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But most delegates are not aware as to how States become members of the United Nations and who some ‘States’ are not members of the United Nations.
A joke is always shared online about Israel and Palestine and I dare add ‘WITHOUT PREJUDICE’;
The Israeli Ambassador at the U.N. began, "Ladies and gentlemen before I commence with my speech, I want to relay an old Passover story.
"When Moses was leading the Jews out of Egypt toward the Promised Land, he had to go through the nearly endless Sinai desert.
"When they reached the Promised Land, the people had become very thirsty and needed water. So Moses struck the side of a mountain with his staff and a pond appeared with crystal clean, cool water. The people rejoiced and drank to their hearts' content.
"Moses put down his staff and went to a solitary corner of the pond to drink, and meditate in prayer. But once Moses returned, he found that his staff had been stolen.
"I have reason to believe ladies and gentlemen that the Palestinians stole the staff of our great Prophet Moses.'"
The Palestinian delegate to the UN, hearing this accusation, jumps from his seat and screams out, "This is a travesty. It is widely known that there were no such thing as 'Palestinians' at that time!"
"And with that in mind," said the Israeli Ambassador, "let me now begin my speech."
With that joke, join me and allow me to take you through the process that States have to go through before being accepted as members of the United Nations.
The UN Charter
The UN Charter acts as the ‘Constitution’ of the United Nations and Article 2 provides the key principles that the member States of the UN are to act in accordance with; principles such as good faith, sovereign equality and peaceful settlement of international disputes.
Article 4 of the UN Charter provides the criteria for Membership into the United Nations. It provides for a number of conditions for admission:
1. Peace loving;
3. Accept the obligations contained in the Charter;
4. Be willing to carry out the obligations contained in the Charter;
5. Be able to carry out the obligations contained in the Charter.
If a State satisfies all these five conditions then the same is effected by a decision of the General Assembly from the recommendation of the Security Council.
Each of these conditions is considered individually as well as in totality together to reach a decision of admission.
The notion of peace under international law can be defined in a number of ways, for instance: The absence of international armed conflicts; A state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended.
The United Nations has the mandate of ensuring and maintaining international peace and security and as such it is of paramount important that its own members and ‘members-to-be’ are peace-loving so as to ensure the sustainability of the mandate of the UN.
The Montevideo Convention (Convention on the Rights and Duties of States) provides under Article 1 the conditions that a State has to fulfill in order to be called a State.
• Defined territory;
• Permanent population;
• Government (stable and effective control);
• Capacity to enter into international relations.
Moreover, these substantive conditions as provided in Article 4 (1) of the UN Charter are exhaustive in nature. Between 1945-1955 there was what was known as the admissions crisis where there was a capitalist v communist struggle and package deals were negotiated by the Security Council to accept certain members into the UN. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), dealt with this issue in its Admissions Opinion I, which was an advisory opinion sought by the General Assembly to determine whether the Security Council could add more conditions to what was already available.
The ICJ was of the opinion that the conditions for membership in the United Nations are exhaustive in nature and are not merely stated by way of guidance or example. Further, the Court stated that once States have satisfied the conditions enumerated in Article 4 (1), then they should be admitted into the United Nations. Further, there came about a second dispute this time by the Security Council as to whether the General Assembly could decide on the admittance of States into the United Nations.
The procedural conditions for admission can be found in Article 4 (2) of the UN Charter:
• Recommendation by the Security Council;
• Decision by General Assembly to effect admission.
The ICJ was called upon a second time, this time by the Security Council to advice on this issue. The Court opined that once a State has satisfied the conditions in Article 4 (1), “the recommendation of the Security Council as provided by Article 4(2) of the UN Charter, is the condition precedent to the decision of the General Assembly by which the admission is effected.” This is otherwise known as conditio sine qua non for those who speak Latin.
The Court further opined that Article 4 (2) of the UN Charter envisages a favorable recommendation of the Security Council and that only. If the Council comes to the conclusion of an ‘unfavorable recommendation’, then the General Assembly cannot take upon itself to exercise a function that is set aside for the Security Council alone.
In summation, the simple analysis undertaken above is to help the MUN enthusiasts understand why there are States represented in the United Nations as well as the conditions that they have to meet to be members of the UN.
Next time you sit behind a placard to represent the interests of a State in an MUN; you will be well informed as to how the State that you are representing, became part of the United Nations.