Reforming the UN is the answer
World leaders gathered in New York for the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at a time when the globe is faced with mounting crises from wars, terrorist attacks, diseases and the effects of climate change.
The session comes in the wake of violence wreaked by the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, the spreading of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa and the stalled negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme.
At the same time, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States has been expanding its militarism into other regions of the world using the conflicts in those parts of the globe as an excuse to launch wars.
Washington is increasingly taking unilateral decisions that affect other nations and regions. A good example being the attacks it has just launched in Syria.
There is little hope the 193-nation UN General Assembly will tackle these issues to the satisfaction of the global citizens. The UN General Assembly began on September 24 and runs until September 30. It has over the years come to be viewed just as a platform for delivering speeches on global affairs by world leaders.
As one of the six principal organs of the UN, the General Assembly is the only one in which all member nations have equal representation. Its powers include overseeing the budget of the UN, appointing non-permanent members to the Security Council and making recommendations in the form of resolutions.
But crucially the resolutions are non-binding on the member nations. Developing countries have viewed this arrangement as a major anomaly in the manner the UN runs its affairs and have therefore been calling for the reform of the world body. The calls have focussed on the powers of the Security Council, which is dominated by the five permanent members China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The current rise in conflicts on the globe, in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine is an indictment for the urgent reform of the UN to make it more effective.
Calls have also been made to reconstitute the Security Council because it has remained largely unrepresentative. SADC chairperson and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe argues that the Security Council was masking Western attempts to recolonise less powerful countries to plunder their natural resources.
“For how long should Africa continue to be denied the right to play a pivotal role in the United Nations Security Council as it decides measures on conflicts within its own borders?
“Indeed, recent events have revealed that its formal decisions have provided camouflage to neo-imperialist forces of aggression seeking to militarily intervene in smaller countries in order to effect regime change and acquire complete control of their wealth.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon concedes the current session comes at a difficult time in world affairs.
“The world is facing multiple crises,” he told reporters ahead of the start of the General Assembly.
“All have featured atrocious attacks on civilians, including children,” he said. “All have dangerous sectarian, ethnic or tribal dimensions. And many have seen sharp divisions within the international community itself over the response.”
The UN boss has hosted a climate change summit in preparation for a major environmental conference in Paris next year.