Sunday, November 23, 2014

United Nation’s Security Council Reforms

Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the question of equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

1. “The Untied Nations” – that is how the name of the newborn organization was spelled in one of the San Francisco documents. Accidentally misspelled, for the objective of the UN was exactly the opposite of untying nations. The world body was brought into the world in 1945 to strengthen the mutual ties between countries and to tie their behavior to international law. In order to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, the UN Charter endowed in particular the Security Council with sweeping powers. Yet it is said that its real impact derives not just from such legal provisions but to a large extent also from its perceived legitimacy. Let me quote for example Harvard professor Joseph Nye, who said: “What the UN can convey that is particularly important is legitimacy, an important part of soft power.” End of quote. For the UN Security Council, remaining relevant therefore requires retaining legitimacy. Yet it is here that we have a lot of work on our hands. Just look at the UN logo. It was approved back in 1946 and depicts the world surrounded by olive branches – by now, that world has changed so profoundly, that the profoundly unchanged organization’s ability to bear the olive branch of peace is severely at risk. Peace and security cannot be maintained by a Security Council that is out of date and out of touch. A young and charismatic American president led the way when he said, and I quote: “The United Nations cannot survive as a static organization. Its obligations are increasing as well as its size. Its Charter must be changed as well as its customs. The authors of that Charter did not intend that it be frozen in perpetuity.” End of quote. That was John F. Kennedy at the opening of the 18th GA session in 1963, the last and only time the Council’s composition was updated. Now we are in GA session number 63 and once more face the responsibility to reform.

2. This chance for change has been three decades in the making. It was India together with Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Guyana, Maldives, Nepal, Nigeria and Sri Lanka that in 1979 planted the seed by asking the General Assembly to include a new item on its agenda: “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”. It was September 11 and its aftermath that laid bare the urgent need to adapt the Security Council to the come-back of international insecurity, propelling the item towards the top of the UN’s agenda. At the 2005 World Summit, our leaders rallied behind the objective of, and I quote, “an early reform, of the Security Council – an essential element of our overall effort to reform the United Nations – in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions,” end of quote. Our leaders thus already spelled out what the objective of Security Council reform is. What they did not tell us, of course, was their definition of “early reform”. However, as the President of the General Assembly has asserted, it would seem safe to say, that they did not mean to see another World Summit pass us by with the status quo intact. There is no reason why we should fail them, for today we at long last leave the antechamber of reform and walk into the negotiation room. Landmark Decision 62/557 opened that door on 15 September 2008. On this historic day, we should be thankful to all who worked hard to create this opportunity and, at the same time, we should be mindful of the responsibility not to squander it. Outside the negotiation room, the world finds itself in a state of flux. With the economic dominoes falling, some even augur a new Great Depression. And as we all know, that crisis set the stage for a war that brought untold sorrow to mankind – a history the UN is supposed to stop us from repeating. In these dangerous days, we cannot stop at repairing our economic institutions, our system of collective security must be reformed along with it. We don’t have the luxury of leaving one the two for another day. Coming from where I come from, I know first-hand how intimately peace and prosperity are related and that both deserve first-tier priority. Coming from where I come from, I know how crucial the Council’s work is to peace on Earth, to peace on the ground. Security Council reform forms a centerpiece of today’s Herculean effort to reshape global governance.

