Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(HERALD ZW) Calls for UN reforms grow louder

Calls for UN reforms grow louder
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 00:00
Caesar Zvayi at the UNITED NATIONS, New York

PRESIDENT Mugabe joined other Heads of State and Government — among them monarchs — at the grand debate of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly that began here yesterday.

The debate started amid a pall of turmoil that put into question the UN’s relevance to the world’s geo-political challenges. President Mugabe’s highly anticipated address is slated for tomorrow afternoon.

That the debate could open amid the possibility of an Israeli strike against Iran without even a whimper from the secretary-general called into question the practicality of the lofty ideals that permeate the UN Charter, among them the pledge to “save the world from the scourge of war”.

The increasing instability in North Africa brought about by the spread of rebels across the Sahel region in the wake of the Western-spawned instability in Libya, the continued victimisation of Iran over its civilian nuclear programme by countries with the biggest stockpiles of warheads in the world, the global riots in the Muslim world prompted by the Islamophobic tendencies of the West, and rising tensions in Asia over competing claims to small, potentially mineral-rich islands, all cast a shadow over the relevance of the world body as currently constituted.

All this is occurring under UN watch without any substantive solutions emerging from the UN headquarters which always seems to take a cue from Washington.

The UN’s readiness to follow Western dictates and failure to stamp authority on global affairs has heightened calls for UN reforms at best or the relegation of the world body to the dump where the League of Nations, that similarly failed to maintain world peace culminating in the second Anglo-Saxon war between 1939 and 1945, lies.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raised the bar in his address to a high-level plenary on the rule of law yesterday as he called on world leaders to reform the structure of the UN to provide for “a democratic and fair framework” for other emerging nations among them the BRICS comprising Brazil, India, China and South Africa. “Effective steps must be taken toward reforming the structure of the UN in order to establish a

democratic and fair framework in this organisation,” Mr Ahmadinejad said. Speaking ahead of an address by her boss to the same plenary here yesterday, South Africa's foreign minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane said her country's position was that for the UN to legitimately drive a rule of law agenda globally, it needed critical reforms to make it more democratic and representative. “When you talk about the rule of law, you also talk of democracy. We should be talking about the democratisation of these institutions under the UN,” Maite Nkoana Mashabane told the SABC. More than 120 Heads of State and Government, sheiks and monarchs convened here for the grand debate and other sideline events under the theme: “peaceful resolution of conflicts”.

Addressing the high-level meeting, Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready for dialogue. "The nuclear issue is not a problem. But the approach of the United States on Iran is important. We are ready for dialogue, for a fundamental resolution of the problems, but under conditions that are based on fairness and mutual respect," he said On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will once again submit a bid for non-member state recognition, despite opposition from the US and Israel.

Unlike last year’s abortive bid for full UN membership, which required Security Council approval, this year’s bid is bound to succeed as it only requires a simple majority vote in the 163-member General Assembly. Observers say Mr Abbas is expected to come to the General Assembly on Thursday with a more modest proposal — to upgrade Palestine's current status as a UN observer to a non-member observer state — but likely putting off the date for submission of a resolution to the assembly, where there are no vetoes, until after the US presidential election in November.

The Palestinians expect overwhelming support from the assembly for the enhanced UN status, which they hope will give broad international legitimacy to the pre-1967 lines as Palestine's border and grant them access to UN agencies and possibly the International Criminal Court to table their grievances over the excesses of the Zionist regime in Tel Aviv.

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