UN REFORM HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: CHURKIN


30.10.06
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev)

The UN General Assembly has voted to appoint South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as the next UN Secretary-General. The Korean, who was chosen over another worthy candidate, Shashi Tharoor, Indiaís undersecretary-general for communications and public information, will be sworn in on December 30.

The international community is divided over the imminent reform of the UN. Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, has discussed this issue in a newspaper interview.

He said the multi-faceted UN reform mostly called for overhauling the Security Council. In his opinion, all other aspects are pointed in the right direction. For instance, the UN Peacebuilding Commission has been established and the UN Human Rights Council has started working, Churkin said.

According to Churkin, the UN has taken an active part in the struggle against terrorism. Moreover, a number of decisions were made on the operation of UN anti-terrorism mechanisms.

Churkin said Russiaís main position was that the UN should remain an inter-governmental organisation. The UN cannot turn into a bureaucratic superstructure because the most influential countries would simply promote their officials and try to use it as a proxy to rule the world. Russia, however, will not allow this to happen, said Churkin.

The line-up of permanent UNSC members, i.e. the club of privileged powers, is so far the only aspect of reform currently being debated. However, most countriesí top diplomats are quietly implementing long-awaited changes in the UN, Churkin said.

Excerpts from Vitaly Churkinís speeches on this issue [which were contributed to our magazine by Russiaís UN mission] provide an insight into the UNís ďdiplomatic kitchen.Ē

The colleagues of Vitaly Churkin, Ban Ki-moon and Shashi Tharoor are the only ones who completely understand diplomatic lingo. Anyway, it would be useful to know Moscowís priorities and its expectations concerning UN reform.

Russia-backed initiatives, including one on the role of regional organisations and their cooperation with the UN, deserve special mention.

Here is how the Kremlin perceives the structure of the UN, which is one of the current reformís priorities.

* Russiaís priority is to strengthen the UNís potential to provide a collective response to modern threats and challenges and to prevent such threats from materializing in the first place. A record-breaking 88,000 officers and men have been sent to numerous conflict zones.

* Much has been done in order to adapt UN mechanisms and methods to new conditions in accordance with the decisions made at the Summit-2005. But this process will continue. The UN reform is primarily intended to enhance the organisationís overall effectiveness and to strengthen its pivotal role in world affairs without impairing this unique forumís international nature. It will only be possible to successfully implement this task through broad consensus among member-states on all aspects of the reform.

* The increased demand for the UNís unique peacekeeping potential requires genuinely collective efforts. The Secretary-General has correctly stated that this potential is not used as fully as it should be. Involving the Military Staff Committee and regional organisations in accordance with the UN Charterís provisions would encourage this.

* The establishment of the UN Peacebuilding Commission is meant to facilitate more co-ordinated and effective international efforts to aid post-crisis countries. We attach great importance to facilitating this inter-governmental bodyís effective performance and plan to take an active part in its work.

* The stagnant international disarmament process is not contributing to the solution of non-proliferation problems. We are focusing on the enactment of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the attainment of a comprehensive agreement to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space, the conclusion of a treaty on banning production of weapons-grade fissile materials and ensuring international information security. Multilateral efforts in the sphere of disarmament and arms control within the framework of the Disarmament Conference and the UN agencies involved should be stepped up.

* We attach a priority to the supremacy of the law. A full observation of this principle in international relations would guarantee a stable peace. The struggle against impunity is a key element of this principle. National authorities, which must, if necessary, be able to request UN assistance, take priority. We agree with the Secretary-General that the struggle against impunity must go hand in hand with peace processes.

* In our opinion, recent experience in trying to administer justice internationally cannot be called entirely successful. The work of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia highlights serious miscalculations, i.e. politicised decisions and expensive trials. We are placing high hopes in the International Criminal Court and hope the work of this judicial body will contribute greatly to the struggle against impunity.

* Russia considers the struggle against international terrorism as a key aspect of establishing an effective security system and believes the UN should play a central coordinating role in accomplishing this objective. The recent adoption of the Global Strategy for Fighting Terrorism makes it possible to considerably expand the international communityís comprehensive counter-terrorist activities.

* The establishment of two inter-session, inter-governmental and open-ended working groups on the mechanism of universal periodic reviews and on streamlining the special proceedings system, inherited from the UN Human Rights Commission, is a positive aspect. We hope that these working groups established by the UN Human Rights Council, will, at last, be able to start working in the required format.

* It is imperative that the international community devote considerable attention to the development and assertion of democracy and the UNís interaction with civil society on a wide range of international issues. Given the importance of these issues and their scope, they could be discussed separately. We would like to single out the most important aspect: the need for a transparent, unbiased and objective discussion of all these issues in line with the UN Charter and on the basis of universal principles.

* On the whole, we share the Secretary-Generalís positive assessments of the work to implement the Summitís directives to enhance the effectiveness of the entire UN systemís socio-economic activities and efforts to achieve UN Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, the UNís potential, including that of its agencies, should be used more effectively for aiding needy nations. We consider it unacceptable to politicise the work of UN funds and programmes.

* We share the Secretary-Generalís conclusion that the increasing frequency of calamities highlights the need to strengthen risk-reduction and emergency-preparedness measures. For our part, we intend to make a practical contribution to solving such pressing global problems as climate change, the eradication of infectious diseases and sustainable energy supplies.

* We consider it very important to streamline the UNís administrative, financial and human-resources divisions and to make them more effective and transparent. The same goes for the implementation of the General Assemblyís decisions pertaining to the UN reform. The Secretariat should become more results-oriented; the professionalism and efficiency of its personnel should be improved; and the Secretariat should report to member-countries on the results of its work and assume responsibility for those results.

* The UN should consistently expand cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations in order to formulate collective approaches to modern threats and challenges. The final declaration of the 2005 United Nations World Summit states that such cooperation rests on the solid foundation of the UN Charter, namely, Chapter VIII. Regional organisations, which know more about the situation inside action zones, often have better equipment and their own sources of funding. It will become possible to expand the international communityís ability to deal with crises through clearly dividing responsibilities and preserving UN and UNSC prerogatives.

* The UN should expand on its positive experience of cooperating with regional and sub-regional partners in Africa, including the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Southern African Development Community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. The League of Arab States, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the Organisation of American States and Latin American organisations are all called upon to play an important role in choosing peaceful methods for the solution of numerous regional problems. We would like the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and NATO, which formulate crisis regulation mechanisms, to further expand their interaction with the UN. Naturally, the UN Security Council should be given the primary responsibility for upholding international peace and security, including the approval of mandates for peace-enforcement opera
tions. Russia continues to facilitate closer cooperation between the UN, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Community, which are making a substantial contribution to overcoming modern regional and global problems and challenges. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is playing an increasingly greater role in ensuring stability and security in Eurasia. Its members advocate expanded interaction with the UN in various important spheres, including the fight against international terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as efforts to secure a post-conflict settlement in Afghanistan. -0-