The Doha Forum in tandem with “Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference” are currently underway in Doha, Qatar. On 10 May, the second day of the three day event, the session entitled “International Stability,” featured panelists from Foreign Ministries and Government, academics and experts from around the globe including Afghanistan, France, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, the UK, and the US. The panelists discussed the future of peace in the Middle East including recent revolutions in the region and their strategic implications. Other topics included the escalation of Islamophobia in Europe, the development of the G20, the growing role of regional powers, and the reform of the United Nations Security Council.
His Excellency Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations and Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, spoke on the panel, delivering a statement entitled “ The Call for Reform: The UN and the Security Council in a Changing World.” In his discussion he gave a rich analysis of historical and current shifts in the global landscape that have led to the need for reform for the United Nations Security Council. “International bodies, such as the United Nations, must adapt… in order to remain effective, efficient, and relevant in our dynamic world,” he said. He expressed optimism about the potential of facing the challenge of change, saying “although adjusting to change is a constant challenge, it is also a chance to progress.”
Ambassador Tanin traced the historical context of the United Nations from its founding in 1945 through the Cold War era, the Post-Cold War era, the post 9-11 era, and what he referred to as “the Post-Bin Laded time.” He explains that in this current period, “we are witnessing new countries being born, and we are seeing a blossoming movement towards democracy – in the Arab world and elsewhere. What I think we are all witness to is a general reshaping of global alliances and new international constellations.”
Pointing out that it a time of increasing expectancy for the Council to reaffirm itself as a leader of enforcing peace and security on the global stage, Ambassador Tanin recognized that, “with no reform we risk losing the legitimacy of the Security Council.”
Other panelists addressed a range of issues related to international stability including: the Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Professor at UC Berkeley and Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs in the US, a French researcher at CNRS, a former Delegate Minister for Equal Opportunities of France, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Romania, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Mexico, and a Shadow Secretary of State of Transport from the UK.
Later in the day Ambassador Tanin led a workshop on the topic of Security Council Reform in which he gave a more in depth perspective on the historical and current context for Security Council Reform. Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations who will be President of the General Assembly in the 66th Session beginning in September, also spoke at the workshop. He talked about the importance of the issue of Security Council Reform for the next General Assembly Session and welcomed the day’s “gathering of ideas” which he believes will be useful for the process. He also showed support for the current process, saying “I am confident in the wisdom of Ambassador Tanin as we face this challenge.”
A lively question and answer session with the diplomats and experts in the room followed in which questions ranged from discussing the stances of various nation states to speculations about how positions will progress to analysis of the UN’s increased role in today’s global climate to inquiring about the legitimacy of the Security Council. Ambassador Tanin responded with a final argument for reform of the Council, pointing out that the Security Council “is working for the people.” “In the streets,” he said, “there’s very little belief in the legitimacy of its decisions if the Security Council is not more inclusive, more representative, more democratic. We have to listen to the streets.”
On 12-13 May, on the margins of the Doha Forum, there will be an informal and in depth two day workshop of diplomats and experts discussing the issue of Security Council Reform. Ambassador Al-Nasser and Ambassador Tanin will speak at the event as well.