then. Some of these criteria include:

  • A major economic power
  • A major military power
  • A substantial contributor to the UN budget
  • A big nation in terms of its population
  • A nation that respects democracy and human rights
  • A country that would make the Council more representative of the world’s diversity in terms of geography, economic systems, and culture.

Different governments saw advantages in some criteria and disadvantages in others depending on their interests and aspirations. A demand to abolish the veto power altogether was also raised. Many perceived the veto to be in conflict with the concept of democracy and sovereign equality in the UN.

Non-permanent members of the Security Council do not have the veto power. Veto power allows permanent members to vote negatively and stall a decision, even if all other members vote in favor.

While there has been a move to abolish or modify the veto system, there is also a realisation that the permanent members are unlikely to agree to such a reform.

The veto is seen as necessary to keep great powers involved in the world body. Without the veto, there is a danger of the body becoming ineffective and losing support.

Jurisdiction of the UN

In September 2005, the heads of all member-states met to celebrate the UN’s 60th anniversary and review the situation.

The leaders at the meeting agreed on steps to make the UN more relevant in a changing context:

  • Creation of a Peacebuilding Commission
  • Acceptance of the responsibility of the international community in case of failures of national governments to protect their own citizens from atrocities
  • Establishment of a Human Rights Council (operational since 19 June 2006)
  • Agreements to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
  • Condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations
  • Creation of a Democracy Fund
  • An agreement to wind up the Trusteeship Council

India and the UN Reforms

India has always supported the restructuring of the United Nations. It believes that a strengthened and revitalised UN is desirable in a changing world.

The most important demand of India is regarding the restructuring of the security council. It supports an increase in the number of both permanent and non-permanent members.

It also argues that an expanded council, with more representative, will enjoy greater support in the world community.

India itself wishes to be a permanent member in a restructured UN. India is the world’s largest democracy and the second most populous country in the world.

The country’s economic emergence on the world stage is another factor that perhaps justifies India’s claim to a permanent seat in the Security Council.

Despite India’s wish to be a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN, some countries question its inclusion. Neighbouring Pakistan, with which India has troubled relations.

Some countries, for instance, are concerned about India’s nuclear weapons capabilities. Others think that its difficulties with Pakistan will make India ineffective as a permanent member.

Others feel that if India is included, then other emerging powers will have to be accommodated such as Brazil, Germany, Japan, perhaps even South Africa, whom they oppose.

The UN in a Unipolar World

Some countries hope that reform and restructuring of the UN can help it better cope with a unipolar world dominated by the US.

There are questions about whether the UN can serve as a balance against US dominance and help maintain dialogue between the US and the rest of the world.

US power cannot be easily checked.

First of all, with the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the US stands as the only superpower. Its military and economic power allow it to ignore the UN or any other international organisation.

Within the UN, the influence of the US is considerable. As the single largest contributor to the UN, the US has unmatched financial power.

The UN is not therefore a great balance to the US. Nevertheless, in a unipolar world in which the US is dominant, the UN can and has served to bring the US and the rest of the world into discussions over various issues.

The UN is an imperfect body, but without it the world would be worse off.

It is important for people to use and support the UN and other international organisations in ways that are consistent with their own interests.

United Nations Specialized Agencies

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

At the international level, overseas financial institutions and regulations.

It consists of 180 members. Out of them, G-8 members enjoy more powers i.e. the US, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Canada and Russia except China and Saudi Arabia.

The US alone enjoys 16.75% voting rights.

World Bank

It was created in 1944. It works for human development, agriculture and rural development, environmental protection, infrastructure and governance and provides loans and grants to developing countries.

It is criticised for setting the economic agenda of poorer nations, attaching stringent conditions to its loans and forcing free market reforms.

WTO-World Trade Organisation

An international organisation to set the rules for global trade which was set up in 1995 as a successor to General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and has 157 members, (as on 1 September 2012)

Major economic powers such as the US, EU and Japan have managed to use the WTO to frame rules of trade to advance their own interests.

The developing countries often complain of non-transparent procedure and being pushed around by big powers.

IAEA-International Atomic Energy Agency

It was established in 1957 to implement US president Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” proposal.

It seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to prevent its use for military purpose.

IAEA teams regularly inspect nuclear facilities all over the world to ensure that civilian reactors are not being used for military purposes.

Amnesty International

An NGO to campaign for the protection of human rights all over the world.

It prepares and publishes reports on human rights to research and advocate human rights.

Governments are not always happy with these reports since a major focus of Amnesty is the misconduct of government authorities.

Human Rights Watch

Another international NGO involved in research and advocacy of human rights.

The largest international human rights organisation in the US. It draws the global media’s attention to human rights abuses.

It helped in building international coalitions like the campaigns to ban landmines, to stop the use of child-soldier and to establish the international criminal court.

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