3. Fortunately, as the last couple of months have also shown, the fire in which Decision 62/557 was forged still burns. We must keep that fire of collective commitment going, because if we let narrow self-interest prevail, we might miss the narrow opportunity for decisive progress. While the onus is mostly on Member States, the President of the General Assembly and I, as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on his behalf, will do everything in our power to prevent that from happening. At the successful first meeting of this informal plenary, the President vowed to very soon undertake his responsibility to take the process forward. That time has now come. Yesterday morning, delegations already received the work plan announced on January 29. The plan is the result of a painstaking and diligent exercise of deduction. From that exercise, while guided by the authoritative sources the President identified in his 29 January address, we concluded that this is the work plan that emanates from Decision 62/557. What is more, the plan, setting out how to negotiate and when to negotiate, also does justice to the overwhelming and across-the-board appetite among Member States to get started – not with negotiations on the negotiations, but with negotiations on the substance. For too long, we have been dipping our toes in the water. Now, at long last, we finally dive into these negotiations. If we rush the process and swim back to the surface too quickly, we might not survive because of decompression sickness. But on the other hand, if we stay under too long, we will run out of air and surely succumb. I don’t believe that either fate will befall us, because I believe that you will rise to the challenge. Let us now take a deep breath before we dive into the deep end on March 4, commencing the implementation of our work plan. Every day, every way possible, I will help you with that, as described in the letter of the President. We are of course impartial to any of the positions, but partial to progress.

Thank you.

H.E.Rangin Dadfar Spanta

H.E. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan meets with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right)

H.E. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan meets with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right)

Main Issues During its 63rd session

Financing for Development

The Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development was held in Doha, Qatar, on 29 November to 2 December 2008.

As the Conference took place at the time of the ongoing global financial crisis, nearly all statements focused on the severe consequences of the crisis for development and the need for bold and urgent measures to address them, including strengthening of the financial oversight and global regulatory system and building a more stable and inclusive financial system.

Member States also underscored the global food crisis, which, if not addressed urgently, threatens to become a prolonged humanitarian tragedy. The financial implications of climate change and the need to strengthen the FfD follow-up process featured prominently on the agenda as well.

The two key messages of the Doha Declaration highlighted the strong commitment by developed countries to maintain their ODA targets irrespective of the current financial crisis; and the decision to hold a United Nations Conference at the highest level on the impact of the current financial and economic crisis on development to be organized by the President of the General Assembly.

Other highlights of the Doha Declaration are:

  • Domestic resource mobilization: the importance of national ownership of development strategies and of an inclusive financial sector, as well as the need for strong policies on gender equality and human development, with a provision for adequate policy space in developing countries.
  • Mobilizing international resources for development: the need to expand the reach of private flows to greater number of developing countries and to expand areas of investment to include human resources, transport, energy, communications, information technology, etc.
  • International trade as an engine for development: the importance of concluding the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations, with a meaningful development content, taking into account special needs of the Least Developed Countries.
  • Increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development: the importance of maintaining ODA commitments by donors while addressing special needs of low- and middle-income countries, and the call for the close monitoring of ODA flows.
  • External debt: the need to strengthen crisis prevention mechanisms and to explore enhanced approaches for debt restructuring mechanisms.
  • Addressing systemic issues: a strong criticism of the existing global economic governance arrangements and the call for major and comprehensive reforms, particularly of BWIs; and the call for a major UN conference to discuss the impact of the financial crisis on development, the modalities of which to be decided by the end of March 2009 at the latest.
  • Other new and emerging issues: recognition of the challenges posed to FfD by the climate change and the fluctuations in the prices of primary commodities, including food and energy.
  • Staying engaged: the call for strengthening the follow-up mechanism of the Monterrey and Doha Conferences.

Climate change

Climate change in a divided but ecologically interdependent world

Climate change is a central multi-dimensional issue in this XXI century.  An unsustainable and selfish culture of production and consumption has created a vast problem of future dramatic consequences for Mother Earth and for future generations. The threats to stability and human security are very serious and will affect the whole international community, with the most negative impacts on its poorest and the most vulnerable members, the small island states and the least developed countries.

The 63rd. session of the General Assembly is taking place in the process of the Bali Road Map negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol.

The aim during this session will be to provide the most wide and substantial support to the climate change negotiations in Poznan, Poland and to the following meeting in 2009 towards the Copenhagen Conference in December. This will happen by the recent adoption of the resolution “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind” which contains messages for the UN climate conference in Poznan and onwards and by the organization of thematic debates. Among possible subjects for these multilateral gatherings in New York could include: transfer of cleaner energy and adaptation technologies to developing countries, vulnerability and adaption, unsustainable consumption patterns and interfaith dialogue towards a moral call for action on climate change.

