By Arul Louis,
United Nations : Warning of the changing threat situations around the world, US Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, making an unprecedented joint appearance before the Security Council, called on it to focus on prevention of conflicts, staving them off before they arise.
“Our goal must be to do everything we can to help countries avert the outbreak of crises that take a high toll on humanity,” Guterres said at a meeting of the Council on the UN Charter on Wednesday. “This vision extends beyond wars and conflicts, to natural disasters, fragility and other kinds of stress.”
Otherwise the UN “ends up serving as a ‘crisis baby-sitter,’ or focusing on simple containment – and this is simply not sustainable,” he said.
The session was convened by Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, whose nation is the president of the Council for this month, which also coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of the Gulf country from Iraqi occupation in 1991.
Khalid Al Sabah, who is also the Foreign Minister, said that the liberation of Kuwait is a success of the Council when it was able to end foreign aggression and occupaton.
Ban said: “Addressing the root causes of conflict and working towards preventing conflicts before they escalate, alongside national and international stakeholders, will ultimately make the Council, and the (UN) organization, stronger as a result.”
To meet these challenges, “reform of the Security Council is long overdue,” he said. “In order to effectively respond to non-traditional and transnational security challenges such as climate change, terrorism and violent extremism, nuclear proliferation, and cross-border insecurity, the Security Council should undergo reforms to be more flexible in its decision-making process.”
Ban said the Council should take more robust action to hold politicians accountable for creating “dire political and economic instabilities where innocent civilians bear the bulk of the suffering.”
“We have learned by now that in order to hold such leaders accountable, the Security Council should not limit itself to simply calling for actions in rhetoric or statements,” he said. “The Council must act on those situations.”
Guterres stressed the importance role of peacekeeping, which does not appear in the Charter. “But this flagship UN activity is firmly rooted in the Charter’s ideals – and demonstrates the Charter’s flexibility.”
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is undergoing a strategic review, he said. “Our aim is to refocus peacekeeping with realistic expectations, with well-structured, well-supported and well-equipped forces, and with the support we need from host countries.”
Echoing a suggestion made often by India, which is historically the biggest contributor of troops to UN operations, Guterres said: “We look to the Security Council to provide clear and focused mandates, and we call for greater engagement for all member nations in providing personnel as well as political, material anf financial backing.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com)