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Reform UN for global peace, development

The 67th United Nations General Assembly currently underway in New York takes place against a backdrop of multiple, and in some cases very volatile, international events. It is also taking place amid continued calls that the world mother body needs to be reformed so that it remains relevant to current and future aspirations of all member states, and not just a select few.

This year's session also raises important questions about the UN's role in a world full of trouble spots, some of which continue to be presented before the mother body.

All continents are facing socio-economic, cultural, political and religious problems, and global citizens would want to know why world leaders should continue to congregate if they do not come up with lasting solutions to the challenges being faced. If member states are also undergoing changes, why should the UN itself not do the same?

If the UN believes that it is still relevant to issues affecting member states, then it should expedite calls about reforming some of its age-old institutions that are now an impediment to progress.

In 2011, the 66th UNGA session dealt with similar issues, among them the reform of the UN Security Council. We, however, question why the reform of this body in keeping with democratic norms and values is taking forever to be implemented.

It is also a misnomer that a 194-member body should only have fifteen member states at the most important decisionmaking level of the UN, five of whom hold veto power. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to realise that this is an anomaly that should be urgently addressed, and when the expansion of the UNSC is discussed, it should be done in view of current global trends.

If Anglo-Saxon countries and their allies gained membership by virtue of the two World Wars they fought using resources they plundered from former colonies, this should be reversed. As we witnessed at the Non-Aligned Movement summit held in the Iranian capital Tehran last month, developing countries are not only resource rich, but they also constitute two thirds of the world's population.

Although the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are developing nations economically, they are also the fastest growing nations. These are issues that the UN, especially the Anglo- Saxon members, cannot continue to brush aside. The Libyan and Syrian crisis have also brought to the fore how easily the superpowers who hold veto power in the UNSC can abuse it to further their own economic and political interests.

After the cold-blooded murder of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi in October last year, we note with interest how some UNSC members who hold veto power are bypassing the UN as they render assistance to Syrian rebels in their illegal bid to remove the Syrian leader from power.

We also stand by the Zimbabwean Government position that in order for the UNSC to be more representative, it should have permanent members from all regions of the world, and that Africa should have the two seats in line with the Ezulwini consensus. But the Libyan crisis has demonstrated how some African nations abused their rotational membership in the UNSC. Whatever the outcome, the permanent members from Africa should not be drawn from member states that will eventually go to bed with its enemies.

A number of territorial disputes have been brought before the UN General Assembly, with the Palestine/Israeli issue being one of the longest disputes. If the UNSC had an expanded membership, the Palestinian question together with illegal sanctions imposed on countries like Zimbabwe, would have been resolved without undue external interference. The current territorial dispute between China and Japan is also before the UN.

But we question the extent to which the UN will interrogate the United States' alleged involvement in the dispute. Is the US trying to push down a rising China by not only taking sides, but also rocking the boat in the Asia-Pacific region? President Mugabe is expected to address UNGA today.

It is our hope that he reiterates the calls he has made in the past that the nature of today's global landscape has no room for a unipolar world, where rich and powerful nations use the UN to abuse developing nations. We note with concern that the issues that he raised at the 66th UNGA, continues unabated: "Bilateral hatreds and quarrels or ulterior motives must not be allowed to creep into considerations of matters pertaining to peace and security, or to the Responsibility to Protect. We are yet to be convinced that the involvement of the mighty powers in Libya's affairs has not hindered the advent of the process of peace, democracy and prosperity in that sister African country".

The rule of law both at the national and international levels is also a major issue before the 67th UNGA. Just as the reform of the UN, it is time that terms like democracy and rule of law are clearly defined. For example, does democracy and/ or rule of law assume different meanings when applied in the US and Africa?

If Moslems continue to be denigrated by Western citizens, how should the rule of law be applied, and as members of a world body, where should they seek recourse? What is the role of the UN when big powers use their money, might and modern weaponry to occupy smaller nations?

The 194-member states constitute billions of people who want to live side-by-side peacefully. These are the people who seek meaningful answers from the year-in, year-out UN General Assemblies, including the current one


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