n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Regionalism and the restructuring of the United Nations with specific reference to the African Union

Volume 44, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



One of the most pressing current international issues is the restructuring of the United Nations (UN). Since its inception with an initial membership of fifty-one states, the UN has expanded dramatically and developed into a complex and fragmented global institution with a current membership of 193 states. The changing realities since 1945 have had a significant impact on the functioning and structure of the UN and reform of the international institution is therefore increasingly proposed and debated. One of these changing realities is the (renewed) process of regional integration in various parts of the world. The objectives and structures of the UN and regional organisations often display certain similarities and regional organisations often act within areas that were previously the monopoly of specifically the UN. This overlap in authority may create uncertainty as to the exact relationship between the UN and regional alignments. This article evaluates to what extent the African Union (AU) has progressed in its aim of continental regionalism and examines the impact that regionalism may have on the proposed restructuring of the UN. In view of the growing importance of regionalism it is suggested that serious consideration be given to eventually restructuring the UN as an international organisation consisting of 'sovereign' regional organisations. States invested with the basic aspects of sovereignty will then enjoy representation at the regional level, as it is at this level where their interests can best be served.

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