It’s time to act and fix ailing UNSC: India’s envoy in UN

akbar-in-un

Why is Security Council becoming unresponsive?

In an increasingly interconnected world where we have seen globalization of everything from propaganda to violence, technologies to cyber-attacks, terrorism to ill effects of climate change, conflicts to narco-networks, the response mechanisms that we have in place in the only global organization of our times are inadequate.

Let us begin with the principal organ tasked with maintenance of peace and security – The Security Council. It met formally this year on about 180 occasions, informally more than 400 times.

Despite this, on cardinal issues such as Syria we see inaction; on other situations like resolution 2304on South Sudan action is agreed upon but not yet implemented; and finally where measures are taken as in case of resolution 2276 on DPRK they are disregarded.

So in a variety of ways the Council has become unresponsive to the needs of our time and ineffective to the meeting the challenges it is confronted with. It is a body that ponders for 6 months on whether to sanction leaders of organizations it has itself designated as terrorist entities. Then, unable to decide, it gives itself 3 more months to further consider the issue. One has to await expectantly for the nine month process to know what Council members have decided. In instances it does not even begin that 9 month process of identification and listing of the publically announced leader of a listed entity. At best, it is now a body that can be described as an interesting and random mix of Ad-hocism, scrambling and political paralysis. The Global governance architecture now calls for comprehensive reform.

No coherence or coordination on terrorism

Our public consciousness is being ravaged daily by incessant acts of terrorism targeting innocent people, our civilizational heritage, and, increasingly, the socio-economic infrastructure of our societies, especially in vulnerable developing countries.

Yet, on the issue of terrorism the UN is yet to come up with a coherent policy let alone take the lead on one of the biggest threats to global peace and security. As many as 31 entities within the United Nations deal with some aspect of countering terrorism. We have learnt of the adage that too many cooks spoil the broth. This is clearly the case as coherence and coordination is missing. It is near impossible to argue the case of relevance of the UN on the issue of terrorism where even adoption of an international norm to “prosecute or extradite” terrorists evades us despite 20 years of talk.

Inability to address what is amongst the most dangerous of scourges faced by States and societies collectively since World War II raises questions about the relevance of our Organization to the very lives of the people who we are bound by the Charter to act on behalf of. The choice of relevancy requires a willingness to address what is staring us in the face. Yet we look away.

Pakistan’s Kashmir claims have no resonance

We look away as some amongst us stall our collective efforts, as they use terrorists as proxies in their territorial quests. have heard one such lone voice short while ago, making claims to an integral part of India. A country which has established itself as a global epicenter of terrorism. Such claims find no resonance amongst the international community. Just less than 10 days ago the GA Debate witnessed a singular lack of support for Pakistan’s baseless claims. Need one say more. Our response to Pakistan is consistent. Abandon your futile quest. Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so. No amount of misuse of international fora by Pakistan will change that reality. The sell by date of Pakistan’s anachronistic approach is over.

Reforming peacekeeping

Peace keeping is the leitmotif of the UN. Peace keeping is, however, under great stress. A plethora of tasks and Christmas tree mandates without adequate funding; departure from well-established principles of impartiality; avoidance of the primacy of politics and focus instead on “band aid” solutions through peace keeping; and an unwillingness to walk away from quagmires into the sunset; are all part of the burgeoning philosophical dilemma facing peace keeping. It would appear that we have blunted peacekeeping as an effective tool. To this are added appalling cases of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA). Peacekeepers turning into predators is our worst nightmare come true. India has fully supported the initiative to create a Trust Fund for victims of SEA and was the first to contribute to it. It is disappointing, however that the only three other countries have stepped up since then. Finally, 16 months after the HIPPO report, tangible progress in implementation of its recommendations is still awaited. Against this inaction tallying up the disasters roiling peacekeeping makes for a worrisome scenario facing the UN’s most often used tool.

These 3 key issues are mere examples of the diagnosis of many that ailments need to be addressed. It therefore raises the question of are we failing in our duty to address these and other problems that the organization suffers from?

Remember Gandhi: Duties of Man

Observing the International Day of Non Violence at the UN just 3 days ago we heard of a dictum coined by Mahatma Gandhi in his interaction with the UN as far back as 1947. He had said and I quote ’Begin with a charter of Duties of Man and I promise the rights will follow as spring follows winter’. Gandhi believed that if each fulfilled his/her duties to others, no one’s rights will be violated. Adherence to our duties will correct a lot of what imperils us today. The duty to change what is not working is inherent in our commitment to the UN Charter. What we have is an organization that is ailing in many ways. As Member States it is part of our duties to address these ailments. Now is as good a time as any to do so.

(This is the edited text of India’s statement on Agenda Item 109 Report of the SG on the Work of the Organization by Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin at the 71st Session of the UNGA in New York on October 5, 2016.)

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