Monday, November 04, 2013

Calls for Security Council reforms deserve support
By Editor
Fri 11 Oct. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Last year, presidents Michael Sata of Zambia and Jacob Zuma of South Africa went to the United Nations general assembly and demanded for Africa to have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. We found their demand justifiable and deserving support.

This year again, the two African presidents have gone to the United Nations general assembly with the same demand but probably in different words.

Stressing the desire for Africa to have two member seats representations at the United Nations Security Council and two non-member seats, President Sata said:

"The United Nations boasts of an all-inclusive multi-lateralism process, but this is obviously lacking when it comes to the Security Council. The effectiveness of this organ should be manifested in its adaptation to the prevailing global realities of international peace and security and the legitimacy realised through an all-inclusive process."

Putting forward his demand this year, President Zuma said: "We cannot remain beholden indefinitely to the will of an unrepresentative minority on most important issues of international peace and security. There has been too much talk about the need for reform, with too little action. We would like to challenge the Assembly today: let us set ourselves the target to celebrate the 70th anniversary of United Nations in 2015 with a reformed, more inclusive, democratic and representative United Nations Security Council."

Like last year, we this year also support the demands of our two presidents and we strongly feel they are justified and deserve support.
But again, as we stated last year, this shouldn't be a substitute for renewing the United Nations system.

A package of measures is needed to renew the United Nations system. The issue of reforming the United Nations, its associated agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions - notably the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - should be placed firmly on the world agenda, even if there are very different interests and proposals in play.

We hope the North, and in particular the United States, will not be allowed to continue dictating what happens to the United Nations system in the name of efficiency and cost-cutting. We say this because what the world desperately needs are more effective and more democratic international institutions able to play their full part not only in peace-keeping but in managing and developing a more just world economy.

What is at stake is the very nature and direction of the United Nations if it is not to be emasculated, but rather strengthened. The role of the United Nations in the 21st century has to be different, changes are needed.

The United Nations was founded immediately after a terrible war against Nazism, in which unexpected alliances were formed among forces with disparate ideological tendencies, bent on fighting that terrible evil threatening humanity. That war claimed 50 million lives. Several of the main countries at war emerged victorious, and in conjunction with other less powerful nations, they founded this institution.

Actually, nearly all the African countries were colonies or semi-colonies, and the majority of countries who are United Nations members today were not independent either. Now, we are living in a completely new situation. We cannot really speak today of a United Nations system. We do not have a United Nations system. What we actually have is a system of domination over almost every country in the world by a small number of powerful nations, which under the aegis of the United States - the most powerful nation of all - decide everything on our planet.

With so much at stake, it is essential that developing countries, including African countries, now act as the protagonist to change the direction and content of the debate on United Nations reform. What the South was able to do in the 1960s and 1970s in terms of shaping the international debate, inspired in the first place by just very few countries, can and must be done again.

The South also has the proven capacity to exercise intellectual leadership and to provide new directions for the United Nations, both in terms of policies and institutions. Collectively, developing countries have the strength to counter the onslaught on the United Nations and to put forward their own proposals for wide-ranging reforms to strengthen the organisation, so that it becomes a genuinely multilateral and democratic body in the service of all.

The preoccupations of the peoples of the South also find an echo in the concerns of large numbers of people in the North. There are many other common interests between the South and the North and worldwide problems of mutual concern such as financial instability, unemployment and the increasing social disparities and tensions, environmental degradation, HIV and AIDS, drug addiction and narcotics trafficking, inner-city problems and growing delinquency and marginalisation.

Indeed, large sectors of the North's population can also claim that they too suffer from failed development in their own societies, which is also aggravated by the more rapid pace of globalisation.

By taking a clear stand and speaking out on these issues, the South is likely also to mobilise the interest and support of progressive and internationalist opinion in the North, which may in turn be able to exert greater pressure on North governments to take a more positive, forward-looking approach to the matter of United Nations reform.

As Kofi Annan, a former secretary general of the United Nations, once observed, "we all need an effective United Nations - one that reflects the world we live in today and can meet the challenges we will face tomorrow… we are in a new era, we need a new United Nations. Let's make it happen".

It is therefore our collective duty to struggle for the establishment of such a United Nations. And our demands for a better, more just United Nations should not begin and end with Africa getting a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

To achieve this, the unity of all South countries is absolutely necessary. The challenges that we face under the current setup of the United Nations are common to us all, regardless of political concepts, systems of government, philosophical convictions. The approach to these vital questions affecting us and the solutions we seek can and should be shared. We should also rise above the local controversies that sometimes turn us into enemies because of old disputes or intrigues, ambitions or the machinations of the North.

Generally speaking, what we see of the United Nations today are the product of the system of domination and colonial control that subjugated us for centuries. We should therefore struggle tenaciously to promote the closest possible unity among the South countries. We must not allow anybody or anything to divide us.

Reform of the United Nations and its associated agencies and institutions is a prerequisite for our countries' progress.

There is no possible substitute for this world organisation, which includes all states. We therefore need to struggle to increase the prestige, authority and role of the United Nations and its specialised agencies and institutions; to give them our solid support as a majority in the struggle for peace and security of all peoples, for a fair international order and for a solution to the tragic problem of underdevelopment that adversely affects the vast majority of countries.

The existence of such an organisation as the United Nations, with growing solidity, influence and power, is increasingly indispensable for the future of the world.

It is therefore very important that as we demand that Africa has a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, we should not lose sight of the fact that what is most needed and more important is a package of measures to renew the United Nations system. In a reformed United Nations, a permanent seat may not even be necessary because power within the United Nations may be shared and exercised in a totally different way.

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