UN Decade “Water for Life” (2005-2015)

General Assembly: a legitimate answer for the Water Crisis.

The 63rd. session of the General Assembly is taking place during very troubling times.   Existing structural problems like   armed conflicts, poverty, lack of access to health and education, trade injustice and environmental degradation are aggravated by unprecedented energy, food and financial crisis. We are in a very dangerous situation originated and aggravated by human selfishness, greed and lack of democratic governance.

Among the priorities identified by the President is the need to implement and achieve the goals of the United Nations Decade: “Water for Life” (2005-2015), adopted by Resolution 58/217 in February 2004. In its preamble the resolution recognizes that water is critical for sustainable development, including environmental integrity and the eradication of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human health and well-being.

Water issues are currently under the agenda of a profusion of a complex network of intergovernmental organizations, hybrid public-private constituencies, transnational corporations and non governmental organizations.

As we are approaching the first half of the Water for Life decade, the global water crisis deepens. There is an urgent need to search for sustainable development solutions and to discuss at the highest political level issues like water governance and access, water scarcity, the role of water in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals, water quality,  water conservation, sanitary infrastructure, privatization, the role of agriculture, transboundary water issues (also under the agenda of the International Law Commission and the Sixth Committee) and conflicts, science and technology, informed and legitimate water assessments, climate change, adaptation, natural disasters, gender, equity and human rights issues related to water. The international crisis described above will disproportionately affect the poor and the water sector is critical for their survival.

The General Assembly is the most legitimate political global body.  Its unique representativeness and democratic character make it the natural place for debating, affirming principles and providing answers for the global water crisis. The General Assembly could enable the dialogue of governments and civil society organizations towards human and global solutions on water conservation, world water justice and democracy, establishing a new decision making and governance international structure for water issues.  It will also be an opportunity to send a clear signal for international development agencies to focus and redirect its actions towards water services that fulfill human needs and in particular those of the neediest sectors.  At the same time, this unique multidimensional issue, water, would be a meaningful possibility for the restoration of the Assembly’s powers, one of the other priorities for this session.

Water and poverty are strong symbols of inequality of the world, and the General Assembly has to perform a central role in fighting this injustice.  The Assembly must be the democratic and unifying factor that will transform the current pessimism in optimism by reaching political commitments that can formulate a path working toward equity and justice and with the establishment of social, scientific and technological innovations. The President, in consultation with Member States and competent UN agencies, will inform the future concrete steps to start advancing these objectives.

Implementation of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy

Implementation of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy, with full respect for human rights

A multilateral landmark in the collective fight against international terrorism was the adoption of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Strategy, in September 2006. The strategy forms a basis for a concrete plan of action: to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; to prevent and combat terrorism; to take measures to build state capacity to fight terrorism; to strengthen the role of the United Nations in combating terrorism; and to ensure the respect of human rights while countering terrorism. The strategy builds on the unique consensus achieved by world leaders at their 2005 September Summit to condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The Presidency of the 63rd. General Assembly will contribute with all its efforts to strengthen the implementation of the Strategy, which was reviewed in September this year by adopting a resolution reaffirming its commitment to the Strategy and its implementation.

The Presidency recalls the important work on the issue of the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism being done by the United Nations and its overall efforts to promote peace, security, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law. We have an urgent need to resolve the underlying regional and internal conflicts as well as the dehumanization of victims of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the lack of the rule of law and the violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization and lack of good governance.

Fighting against terrorism must proceed with full respect of principles and rules of international law, human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law. The presidency will continue its support to the important work of the Special Rapporteur on Terrorism and Human Rights and is considering the organization of thematic events on these essential issues for 2009.

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