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Kamala Sarup: UN World Summit And Expectations

UN World Summit And Expectations


By Kamala Sarup

The 60th General Assembly of the United Nations and the 2005 World Summit kicked off in New York on Wednesday.

The three-day UN World Summit-- in which more than 160 world leaders will be attending-- is expected to approve a draft resolution prepared after hectic negotiations among the member states.

In the run up to the summit, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told reporters, "Obviously we didn't get everything we wanted, and with 191 Member States it's not easy to get an agreement. The big item missing is non-proliferation and disarmament. This is a real disgrace. We have failed twice this year. We failed at the NPT and we failed now".

Annan further said, "The good news is that we do have an outcome document. Obviously we didn't get everything we wanted, and with 191 member states it's not easy to get an agreement. All of us would have wanted more, but we can work with what we have been given, and I think it is an important step forward".

Six decades after the founding of the United Nations in 1945, it indeed was crucial for the international community to examine, in depth, the state of our world. This is why the GA spent hours discussing major problems of our times and in seeking appropriate solutions to them.

The U.N. General Assembly approved a declaration on development, human rights, terrorism and global security on Tuesday for adoption at the world body's 60th anniversary summit. But negotiators failed to agree on wording on nuclear proliferation as well as on definition of terrorism as sought by Western nations, and on commitments to greater aid and tearing down the trade barriers that developing nations wanted.

The summit is widely considered as a "make-or-break" moment for reforms designed to prepare the multi-national organisation for the challenges facing the 21st century. Secretary General Kofi Annan described it as "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take bold decisions in the areas of development, security, human rights and reform of the United Nations".But many have been critical of Mr Annan's blueprint for reform, which was subjected to a savaging by the US's controversial new ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.

Security has been tightened, with streets around U.N. headquarters closed to traffic, boats patrolling the adjacent East River, and no airplanes allowed overhead.

Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey will be attending the high-level plenary meeting on Friday. Nepal will raise the issue of challenges being faced by small, least developed and land locked countries and insist on the need to promote a shared vision to find solution to common problems like poverty, inequality, terrorism and other pressing issues that afflict the world.

After acquiring membership of the United Nations on 14th December, 1955, Nepal has been regularly participating in various peace-keeping missions around the world. During this period, more than 30,000 RNA personnel have served under the auspices of the United Nations. As a temporary member of the UN Security Council, Nepal has served the world organization twice.

Actually, Nepal regards reforms of the UN as a continuous process encompassing elements such as revitalisation of the General Assembly, strengthening of the Economic and Social Council, reform of the secretariat machinery and expansion of the Security Council and reform of its working methods.

It is true, the UN has strayed very far from its original mission. The UN badly needs reform. The problems are many, and solutions will take years to implement. On any major issue facing international political and business leaders, there are always at least two levels of looking at things: The lofty perch of policy-makers and those who advise them and the nitty-gritty perspective of those on the ground who must actually get things done. From the viewpoint of an individual or organization working on a hot spot or a difficult in-country situation, the United Nations has always presented a paradox: Stated good intentions combined with very poor actual performance.

As an organization, the United Nations has strayed so far from its original charter that it is now being hotly debated now whether to scrap the framework altogether and start all over or to engage in wholesale reforms. Over the next 2-3 years, look for the latter. No sane person would want to go for another League of Nations.

If there is a worldwide economic depression, however, another League of Nations is a definite possibility. Fortunately, the international financial markets are as strong, independent and powerful as they have ever been, completing a process that started when former US President Richard Nixon de-coupled the dollar from the gold standard in the early 1970s.

"With regard to developing nations, UN should be in favor of economic growth as the best way to solve problems. And on the other side, the most vicious conflicts in the last 40 years have been in the Middle East and Northern Ireland. In the Middle East, several full blown wars were fought before the UN was able to insert some peacekeepers in some border situations with some success. In Northern Ireland, it took several decades before any real progress was made, and you can see the remnants of sectarian hatred even today." US journalist John G. Scherb told this scribe recently.

"The UN has failed to a large extent in its function as the global keeper of the collective security. Moreover, its delayed reaction to major armed conflicts worldwide had caused the death of thousands of human beings. It had been unsuccessful to prevent genocide from Rwanda, to take bold actions in Bosnia, or more recently in Darfur. It is at least shameful, that a decision making body that should promote world-wide peace and humanitarian values was dragged in scandals like the oil-for-food, in corruption allegations and employee harassment," a Romanian journalist Manuela Paraipan said.

She further added " The UN stands as a symbol of solidarity of the world. It acts as a forum for all nations to openly discuss their concerns and problems and find pertinent solutions to those problems. May be it is time for the UN to lead the war on terror and send a strong message to the global society. Therefore, any country, which will coordinate, harbor, or tacitly allow acts of terror will suffer powerful sanctions from the international community."

Nepal is such a backwater that a full-blown communist insurgency which has killed over 12,000 people fails to even register in today's world. The situation further involves vast number of Nepali women being sent across the Indian border for prostitution and sexual slavery, drug dealing, arms trafficking, as well as ordinary Nepalis being gang pressed into the insurgency, some as child soldiers. John further added.

So what does the UN say? It is difficult to talk when the bullets are flying and the bombs exploding, but nevertheless, a mantra must be invoked.

Insurgencies are like infections, and legitimate grievances are like thorns, which cause the infection. So the ultimate answer is a simple one for Nepal: peace. Reform, steady but sure, is the only answer, and the UN and international community can assist us with innovative programs and grants, which directly benefit the Nepali people.

Thousands of Nepalis have served as peacekeepers for the UN over the years. So, Nepal deserves some pay back from the UN.

*************

(Kamala Sarup, a PhD scholar has been published in World Security Network (WSN), World Press, Global Politician, Scoop Media, and Nepal news.com and other publications. She has also been invited as a speaker at a number of peace and women conferences. She is an editor of peacejournalism.com)


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