United Nations, Sep 20 (IANS) Failure to reform the Security Council puts at risk its “effectiveness and legitimacy”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned on Tuesday.
Speaking at the opening of the General Assembly summit here, Ban said: “Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Member States have still not agreed on a formula for reform of the Security Council — a continuing risk to its effectiveness and legitimacy.”
“Far too often, I have seen widely-supported proposals blocked, in the name of consensus, by a few or sometimes even just one country,” he said. “We see this being done by large and small countries alike.”
“Consensus should not be confused with unanimity. The global public is right to ask whether this is how an organisation in which we have invested so much hope and aspirations should function.”
Council reform process, which has broad support across the UN, has been stymied for over two decades by some countries insisting on a consensus.
Criticising the functioning of the Council where the five permanent members wield veto powers, Ban said: “Time and again, I have seen essential action and good ideas blocked in the Security Council.”
Delivering his final speech at a UN summit, Ban, whose term ends this year, also admonished other UN institutions saying that essential action and ideas were “blocked in the General Assembly. Blocked in the budget process, blocked in the Conference on Disarmament and other bodies.”
He asked, “Is it fair in this complicated 21st century for any one country or few countries to yield such disproportionate power, and hold the world hostage on so many important issues?”
He asked Assembly President Peter Thomson to explore “with my successor, the establishment of a high-level panel to find practical solutions that will improve decision-making” at the UN.
He called on all nations to respect the independence of the UN Secretariat and UN humanitarian personnel and their work.
Ban condemned the attack on a UN aid convoy in Syria on Monday, calling it “sickening, savage, and apparently deliberate”.
“The humanitarians delivering life-saving aid were heroes,” he said. “Those who bombed them were cowards. Accountability for crimes such as these is essential.”
“When our human rights personnel act on behalf of the most vulnerable, Member States should not block their path,” he said. “When our humanitarian workers need to reach populations under siege, Member States should remove all obstacles.”
In an reference to a recent incident where he was forced by Saudi Arabia to remove mention of the Saudi-led coalition being involved in killing children in the Yemeni conflict, Ban said without naming Riyadh: “When our reports say what needs to be said, Member States should not try and rewrite history.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)a