Sunday, April 21, 2024

EDITORIAL – United Nations in pressing need of reform


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THE WORLD recently endured the ritual opening speeches of the 65th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and we are left to wonder why so many small countries feel compelled to attend these meetings every year when they have permanent representatives there.
With due respect, we still feel that most of the speeches are merely hot air, with very few making any impact on world affairs. Out of deference to the institution, many cannot say what they really want to and most say what they need not.
One speech however had an interesting ring to it. Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud al Faisal returned to the familiar theme of double standards of the world body; or, as others say, “the duplicity and hypocrisy of big powers that run the UN”, and by extension, the world.
The Saudi foreign minister is not the first diplomat to highlight the one-sided nature of the global body that is supposed to be a world parliament and bastion of democracy where every nation is presumed equal. 
In practice though, 60 years after the formation of the UN, some member states are still more equal than others. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, four of them victors of World War II, still dominate the UN’s agenda and protect, appease and punish whomever they want. 
No matter what the rest of the world and member states decide on any given issue, the Big Five can use their extraordinary powers – and they repeatedly have – to veto the democratic decision of the majority of members to push their own agenda.  
This selective implementation of the UN Charter and its resolutions have been the bane of the majority UN members for too long after the calamity of World War II. Those extraordinary powers granted in unusual circumstances were supposed to be temporary in order to strengthen the world body.
However, they have become an albatross around the UN’s neck, hampering its effective and independent functioning of the world body, especially peace-making and conflict resolution, the purpose of its existence.
No matter who is in the White House, China, the United States and Russia have repeatedly gone to extraordinary lengths to appease their friends and allies, totally rejecting world public opinion and UN resolutions when it suits them. 
This is why it is imperative, more than ever, to reform the UN and its institutions to make them truly democratic and representative in nature. Unfortunately, the Big Five are so entrenched in their power that it might be easier to disband the UN than to reform it to reflect today’s realities.


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