Commentaries and Analyses: year 2004 Index

Renewing The UN System

LUSAKA, Oct. 28 - We are delighted with Secretary General Kofi Annan's announcement that he will soon be putting before world leaders a package of measures to renew the United Nations system.

The issue of reforming the United Nations, its associated agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions - notably the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - is very much on the world agenda, even if there are very different interests and proposals in play.

We hope the North, and in particular the United States, will not be allowed to dictate what happens to the United Nations system in the name of efficiency and cost-cutting. We say this because what the world desperately needs are more effective and more democratic international institutions able to play their full part not only in peacekeeping but in managing and developing a more just world economy.

What is at stake is the very nature and direction of the United Nations if it is not to be emasculated, but rather strengthened.

The role of the United Nations in the 21st Century has to be different, changes are needed.

The United Nations was founded immediately after a terrible war against Nazism, in which unexpected alliances were formed among forces with disparate ideological tendencies, bent on fighting that terrible evil threatening humanity. That war claimed 50 million lives. Several of the main countries at war emerged victorious, and in conjunction with other less powerful nations, they founded this institution.

Actually, almost all the African countries were colonies or semi-colonies, and the majority of countries who are UN members today were not independent either. Now, we are living a completely new situation. We cannot really speak today of a United Nations system. We do not have a United Nations system. What we actually have is a system of domination over almost every country in the world by a small number of powerful nations, which under the aegis of the United States - the most powerful nation of all - decide everything on our planet.

With so much at stake, it is essential that developing countries now act as the protagonist to change the direction and content of the debate on UN reform. What the South was able to do in the 1960s and the 1970s in terms of shaping the international debate, inspired in the first place by just a very few countries, can and must be done again.

The South also has the proven capacity to exercise intellectual leadership to provide new directions for the UN, both in terms of policies and institutions. Collectively, developing countries have the strength to counter the onslaught on the UN and to put forward their own proposals for wide-ranging reform to strengthen the organization, so that it becomes a genuinely multilateral and democratic body in the service of all.

The pre-occupations of the peoples of the South also find an echo in the concerns of large numbers of people in the North.

There are many other common interests between the South and the North and worldwide problems of mutual concern such as financial instability, unemployment and increasing social disparities and tensions, environmental degradation, AIDS, drug addiction and narcotics trafficking, inner city problems and growing delinquency, anomie and marginalization.

Indeed, large sectors of the North's population can also claim that they too suffer from failed development in their own societies, which is also aggravated by the more rapid pace of globalization.

By taking a clear stand and speaking out on these issues, the South is likely also to mobilize the interest and support of progressive and internationalist opinion in the North, which may in turn be able to exert greater pressure on North governments to take a more positive, forward-looking approach to the matter of UN reform.

And we agree with Secretary General Annan's observation that " we all need an effective United Nations - one that reflects the world we live in today and can meet the challenges we will face tomorrow ... We are in a new era, we need a new United Nations. Let's make it happen."

It is therefore our duty to struggle for the establishment of such a United Nations.

The Post / allAfrica Global Media

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Archives 2004:

The New Way Of Enlightenment

Bush Re-Election Is A Tragedy

Will The World Now See A Clash Of Fundamentalist Titans?

Let's Emulate France

Renewing The UN System

This Isn't A Zoo But The Promised Land

Four Decades Of Independence

Apologies A Good Trend Among African Leaders

IMF Needs Structural Reform, Not Argentina!

Pentagon Uses Depleted Uranium Shells In Its Raid Against Iraq

Why SADC Decided On Electoral Guidelines

Celebrating 40 Years Of Independence

Visionless Leadership

Unifying Freedom Idea

Bush Trims A Tale

Perspectives Files
2005 2004  2003
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